I had a very interesting argument the other day. I was attempting, on the behalf of a friend of mine, to persuade the gentleman in question of the disturbing implications of a National Identity Card system, and, disturbingly, not doing very well. I brought out all the usual points - the general iniquity of the current administration, the violation of the right to privacy, the fact that it's unclear who gets access to the centralised database and when - but kept getting rebuffed by the assertion that these problems with the proposal simply meant that it was a waste of money, rather than a Bad and Terrifying Thing. This is emblematic of a creeping commercial moronism and needs to be Stamped On.
EXPLANATION: Because, in the benighted U of K, we now lack any kind of real ideological opposition between the Labour Government and the Conservative Opposition, and both espouse a neo-Thatcherite, crypto-fascist* communitarian philosophy, while presenting a broadly corporate-branded front, condemnation of political or public-service failures is no longer political, but practical
. That is to say, based on efficiency
. Recently, I believe, there was another of the perennial news stories in which someone refuses to pay council tax and gets banged up for their trouble. However, in this case the reasoning was the interesting bit - the person in question was refusing to pay because there was rubbish in the streets (amongst other things) and therefore the council wasn't doing its job, and therefore it didn't deserve its "fee". Equally, criticisms of the NHS claim that it's not fit for purpose and would be better off run by private concerns. This is Filth and Lies. The whole point of a public service is that you put money in, and get Heatlth and Education out. You're not looking to make a profit, or meet targets - your job is to make people better
or teach people things
, wheras a private firm's job is to make as much money as possible, and any teaching or healing that goes on is a side-effect. Which is why (if it is indeed the case) public services are in such a mess, because if you try to treat an organisation designed for essentially non-commercial means like a corporation, it doesn't work
And exactly the same thing is wrong with British politics.
I'm frankly uninterested in who can play the "Centre-Right Middle England Authoritarian Warmaker" game best, because political parties aren't meant to be machines for governing - if anything, that's what Parliament is for - the parties themselves should ideally be some sort of Hegelian dialectic, where politicians of all persuasions are forced, in the crucible of debate, to justify their shit
. At the moment, there can be no ideological debate because the current nature of Government is being taken as axiomatic - the only game in town, if you will. Corporations operate on a different ethical level from more or less everything else, in that they exist to produce money for the people that own them, but mostly to create money for themselves (which is why they outlive their creators and shareholders - the people involved are entirely contingent).
Moreover, the demands of a corporate entity can excuse some fairly unpleasant acts of bigotry - insurance rates are can be determined by race and gender, and it's entirely allowable to refuse to employ people because they don't fit the "brand" as a metonymic** excuse for exclusion by class. This is, I suppose, the end result of a full-fledged capitalistic system; that everything is judged by commercial ethics. So what we really need is an actual opposition who will take our rulers to task over their amoral antics, rather than agree on the goals but quibble over the method. Why, for example, has no-one cornered David Cameron on his abhorrence of "yob culture" and unrepentant membership of the fucking repulsive and inexcusable Bullingdon Club
? Why has the Prime Minister, a man who seems to have an almost pathological aversion for the truth, not been eviscerated (either figuratively or literally; I don't care which) over his illegal wars, appointment of various fascist nutcases as Home Secretary, lying to the public about more or less everything
and systematic destruction of the educative process in schools? It's not that he's "not doing his job properly" or he's "wasting our money", it's that he's an amoral monster who will do anything for approval and power and has repealed most of the basic legal rights posessed by
in this country and needs to be stopped right. now. It's simply not a case of "things can't possibly go wrong, because if they were, then people would be dealing with it" : the system is sick and needs fixing. Things are going very wrong indeed. I'd tell you to as Jean Charles de Menezes, except, of course, you can't.
The only possible thing to do other than fervently hope that somewhere, a minister will grow a spine, is to be the conscience that Government lacks. Maximum political action on behalf over everyone who doesn't
find the idea of neo-Thatcherite authoritarian bondage appealing is the only way to deal with the corporatisation of government and the ills that stem from it. Because it's not going to fix itself.
* O for the days when "crypto-fascist" used to be an insult
in public discourse.
** A metonym is where part of something stands for the rest of it: "The Crown" for "The institution of the Monarchy", for example.