Tag Archives: The Beatles

Pocket-picking time again

They say everyone has 20:20 hindsight, but with each new report that is released it becomes clear that the only sensible response to the financial crisis that began in 2007 is:

are you taking the piss?

Because it is increasingly apparent that, yes, in fact, they are.  Governments across the globe are expecting the poorest and those most in need of help to pay for the clear up while the bankers skip off to the Cayman Islands with suitcases full of our cash and an entreaty that the blame culture must end:

There was a period of remorse and apology; that period needs to be over

– Bob Diamond, chief executive of Barclays, quoted in Private Eye No 1280

If nothing else, you have to admire their chutzpah.

A reasonably well-connected friend told me back then that the credit crunch was being talked into existence.  I wasn’t sure I believed her, worrying that certain banks were too big to fail and about what might follow if they were allowed to collapse and take millions of ordinary worker’s savings, pensions and mortgages down with them.  In my naivety I might have expected an ounce of fucking gratitude for the largesse we showed in saving the bankers from the abyss.  Not a bit of it, if it was given at all it was begrudged and now, apparently, it’s over.

Instead of remorse, what we get are lectures from the decks of their super-yachts, moored off the coast of the latest tax haven, on why the need for austerity has added hospitals to the list of things now to be considered luxury items.  As noted by the Anarchist Writers:

it is hard to tell whether the Con-Dems stupidity is driven by class interest, incompetence, ideological blindness, economic illiteracy, or a Machiavellian wish to use crisis to pursue market-fundamentalist social engineering. Probably a mishmash of all with the incompetence, ideology and illiteracy helpfully deepening the crisis which can be used as an excuse to impose neo-liberal dreams and ensure the rich get richer

Clearing the deficit at a speed that terrifies most economists certainly seems to be their obsession, the gloss of prudent financial management given to an ideological mission to roll back every advance the working class has won for itself over the last 60 years, while allowing the looting of the global economy to continue unchecked.

Why should we break our backs stupidly paying tax?

Of course, as the rich and the corporations they control demand and get ever more lenient tax regimes, some idiot has to be found to make up the shortfall.  Guess who is in the frame?  So work becomes more and more like this, with the sting of a reduction in take home pay and the removal of services your taxes used to cover.  Remember who you’re working for:

But don’t fear!  We still have a gazillion pounds to spend on the Olympics, millions more to set up the organisation to monitor MP’s expenses and a few quid left over for some really nice chairs.

I wonder what will be our tipping point, what will see us head for the streets, when Mubarak is estimated to have accumulated 40-70 billion dollars from his reign in Egypt, an astronomical sum but one dwarfed by the quids our rulers have handed over to their mates in the pin-stripes.  Maybe it’s time to start building the barricades?

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Norwegian Wood

Needless to say, this whole adventure was probably at least 68% inspired by Haruki Murakami.  Therefore I am almost as excited about this:

as I am about the fact that I am now a mere three days away from arrival in Japan.

Isn’t it good?

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Everywhere you look

Everywhere you look, on all fronts, the cunts appear to be winning.  We, the right thinking people of this land, are being out manoeuvred and out gunned at every turn.

It used to be the case that you could rely on a core of people in the world to instinctively know the right side of an argument, who you could use as a litmus test to demonstrate that all was well.  I think here of Hunter S. Thompson and George Orwell, there are other examples, about whom it could easily be said: ‘if he/she agrees/disagrees with it, it must be correct’ as you went about your daily business.  Now all you can rely on is that everybody with a voice today uses it to come out with statements that no one in their right mind could hold to be correct.  The well publicised ‘death of ideology’ at the end of the Cold War seems to have mutated into a less well publicised murder of dissent.  To the extent that you have to ask…

“Where are the punks?”

Punk is the same age as me, but only one of us survived to celebrate our 30th.  The aesthetic got co opted; the ethos lost in a cloud of hepatitis-infected spit, safety pins and Sex Pistols reunions.  The hip young gunslingers now move closer to their first hip replacements, jostling the Zimmers for position in the establishment they once deluded themselves could be eviscerated with nothing more than razor sharp wit and a razor trimmed haircut.  The past is eating itself, as drama school rejects compete to replace the easy listening singers that the Beatles kicked out of the charts; The Kinks inspired Blur are replaced by the Blur inspired Kaiser Chiefs, in an ever decreasing circle of hell populated by careerist knock off merchants and rampant self-publicists.  Mika, Lily Allen and Kate Nash are not only allowed to live but to describe themselves as ‘musicians’ and be hailed as some kind of dynamic new voice in rock because their publicists set up MySpace pages.

Where is the anger?  Where is the outrage?
Why should you care?

Get another round of tequilas in.  Fight for your right to party, duuuuuuude.  The old battles have been fought and lost, you’re free to get on with your true vocation: drinking, shopping and fucking, all to a soundtrack of bland ooooohs and aaaaahs, hits of Soma provided by our sponsor for when the screaming in your brain becomes too loud….

Because it is not cool to care.  The last youth movement with a touch of the small ‘p’ politics about it was the loose gathering of nut jars that came together to try to fight the Criminal Justice Bill.  Once that motley crew of Loadsamoney style entrepreneurs, Do-It-Yourself-ers and Spiral Tribesmen had been overcome by surveillance, brutality and trumped up charges, it was understandable that few others would try to stick their heads above the parapet.  So we left the fields that should have been ours to party and protest in whenever we fancied and headed back to legality.  The baggy trousered philanthropists allowed themselves to be meekly herded into club nights with door policies more exclusive than Garden Parties at Buck House, where the big name, millionaire DJs turned the booths into altars for their own ego worship.  Music events became ‘brand dissemination opportunities’, sponsored by beer makers, a fantastic entrée to the youth market for the breweries who were starting to worry that their wares were going to appear like yesterday’s news next to the bright shiny ecstasy pills that the kids seemed so keen on.

They need not have worried.  For this is now a generation drunk on hedonism itself, not caring if the poison that it imbibes to get to that location has been bought in a wrap or over a bar.  Just get trashed, wasted, battered, fucked up.  This is the only goal worth pursuing.  The age old need to prove how much liquor you could hold has been surpassed by the urge to globally publicise pictures of you laying in the gutter in a pool of vomit.  Your politics is something you show with a coloured wristband, not something you FEEL.  Feelings themselves are messy things that can be treated with a kind of emotional Domestos, that kills all original thought dead.

God, how 70s, didn’t we leave all that embarrassing posturing behind with the three day week and footballer’s perms?  Just keep dancing, snorting, screwing – poking and preening at each other like a heaving mass of baby mice in a testing laboratory’s cage.  No need for any of that scary commitment stuff – why commit to an opinion when another one will come along in a minute?  How shameful to take a position when opinions are reduced to the status of a trend, something that can quickly become out of date.  Could you really be seen dead in last season’s trousers…?

Orwell believed with The Lion and the Unicorn that if he could speak over the heads of the self appointed intelligentsia, the ordinary men and women of Britain would hear his call to arms and right would prevail.  Joe Strummer tried the same thing: ‘London Calling… to the far away towns… war is declared and battle come down…’  And I would do the same, attempt to reach some mythical, silent majority if I had any faith in their existence.  But how can I have when I know, deep down, that they have been killed off by a real majority who voted for Hitler, loved Thatcher and who encourage their daughters to read Jordan’s ‘auto’ biographies because fucking a footballer is the best career path open to them?  The only thing that truly moves England’s dreamers is the relative upward or downward movement of the value of the pile of bricks that they rot their lives away in, drowning the regret in a vat of cheap wine, abdicating responsibility for righting the ills they created by delegating all control to a focus group version of benign fascism that rules us.

First published March 2008 in issue one of whaaat?

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