We may have killed off the Soviet Union, but before that happened our self-styled democratic politicians learned everything they could from it.
Political correctness has been the mind-altering drug of the Left and Centre-Left now for almost three decades. For over two years, the Right has had its own pc, Political Commerce. It is trying to steamroller over facts, ethics and morality in exactly the same way that the original pc shouted down facts, genetic biology, and practicality.
The damning commonality between the two is their insistence on ignoring updated data and the consequences of fancy, while repelling any and all creative ideas. Because of this, Anglo-saxonism today is a stagnant, fearful, and ultimately superficial culture.
Perhaps the entire political class could be said to suffer from one overriding pc: polemic correctness. Whether the mantra ‘open for business’ or ‘racist’ is used to combat critical analysis, the effect is the same….the need for a large dose of creative reality is dismissed.
If these observations should seem to you sweeping and unjust, let me for a paragraph or two list some incontrovertible facts about contemporary British politics.
Of the major economic theories available, both the men who inspired them – Karl Marx and Adam Smith – have been dead for well over a century. The men who refined them – Keynes and Friedman – have been applied to our current problems, and found wanting. Respectively, central bank QE and Merkelian austerity’s response to that failure has been “Keep going, it’ll work in the end”. Thus whether QE kills the currency, or austerity kills the economy, the result will be the same: widespread impoverishment of the citizen.
The British Left – still called Labour although there is no real working class in 2012 – offers us a full quiver of quackery. Feminism is behaviourist tosh, multiculturalism a dismally dangerous failure wherever it exists, trade unionism an agent of controlling anti-democratic violence, wealth redistribution ineffective despite 68 years of trying to achieve it, and State-run public health an overstaffed disaster that’s unfit for any purpose beyond employing arrogant consultants and often apathetic nurses.
On the Right, the Conservative Party is split between equally irrelevant ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ approaches to our socio-economic mess. The Wets rattle the occasional sabre about the EU, but by and large admire it. They follow a ‘One Nation’ Toryism invented by Benjamin Disraeli 170 years ago (and recently snatched from under their noses by Labour’s Ed Miliband). The Dry people follow the ideas of Baroness Thatcher, a lady who left office 23 years ago having brought us negative equity mortgages, deregulated banking, an unhealthy closeness to Ronald Reagan, and a trail of broken communities throughout Britain. The Cameron government tries to believe in both at once, but at heart would prefer it if profit-motivated business took over the whole shooting match under the mantle of The Big Society.
The third force of any significance in the UK – the Scottish National Party – is running (and winning) on the ticket of Scottish Independence, an idea so devoid of economic reality only the highly intelligent would ever entertain it.
So in a nutshell, the British voter today has the choice between a Big Society dictated by grubby commercial interests, One Nation run by denialist social scientists, or two slighly smaller nations – one of which has almost the highest level of welfare dependency in the EU. As remedies for our current malaise, I would liken these approaches to a patient being offered electrolysis, antibiotics or amputation as the options for treating obesity.
I’m sure that both David Cameron and Ed Miliband are reasonably relaxed this weekend, and confident that their political careers have been – at least temporarily – relaunched. In the US, Mitt Romney will be happy with his performance during a debate in which not a single, solid or thought-through policy was debated; while Barack Obama will have teams of writers and spinners advising him on how to play Round Two. I’m sure that, in private, this quartet of wofflers grasps the enormity of the hole we’re in. But I’d be willing to bet that none of them is thinking that hard about the consequences, once a foul-smelling truckload of excrement pours into the hole at some point between late November and Spring 2013. What they are mainly thinking about is first, what to say next; and second, what the effect of saying such things will have on the voters, the Party, and the media.
The issue of finding something revolutionary and visionary to make life better for all in the future will not exist on the schedule, radar, or agenda of any of them. There are two reasons for this. First, they know there are far too many political dangers and vested interests dictating the impossibility of even suggesting such an idea, let alone trying to put it into practice. And second, they don’t have any ideas anyway. These guys aren’t creative thinkers: they are winners with enough faces each to persuade enough people that they should be in charge.
Why have they won out then? Here I think the issue is largely one of yes, vested interests and invasive media – but also citizen discernment. The ability of voters these days to see through an empty con-artist with pleasant features and a nice turn of phrase is in many cases close to zero. It was blindingly obvious to me at the time of their election that Tony Blair, Nicholas Sarkozy, George W Bush, Gordon Brown, Nick Clegg and David Cameron were not up to the job. This was a case not so much of insight as eyesight: I have no special powers – just one eye in the Kingdom of the Blind.
The media culture we have remains one of the main reasons that, time after time, we wind up with mediocre winners. The game now is to catch out, to smear, to ridicule appearance, to scaremonger about the pitfalls of ingenuity…and above all, to follow the controlling, antiquated ideas of the billionaire proprietor. But these things were ever thus: the media’s main deadly dysfunction at the moment is its ability to distract small minds with childish things….while trotting out views that are rarely questioned – thanks to two generations of dumbed down, formulaic and conformist education.
Substitute Izvestia for The Guardian or Der Sturmer for the Daily Mail or Der Spiegel for The Times, and this essay really could be applied perfectly accurately to Nazi Germany in the 1930s, the Soviet Union from 1932 to 1986, and the European Union from 1980 onwards. In Britain, we laugh too easily at clowns like Barroso, control freaks like Merkel, and crooks like Venizelos – but we have our own versions here. In the West as a whole, everything is econo-politically heading in the same direction: a refusal to listen followed by an explosion of violent frustration. All our political and constitutional processes must be reformed – and soon.
But in the meantime, the internet is for opposition. At the moment were are merely millions of splintered egos fighting tightly focused and massively wealthy megalomaniacs. We must start building more alliances of decency, before it’s too late.