being away from home brings news closer to you. Zadie Smith mentions this in a recent NYRB article – no time to link – in which she talks about the absence of the daily rhythms of life that take the edge off the endless flow of bad news coming out of the press. This absence renders the depressing quality of news such as this week’s cabinet reshuffle all the more grating. (Yet) More privilege in the cabinet, fewer women by proportion, promotions for Murdoch’s sychophants and honours for failing ministers. Without the numbing humdrum of daily struggles, these aspects of British political life cut deeper. But will hopefully revive this blog. Scant consolation!
Something uncertain about these times. I don’t mean the overarching uncertainty that has long made steps tentative. Rather the losses of trust we are lately having to endure in politics/economy/media/community. An expenses scandal which exposed (some of) our elected representatives as thieves (The absurdity of the elected robbing the electorate takes some processing). There followed meagre sentences. At the same time the banks played risk with public finances. There followed increased banker bonuses and an electorate-funded bail out. Then came the revelation that Murdoch et al may not be as honest as they appear. The outcome remains to be seen but the damage si fa sentire every time privatised services let down. News International has long had a hold over British politics and is yet another unelected voice that not only shouts louder than any other but also fall upon more attentive ears (Standard & Poor’s are the latest on this stage).
The most recent loss of trust is located where these three meet. No politics worth engaging; a banking sector free to loot with impunity and a loss of reliable sources of information. The ‘social unrest’ of late is linked to this and arguing that ‘they don’t know nuffin ’bout politics’ doesn’t depoliticise unrest. There is protest at its heart, even if it’s not articulated by rioters, looters and arsonists. It’s time the government admitted this and involved itself with government and politicising rather than administration and apoliticising.
The riots might have been triggered by the killing of Mark Duggan but after thoise first few minutes in Totenham they drew in energies from broader sources… the inequalities of modern Britain, to be brief. That the coalition (cheered on by the Labour party) attempt to whip up vitriol in the underclass (one created by the very same people) is richly ironic. There is a deplorable circle of depoliticised being in consumer culture – engendered (not created, this form of governance never creates anything) by neolib strategies – arriving back in political discourse as moralised. The demoralised are now amoral – all in a climate that subordinates moral choice to concerns over shininess/newness/coolness etc. This is a devious sleight of hand on the part of our elite:
In a speech on Monday David Cameron argued ‘[there is a] moral hazard in our welfare system – people thinking they can be as irresponsible as they like because the state will always bail them out’. Cue disproportionate sentences such as this.
We should consider, as does Nina Power, that we live in a country ‘in which the richest 10% are now 100 times better off than the poorest, where consumerism predictated on personal debt has been pushed for years as the solution to a faltering economy, and where, according to the OECD, social mobility is worse than any other developed country’.
In this context introspection ought replace finger pointing.
Entering the blogosphere at a time when my life is at its busiest makes a lot of sense. Yes.