The next train is for Destitution…

Calling at Poverty, Hunger and all stations to Social Chaos

I’ve been thinking about the state of Britain and trying not to panic.

Destitute in Britain.
 Garry Knight/Flickr. Creative Commons (by)

Our present predicament invites despair as we drift, rudderless, from relative comfort to the standards of living we associate with less developed countries.  The fabric of our society is visibly crumbling, and our government is playing silly buggers.

Naomi Klein’s Chicago Boys

Where we are and how we got here is so reminiscent of the MO of The Chicago Boys from Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine that I’m checking it out to see what fits.

For those who don’t know it, the book is all about unfettered Free Marketeers (AKA The Chicago Boys) making hay on the back of disasters – either taking advantage of a failing state or making it happen in the first place. 

In either case, the outcome is pretty similar. The poor go to hell in a handcart, social spending is cut to the bone, corporations run riot and the fat cats become so bloated they make money even quicker than they can spend it.  Don’t get me wrong, I feel for them: the supply of idyllic tropical islands is ever diminishing because of rising sea levels so it just leaves Space as the final bolthole when everything goes to shit, and you need to be mega rich to get up there.

Corporatist or just plain crooked?

Klein calls this kind of state Corporatist, with huge transfers of public wealth to private hands, exploding national debt, an ever-widening chasm between the dazzling rich and the disposable poor and an aggressive nationalism that justifies bottomless spending on security. I prefer to regard it as Crooked.

Thinking about this, it is fairly obvious that those inside this extreme wealth bubble will fight to maintain it.  What else would they do?  However, the vast majority of the population left out in the cold need to be kept under ever tightening control.  So, such states tend towards great secrecy, (with government, fat cats, and large corporations trading favours and contracts} shrinking civil liberties, including restricting rights to strike and protest; heavily doctored news media; extensive state surveillance leading to the possibility of unethical and possibly unlawful incarceration, rendition, and possibly even torture.

Destination Destitution

Now, as many of us head for Destitution, let’s take a few moments to survey the countryside and think about our journey.

I’m sure I saw signs to “Transfer point for public money to private hands” passing by on the extreme right just after Brexit Junction and again as we went through Pandemic.

I think we are just coming up to “Exploding debt” as the fruits of our old money tree lie rotting in the coffers of the rich, to be replaced by shiny new debts at very much higher interest rates.

I noticed the fading Mind the Gap signs at every stop pointing out the “Ever-widening chasm between the dazzling rich and the disposable poor “.  I also noticed that there was a distinct lack of Level Crossings on this particular line.

And as for an “Aggressive nationalism”, well there has been no escaping from that en route.  I searched diligently for the quiet carriage but to no avail.  We’ve been inundated with jingoistic nonsense in the papers, social media, TV and so on. It’s hard to pass the time without hearing about how GREAT Britain is, how we have taken back control from Johnny Foreigner, and how we lead The World in almost every sphere.

We are being drowned by drivel about how the Government is doing a brilliant job in all aspects of life and that all of our problems are caused by wicked adversaries, such as Europeans, Left Wing Lawyers, Trade Unionists, or by some evil Scottish or Welsh Nationalists.  Granted, our poverty levels are well on the way to becoming World-Leading, but this doesn’t make the wealthy want to get out of bed in the mornings.  Johnson (and Presumably Dim Lizzy, as his heir apparent) are clearly cartoon Champions of Democracy when viewed from afar, having led the charge against the newly demonised Russians in The Ukraine.  Their anti-Chinese sentiments are also somewhat newly minted and run counter to their previous stance, but there is a constancy in their briefing against our nearest neighbours and against Refugees of any kind, along with a constant stream of nonsensical anti-woke calls to arms, and this incessant empty World-beating rhetoric.

There was a big junction a few miles back where one line went towards Democracy via a General Election and Proportional Representation, but someone had nobbled the signalman.  So, we sped on toward Electoral Oblivion.  I’m sure I saw a very small number of blue-clad activists hanging around the signal box deciding which way we were all going to go. The next set of points led to the decision on the future government with a few more activists picking a route from a choice of two, each running into its own particular brain-dead end.   It seems fair to say that a vast majority of the population is being left without a voice.

Looking at the spread of public-facing cameras, it is clear that we missed the stop for Aggressive Surveillance and the branch line to Civil Liberties is currently under dire threat of closure.

We sped through Dodgy Dealings and Trading Favours without much trouble, in spite of some congestion around Legal Findings by just ignoring the outcomes and hoping they would go away.

We haven’t quite reached Mass Incarceration or Torture yet but looking at the way we are heading towards Rendition for our asylum seekers, we may be but a short stop away.                                                                             

This feels like a runaway train, and I think that we are so far down this track that it will take a revolution to bring it to a halt.  It could be a peaceful one, but we should not under-estimate the power and determination of the corporations and their lapdog parliamentarians.

The emergency stop button has probably been disconnected and anyway, the crew are busy telling each other stories that they want to hear, so I guess we have to find some other way to cut the power before it is too late.  Not a happy thought but maybe Climate catastrophe will come to the rescue and bring everything to a grinding halt.  

But wait!  There is a glimmer of hope!

The railway staff are going on strike so the game is not quite up.

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