Monday, 21 May 2012

London as a New Model City state

It seems ever more likely that London's financial and service sector economy is to become increasingly divorced from the rest of Britain. Will Self has put it well when he writes ( London thinks only of itself. The rest of the country is just there to be bled dry, The Independent Friday 27 April 2012,
 'In conversation with John Gray a couple of months ago, the subject of Britain's future came up, and the philosopher opined that: "London will become a sort of Singapore, I think, a wealthy island of urbanity surrounded by impoverished satrapies." I found myself without any hesitation acceding to this dystopian vision, and with every successive week the Coalition's policies – acting as a turbocharger on the impact of international capital flows – only seem to be bringing this intensely divisive state of affairs closer.
The news this week that Newham council believes the Government's cap on housing benefit will result in the exodus of tens of thousands of the poor to urban centres as far north as Walsall is only – in my view – the continuation by other, more vicious means of the sort of "class cleansing" introduced by the New Labour regime's Pathfinder Scheme. Then the idea was that the brave new provincial cities would be made over in London's image: cloned retail and artists' quartiers paid for by an ever-bulging property asset bubble, while the less desirable would be rehoused using the profits. But, since 2007, this bubble has plangently popped – everywhere, that is, but in the capital itself.
.... in recent years, there has come a sinister new alignment of forces: the inertial dirigisme of central government has become allied to the dark star of the City of London, so that the political class find their institutional prejudices insistently reinforced by what they deem "economic realities". Naturally, they act to head off this riving apart of the country, and the creation of new mayoralties is part of this
 ...the next London mayor – whoever he may be – will continue as a cheerleader for the Stratford Festival of Running and Jumping – how could it be otherwise? The mayoralty is all about PR – and the Olympics is nothing but a PR exercise to sell the city.
Moreover, London remains as Janus-faced today as it was at the height of the Empire, when it served as the entrepĂ´t and transhipment point for a vast proportion of the world's trade. One big smiling face looks to the rest of the world, saying: send us your rich and your upright, so that they may invest their reserve currency in our astronomically expensive property – and while you're at it, send us your poor and your huddled masses as well, so that they can clean the toilet bowls of the wealthy on below-minimum wage. The other grimacing face is turned on this less salubrious spectacle: a hinterland full of euphemistic "jobseekers", filling out their losing tickets in the National Lottery.

On Christopher Hitchens ( 1949-2011 )

I think it is possible to regard Christopher Hitchens highly as a polemicist and orator whilst still drawing attention to some of the awful mistakes he made the worst being in siding with the Bush administration's war on Iraq in 2003.

The best part of Hitchens was devoted to freedom of thought and intellect.

Hitchens criticism of the craven attitude of politicians towards what later became a more organised Islamist movement in Britain following on from the 1989 Satanic Verses controversy was superb. He demolished Shirley Williams on Question Time over her hand wringing over whether to award Rushdie a knighthood.

Hitchens was brilliant in demolishing the claims made by religious fundamentalism and totalitarian theocrats.

The problem came when he saw some seamless alliance of Islamists and despots everywhere in very oversimplistic terms. It was this that led him to support Bush and Blair's "liberal interventionism".

Nor was Hitchens wrong about the sinister aspect of the supposedly "anti-war" opposition in Britain and the USA. Following his hero Orwell, Hitchens saw that those media whores such as Galloway were not in fact principled but simply hated the West and tended to support any illiberal movement that was sufficiently anti-US on that ground alone.

The characterisation of the casuistic doublethinking MCB "spokesman" Inayat Bunglawala as "sinister and preposterous" for his sly rationalisations of Islamist terrorism was accurate. So too was his portrayal of those who allied in the anti-war movement with the Islamists of the MAB. RESPECT, he quipped, was the anagram of SPECTRE.

That polemical zeal, however, led him to overlook the fact that simply because the leading self appointed figures in the so-called "anti-war" movement were, in fact, enthusiasts for the USSR and dictatorships or else illiberal Islamists, then the neoconservatives were on the 'right side of history'.

Had Hitchens read Orwell a bit better , he would have realised he was making the same mistake that Trotskyists had in continuing to support one huge power bloc because it was still essentially progressive and dedicated to ridding the world of totalitarian nationalist and 'socialist' dictatorships.

Many neoconservatives had a Trotskyist past.

Despite criticising faith based politics of the theocratic type ( rightly ) , Hitchens was not himself free from faith based visions of inaugurating a new epoch of history through the use of force . In the case of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, it was the global democratic revolution promised by "liberal interventions".

Brought up in the wake of the defeat of Fascism in World War Two, his politics was formed by the 1968 Student Uprisings and the decay of the Soviet Union and the need to fight totalitarian rule in Eastern Europe. Hitchens retained this good versus evil standpoint after 1990 with the rise of Islamism.

Unfortunately, the complexity of politics in the Middle East led him in the wake of the demise of secular revolutionary movements to see Islamism as one totalitarian threat when the reality was that Islamism itself was not one global counter revolutionary movement. It has proved a  diverse set of ideas and not always given necessarily to undemocratic practice as Turkey clearly proves.

It is possible to view Hitchens as a useful contrarian who was effective in attacking the pretensions of "anti-war" frauds and those who rationalised terror attacks as merely being reflex actions to 'our foreign policy' even before they actually understood the real nature of Al Qaida.


EUtopia

Peter Hitchens has written a pretty accurate summary of the utter incompetence and stupidity of the transnational EU elites. He writes,

'...as the EU’s ‘experts’ and ‘technocrats’ insanely destroy the economies of Greece, Spain and Italy, it must now surely be obvious to everyone.
The EU, far from being a bright future, offers nothing but bankruptcy and decline.
If the old USSR was an Evil Empire – and it was – the EU is the Stupid Empire. Obsessed with the idea that the nation state is obsolete, the EU has sought to bind its colonies tightly, while pretending they are still independent'
 Unfortunately, Hitchens fails to grasp that this "post modern imperium" is not just about the supposed economic benefits of having large trading blocks and the attendant political clout this is meant to give Europe in global affairs.

As the extension of NATO eastwards demonstrates a lot of it is about access to the diversified pipeline supply routes, one reason both Ukraine and Turkey are being touted for EU entry.