Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Kiss Up, Kick Down - It's The British Way

An amazing contrast this week between my Twitter feed and my conversations with colleagues and acquaintances.  While I'm hearing nothing but praise for the sterling work of the Occupy movement from the former, here's what I'm hearing from the latter - Hippies... Fannies... Get a job... 

And really, how could it ever have been otherwise?   The tiny Edinburgh protest sits right in front of the gleaming facade of Harvey Nichols and the stentorian Bank of Scotland building.  Who wants to sit in a tent protesting the universal enfuckage of the entire populace by the super-rich, when you can swank around Harvey Nicks pretending to be super-rich?

I mean, we all feel bad that we were collectively car-jacked by the world's financial elite and forced to hand over bajillions to prevent the total collapse of civilisation, but hey!  They're offering to lend some of it back at really competitive rates!

There's a simple truth here - in a boxing match between powerless protesters and Croesus himself, most of the crowd is going show up in cut-out cardboard crowns.

Do you remember that old Levellers song Hope Street, about the gaudy, phoney allure of the National Lottery?  I seriously doubt it - I only remember it because it always made me think... Well shit, I hear you, but more folk want to be millionaires than want to be crusties.  People, isn't it?

Hell, the protesters have my sympathies.  From what I can glean from the media, they're pissed because our entire economy was hitched to a fatuous get-rich-forever scheme that was entirely reliant upon the housing market expanding in perpetuity, and because all of the ill-consequences have fallen upon those least able to afford it... While the fat fucks who profitted most continued to suck up bounteous remuneration and the rest of us had to swallow record-busting crashes in our living standards, if we were lucky, or abrupt unemployment and visits from the bailiffs if we weren't. 

Business after business may have folded; high streets may have been zapped into space dust, public services might be exterminated and higher education ring-fenced for the children of the middle classes, but Harvey Nicks is doing a roaring trade.  Our political masters may be a wholly-owned subsidiary of UK Geezyermoney Plc, enacting an amazing everyone gets fired and then the economy somehow booms plan, but Mammon is still shoving expensive drugs up its hooter and eating pan-fried endangered species, flown first-class straight from Sumatra.

The system is rigged!  Any form of capitalism that doesn't allocate capital in the most efficient way possible is not "capitalism", but a jury-rigged scam designed to enrich its aristocratic minority!  Go tell it on the mountain, brothers and sisters!  Testify!

The Occupy movement is trying to do the only useful thing it can - loudly proclaim to the public that they are marks in a global scam, and striving to force the press and politicians to acknowledge that fact by forcibly wedging this message into the mainstream.

In a way, we've got the tools for it.  We in Britain have one of the world's most efficient shit-delivery systems in our tabloid press, which has spent the last three decades pouring great rivers of crap onto the poorest and least powerful people in our society.  Imagine, if Occupy whatever could create a public demand for all of that bile and resentment to flow uphill towards those who actually exercise some measure of influence?  Hallelujah!  Imagine Question Time!

And yet, I can't help but play prophet of doom as usual.  The UK - hell, the western world - is the way it is because it suits everyone who matters just fine.  A financial crisis is far from ideal, but you can live on it, if you know what I mean.  You don't have to be a bomb-throwing anarchist to work out cui is bonofitting when the Fed's solution to disaster is to perpetually shove truckloads of treasure down the gaping throats of their once-and-future bosses in high finance.

And the people?  Put it this way - those same papers have spent months loudly complaining about how crap the latest series of The X-Factor is, to a very receptive audience.  I notice that the advertisers are still paying top-whack for airtime though, and that the public are still tuning in in their millions.  What are they going to do, watch Strictly?  It's the same show with a different backdrop and a slightly altered premise!

Still, I marvel at the ludicrousness of our situation.  The Great British public has mechanisms for dealing with protests - noisy anti-war marches can be dicked off easily, because we all go home afterwards and don't come back out; riots are violent and destructive, and everybody knows how to respond to that.

The spectacle of ordinary people tutting, bitching and sneering at protesters who are angry about the very phenomenon that has crushed the man in the street's finances to a pulp, though...  Well, that may just represent the hilarious, inevitable apotheosis of the western way of life.

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