Wednesday, October 2, 2013

How to criticise the Tory party

There is something obscene and insipid about the Conservative party. It is a trait that many people find difficult to put into words without resorting swearing or violent language. It is a sad state of affairs that in a country with a proud literary tradition, so many people these days seem unable to express a political opinion without resorting to simple-minded sub-literate abuse. It is not eloquent, and it serves no purpose at all to use female anatomy words to disparage the Tories, nor to idly fantasise about the horrible fate you wish to befall them. However, a large proportion of the public these days seem to have little else to offer, judging from the regularity of such comments on the Another Angry Voice Facebook page.

As regular readers know, I have a virtually unbreakable no-censorship policy, so I feel compelled to allow these kinds of comments to remain, after all, I can't expect everyone to be as eloquent at expressing their anger as I attempt to achieve in my own political commentaries. However the regularity with which they appear really does annoy me.

It's not so much the sweary comments that wind me up, it's the ones that resort to violent language: the ones that fantasise about karma somehow repaying the most egregious Tories with some kind of horrific disease or torturous death. Implicitly violent language is either foolhardy or gratuitous. It is common knowledge that people have been locked up for the idiotic things they've written on the Internet. Under these circumstances it is extremely foolhardy to make casual threats of violence. If the violence is fantasised about rather than implicitly threatened, then it is gratuitous and counter-productive. Fantasising about the physical torture you would like for another human being to endure, achieves nothing but to demonstrate the warped nature of your own mind and create the impression amongst more moderate people that "lefties are sickos".

To retort to perceived injustice with nothing but an idle fantasy of the living hell you would inflict on another human being is a very primitive mindset. The revenge fantasy is so primitive in fact, that in my view, it probably represents one of mankind's first cognitive departures into the realm of the imaginary.

The revenge fantasy is fundamental to many branches of organised religion. I mean, what is the concept of hell if it is not some kind of revenge fantasy conjured by the powerful to create compliance amongst the masses? Imagining the physically torturous fate you would like to befall a particularly despised politician is akin to praying to your version of God to impose upon these transgressors, the particular scriptural interpretation of hell that you subscribe to.

Many of these people that feel comfortable publicly sharing their violence/torture fantasies they wish upon the Tories are also subscribers to the almost nihilistic "Fuck God" school of atheism, making their words particularly empty and hypocritical, given that they would vehemently decry such barbaric fantasies were they to be found as an element of religious scripture, rather than amongst their own impotent political musings.

The kind of borderline literate rage that drives people to spell out the perverse karmic fantasies they wish upon the Tories isn't just limited to the world of social media. A much more dramatic demonstration of this kind of impotent rage was seen during the 2011 riots. Instead of rising up to demand some kind of defined political objective, the youth of England rose up to loot shops for consumer goods and to inflict carnage upon their own bloody communities. People in the United Kingdom are undeniably angry, but many are so uneducated that they are limited to bursts of impotent and objectiveless rage.

In my view, this widespread inability to express anger at injustice with anything other than impotent rage can be traced back to the education system, which is deliberately geared at producing, in the words of George Carlin, "obedient workers, people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork. And just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, the reduced benefits, the end of overtime and vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it".

This desire to create a workforce of reasonably educated but pathetically compliant workers is the reason that the vital subjects for properly understanding politics and the economic landscape, and providing the vital critical thinking skills that are necessary in order to stand up and critique the prevailing orthodoxy are very rarely taught in state schools. Subjects like politics, economics and philosophy are generally only taught to the children of the establishment at elitist private schools (only 7% of British kids go to private schools). 

It's as if the establishment trust their own offspring with the intellectual tools necessary to critique the prevailing orthodoxy, because they are extremely unlikely to criticise a system that has landed them such enormous unearned advantages in life. But when it comes to the children of the ordinary, they must not be allowed the information that is necessary to properly understand what is going on, nor the cognitive tools to critique the establishment orthodoxy, because of the fear that they would rise up and demand a better, fairer system and put an end to the unearned privileges of the establishment class.

So it is clear that people are angry, and I believe I've made a reasonable case outlining the reason that so many are unable to express their anger in anything but the most impotent and puerile terms, so what is it about the Tory dominated establishment that is making them so incoherent with rage?

I believe that three of the most infuriating things about the Toy dominated establishment can be summed up as greed, malice and delusion.

Greed

That the Tory party are infested with greedy self-serving individuals is undeniable The expenses scandal revealed that politicians from all thee of the Westminster orthodox neoliberal establishment parties were happy to steal from the taxpaying public by embezzling their expenses. The public are well aware that the political system is absolutely riddled with greedy self-serving opportunists that see nothing wrong with manipulating their expenses in order to extract the maximum personal profit, at the expense of the taxpaying public.

The scandalous abuse of expenses (which is still going on) is an example of Tory greed, but it wasn't limited to just the Tory party, because some of the very worst offenders were Labour and Lib-Dem MPs. A clearer example of Tory greed is the fact that Tory MPs were significantly greedier than any of the other political parties when asked what MPs should be paid. Tories said their salary should be £96,740, while Lib Dems thought the right amount was £78,361, Labour MPs wanted £77,322 and the other parties averaged out at £75,091.

A much more concerning example of Tory greed can be seen in the countless financial conflicts of interest at the heart of their party. Dozens of Tory politicians voted in favour of the NHS privatisation process, whilst maintaining significant financial interests in the private health sector that stand to gain significantly from the NHS privatisation process, one of the most high profile examples being Lazy Lord Coe. Other financial conflicts of interest include David Cameron's election adviser Lynton Crosby (tobacco, fracking, health) and numerous other Tories with financial interests in fracking.

The clearest demonstration of Tory greed can be seen in the warped economic ideology they subscribe to. It has been given many names over the years, the public know it as Thatcherism or Neoliberalism, however the adherents of this pseudo-scientific faith system refer to it as "neoclassical economics". 

Neoclassical economics is riddled with fallacious reasoning presented as incontrovertible fact (I suggest you read the works of the Australian economist Steve Keen to get a full picture of exactly how much contempt the neoclassical economists have for things like empirical evidence and mathematical proof). Greed worship lies at the very foundation of this warped pseudo-economic ideology. They dress it up as "rational self-interest", but in essence, the neoclassical view is that; greedy selfish behaviour is rational and all other virtues (charity, compassion, altruism, social conscience ...) are irrational aberrations. 

It doesn't matter a jot to them that their theories don't describe reality, because they are determined that they can change reality in order to match their warped economic dogma instead. This rotten pseudo-economic ideology has infested most of the political establishment, including the leadership of the other two Westminster establishment parties, but the Tories are the most fervent adherents of this bankrupt and demonstrably illogical set of pseudo-economic theories. That this is the case is hardly a surprise. The elements that makes neoclassical economics so popular with the establishment is that the main beneficiaries from neoclassical economics in practice are the wealthy establishment elite, and that it provides a kind of pseudo-rational justification of greedy and self-serving behavior.

It is a demonstration of the Tory commitment to greed worship fact that they won't even reconsider their absolute faith in neoclassical economics even after it caused the global financial crisis and was hopelessly invalidated by two things: The fact that such a crisis was supposedly impossible under neoclassical theory, and the fact that the only solution to the crisis was massive, unprecedented state interventions, when neoclassical theory tells us that such state interventions are essentially "evil". The Tories stick with their bankrupt "greed is a virtue" ideology because it suits their own selfish purposes, and because no replacement ideology of greed worship has presented itself.

Malice

The most famous demonstration of Tory malice was their treatment of the miners in the 1980s, but they have also wrought their destruction upon several other heavy industries such as steel works and ship building. Their contempt for British industry stemmed from their contempt for the working classes. Attempts to subjugate and impoverish working people are regular features of Tory administrations. Most people recognise that the Tories hate trade unions and workers rights, but alarmingly few people even seem aware that the current administration are conducting the most sustained attack on wages in well over a century. Most people don't realise that wage repression is a deliberate political strategy, because most people don't realise that it is one of the fundamental objectives of the neoliberal pseudo-economic dogma that the Tories subscribe to.

Another example of Tory malice can be seen in their regular use of scapegoating tactics such as "scrounger narratives". The Tories pick out some of the most vulnerable people in society (the jobless, the disabled, single mothers ...) and scapegoat them for the economic chaos caused by decades of adherence to their own favoured pseudo-economic "greed-is-a-virtue" ideology. If you can't see this for the malicious shit that it is, you're quite clearly one of the tabloid-thinking fools that buys into this blame those below you and feel superior, rather than blame those above you and feel powerless and exploited rubbish.

There are several other clear-cut demonstrations of Tory malice, but then you have to have a basic understanding of politics and economics to understand exactly how much malicious intent lies behind policies like "Bedroom Tax", the Retroactive Workfare bill, the savage Tory attacks on legal aid and their fascistic Secret Courts legislation.


Delusion

It is undeniable that Tory greed and malice has brought this country to it's knees. For over three decades the bankrupt neoliberal ideology introduced by Margaret Thatcher has benefited only one segment of society: the super-rich minority, at the direct expense of almost everyone else. Despite controlling the vast majority of the media and large sectors of the economy, this tiny economic minority is not enough to sustain the Tory party alone, hence the Tories rely on millions of delusional idiots to defy their own best economic interests and vote Tory.

Delusional Tory voters have been bought off with false gains like buying their council houses, or watching the value of their properties inflate many times over, but these capital gains are not real. They come at the direct expense of future generations who now find find themselves locked out of the property market because all of the affordable housing is being bought up by something-for-nothing slumlords, and at the bottom of enormous queues for the limited pool of remaining social housing. These gullible "I'm alright Jack" Tory voters have been been paid off with capital gains stolen from future generations (their own children).

The delusion of these "I'm alright Jack" Tory voters is easy to understand. Many of them take their political opinions directly from the pages of the right-wing Tory press, and the education system deliberately denied them the cognitive tools necessary in order to actually think about and critique what they've read, so they lazily parrot the political opinions the tory/neoclassical establishment spead for the gullible masses to soak up and repeat, in lieu of having any genuine politcal thoughts of their own.

The delusions of the Tory party themselves are far more concerning. Especially their continued fixation with the transparently bankrupt ideology of neoliberalism. It's almost as if they believe their own egregious lies that the crisis was caused by welfare spending, rather than by the reckless deregulation of financial markets based upon the scriptures of their assumption laden ideology of neoclassical economics.

          Iain Duncan Smith

One of the clearest demonstrations of this combination of self-interest, delusion and outright malice is their attitude to Iain Duncan Smith.

In 2001, for some unfathomable reason, the Tory MPs decided between themselves that he was the most suitable candidate to lead their party (a clearly delusional decision). By 2003, thanks to things like his bogus CV, his feeble performances against Tony Blair at Prime Minister's questions, the "Betsygate" scandal and his ludicrous "quiet man" speech, it became clear that he was too inept, too dishonest and too downright unpopular to lead the party into the 2005 election. He was unceremoniously ousted by his own MPs, and it is a mark of how little esteem they had for him that they chose the terrifying Michael "something of the night" Howard as a preferable successor.

The self-interest of the Conservatives forced them to recognise Iain Duncan Smith's ineptitude. However, instead of quietly dumping him into the House of Lords and forgetting about him, he was allowed to hang about until his political career was resurrected in 2010 when David Cameron appointed him as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

This appointment, as the man with overall responsibility for the welfare of millions of the most vulnerable people in society (pensioners, the jobless, the disabled, the seriously ill), is a clear demonstration of Tory self-interest and malice. The Tory MPs recognised that the man was simply too incompetent to lead their party, so out of self-interest they ousted him. This shows that they knew exactly how inept he is, which demonstrates that giving him responsibility for the welfare of many of the most vulnerable people in the nation was an act of callous disregard at best, and at worst, an act of outright malice towards those they believe to be beneath them.

After three years of seeing Iain Duncan Smith abusing the people he has been charged with helping, and making one catastrophic and hugely expensive blunder after another, one would have thought that Conservatives would have realised that their judgement in 2003 was in fact accurate and the man is a hopeless liability. However this isn't the case at all, despite all of the lies, the warped logic, the PR blunders, the disgraceful propaganda and not least, all of the expensive and embarrassing cock-ups from the DWP, they rally round and support him as if he is some kind of honest man doing a good job under difficult circumstances. Or as the Tory propaganda site Conservative Home put it, a man with "good natured sincerity". One is surely left wondering if this is the same Iain Duncan Smith that angrily shouted all over a tribute to two dead disabled people and has been repeatedly caught out lying?

Conclusion

I realise that this article has developed into rather lengthy tract, for which I apologise. I think I should conclude by picking out a few of the key points and reiterating them.

  • When we criticise the Tory party or specific Tory politicians, it is at best futile, and at worst entirely counterproductive to simply rant on calling them "a pack of bastards" or wishing cancer upon them.
  • Criticising the Tories is extremely important, given that they are allowed a virtually free ride by the corporate mainstream media, and often benefit from the collusion of the other orthodox neoliberal establishment parties (especially the Illiberal Anti-Democrat patsies who will prostitute themselves in the most degrading ways for a few meagre crumbs from the Tory table of power).
  • If you want to do a good job of criticising the Tories it isn't too late to learn the necessary cognitive tools. Go and read a book on alternative economics ("23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism" by Ha Joon Chang is an excellent starting point) or learn something about how to spot fallacious reasoning (this page is brilliantly informative).
  • Try to define what it is about the Tories that you dislike without swearing. Instead of using foul language try to do as I have and pick out the specific characteristics that you find so appalling (my choices are greed, malice and delusion).

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More articles from
 ANOTHER ANGRY VOICE 
               
Equilibrium unemployment and Tory malice
               
Who is to blame for the crisis?
           
             
Margaret Thatcher's toxic legacies
                    

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