Saturday, July 2, 2016

Zombies of London

 Image taken from The Dreadful Story of Pauline and the Matches, Heinrich Hoffman, 1858.

(I offer my apologies in advance to Warren Zevon.)

One of the ways in which personality-disordered people sometimes garner lots of attention to themselves is by committing suicide in a slow, dramatic way.  Imagine, for instance, someone climbing in broad daylight to the very top of the arch of the Fremont Bridge in Portland, Oregon, while wearing a bright fluorescent lime-green clown suit.  Picture him swaying precariously over the Willamette River while screaming his intentions through a bullhorn to all and sundry for an hour or so.  Then, after traffic has shut down in both directions, while drivers are out of their cars staring raptly skyward, and news crews swarm like bugs in helicopters all around the bridge, watch him jump off and make the biggest (and last) splash of his entire life as he hits the water.

That's how Great Britain seems to me in the aftermath of the Brexit vote.  While I have been following the rise of far-right racist ultranationalism in Europe over the last few years, I hadn't been watching Britain very closely.  Much of what I know has been hastily gleaned from news over the last two weeks.  Many of you may know far more.  Yet things have played out pretty much as I might have expected, and the British are now getting their very own taste of the outworkings of damnation.

Here's what I know so far:
  • The breeding ground of the Brexit campaign consisted of the frustrations of many Britons who were experiencing the loss of the standard of living that had been promised to them under a "free market", capitalist economy.  They felt that their country was at the mercy of a foreign bureaucracy over which they had no control.  In this, as an observer in the USA, I'd have to agree somewhat with them.
  • That frustration was fed and amplified by the fomenting and encouragement of completely unrealistic racial and national pride, violent racism and dangerous xenophobia.  Immigrants - especially the dark-skinned, and especially the Muslim - were targeted and blamed for the unraveling of the British working class and middle class.  (But surprisingly, that blaming extended to the targeting and blaming of white Eastern Europeans as well.)
  • The cheerleaders of the campaign to scapegoat immigrants - the same who championed the entire Brexit campaign - were a handful of doofus fly-by-nighters, among whom were Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, and Nigel Farage.  They played a classic scapegoating game of the type seen in textbook cases of dysfunctional families where the family member who is causing the greatest damage manages to deflect blame onto a family member who has no logical connection to the suffering which the family is experiencing.  Farage, Gove, and Johnson are members of Britain's wealthiest class, and it is the predatory policies which this class has championed, not only in Britain, but worldwide, which are causing the suffering now being experienced by ordinary Britons.  (For an example of predatory policies, try looking up the word "austerity" and the phrase "income inequality.")
  • It is also coming out now that many of the claims made by these men during the Brexit campaign were in fact lies.  Indeed, Nigel Farage has admitted that some of his claims were false.  I think he feels free to admit this because he feels that his victory is now secure.  Also, the Brexit campaign led directly to the murder of a British member of Parliament in a killing that had a distinctively American style, as a gun was used by a disgruntled Angry White Male to do the killing.
Among the biggest lies told by the Brexit champions was that leaving the European Union was the guaranteed ticket to the revival of the British standard of living and the revival of British national strength.  Why is this a lie?  According to the World Factbook published and maintained by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, Britain is a net importer of almost every commodity and resource which it needs.  For instance, British agriculture is able to supply only 60 percent of Britain's nutritional needs.  British manufacturing accounts for only 10 percent of British economic output.  Britain is running a net trade deficit.  Britain has been a net energy importer since 2005.  (Read what the Energy Watch Group of Germany had to say about British oil, gas and coal reserves in its 2013 report on fossil and nuclear fuels.  And note that the situation for Britain is worse now than in 2013.)  By far, the main sector of the British economy is the service sector, which accounts for 83.5 percent of British GDP.  Central to the British service sector is the financial "industry", comprised of banking, insurance and business services.  According to the Factbook, the United Kingdom has, until now, enjoyed a position as "the central location for European financial services."

And now that enjoyable position, and all that depends on it, has all gone up in smoke, set on fire by the architects of the Brexit.  Other nations are already re-thinking their reliance on British financial services.  The British pound has already suffered a drastic decline.  The Brexit architects have, in the space of two weeks, already shown themselves to be incapable of governing a country.  (Hey, man, if your feet can't reach the pedals, you shouldn't be behind the wheel.)  The Brexit is already threatening a serious increase in trouble for an economy that was already in trouble.  (See this, this and this, for instance.)  And the Brexit vote has fractured the British body politic - perhaps incurably.  Britain is about to find out in a hurry that it is no autarky, no self-sufficient paradise.

I know that Schadenfreude is a sin, yet there is something in me right now that feels more than a little satisfaction.  It is a dark satisfaction, the kind that a researcher or scientist might feel when reality validates a theoretical model, even though that model has predicted something horrible.  For the troubles that Britain has gotten itself into are a direct validation of Galatians 6:7 - "Don't be deceived. God is not mocked.  For whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.  For he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption..."  It is also bitingly funny (more bite than a very strong and bitter cup of espresso!) to think of how the Brexit champions will cope with the damage they've done, now that they are running out of scapegoats.  Think of the doofus right here in the USA who is pulling similar scapegoating stunts in a bid to capture the White House this November.


TH in SoC said...

One thing: if you post a comment and your comment disagrees with my post, you will still get published - as long as you follow my comment moderation policy. If you post anonymously, you won't get published. Period.

Five Hundred Pound Peep said...

Many people world wide are being destroyed by globalism. My husband hasn't had a regular job in 8 years. I belong to British websites online, many of the people there are going without jobs and getting poorer and they are making massive cuts to disability and the safety net following our horrible Republican party. We have an oligarchy with both parties that supports the globalism. We are seeing the standard of living in America reduced to third world levels. I would vote for Brexit and even for a vote for America to leave the globalism behind too. I stand against all those "free trade" deals and globalist companies like Monsanto. I fear they will not allow Brexit through, and may be using it for their own devices but not everyone is in love with globalism. It has destroyed the working class. Many people ARE becoming far poorer. Why do our Western countries have to be open to all comers while our own governments betray us and allow us no jobs? We can't emigrate for hope and opportunities, unlike everyone else unless we are millionaires. England is so outnumbered with immigration, they are losing their own culture. This isn't done to other countries. People aren't racist, people are tired of having no work, and no economic hope.

TH in SoC said...

Hello, Five Hundred Pound Peep, and welcome. I have been enjoying some of your posts on your blog which criticize mainstream American evangelical culture.

Your words certainly deserve some consideration. I believe, based on my limited research, that the immigrants working in Britain have represented a net gain to British GDP. It's rather like the immigrants working in the U.S. - they have contributed more than they have taken from the system. The other thing to notice is that there are only 126,000 refugees living in Britain at present, and the British took in less than 35,000 in 2015. But there are over 65 million people in Britain. (Sources: The British Red Cross and the Refugee Council of the British Home Office.) The British are not in any danger of losing their culture. But the wars which Britain sided with the United States to fight (Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, the Ukraine) are the direct cause of the refugee crises we are now seeing.

Our problems are caused by things much greater than immigration: namely, the insane concentration of the world's wealth in the hands of a privileged few, and the fact that these privileged few are making the rest of society pay for the maintenance of their privileges. All this is taking place against a backdrop of declining resource availability worldwide. Yet no one wants to have the necessary conversation about the decline in resource availability, because it would necessarily lead to a discussion of how to equitably share the resources that are remaining. This is why the ordinary Britons who voted for the Brexit will find that it won't help them. The entire country will get quite a bit poorer because the Brexit just nuked the British banking sector. But the wealthiest members of British society will still try to make sure that they are well taken care of, even though it is at the expense of all the rest of Britain. And, having cut off the flow of immigrants and refugees, the wealthy will have to look hard to find another scapegoat.

Five Hundred Pound Peep said...

I don't blame any immigrants but I do believe the elite use immigration as a "weapon" to suppress wages, they also close the doors on certain populations to control people like chess pieces. Ie we can't leave America ourselves unless very wealthy especially to other western nations. It is hard to know what to believe at times regarding the numbers. Some right wing websites will claim London has no English children in their schools and only Muslim children and that there are "no-go" zones and entire neighborhoods where non-Muslims are not welcome. It is hard to know what is exactly going on. IN my own neck of the woods I can see a lot that is going on with under employed gig employed husband and a huge Indian population coming to our town to take advantage of H1B Visas. Problem is I know unemployed native born engineers and IT people, my husband is in a different field and they are all broke and living with their mothers.

I feel like the elite have it out for Americans, when you see foreign people getting preference over Americans. I don't want to be like the jerk xenophobes who will carry on like Trump and his ilk thinking more walls and playing the scapegoat game, but this is why we are seeing some of the disenchantment with immigration. They do get people to turn on one another dividing every group. Even the Indians [from India] who came here probably were trying to escape exploitation themselves. Sure the wealthy Brits will look out for themselves.

The whole jobs system is falling apart, that is an issue for another day. Some leftist speak of a universal income, given that many go without work no matter what they do and the numbers of people outnumber number of jobs, it may come to that, unless the elite totally want nothing but chaos. Of course there are control and other issues with that as the "solution"

TH in SoC said...

Hello, Five Hundred Pound Peep. I have visited people from several cultures over the last several years, and I have not seen any instances of immigrants setting up "no-go zones" in my city. I think the best thing to do when checking out what is going on in other countries is to establish a long-distance friendship with trustworthy people who visit or live in those countries, so one can find things out straight from the horse's mouth.

A second source of information that is just as good (at least for now) is the collection of the many websites and blogs describing the long-distance bicycling or backpacking tours being undertaken by various people in these countries. An example that would be good for finding out about England is this: It is websites like these that helped me destroy the fog of lies spewed by the right wing concerning countries like Iran. The best antidote to propaganda that seeks to demonize oppressed minorities is face-to-face daily contact with those minorities. That contact puts a human face on people whom the right wing media are trying to dehumanize.

In fact, just over the last month or so, I have visited a Korean church, a Hispanic church and an Oromo Ethiopian church, and I have found their preachers all preaching the same message: namely, that Christians should live, act and talk like the New Testament - especially the part that says that we are to be generous and to love our neighbors as ourselves.

I hope to write a post soon on the subject of wealth from a mathematical perspective.