Sunday, 14 October 2012

It's the History, Stoopid!

I read some very good articles this morning about immigration, the economy and the current demonisation of the poor.

All good articles, all making sensible points, all entirely ignoring the very predictable course of history.

One was by Jon Cruddas, wrestling with the confusion over the rise of immigration as an issue, rumbling through, late in Labour's third term. It is and became an issue as our financial models failed. Just as it always does. We can call it housing, or education or health, but it's real name is iniquity. This from the Ragged Trousered Philanthropist, written over 100 years ago might have been taken directly from the Daily Mail as middle England sips coffee over the Sunday papers this morning,

"Wy, even 'ere in Mugsborough (note the Dickensian name)...We're overrun with 'em! Nearly all the waiters and the cook at the Grand Hotel where we was working last month is foreigners."
"Yes," said old Joe Philpot, tragically, "and then theres all them Hitalians horgin grinders an' the bloke wot sells 'ot chestnuts: an wen I was goin 'ome last night I see a lot of them Frenchies sellin hunions an a little wile afterwards I met two more of 'em comin' up the street with a bear"

As the ruling classes at the turn of the century faced the financial collapse of their own mismanagement, papers of the day quickly rushed to blame immigration and an over-reliance on imports for the dire "Friscal Policy" of the day. In fact, then as now, as the history books report, it was basic, out-of-control greed, an out of touch and elite government and a rush to protectionism that was crippling the country.

In 2000, my husband and I crossed America on a motorbike. From New Orleans to San Francisco, we saw America as few are able. The vast emptiness of the country is impossible to convey until you spend endless days, riding a long, straight road through the plains of Oklahoma, the long corn grasses bent to the wind, unfettered by 1000s of acres of emptiness.

On through the arid deserts of New Mexico and Arizona, as days of emptiness became weeks of emptiness. a ghost town here, a redneck with a big old gun there. We rode and we rode and we rode, through the Bayous of Louisiana to the mountains of Colorado.

As we rode into and out of cities with names redolent with whiskey fumes and oil, the pattern was always the same. The beautiful Antebellums and sprawling ranches gave way to the suburbs, each mile leading further into poverty. Shanty towns shaming the myth of a Land of the Free. Vast wealth turning, in the blink of an eye, to desperate social decay. Burnt out liquor stores, heroin dens in the 5 and Dime, corrugated roofs and children playing in the street with no shoes. White to brown to black.

As we rode weary and educated into California, two vast billboards lined the way;

"Don't let the Immigrants Take our Jobs" "This Country cannot take any More Immigrants"

In a continent where I'd just seen for myself how easily Greece, Italy and Spain could all comfortably be dropped with a negligable impact on clean air or resources, it was not the environment these billboards were safeguarding. It was the endless miles of empty lives and empty towns between the California state line and the glitz of Frisco. The Mexican minimum wage workers, the Hispanic waitresses working for tips in corporate style chain restaurants, stuffing the wallets of Mr MacDonald and Mr Taco-Bell with ever increasing profits were living hand to mouth for hundreds of miles in either direction. Poverty, greed and exploitation bred what they always breed. Resentment. That resentment turned cleverly on the very people the most exploited, the most poor, by the most greedy.

I read articles this morning, mulling over our economic crisis.

But it is the same crisis that finished off every empire from Rome to Victoria. It is the crisis of greed, unfettered, destroying itself as it has throughout history. Greed and Corruption, consuming the very resources it needs to grow.

The Roman Empire, The Florentine Renaissance, The Tudor Enlightenment, The French Revolution, The Boston Tea Party, World War 1 - every time the same story, an effete and bloated ruling class, turned mad through greed and corruption. Every time as the people starved, every time as they died in vast numbers, every time, in the end, they finally saw the truth and a new order was formed.

We can argue on a pinhead, rearrange the deckchairs on the Titanic, but in the end, we are doing what so many did before us. We have all the ingredients of a deep, dark crisis : Our media are not reporting it in anywhere near the detail they are aware exists. We have great pockets of displacement as the Arab world rocks on it's axis and Europeans flee austerity measures starving their children. We read daily propaganda - every scrap of evidence tells us that it is so - turning neighbour on neighbour, rich on poor, white on black, sick on healthy, few daring to put the blame where it belongs, for what will take its place? If we blame the very people that own the financial world, they will destroy us. "For each man kills the thing he loves".

We know without doubt that we are living in a time in which those in control, those tasked with the enormity of leading a world through crisis are inadequate to the task. They took the wrong path. They made the wrong decisions. they chose austerity when the world desperately needed nurture. Worse, they convinced us that there was No Alternative and now we believe them. We ignored the history books, we succumbed to the oldest arrogance in time.

We knew that austerity would not work because we tried it in the 1930s. We tried it in every one of the Revolutions and Power Swaps this world has ever known. We always do, because the owners of wealth demand it. But it always fails. It always fails because it demands that those with the least pay the most. That poverty becomes destitution, that we turn our backs on the vulnerable and learn to hate them instead. We watch our neighbours in Greece face death and starvation, watch fascists become a political force as they always do when the social fabric falls away.

It always reaches the point where those asked to starve to support the decadence of the banquet hall have no more left to give. Usually there is war. At the very least there is civil unrest and despots fall - we have seen it in the middle east and North Africa for a few years now, across Europe too.

We are seeing the world start to realise, the devastating realisation start to dawn, that after all, they could not re-write history. The IMF admit they were wrong, the OBR that they were far too seduced by the forecasts of optimistic austerity junkies with an axe to grind.

We see Europe start to attempt to slam the brakes on an austerity tanker that may just be too big and too burdensome to turn around. The depression may be too deep, the lost jobs and lost futures and lost hope may never return. We see corruption exposed in every high office and still they stick to the well rehearsed lines, as every civilisation has from the beginning of time

"We must not spend on you. You are too populus, too lazy, too undeserving, you have bought this on yourselves, you scroungers and feckless, drunken thieves."

And as every civilisation from the beginning of time, the people bear all that they can bear until they can bear no more.

Our government knows it. Europe knows it. The Middle East knows it.

And they are all desperately hoping that we live in the eye of the storm for as long as it takes.



















21 comments:

  1. The route has already been well trampled by the "Labour Market Reforms" instigated by Peter Hartz in Germany, more than a decade ago. If anyone wants to see where Britain is heading, read the German newspapers.

    There is a difference though. The Germans can't quite bring themselves to attack the sick and disabled with the same enthusiasm as the British Tories. History and all that...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank God for it my friend.

    A year or two ago any similarities I pointed out between our attitudes to the sick and disabled today and the early Nazi attitudes to illness and disability were called desperate hyperbole.

    Now it is hard to think of any other word BUT fascism to describe forcing cancer patients to look for work, cutting off disabled children, demonising and scapegoating them in the press.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Excellent post it just proves the cream does not rise to the top when it comes to Politicans

    ReplyDelete
  4. In America the Walmart staff, who are legion, are marching against their low pay and bad conditions. The tide begins to turn.

    ReplyDelete
  5. One of the best blog posts I have ever read. We all know that the big storm isn't even here yet, but it'll be raging by 2014.

    I do wish everyone sharing this pain and terror the very best of luck, and I do hope they weather the storm. Many of us don't believe we will make it, including myself. All I have now is hope, and God.

    Many people say to me if I hadn't gotten ill, all of this would be the last thing on my mind. I think about that, and it's true.

    I wouldn't hate the vulnerable, I just wouldn't know anything about them. The world would look okay to me, except for boring economic predictions on the News. Because when you have health, that's how it is.

    So for all those able bodied people who take time out to go on protests, to defend us, to care for someone, to offer their sympathy, to listen, you are truly diamonds in the rough. Thank You.

    Again, this was an amazing post, helping to put all of those things running through my head into a much clearer perspective. Knowing what is wrong, and never being able to find the words pains me.

    Your writing talent is a gift. I read these posts to my family, so they can understand how I feel. They help our discussions and bring about a little understanding.

    I'm more Irish than British, to be honest, I don't want to be British, it's nothing personal. I just don't have much of a choice, something like being Disabled.

    I'm from Belfast so I've been used to violence all my life, horrible murderous violence. I've also been used to poverty, but when the troubles ended in the North of Ireland, normalization was the most frightening thing that came with it.

    But what I am trying to say is, now that I do live in peace, without gun battles at night or bombs going off everyday, and although I am very ill, there are things that I fear 100x more than bombs or bullets, like dying in squalor, or being abused in an institution, or dying in the street. I think Ghandi said, poverty is the worst form of violence.

    I've witnessed so many shameful things, as we probably all have and I know what people are capable of. I know without income that you're wide open to so many abuses, and you're going to suffer incredible torments. I've seen these torments before. In the end it's all about keeping some dignity, especially when your body is dying and unable.

    I did work in the USA when I was only 20, too young to notice the things you did. But I do look back on it, and can view it with retrospect, that it was how you describe.

    When I came home from America, my family were astonished, I was a very ignorant racist, blaming the blacks on everything. I'm so sorry now for my own ignorance. I wouldn't want to live a day in a poor black man's shoes in that Country.

    I forgot what I was typing about, that's me, Lol.


    ReplyDelete
  6. Same as it ever was, really - socio-economic collapse has been happening since we started building cities. It's not because those people Back Then were primitive and uneducated...it's because civilisations get so stupidly complex they just implode. The difference however with history and with current times is there was never a globalised socio-economic system...and the results are catastrophic. In previous times, if an empire collapsed, another would rise up from the ashes. But we've created a globalised system based on Western precepts which was rapidly adopted by everyone - and the results are as we see now. When it starts to go, it all goes.

    It's not because our ancestors were primitive - it's because the bloody system doesn't work. And it never really will.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Stop welfare hopefully sue on yr world travels u will have seen why the US is out of recession and growing while we are in the sh*t still.

    reason is they dont waste billions on welfare like we do here. 80 billion to be precise on working age ppl! yes a scandal in itself. there its simple work or u get nothing period. unlike here where u get punished for working and see those who dont have more than u e.g having 50K+ of housing benefit to live in kensington etc etc

    look at the work of larry meade there in nyc. basically said u must get a job no if buts no welfare. he revolutionised the ethos there of work. here work is an option not a compulsion millions have never worked here and are hell bent not to.

    stop welfare movement is growing. the battle lines between those that work and contribute and those that choose not to are clearly drawn and we are ready for the fight and we finally have a govt. willing to support those that work rather than those that take.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Troll, troll, troll, troll, troll!
      Yada, yada you boring idiot.
      Go away and educate yourself.

      Delete
  8. Every human system has a 'life span' which cycles periodically... We should learn from our mistakes and never let the elite get away with it again... Great post Sue, you write so eloquently, descriptive, emotive and empathetically...xxx

    ReplyDelete
  9. Being a uk national and just happening to decide to live&work abroad for the last 8yrs, when I Returned I Was unable to claim jsa or hb because i was not deemed "habitually resident". i lost the accomodation I Had secured and did not manage to find ANY job despite 100+ applis. I have a job from november. 6 mnths unemployed, mental health down the pan because continually fighting the establishment. Welcome to Britain.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Stop the blue badges that are given to people who never see the light of day yet their families who are all fitter than me run around using them to avoid parking fees.

    why not have blue badge spots where you pay?!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Blue badges have now changed; disabled people aren't happy about the fraud either, so blue badges now require photos, are biometric, and much more easily traced.

      If you see blue badge abuse, then report it by calling your local council rather than whinge. It's amazing how many people think they see tonnes of fraud and yet they do nothing personally to attempt to combat it. So walk your talk and help stop the fraud.

      Delete
    2. Blue badges always required photos.

      Delete
    3. Placing is different - and the form I had to fill out requires tonnes of information; son's carer said she didn't have to do much but fill in an address for hers, but I had to provide birth certificate as part of proof of ID in addition to a bunch of other details. It's definitely more complex.

      Delete
  11. Finally! Someone else who gets it!

    I live in the Netherlands, where we have a history of finding solutions and messing it up, just like you describe.

    About 15 years ago the government formed a coalition called purple. A 50/50 blend between blue (liberalists) and red (socialists). It was perfect: the government created a good system that caused the economy to flourish, created plenty of jobs, the Guilder was stable. It was fine.

    Then someone came up with the crazy idea of the European Union: "we need to be more of a competitor to the Dollar, so lets steal their idea and form one giant nation with all the countries in Europe! It doesn't matter if most of the countries in Europe have less valuable money, we'll make it work!"

    Well, it didn't. Directly after the introduction of the Euro the economy collapsed. Prices were high and wallets were flat.

    My point is: it's good to want more, till a certain point. As long as people (especially people with power) are not satisfied with what they have, they will eventually screw up. The Netherlands wanted more when everything was fine and look where we are now: almost 10% of the population is unemployed (of which half is suffering from depression or stress-related issues) and now one has a dime to invest to a solution.

    The same applies for every other country in Western Civilization.

    ReplyDelete
  12. By the way, I've added your blog to my blogroll, since we share similar topics. Would you like to add my blog to yours?

    It's named I Fkkn Rokk and you can find it at http://www.ifkknrokk.com

    ReplyDelete
  13. life was never meant to be about wealth if it had been god would have made it so

    work is the way forward for everyone who can and to volunteer whoever you may be if possible in your spare time if you can

    for those struggling to find work the only real answer is to go back to collage and find tune your qualifications and then take them abroad to a under developed country and make some positive changes and completely change the lives of not only yourself but for all of those around you in your new country

    Sure it's hard but it's gonna be a darn sight harder if you stick around in a right wing environment like the uk going no where for the rest of your life

    remember it's the quality of life that you should be focused on and not like the conservatives the money

    ReplyDelete
  14. As the ruling classes at the turn of the century faced the financial collapse of their own mismanagement, papers of the day quickly rushed to blame immigration and an over-reliance on imports for the dire "Friscal Policy" of the day. In fact, then as now, as the history books report, it was basic, out-of-control greed, an out of touch and elite government and a rush to protectionism that was crippling the country. sildenafil citrate

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sue, you might want to remove this link!! ^

      Delete
  15. Why not just stop blue badge people parking free then would be no abuse of the system??

    Why do blue badge ppl park free?? Give them spaces but make them pay. Would find zero abuse then. The badge holders wouldnt dish them out to family to use and you would find applications for badges for ppl in care homes who never see the light of day would dramatically drop!

    ReplyDelete
  16. They don't park free in paying car parks. Get your facts straight before you publish.

    ReplyDelete