Saturday, 29 January 2011

The Quiet Canary?

Has anyone seen any major headlines about Boris Johnson since he said he'd prevent his Bullingdon chums from 'ethnically cleansing' Greater London?

I haven't. That's not to say that there aren't any, but like the dog in Sherlock Holmes, there's something notable about Boris keeping his big gob so quiet. And incidentally, had anyone heard anything from Boris in the months before he presented himself as the Archon of Greater London who would save his minions from the very party he belongs to?

After all, he should have plenty to brag about shouldn't he? Surely he's been turning his demesne from an apparatchik controlled briar-wasteland into a golden meadow of creativity and innovation? Surely his feifdom is now a veritable taedifer for the wisdom of economic liberalism, an effulgent acropolis of Reagan-Thatcher conservatism?

Well, no. As for the favourite saw of the libertarian right that financial freedom results in political freedom, one of the Pericles inspired Bullingdon boy's first tasks was to increase CCTV surveillance to public transport and ban drinking on trains.

Does that remind you of one of his brothers in arms who likes to rail against 'big government'?

Whilst London's finest seem to have realised that truncheoning someone who's walking away with their hands in their pockets is none too clever, the Metropolitan Police still kettle protestors.

And surely the city is a great demonstration of the wisdom of how unregulated capitalism works so well away from government interference? Well...

In short, has Boris achieved anything, either in his own terms or anyone else's? Or does the insipid blend of economic liberalism that these posh guys imbibed in the '80s just result in confusion in reality, when it's discovered John Galt doesn't exist and Promethean geniuses don't quadruple the GDP overnight when a few social services are slashed?

Frankly, I think his comments re housing (apparently aimed at Cameron and Osborne, but probably most uncomfortable for Nick Clegg: being attacked FROM THE LEFT by Conrad Black's erstwhile dauphin; take that 'real progressive' party) were a sign that Boris knows that the platform he was elected on was largely unviable and so is the coalition. No doubt he wishes it WAS but after the media spewed three years of unmitigated hatred at Gordon Brown, Labour did surprisingly well in old Londinium. No doubt he wishes that he was likely to be re-elected based on his original platform, but he knows that's not going to happen either.

As Ed Miliband has long been in the lead, according to many opinion polls, it is likely that the same thing is happening nationwide. But will Cameron listen to his Bullingdon canary? Or is he deaf to the ominous silence?

Sunday, 16 January 2011

The Watership Down Generation?

I'm afraid that postings are going to be pretty scarce for a while, due to work and caring for a relative. But I wanted to share an epiphany that I had when suffering from flu induced delirium. Like quite a lot of people of my age (born early 80s) I have a bit of a thing about 70s culture. Perhaps, quoting Foucault's Pendulum, everyone believes themselves to have been born just a bit too late.

But I sometimes wonder if this fillum which, uhm, indelibly marked a lot of 80s sprogs so perfectly refined the 70s Zeitgeist that it left us with a collective consciousness that was enstamped by the preceding decade?

Yeah, there was social democracy, a lack of Brit wars, vibrant rock music, old Ted giving the finger to Israel, lots of other good stuff from a lefty perspective. But frankly, most cultural figures were none to chuffed with the post-war status quo; using lefty rhetoric they helped pave the way for the hard right economic system that prevailed ever since.

But anyway, back to the film in question, like a lot of kids my age I somehow got to watch loads of 18s before I was 8. In case any nosey parkers are reading and hoping to prosecute, I don't have a clue how or who to blame. All I know is that I saw Terminator, Rambo and Red Dawn in childhood, but none of these left anything like as deep an impact on me as the sight of anthropomorphic bunny rabbits being torn to shreds, gassed and generally behaving like little bastards towards each other.

Perhaps this sounds like the rants of a weirdo, but two of my contemporaries entirely agree with me. There's no android getting crushed by a machine or Ivans getting taken out cathertically. Oh no, even when the nasty bunny gets owned by the dog, the goodies can only hop off to somewhere else that the black rabbit is lurking. What a way of introducing kids to the concept of death.

And what a flippin' existentialist work it was as well. And then there's the pure 70s aesthetic. Look at that shade of red-brown the bunny rabbits were. Surely that ochre/ sienna could only have existed before 1st Jan 1980? Judging from photographs of the 70s, it was always 7.00 PM in Summer or 3.00PM in Winter and the sunlight was always shining through dirty plastic. Of course, this is an animation but still captures that orange filter effect.

Furthermore, the whole warren thing: was this an attack on the communal aspects of the 70s?

Anyone else felt simultaneously traumatised and enlightened by this work?

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Throwing the Fight

The always excellent Neil Clark writes about Auberon Waugh, and stimulates some interesting comments about an alliance between the paleo-cons and left wingers.

My own view, however, is that the old right in Britain really WANTS to lose in a strange way, and in their opposition to neo-cons/ neo-liberals, there is actually a profound agreement to disagree.

During the reign of Charles I, which saw a great growth in architecture and aesthetics, people commonly observed that those who supported High Church Episcopalianism were lukewarm whilst those who hated it were passionate. This seems a certain paradox of British culture: that there is a kind of ferociously proselytising ugliness combined with an esoteric hoarding of beauty. In Scotland itself, much of the Reformation era vandalism was actually carried out by Catholic nobility, hoping to line their pockets in a time of chaos.

And today in Scotland, there are many palladian estates huddled behind conifer groves and sandstone walls, whilst brash plutocrats want their phallic brutalist eyesores to be as prominent as possible.

And indeed, it is the same with politics. The paleo-cons failed very spectacularly throughout the 20th Century to try and develop a universalist alternative from the Graco-Roman world to either Marxism or market fanaticism. Surely through having near hegemony of the classics departments they could have come up with something more than timid conservatism?

Just look by contrast at the drivelling of the historically ignorant neo-cons and neo-liberals who are entirely certain that there is no alternative to concrete malls. There are many for whom fried cow's rectum is as great an affirmation of modern Western progress as the basillica was for the Romans or the railways were for the British Empire. Adoring ugliness, being profoundly vulgar and lacking imagination are not obstacles to messianic zeal, but more likely preconditions.

Even in faith, the Church of England has been dismal at reaching out the to the people. Whilst it becomes increasingly decrepit, fundamentalist Christianity grows in tandem with white conversion to Islam.

And in art, the free market has free reign to revel in the ugly. The utter rubbish that changes hands is all we ever hear about. Whilst paleo-cons (in common with some old leftists) might enjoy huffing and puffing over how utterly crap it is, the truth is that there seems little drive to make great works of art more accessible to people through broadcasting.

It is unfortunate that the modern left generally speaking is no more Fabian than the right. The teachings of William Morris should be of interest both to genuine conservatives and genuine leftists. But instead they are neglected by both.

Just as gold and diamonds partially owe their value to their very scarcity, I doubt if the British old right really wants to share beauty, ethos or culture. If you see the scarcity of these things as a part of their value, then I suspect you could do worse than join forces with the Thatcherites.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Outspoken Contrarian with Cancer

No, not the Fox News warmonger, but Brian Haw. Someone who had no contacts in the media, no financial backing and yet who really stood up against the thuggery of modern Britain's political/media establishing, making his voice heard in the rain and cold.

Let's hope there will be a 'Pray for Brian Haw' day.

The Road to Serfdom

Presuming that book that the Tories banged on about in the '80s was a 'how to' guide, then you'd have to say they've chosen the blueprint well.

-Millions of skilled jobs are going to go. If they're lucky the people who will be fired might get to do unskilled labour, stacking shelves in Tescos or Sainsbury's.
-Plans are afoot to privatise 100% of England's forests to keep the dirty poor people out
-Whilst Squire Cameron hates big government (meaning paying people to do skilled labour which the free market cannot provide and getting him to hand over small change to look after poor people) this isn't to say he's too fussy about anti-terrorism officers stopping his subjects from getting uppity.
-VAT is to rise whilst our ultra-rich plutocrats can continue to exploit tax loopholes.
-200,000 low income Brits are set to be expelled from the nation's capital.

Still, I guess that economic freedom and political freedom goes together, and the trickle down effect keeps income inequality from getting too bad.