It’s always dangerous to adduce conspiracy when things happen in an apparently coordinated manner. Flocks of birds fly together in glorious synchronicity – but this doesn’t mean they are evil plotting creatures. The essence of what we might term benevolent or good socialism lies in a clear and honest recognition of the essentially societal nature of human beings. We actually like doing things together in harmony. Our education systems may try and convince us otherwise. Our business organisations may generally try and pigeonhole us into a savagely competitive mindset. But when we are left to our own devices, I truly believe we prefer gentleness over violence, cooperation over disagreement, support over abandonment.
There would, however, appear to exist pivotal moments in history where conspiracies do operate and where, mostly in hindsight, tell-tale signs are later uncovered – when, clearly, it is often too late – which point to their rank realities and corresponding intentions. And so it is that I am beginning to wonder if the working- and middle-classes in our Anglo-Saxon worlds – a suddenly burdensome Special Relationship if there ever was one – are now being subjected to a fearsome process of disenfranchisement which may yet lead us to question whether this isn’t a return – in some awfully inverted kind of a way – to the destructive dynamics of the Cold War. Except, here, it is the socialists amongst us who should take up the mantle of inquisitors. Whilst the Communist infiltrators and spies are these libertarian monsters who aim to make volunteering obligatory and part and parcel of a contract between the state and its voters. From the Atlantic Bridge (more here) to ALEC’s alleged activities in Wisconsin (more here), what would appear to be a coordinated and rolling attack – that is to say, by the powerful on the support mechanisms which the working- and middle-classes rely on simply to survive – seems to be taking place.
The latest article which has drawn my attention to the apparently coordinated nature of what may reasonably be described as a resurgence of fascism can be found here, from Paul (Cotterill) at Though Cowards Flinch. It would now appear that the working- and middle-class attack-dog meme which is now going the rounds runs as follows:
Why don’t we restrict votes to people who actually pay something into the system? No, I am not suggesting a return to property-based eligibility; although that system worked quite well when Parliament administered not just Britain but most of the world. Today, income would be a much better test, setting the bar as low as possible; perhaps including everyone who pays at least £100 of income tax each year.
So. Let’s be clear about this. The right to participate in the democratic process should apparently depend on the principle of whether one is taxed or not. Carers who receive no income, dutiful wives and husbands who do what their high-flying husbands and wives demand of them, people who work out a way of eking out an income that doesn’t depend on monetary gain … they can all forget about the lessons and battles of the 20th century and wisdoms of universal suffrage. In the meantime, we simply give up on any principle where the empowerment of the people should be our goal. Under such circumstances, the only way out of poverty and distress which society will begin to sanction will be an unconditional rendition to the power of corporate money, mindsets, politics and pigeonholes – as well as a grand obsession with all things competitive.
The very reverse of the essence of human beings when kindly left to their own devices.
This may be fascism, as Paul suggests. On the other hand, just as easily, it doesn’t half strike me as a tatty and mouldy blueprint from the beginning of the last century for the kind of unhappy Communism which dominated our planet for far too long. Let’s just go through the list:
- all animals are created equal – just some are more equal than others
- compulsory participation in voluntary activities
- political rights tied to a correctly evidenced engagement in the community
- freedom for others, autocracy at home
- power for an elite
- a single model for societal behaviour
- a robotised and statistical understanding of the value of human beings
And so we might go on. Another Paul (Evans) picks out this quote in this marvellous piece on the importance of microparticipation:
[...] One could take the view that this quote from the 19th Century Anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon could apply equally to our relationship with corporations today:
“To be governed is to be watched, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, regulated, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, checked, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by creatures who have neither the right nor the wisdom nor the virtue to do so.
To be governed is to be at every operation, at every transaction noted, registered, counted, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorized, admonished, prevented, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished.
It is, under pretext of public utility, and in the name of the general interest, to be placed under contribution, drilled, fleeced, exploited, monopolized, extorted from, squeezed, hoaxed, robbed; then, at the slightest resistance, the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, vilified, harassed, hunted down, abused, clubbed, disarmed, bound, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed; and to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, derided, outraged, dishonoured.
That is government; that is it’s justice; that is it’s morality.”
Is that a description of government today? In which case, should the libertarians get our vote?
Or is it a resurgent fascism? In which case, should the socialists get our vote?
Or is it a new layer of Communism perhaps? In which case, do we need to take a McCarthyite stance (shades, incidentally, of Wisconsin again)?
Or is it – just as easily – a frank description of a conspiracy taking place under our very noses by the already very powerful who inhabit Anglo-Saxon corporate nexuses (that is to say, in both government and business)?
People, in fact, we might argue, who are (sadly) only interested in how much money they can extract from their fellow human beings – rather than, potentially far more usefully, in how much good they could do making the damn stuff circulate throughout all society?
We might also argue that these are people who have little interest in anything but pressing those robotised and statistical buttons I allude to above. And they have become part of the problem because our society has, in a sense, with its rendition to the rules of bad money, made them that way. If we – the rest of us, I mean – had been as “lucky” as them, perhaps we would now find ourselves defending our own moral high grounds, our own justifications, our own tightly-knit communities of the wealthy in dollars but not in social moralities … and all in much the same way. But, fortunately, the rich are different from the rest of us. Fortunately, that is, for ourselves.
We, the poor, still believe in good money. Money which creates rather than concentrates wealth. Money which accelerates a societal rather than an individual growth. Money which leads to the kind of growth that renews and improves – rather than turns into the sort of cancer that imperceptibly, but then quite inevitably, degrades the quality of life of a majority.
To finish, a simple question. Why now? Why all this now? Why are these unpleasant organisations attacking working- and middle-classes across the Western world?
Opportunity perhaps? Strong governments which choose to intervene in the markets for the wider good are on the back foot at the moment. The recent examples of socialism for the rich have drained the capability of such governments to protect their voting publics. It’s a firm possibility.
Revenge for recent political impositions? I’ve said on those pages before that I firmly believe the radically destructive nature of British Coalition policies is a knee-jerk reaction to more than a decade in the political wilderness. So this too may be the case.
Finally, then, may it be fear?
“What?” I hear you ejaculate. “Fear? These powerful people acting like this out of fear?”
Well, here I am absolutely positive I am right. Blogging, social media, open source and other movements in recent virtual pasts have all given very ordinary people the opportunity and very real freedom to communicate, organise and even exchange goods and services outside the standard and clearly understood nexuses of democratic and de facto power. It is no surprise the British police are now to use software developed by the American military to track the movements of individuals via social media, financial transactions and satnav usage.
The very ordinary people are not only getting restlessly good at communicating with the outside world, they’re also doing it for peanuts. And this latter point, above all this latter point, for the dinosaurs of communication that are large organisations (whether they be private or governmental) anywhere on the globe, must generate all kinds of awful nightmarish scenarios which their risk managers have to contemplate.
A conspiracy then, do we say? In most of my life, I’ve generally chosen to believe in cock-up over conspiracy – every time. It’s better for your mental health – and, in any case, it’s generally the case.
A flock of birds then? A synchronicity of unfortunate events? Perhaps.
All I can say is that from where I am sitting, the poorer in society are being punished for the actions of the richer – and in the meantime, the richer are simply getting just that: richer and richer as time goes by.
Isn’t it awful when life truly becomes a cliché?