I started to contemplate leaving London, again, from the perspective of having already left whilst in the departure lounge Weatherspoons at Gatwick airport. It is the sort of place that produces an emotional translucency. Coming down, slightly high, exhausted, and drinking throughout 47 hours of delays only helped the sense of floating away. This would be the second time that I had left, but personally it felt harder than the first. Further removed from my loved ones, all of whom were older and in different places to where I had left them, it served as a rather bleak pining. On the city itself though, the tide had very much turned. As I sat and watched things spin about me, I felt a terrible sickness, but not in me. Like watching someone in the distance sleepwalk into quicksand and smile whilst they sink, it was a comic act of inevitable tragedy. I guess I just have to decide whether to laugh or cry.


Twat in London

What a cunt

The first evening saw us marooned with the last flights of the day, one to Ibiza, two to Falaraki. Packs of wild youths roamed about slurping duty free and dry-humping one another in the empty waiting area. The following morning there were three separate stag parties waiting to be detonated in some poor country they could barely pronounce, but assumed the women were cheap ‘over there’. The place had become a blur of tutu’s, men in dresses, fire-men outfits with really, really short shorts. Like a gay disco with no class, reason, or any prospect of sex unpaid for. There was not much to do in the midst of all this besides trying to take yourself away mentally, a sort of meditation under duress.

As is the custom of the time, I turned to the television to be my spiritual guide. BBC News 24 was running two stories on loop for a couple of hours. It was a sad sight. I couldn’t help but wonder if it was all a joke, some big piss-take laughing at anyone who was actually paying enough attention to hear.

The first segment was a detailed analysis of the forthcoming season of Cunts Gone Dancing, Strictly Come Cunts, or Dirty Cunts. Something like that. To spice it up they had emotional interviews with the contestants and a detailed comparison of viewer ratings across BBC and ITV on a Saturday night. It was a great deal of effort, especially considering that anyone who would watch that sort of shit probably doesn’t watch news 24, or that anyone capable of numeracy has better things to do on a Saturday night and really couldn’t give a toss.Jason Donovan caricature on tv illustration

The second was on whether or not the top-rate of income tax should be lowered to 40%. In the wake of repeatedly dire economic reports that have prompted a wave of assaults on social provision and mere moments after the country was convulsed with riots, and the ensuing repression, that go with gutting already weak defences for the poor – this is the policy agenda?

The argument in favour of cutting the taxes put forward for public consumption was one of brain-drain. With such high taxes the most talented people would simply desert Britain. It is for our own good that we accept that the rich don’t want to pay taxes and acquiesce to the reality that in a globalised world social provisions based upon wealth redistribution are dead. Probably also, that we don’t question the assumption that the rich are better than us, that we need them, these specialised geniuses, because otherwise who will fuck us over, corrupt and ruin our finance sector, or put us in this bleak position of austerity? They’d be missed.

One thing you should not accept, it was implied: if you could just up and live wherever you like – irrespective of work restraints or anything more tender to bind you – there is no way in hell any smart person in that position would still be in England anyway.

None of the experts provided any numbers, evidence of any form of fact, to back up the idea that taxes demoralise people. Traditionally it is put forward that they are a disincentive to work, now they are a disincentive to even living, at least in that specific country. The counter argument consisted of accepting all the basic premises in favour of cutting the taxes, but suggesting that there were better ways to raise these funds. Keeping the tax rate, let alone raising it, was clearly not worth suggesting.

It is amazing that only 320,000 people pay the upper rate of tax; that’s according to the BBC report. Intuitively it would seem evasion must be rife. Even if it isn’t, and granted this was one days news, why should anyone give a fuck about these rich cunts when there are millions unemployed?

So that was the news. The distractions are back, Jason Donovan is involved (if anyone gave a fuck about these people, wouldn’t they still be doing panto somewhere?) and the rich need our sympathy. If they don’t get it they might just fuck-off to somewhere cheaper, on the assumption that this is the guiding force of the most evolved amongst us, and we will be left to suffer economic decline, decaying social institutions, and feral gangs running amuck burning and looting as some post-apocalyptic hell scenario take hold. Oh, wait a second…

More than all that though, that so many economic assumptions previously the preserve of the right are now conventional wisdom is scary. The idea that taxes stop people from wanting to work is one it seems. So is the notion implicit in the debate above that by cutting taxes we can reinvigorate the economy by making the rich richer and letting them plan for us, trickle-down economics it used to be called, or “let them eat cake”. That the government cannot provide consistent high quality services due to inherent inefficiencies in state provision is another.

As someone who hasn’t lived in England for several years and for several more before that rarely came up for air long enough to follow things like the TV media, this came as something as a shock to me. I stopped following the news in England because I found it too detestable to hear the political class speak after the war in Iraq.

Yuppy Cunt

That was the point that I couldn’t move on from and pretend that things were as advertised and grounded in any sense of truth, decency, or justice for the people at the top. That is 8 years ago now. Of course, I still keep up with events, but not anywhere you might have seen a New Labour politician speak, it just ruined my day.

It seems things have changed since I have been away. Even the establishment bastions of decent journalism are running guff about reality TV, for example. It also seems, quite clearly, that the change made to the British political system when Labour ceased to represent an even vaguely socialist perspective are now permanent. I guess this was why I left the country, because I couldn’t tolerate being part of the Empire, profiteering from a network of fascist Gulags whilst bombing the hell out of some dark people, without even the hope of a vehicle for remedying that. I couldn’t go back to pretending things weren’t really all that bad. That and the coke was getting to me.

Humanitarian imperialism I was aware of, but it seems that the ‘left’ has been coming to terms with a few other realities also. The necessity of private intervention in the few remaining state sectors is a surprising one. It seems that along with so many of New Labours new right programs, this is now generally being accepted. Why? Apparently for all the same reasons Thatcher and her gang put forward in the 80′s. Clearly there is a reasonably straight line from here to there, with a few exceptions. I would argue that it has more to do with accepting reality and still feeling good about it. It is happening and no one appears inclined to do a thing about it, so why argue, just change your tune.

In 1980 the top rate of income tax was 60%, that was under Thatcher. (Reduced from 83% when she entered office.) Through the bulk of the last decade under Labour it stood at 40%. This isn’t surprising. The social welfare reforms that were put in place after 1945 were hard won on the battlefields of two world wars, decades of genuine and radical left-wing socialist activism and under the threat of a fate far worse for the fortunes of the ruling class. There was no change of heart though and a response was inevitable. The great triumph for the right was convincing people that there never was a class war in the first place. It is such a shame though that having been bought in on the deal, so many seem to have been so willing to forget the principles that forged the setting for them to prosper. Having been dealt in, they sit by and watch others get cut out. This has an end point and it doesn’t involve many people sharing the pie, but it will take getting there before people give a shit; it is a shame.

To see people defending New Labour now because they know that come election time they will have to vote and it will have to be for them is a truly sad affair. In 1970, lamenting the fact that a socialist direction in American politics was a clear impossibility, Chomsky said: “At the very least [a global socialist movement] requires that domestic pressures impede the great centres of world imperialism from counter-revolutionary intervention.” That didn’t happen for Vietnam or Nicaragua, Iraq, nor Libya now. The relevance of this for the British ‘left’? In the main, they cannot see themselves as sitting at the centre of an imperial system. To do this would acknowledge that Britain has done and continues to profit to suffer from the misery and exploitation of others. That just would not do. Neither does being apolitical. So people get on with accepting certain facets of the current reality, dressed up as something else. Good luck with it.

The private sector is getting cut in to healthcare and education provision for the same primary reason they got cut in to telecommunications, the rail network, water supply and a host of other safe investments/essential services: there is money in it. If you think that the government cannot provide good quality services for a bunch of flabby Thatcherite reasons, go to Denmark. Superb healthcare, they pay you to stay in education after you turn 18 including through the free University courses on offer, and the social welfare provision, be it for the unemployed, pregnant women, or anybody else, enables a genuinely decent standard of living. All that and they don’t make you feel like a thief for it. The top rate of tax in Denmark? 60%.

The issue isn’t one of efficiency, but resource allocation. The ruling class now are only willing to allow education and health-care if they get paid for it. It is a complete reverse of the old ideals and the ‘left’ just rolled over and accepted this. Even the Telegraph is printing articles attacking the status-quo as a step too far in these cases; but they don’t need to feel good about voting Labour next time. Like my granddad said, “this country has gone to the dogs and now that dog is about to get savaged by the wolves.”

So what is the spirit of the age? Wealth preservation. There is no wealth creation, job creation, and you can forget about self-creation. If you are at the bottom it is just self-preservation. The poor are thieves, black is black, dignity and decency come at a price and if you can’t pay it you are scrounging. Left is right and our rights don’t extend to the basic core elements of a fruitful existence anymore. People are subdued and even when they’re not they can’t even find the vocabulary to express themselves. Education used to be a source of pride, unions were strong, and people read truly political pamphlets – all in the past; now they are watching cunts on TV dance and talk about their emotions. Even the people who do care, can see it and might make a difference are marginalised. The best thing I can see is the rage, there is some hope in that, but long term it needs a vehicle to channel it and turn it into something constructive. Without that even the hope is negative and I am not too hopeful that mobilisation is coming.

So where am I now? Rambling along certainly, but I am gone. I am gone because I think that there exists a discernible current to events and I do not want to be sitting on the beach when the tide comes in, not in this case. Sometimes you have to trust your senses, or you risk losing them. You can only swallow your outrage, hide your pride, bite your tongue, or fake it all for so long before you need to start asking people what you should feel. Maybe there is nothing better over the horizon, but I can’t believe that and until I have looked I can’t sink into the lobotomy of London life. I can’t get myself together to smile whilst I talk about it all in the language of liars, then pretend the worst bits don’t count before trotting off to do my duty and pass by the polling station on my way back around. There is no love in the lie, only more of the same, which I suppose is alright if it was working out for you anyway. Wasn’t for me. So, adios amigos.

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