Business As Unusual
Fri 8th Jul 2016
Ouch! That hurts! All the heartache and shocks that flesh is heir to have wounded the UK deeper than any neo-Elizabethan sword. And, indulge me in a silly orthological game, if you put the opening S of sword at the end you get words.
Gosh - what veritable banks of words are being spent like currency, whether measured in quids, bucks, or euros. The public japes, jibes, and jostles of recent months are predicated on variations of a theme, citing sovereignty and even democracy itself. But I can't believe anyone trying to fathom the politicos' pronouncements can be shocked by behaviour more suited to a play of the Bard. Surely that's just Business As Usual.
The pursuit of their oh-so reluctantly declared ambition is predicated
on their words and, more so by what they imply. They fall upon those
words as casually as they fall upon their swords.
All good fodder for sub-editors and headline jotters - if it weren't so
serious. What's missing from this jousting arena of lies and
inappropriate giggles is the exposure of the agenda of the real
string-pullers. Like puppeteers of the show, they're ubiquitous while
cunningly hidden behind the curtain of anonymity.
I'm talking about Big Business, which I will call BB. And, forgive the
pun, BB is King! It's a constant presence in media reports of how our
continental crisis affects it. In fact, it has usurped political power
and control. It [collectively] transcends politics yet completely
To make a planetary analogy, BB occupies the Stratosphere which [unlike
the Troposphere directly above us] is where the real power of climate
change occurs by its recently discovered effect on our Jet Stream.
Previously, it was assumed the JetStream controlling our daily weather
was only affected by the wind direction of the Troposphere, but we now
know how the Stratosphere's winds, blowing this way and that above the
Ozone Layer, have a significant effect on conditions here on Earth over
decades and even millennia.
It is of course the Ozone Layer which protects every one of us from the
damage which an unrestrained Sun can inflict.
We can learn much from comparisons with BBs global effects, not only on
the machinations of politicians, but on our own daily lives. Such
phenomenal power dictated by a social stratum so adept at masking itself
and avoiding accountability, calls into question the very concepts of
sovereignty and even of democracy itself.
So you gotta ask: what indeed has all the recent fuss and hoo-hah been
about? While we the people have had a desertful of sand blown into our
eyes, BB has been busy with self-protection and ensuring its global
agenda is maintained.
This current status quo hasn't emerged overnight. Whether we ordinary
folk were or weren't aware of our social structures over the past couple
of hundred years, and most especially post-WWII, BBs dominating agenda
has seeped inexorably into every aspect of our lives.
Remember back about 25 years or so? Seems odd, but trust me, the news
was almost a BiznessFreeZone. The broadcast and print media trumpeted
political reports, some cultural announcements, an increasing amount of
sports news, but not really BB or even financial news. Sure, specialists
like the FT and The Economist dealt with it, but neither has
traditionally been the reading choice of the general public.
There certainly were no Dragon's Den, The Bottom Line, The Apprentice,
Mary Portas and Alex Polizzi rescues, and Sir John Harvey [Lord Digby]
Today, the biggest changes in the bombardment of stuff we're meant to
absorb from whatever wing of whatever party or vested interest, are
two-fold. First is the switchover from political accountability to the
slippery side-steps of P.R. which, of course, circumvents real debate.
And second, the setting of political agendas by BB - with the exception
of the Green Party.
In the frantic scramble to line the public up behind Leaving or Staying,
both sides spouted lies and false conclusions about the effects of
either choice on BB. The Economy became shorthand for a range of
assumptions, causing as much confusion as the precise definition of
Ever since the global financial sector's fatal manipulation of 2007/8,
the message to us ordinary peeps is that we must be sacrificed on the
altar of a so-called healthy economy. As though the financial markets,
like ICU patients, needed transplants of our hearts and souls,
transfusions of our blood, and the switch-off of our life support to
keep them ticking over all tickety-boo.
Financial forecasts, all too frequently later proved as wrong as
predications for England's chances in the World Cup, have for nearly a
decade been used to scare us into more and more self-sacrifice so the BB
patient can flourish.
Are we, then, helpless? Is our only recourse to sign petitions in our
thousands and millions which will inevitably be ignored by politicians?
Can we truly define Democracy by a once-in-five-years' window to add our
faint voice to a virtual vacuum?
No! It's only by shifting focus from that Troposphere of Politcs to the
more potent Stratsphere of BB that provides some hope for real change,
for truly giving back control to the people.
The cogent analysis of the much-published L. Susan Brown, Canadian
anarchist and political philosopher, provides some helpful signposts.
Taking inspiration from early 20th century non-violent anarchist pioneer
Emma Goldman, as well as from The Abolition of Work, the seminal piece
by American Bob Black, Brown champions The Politics of Individualism,
relating the personal to the political. One of her key areas of concern
challenges the very structure of our daily lives, and is the hub of her
article Does Work Really Work? which is available online.
Brown defines work by what people do for the bigger benefit of another
at the expense of their own goals, comforts and achievements. She
challenges the very concept of work, a position rarely if ever mentioned
let alone analysed for the public.
It's only to BB's shame as well as to its advantage that both broadcast
and print media foster and even foment the implicit confusion between
democracy and capitalism.
My own 3-part series for the LPJ entitled Slavery For Dummies reaches
similar conclusions, arrived at independently. Brown's piece warns: "Of
course, the wage system is inherently corrupt and unreformable; however,
we can make it more bearable while at the same time trying to destroy
it. And destroy it we must. If one's identity is based on work, and work
is based on the employment contract, and the employment contract is a
falsehood, then our very identities have at their foundation a lie."
Just recently Britain has seen at least one innovative initiative
actually take back control on a more meaningful level than devolving
everything either to the rigidity of Brussels or a BB-led agenda of UK
government - and to make the transition "more bearable."
It comes in the person of James Odgers, whose agricultural focus on
production, welfare, and a collective vision have coalesced in
Somerset's Quantack Hills at Stream Farm. Odgers' own Damascus conversion
might be questioned considering his uber-capitalist past in the City,
but his determination to operate on a subsidy-free basis appears to
ensure that the satellite companies which comprise the scheme become
self-sustaining by cooperation.
His approach still depends on his ownership of the 100 hectares partly
shared with partipating service companies. Looking back at his founding
of The Besom, his Hong Kong based network of helping the homeless
ventures and ancillary good-works, all predicated on his own embrace of
born-again Christianity, control does feature as being his province.
But as a financial model for an alternative to bank loans, mortgages,
wage slaves, and zero-hours contracts without sacrificing viable trade
relationships, it's a start. Odgers has publicly declared that one of
his goals is to drive people away from the iron grip of BB supermarkets,
which have ripped off farmers for decades. Having spoken to local
farmers myself, I know they'd shout Hooray to that!
Clearly, there's no reason why a similar vision cannot be applied to a
wide-rage of economic sectors, whether industrial, agricultural or
service. But the talk is all of negotiation, without any discernible
agreement of what that even means. And we learn that of all the voices
which might be heard round that table, trade unions will be barred - the
voice of working people whom the vote was meant to protect - that voice
will be silenced.
And there, my friends, you have the very reason why BB is so mindful of
retaining its own control, whether Little England jumps in or out of the
playground with or without its balls. It's a quintessential question,
not of sovereignty, but of capitalism.
In the pursuit of a fairer, more democratic way for the greatest benefit
of people over BB profit, decent politicians and far-sighted union
leaders must rail against and eventually eliminate the brutal and
ruthless capitalism which has wounded so many.
We need more people to throw down their swords and raise their voices
with the healing words of true Democracy. Now that would be truly
Business as Unusual!