Monday 14 May 2012

People. Fear. Change.

Some years ago when I was a councillor, I attended a big public meeting called by London Transport, as it was then. The occasion was 'Consultation' on a plan to improve the bus services for a huge, sprawling, isolated council estate (covering 2 entire electoral wards, if that helps to convey the scale) that was fairly dependent on said buses.  LT's plan was radical but clever and - history records - was in due course implemented with great success.

But that was all in the future. At the meeting, speaker after speaker rose from the floor to thunderous applause, and they each the same two points: (1) the current bus service is crap;  (2) nothing must be fundamentally changed.  As Einstein said:  "Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results".

This, then, is the human condition, the very basic stuff of politics.

Michael Portillo's TV essay on the Great Euro Crisis (Wednesday of last week) brought all this to mind**.  There he was, interviewing every Greek and German citizen high and low that he could lay his camera on, getting them to illustrate his thesis and, sometimes, to agree with it flat out; namely that current euro set-up lay at the root of their problems.  But with a single and non-representative exception, none of them would abandon the Euro.

Innate conservatism ? Fear of something worse ? Expression of deep-seated support for the federast euro-project ?  

Probably not quite the last of those; although we in this island have very little intuitive grasp of how far enthusiasm for that project runs in many quarters.  But the humano-political condition was on full display.

And something else, which is fairly germane to these considerations: no-one was particularly exercised over the anti-democratic aspects of the major political interventions of the last 9 months' and more.  Oh yes, democracy comes a pretty poor third, or worse, after 'jam tomorrow' and 'grass is greener'.  The senior German minister interviewed, Wolfgang Schäuble was particularly sinister on this: MEPs are elected, he beamed - what more do you want ?

Not hard to see how demagogues play their hands in such circumstances, and how Europe ended up under the totalitarians in the 1930's.  One way or the other.  Yes, London Transport simply ignored all those speeches from the floor.

Well. What else could they do ?


** Literary allusion: geddit ? small prize for correct answer 

UPDATE  Purplepangolin  was on this like a shot, identifying it as Yeats (and jolly apposite, too as I think you'll agree).  As prize, he has nominated that we give publicity for this good deed - which we hasten to do.  Support Martin House Hospice and Alastair Green's run ! 


purplepangolin said...

An Irish airman foresees his death. W.B. Yeats

Nick Drew said...

prize is yours !

the traditional year's free sub: + drinks on me at the next C@W pub session, details tba (Xmas is not before)

Bill Quango MP said...

It was quite amazing that program.
I've commented on it a few times.
To the effect that Eurosceptic Michael Portillo couldn't find many people who wanted to leave the Euro and even fewer the EU.

"Gullible Mr Quango.," I was told . "It was fixed."

I don't think so. Rigged, maybe. In that the Greek government as spending similar amounts of dosh on public services as the UK. And in a country with a population smaller than London that meant everyone had a well paid job or a government contract to service.

It was shocking to see soup kitchens in Athens, serving 1000's. The lack of jobs and the graffiti springing up in deserted shopping precincts.

Yet, as I said at the end of the last thread,the Greeks don't want to exit the Euro. They don't want to have the high interest Drachma back.
They want to turn the clock back to 2007 and start again.

And that means foreign aid. A free write down of the majority debt.

purplepangolin said...

Thanks, I'm unlikely to make it I'm afraid as I'm based in York. In lieu of a drink, would you allow me to post the link to my Great North Run Justgiving page? I am running in support of our local children's hospice this year and need to crack on with fund raising, so if any of your readers feel like supporting this I would be very grateful.

CityUnslicker said...

A crisis made of willful blindess will end badly. No one I now speak to in a work context can forsee anytign but a cataclsymic ending.

Having siad that, such people are ALWAYS wrong, were in 2007/08/09/10 etc so there must be hope...

Sebastian Weetabix said...

I've always known I was a dreadful Philistine, but even so, though I know the words of this poem I don't see where the allusion is. (Though I didn't see the Portillo programme - is it in the programme itself???)

Dutch Gus said...

I'm afraid I don't follow the allusion either!

Graeme said...

CU - it's all in the timing. many people knew that the US/UK housing bubble would burst...but it ws very difficult to predict exactly when. Unless you can do a Soros and basically let a counter-bet run on and on until the market is forced to yield to reality that you can actually manipulate the timetable.

hatfield girl said...

Ooooh, prizes for recognizing ND's literary allusions. Presumably there is no backdating but does this prize-giving apply to all future posts?

Nick Drew said...

it most certainly does, HG, if it gives us the prospect of chivvying you out (like a stoat ... no, it's too easy) of your Tuscan fastness for a drink

mark you, it doesn't always work out, does it ..?

Budgie said...

Oh dear, oh dear! ND, I am sure you would make a lovely neighbour, and I am convinced your children love you ..... but .....

But ... what a load of tosh from beginning to end.

The "People. Fear. Change" mantra is pure self interested managerialism. It is an excuse, a self fulfilling pat on the back by people (politicians in this case) who claim to be baffled that the serfs don't clamour for more "change". But power is the issue, not "change".

The reality of the sociopathic nature of the managerialists lust for power is evident from the fact that even the exercise of power is insufficient - the victims must be further humbled by being described as "fearing change" when they resist tyranny.

What "people" actually fear is having their lives directed by others (managers and politicians). This is not irrational as you imply, it makes perfect sense.

As for the euro, the politicians (managerialists to a man) who created this monster are hardly likely to hold up their hands and say 'mea culpa', are they? They are desperately playing on the hubris they fostered at the beginning so that the "people" who were pushed into the "change" to the euro in the first place (at least the Germans were unwilling) don't see they were sold a crock of shit again to satisfy the EU managerialists lust for "change", actually, power.

Nick Drew said...

Sebastian, Gus - eye of the beholder, of course

My country is Kiltartan Cross
My countrymen Kiltartan's poor
No likely end could bring them loss
Or leave them happier than before

... the expression of a deep-seated disconnect between the idealism-at-face-value which many of those engaged in battle 'on behalf of the people' customarily profess, and the usual empty outcomes of their supposed altruism, which 'likely' will be ... nothing very much of fundamental import

unusually, our airman acknowledges this candidly, in stark and refreshing contrast with, for example, our Blairman who seems to have convinced himself of - God knows what?

Those that I fight I do not hate,
Those that I guard I do not love

... or even really care about at all ? Indeed, probably hold them in low-grade contempt ? The fight's the thing ... our airman is no democratically legitimised tribune, he disowns any need for a mandate

he just goes where his Wille zur Macht takes him

in Major Gregory's case, dueling against the chivalrous Junker foe, for his own 'delight'

in Barosso's case ..? Blair's ..? Brown's ..?

Nick Drew said...

so you see, Budgie, we might even be in agreement

PS What else could they do ? was a lame attempt at sarcasm: but it does (I hope) indicate the managerialists' dilemma as they see it