The decline of the left. socialism, conservatism and, increasingly, of political liberalism means that we have left as an ideology is consumerism. History has reached a dead end of banality and narcissistic consumption where values are redundant. Only a form of Lifestyle Anarchism seemed to underpin the students demos, the myth of counterculture.
As J G Ballard wrote,
"People resent the fact that the most moral decision in their lives is choosing what colour the next car will be....All we've got left is our own psychopathology. It's the only freedom we have – that's a dangerous state of affairs."The sheer meaninglessness of a society based on the hallucinatory substitute for reality that the vast masses of consumers were prepared to buy into defined the New Labour period of PM's Blair and Brown until the great economic crash of 2008.
Now that the illusions have crashed with the finance system and housing boom, the result is going to be a rejection in certain quarters of the boredom that comes from reducing nearly every aspect of everyday life to nothing more than a series of money transactions.
Ballard believed that this would increasingly be more likely 'only be relieved by some sort of violent act; by taking your mail-order Kalashnikov into the nearest supermarket and letting rip."
On the fringes of a deracinated society there are those who harbour a deep frustration that the cloistered 'Metropolitan elites', all on first name terms in the "Westminster Village" just play at politics to give the illusion of brand distinction
That along with greater numbers of semi-educated people who cannot get the status from the jobs they believe their degrees entitle them too are likely in future to reject 'the system' and turn to ideologies that offer a total explanation for the way the world is.
In recent years, universities were becoming recruitment grounds for jihadist-salafi organisations and there is the potential for massive and gratuitous acts of psychopathological violence, just anything that will force the masses to question the 'inauthentic' nature of their existence.
At the G20 demonstrations some of the banners read 'Consumers Suck' : if they fail to respond, it is quite possible that extreme radicals might take to selecting less obviously 'political' targets such as shopping malls, multiplex cinemas, airports and theme parks.
The victims of terror were aiding global capitalism by consuming: their deaths will be a small price to pay if it helps to destroy the fake consumer confidence that keeps the system going and directly causes Third World immiseration and global warming.
Ballard's Millennium People starts off with a bomb explosion at Heathrow that turns out to be the work of a demented paediatrician, Dr Richard Gould who later tell the main character David Markham that the sheer meaninglessness of such an outrage was mostly designed to force people to ask 'why' and create meaning again.
The novel, though, tended to just laugh at the middle class protesters 'the Kropotkins with Pink Gin' and that the "the middle-classes are the new proletariat", and that's the main weakness of the book. Ballard did not know the radicals: just the Guardian reading middle classes.
Millennium People could have included the deracinated Islamists and Class War nihilists, as well as the anti-road protesters and the increasingly psychopathological journalist hacks such as Seumas Milne who rationalise in metaphysical terms every terror threat or terrorist action to push a revolutionary agenda of the hard left and Islamists.
The growth of Islamism in the West and the connections with the New Great Game and energy geopolitics still awaits its novelist.
Nevertheless, a lot of the street carnival protesters are those, as in Ballard's Chelsea Marina who desire to escape the "self-imposed burdens" of civic responsibility and consumer culture by having choreographed street protests and violence as a way of
By only focusing on the trashing of the Royal Bank of Scotland, people are missing the point about the degree to which much of the 'global justice movement' has been hijacked by fanatics craving destruction and to rationalise their resentment as being the "losers" in their own society.
The good anger of wanting to right wrongs and injustice always seems to be eclipsed by the organisational dominance of those motivated by hatred dressed up in humanitarian concern: a look at the G20 Meltdown groups shows the usual 'hard left' sects such as the SWP with a craving for revolutionary destruction more than having any real constructive alternative.
Just as the 1968 insurrections fomented a climate of opinion in which the Angry Brigades and the Baader Meinhof were created, so too will the growing radicalism given impetus by the crash of 2008 potentially lead to the spawning of radical psychopathological terror groups: only
Unlike the 1970s, a decade of terrorism, however, there are in the second decade of the twenty-first century the added ethnic and sectarian tensions bred by wars in 'the Muslim World' and the growth of Islamism. Apocalyptic politics based on an interpretation of Islam is spreading into the cities of Europe.
As Ballard claimed,
"There are shifts in the unseen tectonic plates that make up our national consciousness. I've tried to nail down a certain kind of nihilism that people may embrace, and which politicians may embrace, which is much more terrifying; all tapping into this vast, untouched resource as big as the Arabian oilfields called psychopathology."That hunger for apocalyptic violence is a recurrent feature of history and the more people's lives are confined to a mind numbing routine of frenetic work and regulated consumer fun, the more people will turn to violence and nastiness, where whole sections of society feel cut of, separated and full of hatred towards a decadent society
Not least when the cosmetic 'niceness' of Britain as portrayed as a fair and decent society is believed to conceal the global iniquities and inequalities that make meaningless consumer decadence possible and that are screened from perception by the mainstream media that fails to question Western projects to invade Afghanistan or Iraq.