It doesn’t do to be economical with the Truth. Here at The Slog, our aim is to be ecumenical about it: so in a mixed bag tonight, everyone comes in for a mixture of praise and bashing, regardless of their demographics, politics, tactics, narcotics, or other varietal characteristics.
According to most of the international newswires this morning, it was All Quiet on the EU Front. But as I entered my hotel tonight, TV station France Deux disagreed: Spain, it said, was on the verge of implosion. The guys at AP and Reuters, however, suggested (in creepy accord) that the Brussels mafiosi are ‘oddly calm’.
I don’t find anything odd about their collective tranquility at all.
They’re oddly calm for the same reason they’re always oddly calm: they’re indolent, smug, overconfident and/or drunk.
Lots tot up what they’ve been oddly calm about since 2009: banking vulnerability, ECB lending policy, Greece, eurozone liquidity, Spanish cajas, NATO foreign policy, Catalonian aspirations, Ukraine meddling, Italian financial crises, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, African migration, Brexit, and now violence in Catalonia.
In short, they’re oddly calm because they’re odd. They look like suburban hairdressers, write execrable Japanese poetry, say hello by slapping people across the face, have a chronic sausage habit, need dental attention, part their hair eccentrically, and ignore every economic, anthropoligical, fiscal and cultural lesson from history. Then when it becomes obvious everyone else is tired of their nonsense, they hire men with clubs, rubber bullets and tear gas.
I am myself a eurozone resident, who finds himself yet again in Paris. My relationship with la vie haut-bobo Citedine being at an end, this time I am merely passing through. This time, in fact, I am situate where the poor folks live: to be exact, in the 10th arondissement…..aka Barbès. Pretty much everyone in the Barbès is one or more of the following: black, brown, deranged, on drugs, ugly, obese, disabled, displaced, illegal, illiterate, but above all impoverished. They do, however, seem committed to the idea of marriage as The Big One. I have never seen so many marital outfitters in such a confined space.
These are the people left behind by neoliberalism’s blind eye. That makes them neither noble nor evil, but it does make them dangerous. I’m in this part of Paris because I can park my car there conveniently for the Gare du Nord, and the only reasonably priced and reasonably hotel available was Ibis. My description of the locals does not involve any words ending in ist: it’s simply empirical.
Go onto Twitter or most other social media in 2017 with an observation, and you will be called an ic or an ist: homophobic, racist, sexist, or Islamophobic. Many of those employing such naked slurs are Marxist in their outlook – but that doesn’t mean they hate Marx, any more than I do: it means they are adherents to his ideology….even though he himself decried it several times late in life. Such is the muddle of the contemporary Left.
What makes both LibLefts and Neoliberals unbearable is their insistence on taking 100% of the credit for all things moral, ethical, enjoyable and enriching. But then, taking credit where it is not due is a feature of every last opinion leader in any privileged class.
Few do this more effortlessly and with such hypocritical self-largesse than multinational corporations. Take Ibis, for instance. “Don’t use towels you don’t need,” its inroom brochure pleads, “think of the environment, and the need to conserve water”. The Ibis “budget” hotel I stayed in last night offered me little beyond a shower and a lavatory….but the latter had a mini-flush capable of overwhelming the average Developing World dam. The reality is that fewer towels to launder means lower laundry bills, and thus juicier dividends for the shareholders along with bigger bonuses for the directors. The idea that they GAF about limited Earth resources is a sick joke.
This does not of course stop Ibis having many dedicated employees. After they screwed up my reservation, the Italian receptionist in the Rue Lafayette rang around and found me an equable alternative close by; and the bloke in the alternative tried hard to make the best of a deeply ordinary charcuterie for supper.
It’s the same the whole world over It’s the poor what gets the blame It’s the rich what gets the pleasure Ain’t it all a bloomin’ shame?
Nobody seems to know who wrote those lines, but as late as 1930 they were still being performed by Billy Bennett in the English music halls. They’re more accurate today than ever before…..and yet also today, the poor are just as feckless as they ever were. Most of it is to do with the decline in education in particular and culture in general. And that is, without doubt, down to the perverted spending priorities of the political class – regardless of Party affiliation.
Did you know, for example, that in Finland it is against the law for citizens under 18 years of age to watch The Little House on the Prairie? To take the time to pass a law of such unfathomable idiocy is hard to connect to any heirarchy of priorities that would make sense to me, but then the cornucopia of human anxiety is eternally baffling. The first internet page ever written was conceived not in the US Pentagon or Britain’s GCHQ, but in Switzerland. Why that should be – or whether the content was about chocolate cuckoo clocks – I have no idea. Until this afternoon, I had no idea that the average human eyelash lasts four months. I do now, but God knows why anyone bothered to find out.
There again, do you know why the French call their country La Patrie? I mean, Patrie is from patrimony, relating to father….but they gave it a feminine gender. La Patrie is also the name of a piece of guitar music. Another piece usually played on double base is called Air on a G-String. I wonder if you could get away with calling something Air on a telegraph pole. I don’t see why not: it’s nowhere near as far-fetched as the idea of someone walking on water. Or being greeted by 77 virgins in when you get to Heaven. Or watching your silly idea of a European Union falling apart while remaining oddly calm.