Mar 162013

Peter has just kindly pointed me in the direction of a film I should’ve stumbled across much sooner in my life.  It’s called “Odd Man Out”.  It’s directed by Carol Reed.  You can find out more about it here.

Now watch this clip below – and focus in particular on this saddening reflection.

“I am nothing.”  Not even charity.

Feel lonely?  It’s hardly surprising.  Making us feel lonely has become the weapon of choice of politicians in crisis.  And as the BBC reports on the awful implications of the Cyprus crisis:

The deal also involves a levy on bank deposits intended to ensure investors contribute to the bailout, the BBC’s Andrew Walker in Brussels reports.

People with less than 100,000 euros in Cypriot bank accounts will have to pay a one-time tax of 6.75%, while those with more will have to pay 9.9%. It is expected to raise 5.8bn euros in additional revenue.

A European Central Bank (ECB) official said the Cypriot authorities had already started to take action to ensure that the levy can be collected. Otherwise, there would be a likelihood of massive withdrawals to avoid it, our correspondent adds.

All of a sudden, people with savings become investors.  Amazing, isn’t it?  From bank deposit levies to bedroom taxes, our rapacious and single-minded political overlords are struggling – as we write, speak and exchange our saddest of thoughts – to hold things together with even a smidgen of coherence.  Whilst millions of children are thrust back into British poverty, billions of pounds in bonuses are distributed by failing British banks to their employees.

No wonder we all feel lonely.  “This cannot be right or just – or even efficient,” we think.  “There must be some other way forward.”

In 2003, when the Iraq War approached, I definitely felt I was the Odd Man Out.  It drove me spare; kind of drove me mad.  It took me a long time to recover.

But what I most fear today is that this same process, to a lesser degree, will now affect millions of thinking citizens.  When powerful owners of communication processes tell us over and over again that what we see and feel is wrong and misplaced, how else can it be?  How else can we react?  How else but to go into some kind of shell and begin to hide away from the reality they deny us?

The tactics they now use are to make us all feel we are odd men and women.  And although we perceive in our calmer moments of understanding that you cannot have a whole nation made of square pegs, they have managed to debilitate our comprehension of what’s going on to such an extent that nothing at all surprises us any more.

Nor do we protest very much – or, at least, that’s the way it seems to be going.  From initial despair to an overwhelmingly resigned misery, there are so many people out there who will begin to give up even on their lives.

They will, you must accept by now, be thinking about giving up on anything more than simple survival.

And so we take it slyly onboard.  And so we seamlessly absorb the implications.

Disabled people thrown out of their homes?  Unemployed people blamed for the consequences of government austerity?  The sick and elderly seen as a drain on our economy?  Privilege defined as the solution to a dysfunctional economy?  “Meh!  Meh!  Meh!  Meh!”

My advice?  Understand loneliness as a litmus test of injustice.  Externalise your fears; don’t blame yourself.  Remember your child and comprehend the unkindness of others.  And above all, face up to this undeniable fact: this Coalition government of ours is psychologically ruthless and without qualms of any sort.

Democracy provides us with no tools or processes to get rid of a government which – more than anything – uses psychological abuse to control, organise and impose its political impulses.  Physical violence would provoke a response from the courts.  But psychological violence at a state-engendered level is still not to be found in the rule books.

So then.  A revolution we need – the question is which.  You cannot abuse an abuser if you want to remain at all emotionally whole.  You cannot fight violence with violence and hope to remain aloof.  Where are we now?  What next for those finite perishable goods we call human beings?  Creatures whose lives are simply drifting down that 21st century gadget-ridden creek without a single bloody empowering paddle to their names.

And all this while, these politicians and business leaders whose crises I mention flailingly attack the entirely blameless citizens they still rule over.

In order to make such citizens feel entirely blameworthy.

In order to make them feel entirely odd.

Mar 052013

Last night I concluded my post with the following train of thought:

My question as follows: what have the establishment seen in the future that terrifies them into so much repression in the present?

All these moves around the edges to control and target and define.  And in a century where computing powers and predictive tools have multiplied their perspicacities in an almost terrifyingly exponential way.

So what have they seen – these lords and masters of ours – which leads them to scurry about in such unseemly and unremitting ways?

Why have our brave and powerful eagles suddenly become rabbits in the headlights of the future?

What, in the future, really awaits us?

Today, via Rupert on Twitter, comes this website on a subject I only touched on by-the-by: drones.  You can see the video he urged me to watch below.

America’s new Guantánamo – it’s quite an accusation.  A new recruiting tool for Islamic militants, they say.  And it’s a sorry state of affairs, both politically and morally.  As if, of course, politics was somehow separate from the exercise of morality.

But what worries me most – what worried me most about Guantánamo itself – is that it serves as a clear signal of future intent from our security services: without properly informed public debate, without going – in an open and honest way – into the ins and outs of the matter, the security services – our security services – are burning our bridges on our behalf.

You create a generation of Pakistanis who only know the US as a death machine, a generation which will never know everything else the American people in the round have to offer them, and there is only one way forward for the rest of us to proceed: to continue in the future with equally destructive means of defence.

The potential for awful anger and the thirst for dreadful revenge, described almost off-hand in very calm language on the Living Under Drones website itself, is clearly being manufactured by the West – and, at the very least, hardly being discouraged.

And as citizens and generations whose turn will one day come, we will have no alternative – however progressive we consider ourselves – to maintaining the oppressive tools of distant remote-control engagement, as we strive to keep these newly-moulded enemies at bay.

The parallels between what our Coalition government is doing to the economy to destroy sensible British socialism (Legal Aid, the NHS, disability support services – that is to say, to make turning back an impossibility), and what our security services are doing to our future room for diplomatic and international manoeuvre (drones, secret courts, the automatic tracking of worldwide electronic communications – in essence, promulgating the publicly-shared mindset that anything and everything belongs to the military) really could not be closer than here.

It’s a bad sad day when younger generations are deliberately constrained by their forebears.  It seems to me that people who know far better than we do how the future is going to unfold are deliberately devising a series of straitjackets in order to prevent sense and sensibility ever returning to our species.

And I ask the question again: what are they really so afraid of?

What is it about the world that approaches which makes them so terrified of their own acts, their own peoples, their very own legacies?

So much insecurity signposts a serious lack of control over one’s destiny – or, at least, a serious perception that one’s destiny is not there to be forged by oneself.  Perhaps it is here where we discover the true reason for all the straitjackets.

Perhaps they are afraid not of the distant Pakistani tribes but, far more, of their own homelands.

The fear that a continuous beating-up on the harmless engenders, eventually, in the bully.

Mar 162012

One does begin to wonder if the deficit is the kind of bogeyman parents of yore summoned up to terrify their children into an unhappy slumber.  As Duncan has just tweeted:

It seems that both Coalition parties have become rather bored of the whole ‘deficit reduction’ thing and are now focussed on tax cuts.

Which does make me wonder, perhaps in a show of rather bad faith, if they weren’t actually focussed on the tax cuts in question from the very start.

Playing the game of chess does, after all, require one to hide the true purpose of one’s end-game.  Is it really too foolish or conspiratorial on my part to suggest that the purpose of wailing on so much about the deficit was a very simple twofold?  How so?  Well, thus:

  1. Firstly, force through massive shifts in control over public-sector resources, management and culture to the big bad capitalism of self-serving transnational organisations – therefore helping to enrich further the government’s corporate sponsors and keep their power onside;
  2. Secondly, even whilst doing this, fail to keep the deficit under control so that the real end-game – a return to an intellectually disavowed trickle-down economics leading to a long-harboured policy of tax cuts for the rich – would be accepted out of total desperation and general societal weariness;

After all, the Big Society of protest which Cameron’s regime has engendered must surely one day encounter a point of fatigue where yet another petition to sign will be just one petition too far.

Especially if the public begins to perceive that their governors give not a toss about being reasonable or listening.

Personally, I find myself absolutely fed up of asking politely any more.  So if you want me to sign another petition to try and save what used to be a green and pleasant land, a green and pleasant land which is fast becoming a blue and ugly carbuncle, then you’ll just have to couch its terms quite differently: time to demand, not ask politely; time to impose, not suggest meekly.

Only the problem really is that when they have all the levers of power in their hands, when the spirit of the law is no longer the guiding principle of our politics, when what you can get away with is what you end up doing, how can any of us law-abiding folk demand anything of or impose anything on absolutely anyone in charge?

For this isn’t the land of fair play any more.

This is now the land of the rich.

Aug 132011

mulberrybush makes an excellent couple of points in an exchange of tweets we had yesterday evening.  The first as follows:

@politicsworld @eiohel with the riots, papers are back to trying to herd readers into the “creed”. Need to get beyond this.

Whilst the second continued the theme:

@eiohel @politicsworld I am certain it is important to build bridges. Have spoken to a number of Teleg readers who think so too

Meanwhile, also yesterday evening, and in response to comments from tris on my post on this awful story from Wandsworth (more here from Munguin and Co, and further background here), I couldn’t help myself bleating just a little woefully this sadness on our current state of affairs:

The quality of our political class, and the ability of our institutions to engage with ordinary people, is definitely wanting though.

This clearly has a history behind it, and it truly makes you want to get your own back on the political miscreants involved.

But there’s something else: I didn’t start writing about life and politics to turn into some vengeance-seeking male harpy. I’d far rather we were able to create a society which supported its members, was intelligent in its actions and institutions – and relatively free of corrupt and ingrowing practices. Unfortunately, we simply don’t seem to be any closer to such a society at all – if anything we are moving away from it.

With my Croatian background, I wouldn’t be surprised if eventually I turned into a nationalist of some kind myself. No small can ever be as ugly as big and lumbering London-centric style.

And I suppose I resist the impulse because I’ve seen the damage it’s done in my mother’s homeland.

Even so, it’s a temptation when you see all this disconnected mediocrity.

I’ve already mentioned Peter Oborne’s courageous writing from the heart of Tory thinking over at the Telegraph.  I first noticed this “getting it” during the Cameron-Coulson-Murdoch matrix of half-truths at the centre of the News of the World phone-hacking scandals.  It was almost as if a certain threshold of evidence – a watershed of truths – had been uncovered.  This allowed certain honourable souls to accept that the legacy of spin – which has led us all to doubt any theses about public behaviours, as well as acquire a corrosive cynicism which concludes every accusation has an angle – did not necessarily mean that everything said about top-level governance was inevitably going to be the spoutings of the envious mob.

That people like Oborne are able to tell us home truths the political class feel unable to is both worrying and heartening.  Worrying, because our politicians ought to be braver and more principled; more convinced of their own ability to persuade a frightened populace that societal cohesion is still worth pursuing.  Heartening, because at least there are some prepared to put their reputations on the line.

Even if, objectively speaking, they speak what we can only describe as blindingly obvious and self-evident truths.

In the modern world of spin, 24-hour rolling news and social media, however, such truths are often the first casualties of this killing-field where reality is edited.

And so I come to another heartening piece – again, from the heart of Tory thinking; again, from a writer of note.  This time we find Fraser Nelson concluding in the Spectator with the following even- and open-handed appeal to cross-party cooperation:

The LA report was called “To Rebuild Is Not Enough” – a very good title, which applies to Britain. The report led to the unlikely Clinton/Gingrich welfare reforms. An inquiry is a Labour idea, but if there is to be consensus on any issue in British politics, it should be over tackling poverty, joblessness and lawlessness.

As with the Oborne article, this is well worth a read and careful consideration in full.

Enough has been burnt in the past few days.  This is not a time to also burn bridges with aimless self-justifying rhetoric.

Swords into ploughshares?  How about enemies into friends?  And if friends is not possible, then at least functional colleagues …