If you want to make some serious money sell clothes pegs for our noses. It stinks out there. The paperboy or girl might as well deliver a bucket of manure every morning. At least it would be honest…
This week seems to have been all about Bankers. I doubt if I can add many more words or expletives to those you will have read or spluttered into your cornflakes this week. So, I won’t add many…except to say what an exceptional time we seem to be living through. What follows is not about the Bankers because this is about a lot more than the Bankers.
One by one the respected pillars of society – once respected by the gullible as institutions of morality – have become exposed as deeply corrupt, opportunist and exploitative of the rest of us (or maybe as the rest of us).
The law has always been an ass. Barristers have always told very tall tales for money. We expect little better. If ever I need one I hope she does a good job for me. But lately…MPs fiddling expenses, priests fiddling with little boys and girls, other priests covering up for them, Church of England Lords taking twenty-seven grand plus a year for turning up, phone tapping, policemen abusing women and taking bribes from journalists (and who knows who else?), bankers taking our money in bail-outs, mis-selling, insider dealing and fixing interest rates, supermarkets fixing prices, oil companies not passing price falls to the pumps, the already very rich giving to charity (and some very dodgy charities among the genuine) before paying tax whilst the rest of us buy our poppy after paying as we earn (or being “loaned” their pay by offshore holding companies (alternative comedy can’t even laugh at itself now) etc. etc. etc..
Suddenly all but the determinedly deaf will have woken up to the fact that not only the moral high ground but the very legitimacy of the institutions and persons that rule our lives has been nothing but a facade; a fantasy stage set behind which they can get on with all their dirty dealing, theft, perversions and embarrassingly conspicuous consumption that is obviously the reality of life behind the scenery and outside the theatre the rest of us were mis-sold tickets for. Honest MPs, bankers, politicians, priests, vicars, police officers, journalists and comedians must feel particularly sick.
Everyone is entitled to be an ass sometimes. In the Seventies sensible people – and anarchists – used to challenge me about the corruption in the Soviet Union. They were outraged by the theft of the aspiration of human liberty by grey men who put the Party ahead of people and themselves somewhere ahead of the Party. Men so immersed in bizarre, systemic hypocrisy and corruption that all they could hope was to learn to somehow direct it’s petulant and unpredictable tides whilst everyone else aspired only to float on the flood and avoid open drains. I tried to answer by pointing out Socialism had only been going since 1917. Capitalism had a 400 year start and had brought us a thousand little wars of empire and two world wars. A pathetic excuse for murder, famine, red empire and the gulag. But I was a EuroCommunist and it had nothing to do with me…
Corruption in a socialist state is something to point a finger at and be deplored as hypocrisy. However, capitalism IS organised corruption. Buy low, sell high, fix the market, intimidate, monopolise, export poverty, underdevelopment, disease and environmental degradation. Rob them, rule them, fool them with religion and racism, enslave them with credit, trade inside. Screw the rest of us. Keep the bonuses coming. The last few years have been a political education and more and more of us are learning.
These incidents are adding up to more than the sum of their parts. The rot seems to be running everywhere. The columns are crumbling quite severely and the temple is in impressive danger of collapse even without the crisis in Euroland. What will we read in the news tomorrow?
I find myself using the phrase “the rest of us” a lot in this article. I’m wondering how long The Rest of Us are going to put of with this behaviour. These days “The Rest Of Us” could be the big banner at the front of a very big demonstration or even the basis of the fabled broad democratic Alliance of the Outraged that overthrows the Coalition government to replace it with a Labour government that broadly demands…an end to austerity and a more humanitarian and compassionate capitalism. More fantasy then?
More than ever, it is up to The Rest of Us. A very nice young woman from the Green Party phoned me on the M2 this week and asked me to double my subscription. I did. Join me.