Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Socialism not Bankers to Blame for Public Sector Cuts

Today has seen tens of thousands of Britain's vast army of 6,000,000 public sector workers out on strike. The Prime Minister's own press secretary has been forced to man the immigration desk at Heathrow Airport. Millions of school children have lost a day of education, as well as elective surgeries cancelled and disruption across the country. Annoying for the UK, certainly, but for the rest of the world these are also worrying times, with more than a few echoes of the  economic situation of the inter-war years. In this article, we debunk the myth that it is 'the bankers' to blame for the mess we're in by making an assessment of why 'developed' economies (including our own) have come to owe so much money in the first instance.

In the 1930s the near collapse of capitalism was brought about by a series of defaults in an international debt triangle which ultimately forced the great depression and a second war in Europe. Indeed, right now in 2011 a an economic pyramid scheme which is at least superficially similar to that which was at fault in the '30s can be seen at play around the US/IMF/China triumvirate. Similar pillars of cyclical debt current underpins the EU experiment. In this article, we explore how modern socialist state economics are to blame for this unholy trinity and how such economic thinking has once again brought the international system to the brink of collapse.

For many on the left, the theoritical models of JM Keynes provide the genealogy of their present-day economic policies. 
Indeed, Keynesianism became the prevalent economic theory throughout much of the middle part of the last century. It is based on the essential pre-requisite that economic growth slows when the demand for production stagnates as a result of unemployment. Keynesianism suggests that the stagnation effects of unemployment can be overcome by creating the economic circumstances under which it is possible to increase the demand for products once more. The key concept to Keynsianism is that a short-term government funded stimulus which creates direct state employment, paid for with money borrowed from the markets or other nations, re-establishes the ability for the citizenry to purchase goods and services en-masse. This thus increases the need for products - ergo manufacturing - which in-term creates employment once more in the private sector. Keynsianism was not designed as a long term status-quo and was not designed to be a permanent life support system for economies, rather a short-term economic defibrillation. Indeed, the success of Keynesian investment depends on short-termism.

'Spent too much for too long and borrowed too much to pay for it'

Consequently, Keynesianism was employed with some success throughout the middle part of the 20th Century, including assisting the revival of most major economies before, during and after WW2. Therefore, it is not difficult to see why Keynesianism has attracted fans, particularly from the left where it seems to fit nicely with the ideological requirement for high public spending on generous public services. The UK Labour party’s economic policies are understandably based heavily in an interpretation of Keynesianism. Indeed, Gordon Brown's pledge as chancellor to bring about an “end to boom and bust” echoed strongly Keynes’ aims ‘to stabilize economic output during the cycle’. 

However, there are enormous problems with the modern centre-left's faith in Keynes' economic theories, as the ongoing failure of the so-called PIGS countries show us. Over the last 30 years, the governments of Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain have been dominated by the centre-left. Their economic policy has, like the UK's, been driven by bastardisations of Keynesian theory, borrowing heavily in order to spend on public services (read public sector workers). All have consequently spent too much for too long and borrowed too much to pay for it. 

How then has Keynesianism failed so catastrophically in the PIGS and brought Britain and the US to the maximum of their credit limits?

The first part of the answer lays partly as discussed in the fact that Keynes only ever meant high public borrowing/spending as a short term solution, not as the basis of long term economic policy.  Indeed, what the current Labour shadow chancellor Ed Balls, and his party leader Ed Miliband, both fail to understand is that it is not that the current coalition government is ‘cutting too far, too fast’ but that the previous Labour government was spending too much for too long. Labour's current  policy is entirely bi-polar; acknowledging the need to cut the deficit at the same time as advocating high levels of spending on public services. 

The second part of the answer is absolutely the key to understanding why the left can never be trusted with the economy again. It is more nuanced, but also more important. It concerns what public borrowing is actually spent on.  
In Keynes' time, an economic stimulous would buy short-term project specific blue collar workers; navvies, factory workers and builders. In the 21st century these manual trades have largely disappeared to be replaced by police officers, community outreach workers and NHS administrators who are employed on permanent contracts with pension schemes. Jobs for life. This is a change which partly reflects the evolving nature of our increasingly service based economy, but it also allows centre-left governments to claim increased public sector 'investment'. Employing one extra police officer for example, removes one person from the jobless total, adds one person to the number of police on the street, provides a basis for 'investment' in the police force. A very tempting proposition for any democratic government. In the 21st Century this is the fundamental problem with Keynesianism, and it is one that all ‘advanced’ economies (USA, PIGS, GB etc) suffer from. Here's why:

"The difference in the nature of public funded employment is the key to the mess we’re in, and it is also the key to the way out. The difference is the question of permanence"

In the middle-part of the 20th Century, working for the government meant building Autobahns in '30s Germany, manufacturing munitions in '40s America or NHS hospitals and social housing in '50s Britain. In the 21st Century, well educated citizens used to a higher standards of living simply do not wish to be employed in menial work. Instead, increasingly voter conscious centre-left parties throughout the West have sought to apply Keynesianism to jobs more conducive to electoral success, but less fitted to Keynesian stimulous.The difference in the nature of public funded employment is the key to the mess we’re in, and it is also the key to the way out. This difference is the question of permanencePut simply, it is possible to hire and fire blue collar workers much more flexibly; when a motorway is finished, a war won or a hospital built the dependant workers can be, and are, laid off. 

However, white collar workers are of a different nature and have different expectations. Historically, office jobs form part of a career structure which assumes a level of permanence and confers a much more secure tenure as well as other benefits such as generous pensions and access to union and or legal representation which means that they are very difficult to fire an they very rarely wish to leave of their own accord.
Consequently, the centre-left’s fondness for creating jobs out of thin air has brought electoral prosperity for the left by means of supplying the unions with many thousands of members as well as simultaneoulsy cutting the jobless statistics and increasing 'investment' in public services. But it is a policy which has saddled the country with literally millions of extra hungry mouths to feed, in many cases from 18 until the grave.

Whenever you hear Labour talking about 'creating jobs' or 'investing in public services' what they actually mean is 'investing in votes' and 'creating a legacy of debt'. Next time you feel sympathy with public sector workers on strike, remember that your children's children will be repaying the debt accrued to pay today's public sector pensions. Instead of blaming those attempting to reign in the deficit, it's time we blamed those who created it.

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Here are some powerful facts:
  • Portugal: Years Socialists in power since 1981: 30 years (100 %)
  • Ireland: Years Socialists in power since 1981: 18 years (55 %)
  • Greece: Years Socialists in power since 1981: 22 years (73 %)
  • Spain: Years Socialists in power since 1981: 21 years (70 %)

Monday, 14 November 2011

Labour's children; how welfare dependency caused the riots


Biting the hand that feeds
The turbulent events of last year's domestic riots have brought into sharp focus the issue of the client state and in particular, the actions of a generation of largely welfare dependent young Britons. Despite spending tens of billions of pounds more each year in benefits payments than were collected in taxation revenues over the preceding decade and a half, successive UK governments have thus far failed to stem the flow of disillusionment and disaffection bleeding from the once beating heart of the working class. Further, as Professor Frank Furedi of the University of Kent said recently ‘none of the conventional sociological explanations—from the Left or the Right—can satisfactorily account for the present riots in England’. With the country barely recovering from last summer's socio-economic heart failure, this article offers a hitherto unexplored comparison between the international aid given to states in the international system and that of domestic welfare provided to families, in order to explain why benefit dependency is to blame for the civil disobedience of 2011.

“…a ‘parallel services’ scenario has created a system of state substitution or ‘state surrogacy’ which has left domestic governments side-lined and ineffectual”

If we up-scale the domestic benefit system to the next level of analysis, that of the international sphere, then the obvious direct equivalent is international aid. Just as the state is the extension of man, so too the international system is an extension of domestic society; each merely defers to the next level. Park this thought for a moment, we will come back to it shortly.

Surprisingly, among some of the largest providers of international aid such as the UN, there are the beginnings of concerns that some states are becoming aid dependent. At the same time as feeding the masses, emerging thinking considers that aid can actually undermine governments. The rationale is that the governments of countries which are major recipients of aid (e.g. Haiti or Somalia) have become so used to receiving these benefits
 that they have almost completely ceased to engage in any wealth generation or indeed self-preservation activities on behalf of the 
citizenry. In short, the necessity for the sovereign to look after its subjects as implicit in the social contract, has been removed. The direct result of which, in regards to the provision of food and public health services, is that the state itself is becoming largely irrelevant as  citizens look to international organisations like UNHCR to fulfil their requirements, rather than their own domestic government. What UNHCR refers to as a ‘parallel services’ scenario has created a system of state substitution or ‘state surrogacy’ which has left domestic governments side-lined and ineffectual by international aid givers with seemingly endless resources. The resultant governmental absenteeism and the abandonment of the citizenry usually leads to further corruption, violence and war which creates a cycle which is difficult to break. It is a self-perpetuating cycle which can only be broken by carefully weaning such states off aid and onto self-sustainability. Essentially, that long-term aid programmes are the very reason why the requirement for aid becomes permanent rather than temporary. To paraphrase an old Oxfam strap-line, the state forgets how to fish for itself which accordingly becomes a long-term cyclical situation which only serves to both compound and extenuate the original problem in the long term.

“A system of ‘domestic surrogacy’ is born, under which the family unit is undermined, side-lined and increasingly irrelevant”

Earlier in this article we drew parallels between aid to states and benefits to citizens in the developed world, particularly the UK.  If we now once-more down-scale our level of analysis from the international community/domestic state relationship to that of the domestic government/family relationship, then it becomes possible to draw some obvious parallels. At this level, the 'aid giver' becomes the domestic government through its welfare programme (i.e. UNHCR is substituted for the DWP), and the aid recipient thus becomes the citizenry rather than the government. Individual families are supported by the government rather than themselves. Just as in the international level of analysis, this model fosters a period of ‘parallel services’, during which the traditional family unit and the welfare state run side-by-side, seemingly in harmony. However, in this case, just as in the international model, the external aid provider has access to comparatively endless resources and expertise. Inevitably, these soon out-strip the abilities of the aid recipient (the parent/s) to provide for those in its care. On the domestic level, a system of ‘domestic surrogacy’ is thus born, under which the family unit is undermined by the very state which provides the home, the money and thus the food on the table. This is why the majority of rioting occured in almost exclusively 'safe' Labour seats, and at the end of a generation of Labour rule.  The addition of ‘community outreach workers’ and other morally and ethically targeted public sector jobs which focus on family values means that all of the significant roles of the traditional family have rivals or authority challengers employed by the ‘parallel services’ provider; the welfare state. In an ironic twist, it is the idealism of those who wish to help which has resulted in the most harm.  Under Socialist governments, like the years of the UK's Labour Party, this situation is perpetuated by generous state hand-outs which are designed to engender a sense of loyalty among the recipient electorate. The UK is currently approaching the end of such a 15 year cycle. Like any dependency, 'welfarism' has become an addiction, and like any addiction a period of violent and uncomfortable cold turkey must be endured during the rehabilitation period.

“the psychology of benefit expectancy becomes hardwired very quickly and is fatally corrosive to families, communities and society”

At the international level, the aid dependency paradigm leads to violence and disorder born of justified feelings of impotence and irrelevance felt on behalf of the state authorities which is caused, ironically, directly by the aid giver. This can manifest itself as political violence at both the intrastate and interstate level.  We know that so-called 'failed states' are those which demand the most aid.  These states are also more likely to become involved in civil or intra-state war.  These same feelings of anger and frustration are created by aid provision at the domestic level of analysis; with similarly violent results.

It is welfare dependency which has led to violence and disorder created by the genuine feelings of a lack of self-respect and self-worth caused, ironically enough, by the generosity of the welfare state. Drawing lessons from how aid dependency plays out internationally, we must realise that at the family-level, the psychology of benefit expectancy becomes hardwired very quickly and is fatally corrosive to families, communities and society in general. The resultant cycle of despair can only be broken by carefully weaning families off the welfare state and onto self-sustainability. Essentially, that short-term benefits of welfare cannot be allowed to become long-term surrogacy as this becomes permanent and carries with it a genuine and serious risk of frustration and violence.

Rather than help the poor, generous benefits undermine the individual, the family and ultimately the whole of society. They should be seen as a short term prop, a helping hand, not a long term alternative to work. The challenge now for David Cameron and Ian Duncan Smith is to salami slice benefits so that only the bare minimum remains, without inflaming further disorder. 

As that old Oxfam advertisement used to say: “Give a man a fish and he can feed himself for a day, teach him how to fish and he can feed his family forever”. Let's not patronise those who felt angry and frustrated enough about their predicament to riot. Instead, we should recognise the long-term societal corrosion brought about by benefit dependency for what it is.  Rather than buy votes with benefits like the previous Labour administrations, the current ruling coalition should exercise responsible leadership and make benefits a short-term crutch for families, rather than a long-term addiction.

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Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Education Maintenance Allowance? More like Ecstasy Maintenance Allowance

Last night on BBC Newsnight, Harriet Harman MP claimed that the cutting of Educational Maintenance Allowance had contributed to the recent appalling riots. Further to this, James Mills (the Labour researcher behind the ‘Save the EMA’ campaign) today tweeted his agreement with Harman that EMA was a factor behind the social unrest on our streets.
In this excellent article, guest blogger @JoshPugs explains in detail and first hand why Harriet Harman and the Left are so wrong.

'EMA was inefficient, wasteful and essentially corrupt'

During the autumn and winter of 2010 we witnessed the clamorous outcry of thousands of students who were furious with the Coalition Government’s education policies. Angry and bespotted quasi-academic youths filled our streets and television screens with ever-so-trendy Arabic neck scarves and defiant placards. Ostensibly, they demanded a Government U-Turn on the plans to raise tuition fees and to scrap Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA). However, when it comes to EMA, their protests were either based in ignorance, or mired the same greed with which they scornfully brand the Bankers.

In 2004, the Labour Government introduced the Education Maintenance Allowance. Officially, its purpose was to assist certain college students who come from lower income families with the day-to-day expenses associated with their further education. However, whilst removing barriers to education appears to be a worthy and noble objective, the reality is that EMA was an inefficient, wasteful and essentially corrupt system.
Under EMA, students who were eligible (their family income would have to be at least below £30,000) would be able to receive weekly awards of £10, £20, or £30 so long as they attended college. Additionally, if their attendance was high enough, they would qualify for termly £100 bonuses. The logic is clear, with these payments students could afford to attend college, be incentivised to keep their attendance up, and be rewarded with cash for pursuing further education… So far so good!

'EMA was paid to students directly in cash to be spent exactly how the individual wished'

However , the problems with EMA were huge. Firstly it was poorly targeted. Students with divorced parents could qualify for cash awards despite the fact that the Mum or Dad who didn’t live with them might be on £30k + and be providing them with regular stipends anyway. Secondly, and of far greater significance, EMA was paid to students directly in cash to be spent exactly how the individual wished. Whilst some students most certainly spent their EMAs on those items which were necessary for education, a vast amount was undoubtedly spent in TopShop and Starbucks across the nation. Or as one student commenting on The Guardian website (of all places) wrote: “The local drug dealer did very well out of EMA”. Just as duck ponds and pay-per-view porn were inappropriate uses of taxpayers' money when it comes to MPs' expenses, surely pairs of Nike trainers, tickets to V Festival and bottles of Lambrini are an equally wasteful and equally corrupt use of state coffers?

'...students who have genuine need will be able to get more support through the Bursary scheme than through the rightfully scrapped EMA'

Generic Lefty Protest Scarf, 'Buy it now with EMA'.
I’m not saying that some students don’t need financial support for further education. I firmly believe some provision is absolutely necessary. But rather than huge state-led blanket hand-outs, we need a system of support which takes into account the real need and real requirement of individuals who are committed to improving their educational lot. Fortunately Michael Gove has established the ‘16 – 19 Bursary’ which provides this. Unlike the EMA, schools, colleges and training providers will be responsible for awarding individual bursaries to students. They will also decide when bursaries are paid, and will set conditions that students should meet to receive a bursary, for example, linked to behaviour or attendance. In fact, students who have genuine need will be able to get more support through the Bursary scheme than through the rightfully scrapped EMA.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I can understand where those angry and protesting students were coming from. If I were a 17 year old student from a left-wing family who’d seen my £30 weekend money get denied to them by those “…what are they Mum and Dad? Oh yeah.. Tory Bastards!!!” I’d probably be protesting too. But let’s not take the piss. Get a part-time job. Or even better, found your own multi-million pound company.

'...graduate 3 years later with a 2:2 in media studies expecting decent employment to fall into their hands like manna from state-heaven'

This approach worked for Richard Branson and it worked for ‘Lord’ Alan Sugar. Do we really think that these business moguls would emerge as entrepreneurs if they had grown up in the benefit-centric hand-out culture of today? Is it in-fact more likely that they would be massaged into college, given their £30 a week (and their £100 bonus for actually turning up) and then ushered into University to graduate 3 years later with a 2:2 in media studies expecting decent employment to fall into their hands like manna from state-heaven?
No, far better for college students to get a part-time job (I was an Argos Monkey at the weekends) and learn the value of money. Let them gain some real work experience and some talking points on their CVs. Let them, like many others their age, learn that one must put something into society to get something out. And then yes, if they want to spend their hard-earned cash on clothes, booze and drugs – then I say ‘Go crazy!’ ‘Go mental!’ ‘ENJOY!’ But don’t expect the state to fund all this, and don’t march through the street protesting for yourright’ to largely disposable cash.
Last night on BBC Newsnight, Harriet Harman MP even claimed that the cutting of Educational Maintenance Allowance has contributed to the recent and appalling riots. Further to this, James Mills (the Labour researcher behind the ‘Save the EMA’ campaign) today tweeted his agreement with Harman that EMA was a factor behind the social unrest on our streets. And Harman and Mills will not be alone among the Left to voice such claims. And here, the Left might just have a point… After all, if you were a local drug dealer who’d seen your business with local Sixth Form smoking-area dry up, you’d probably have enough beef with Gove and Big Dave to smash a few shops up. But to suggest the scrapping of EMA led these young people to those awful deeds is simply absurd.
Let’s see EMA for what it was: an expensive Labourite bribe to gain young people’s votes. Now without it, the 16 – 19 Bursary is far better placed to provide for those who are truly in need.

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Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Chavriots of Fire

'...root of all that is unholy in the capital these past days'

The riots have nothing to do with poverty, disaffection or budget cuts. Labour's bastard children have only got state-paternalism and multicultralism to blame. Oh, and themselves of course...

With much of London still burning and the Twittersphere still spinning after days of rioting and looting, the blame game has already begun. 'Community workers' are blaming the ConservaLibs' plans to reduce the deficit, claiming that this is reducing the effectiveness of the police at the same time as the cuts are increasing the disaffection of those from disadvantaged areas. The Conservatives seem quiet on the issue of blame, a silence born from a lack of either confidence or certainty. One thing is certain, nobody in authority is publicly blaming themselves, but they are all at least partly responsible. The Met Police and the Home Office are spouting the usual 'this has nothing to do with race' and 'we are talking to community leaders to resolve issues'. However, the elephant in the room is being ignored; that the majority of rioting and looting is taking place in parts of the capital which are also the most ethnically diverse. Let me make one thing clear, this blog makes no comment on any particular race or ethnicity, positive or negative. It does however, pursue the point that the multiculturalism experiment (as an 'ism') which was created by the liberal left and promulgated by both ends of the spectrum is at the root of all that is unholy in the capital these past days.

'State being too terrified of the liberal left's equality/human rights lobbies to actually seize the initiative and stamp out disorder'

ATM does not charge for withdrawals
What we are now witnessing is the hard-edged result of decades of soft-touch multicultural dreaming. The last 15 years have witnessed massive 'investment' in thousands of community outreach workers and Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) as well as many more spurious 'created' jobs in order to prevent a repeat of Brixton '81. However, despite this, indeed likely because of it, a severe over-sensitivity towards race relations gripped and then paralised successive Labour governments into inactivity. Both Blair and Brown's administrations completely failed to resolve any of the underlying socio-economic issues which have eventually and ultimately brought London to the brink. State-sponsored jobsworthyism has resulted in the organs of State being too terrified of the liberal left's equality/human rights lobbies to actually seize the initiative and stamp out disorder in racially sensitive areas. Rather, a policy of patronising the 'yoof' through the medium of CV writing skills classes and youth clubs has been the defining character of the government's approach over the last decade and a half. However, the deep routed social breakdown at the heart of the rioting will not be resolved by community outreach workers talking to community leaders in an attempt to stabilise the situation.  Outreach workers can't make arrests, community leaders aren't burning shops. The Conservalib government have inherited a socio-economic model which is fundamentally flawed. David Cameron must adapt policy in order to give social cohesion a chance. If ever a big society rather than a big state were needed, the time is now.

Survived the Blitz, destroyed by multiculturalism
Labour have managed to convince us all that multiculturalism is a positive thing, that to criticise the theory is an act of racism. This is not true of course, criticism of one 'ism' does not make one into an 'ist', the concept of multiculturalism is an entirely subjective and politicised theory which suggests that people of all cultures can live side-by-side in harmony. Conversely, the facts are such that North London plays host to vast social ghettos of people from all over the world who insulate themselves from British values. The ridiculous racial over-sensitivity which has been at the forefront of the Met's policing philosophy since Brixton '81 and the Stephen Lawrence inquest has brought the country to a position where the youth in these areas see no authority in the police or the rule of law. They are now behaving accordingly; lawlessly. 

Time and again we have heard these last few days 'I can't believe that this is happening in Britain'. It's not, it's happening in areas of the country where Britishness is absent.

'...time we stopped draining our GDP away paying for spurious public servants who do unaccountable, intangible and ineffectual work'

The solution lay in not being afraid of stating and dealing in truth. It is a shame that local Labour MPs David Lammy and Diane Abbot spent 13 years denying the reality on the ground, when they could have spent that time (and money) actually dealing with the socio-economic dissaffection which is at the root of all this. Germany's Angela Merkel has publicly stated that multiculturalism has 'utterly failed', so should we for admitting that there is a problem is always the first step towards finding a cure. For now, May and Cameron have to restore order and confidence to the streets by means of a show of force. Reinforcing the Police with troops ring-fenced for civil emergency in  Northern Ireland and who are trained for just such lawlessness on home soil would be a good place to start. In the long term, it's time we stopped draining our GDP away paying for spurious public servants who do unaccountable, intangible and ineffectual 'work' in these areas and use that money for more police officers. 
Lawlessness can only be annulled by the firm rule of law. This applies in the long-term as much as it does in the short-term. 
In short, a few less of carrots, a bit more stick. Permanently.

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Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Johnnie 'Marbles' May-Bowles

The man who attempted, but entirely failed, to defeat a tag-team comprised of an octogenarian media mogul and his 6stone Chinese wife has been named as Johnnie May-Bowles.

Nice shirt 
May-Bowles, dressed in the uniform of the 'oh so working class' movement UKuncut (mid 30's comb-over and a 1990s lumberjack shirt) attempted to attack Rupert Murdoch during his appearance at the Culture, Media and Sport select committee. May-Bowles brands himself as 'Johnnie Marbles' in a pathetic attempt at ridding himself of the upper-middle class yoke of his privileged upbringing and University education at Royal Holloway. A typical member of the champagne-socialist group 'UK Uncut', May-Bowles has successfully managed to accomplish several things:

1.) Dilute the pressure on the very person he wished to attack
2.) Completely expose the contradiction within himself and within the organisation of which he is a part  
3.) Make a family name of Wendi Murdoch

Johnnie May-Bowles is a wannabe stand-up comedian. It may be that this has been a profile raising publicity stunt for his own means. However, it is difficult to imagine that any newspaper in the happy NewsCorp family is likely to print anything complimentary about him. In fact,  this has been yet another of UK Uncut's failed publicity events, almost on a par with fellow self-loathing middle-classer Charlie Gilmour's defamation of the Cenotaph. Therefore, I suggest that rather than accept UK Uncut as part of the fabric of modern society, we should treat them with the same kind of contempt in which they have held parliament and our nation's war dead.

UK Uncut have no cause or indeed even a basic grasp of economics or the rule of law. They are comprised of a group of pseudo-intellectual champagne socialist 'wannabes'. Time to hang up the humus guys.

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Saturday, 16 July 2011

Why we cut our defence budget & increase aid spending

Every week on television, in the newspapers or online we see or hear about DFID (the Department for International Development) spending money on aid abroad, while we face public spending cuts at home. Indeed, the last Labour government gave £800million a year in aid to China, and the current government gives millions each year to India despite both economies being larger and faster growing than our own. This week the UK development secretary Andrew Mitchell committed the UK tax payer to a further £53million in order to help ease the effects of drought in East Africa. In-fact, despite the Coalition government's controversial current and planned spending cuts across all other departments, DFID's budget has been 'ring fenced'. However, having trawled DFID's website, I can find no justification for their existence or indeed for this amount of public expenditure. So, what's going on? Surprisingly, the answer is essentially '9/11'.

Future friend or foe?
As ever, the policy in practice is founded in a seemingly abstract academic political theory, in this case from the arena of Critical Security Studies (CSS). Without going into laborious detail, the idea is that it is 'emancipation, not power or order which produces true security', which translates as the idea that true security is achieved only when the individual is able to live a life free from threat.

Among the populations of the West, such threats are commonly perceived as foreign military attack or more recently, the actions of those engaged in terrorism. Against this backdrop, CSS argues that most wars or terrorist actions  are undertaken in order to improve the living conditions and political aims of those who live in societies where the threat to individual security is more likely to be famine, thirst, rape or genocide as it is to be war or terrorism. Quite simply, emancipation from exposure to these threats is the type of security that those in the developing world are willing to fight and die for.

In the developed and the developing world, all countries have traditionally spent vast treasures on the formation and maintenance of conventional armed forces i.e. land, naval and air power, in order to protect against threats posed by those states or non-state actors who are willing to fight and kill us. Surely then, in the field of international conflict and security, prevention would be better than cure? 

Indeed, CSS argues that money spent on the emancipation of individuals from such threat motivations (hunger, disease etc) in the developing world also keeps us safe here in the West. i.e. our own national security is linked to the individual securities of those who might become our enemies. 

Essentially, sharing our resources with those who are dying from socio-economic threats will bring about emancipation from such threats, and will also
prevent the kind of anger which has expressed itself through terrorism against the West in growing regularity since the 1980's. Imagine for a moment an Afghanistan of the 1990s which was emancipation from the threat of hunger, violence and lack of education. It is difficult to imagine that such a country would have ever become the breeding ground for terrorism as indeed it became in the period before 9/11.

Te government is slashing defence spending and increasing the budget for DFID. It is hoped that by spending less on traditional armed forces, like tanks, aircraft carriers and battalions infantry, and more on International Development, the UK is ensuring the emancipation of those who might become our enemies from the reasons that they would want to do so. It is hoped that in the long run, prevention will be cheaper than cure.   

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Friday, 15 July 2011

Response to: 'A History Lesson for William Hague'

HuffPost UK published a Tom Stevenson article entitled 'A History Lesson for William Hague'
(available here: 

This is my response:

Your piece makes an articulate and almost informed case as to why the UK shouldn't delve into the internal domestic affairs of the state of Iran, but what you overlook is the actual point at stake here which is that:
Concerns over Iran's nuclear program are not directed at Iran's INTERNAL domestic politics or affairs, rather at the effect of the acquisition of such a capability will have on Iran's EXTERNAL international relations. Quite skilfully, you have drawn the focus of the debate onto whether 'we' have the right to interfere in Iran, and thus removed the focus  from what is really at stake here; whether the peoples of the Middle East have the right to live at liberty and in a secure and stable region.

Consequently your article is both flawed and one sided, not a position I believe that you have deliberately formulated, rather more likely the unseen Foucaultian indoctrination which seems to stem from reading far too much pro-Palestine, anti-Israel, anti-Western rhetoric in left-leaning publications these days. It might be worth recognising at this point that whilst Israel is certainly guilty of some levels of human rights violations it remains, at present at least, the only democratic country in the Middle-East.

In your article, you briefly discuss '...the US and Israel...' as being in possession of  '...huge nuclear arsenals and extensive records of aggression...' and thus question; '...if Hague cared about peace in the Middle East as he says, he would not be silent on these threats'. Threats to whom may I ask? Israel has never threatened to use her nuclear weapons aggressively, rather they are held as deterrence (for further information on the key differences here, please research Nuclear Deterrence Theory).

Whether you or indeed I like it, Israel is the regional hegemon in the Middle-East; a position it occupies despite huge international and journalistic pressure from those such as yourself, and despite having a population of less than 8million souls. There are 2 reasons for this vital hegemony:
1.) Israel proved itself very adept in conventional warfare in 1967 and 1973 thus establishing itself as an effective regional power
2.) It has either developed or acquired a modest Nuclear arsenal in order to ensure that it does not require to fight any more such conventional conflicts, thus ensuring regional stability.

The net result of this hegemonic position has been long decades of Middle Eastern stability within Israel's sphere of influence, thus avoiding the kind of massed slaughter as witnessed in the Iran/Iraq war of the 1980s. Some relatively minor interventions in Lebanon and the 'occupied' territories have indeed occurred but so too has Israel demonstrated its enormous capacity for restraint; not least during Iraq's Scud missile attacks on Tel Aviv during 1990 and 1991. One wonders whether a nuclear armed counter-hegemonic Iran would have shown quite so much restraint?

If you want 'a lesson from history', perhaps you should look at what happened to us here in the West during the 1973 oil crisis which occurred as a direct result of a challenge to Israel's hegemonic position.  A nuclear armed Iran would create:
At best, a new cold war in the region, forcing oil prices up and up (and thus food, textiles and heating)
At worst, an aggressive nuclear armed state capable of a new holocaust which would not only see death and destruction in the Middle-East, but starvation and mass anarchy in the entirety of the developed world.

So sorry  to '...scare [you] with stories of a demon in the East.'.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Is Rebekah one of the family?

Having scoured the internet for information about Rebekah Brooks' parentage and failed, I got my thinking cap on.

'My priority at the moment is this one' said Murdoch, referring to Rebekah Brooks nee Wade. This prompted many to ask, what exactly is the hold this lady has over him?

Perhaps if we add the two questions together we may find the answer to both... could it be that the biggest scoop of all is that Brooks is in fact the secret love child of Rupert? It hasn't been mentioned before, but is it... could it be possible? See for yourself with this amazing facemorph:


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Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Boutique Leftism

Porter: Questioned over antisemitism
In this article, we discuss the theory of Boutique Leftism in order to at least partly explain why it is that modern lefties are so irritatingly off the mark. From Ed Miliband to Aaron Porter, a seemingly disparate group of 'left wing intellectuals' seem to be stringing together incoherent lists of causes into some kind of unholy daisy chain of utterly unrelated and often entirely contradictory polices. The net result is that the right find it increasingly difficult to engage in any kind of meaningful policy debate with the leftists for two principal reasons. Firstly, that the daisy chain of issues do not in anyway form a coherent body of policy around which a counter argument can be formed. Secondly, that the left have seized the 'moral high ground' on all issues and defend this high ground behind false barricades of political correctness.

What is Boutique Leftism?

Just like shopping in a Boutique, this kind of leftism makes it is possible to buy into issues made and designed independently of one another, with no real correlation to each other. In this way it has been possible to position the left as the focus of attention in a positive way, surrounded as they are by niceties and not engaged in depth with anything necessary or industrious. Often, the stock of the boutique is fringe or 'alternative' in nature, with different issues holding similar but individual appeal. This ensures that the left can attract broad support for any of the given items by appealing to the broadest possible range of tastes, without having to form any kind of cohesion between these individual issues. By cherry picking the issues that suit this need, the left can almost guarantee to have at least one item on their shelf that appeals to most lefties, and also to avoid those items which are disdainful or distasteful, and so the cycle of support and create is self-perpetuating. By way of example, here are just a few of the items in their basket at present:

Support for the Palestinians/hate for Israel
No to public spending cuts
Support for freedom of speech and democracy
No to tuition fees
Down with NewsInt/Rupert Murdoch
Support for the Unions

On the face of it, these items/issues are such familiar themes from the left that they might even begin to form the backbone of policy. But they don't. The problem for the left is the complete lack of any kind of cohesion between these items and that further, this kind of flaky cherry picking is in fact counter-productive and highly contradictory. Allow me to expand:

No to public spending cuts/no to tuition fees: 
Utterly impossible demands
If there is no money left (there really isn't, let's not argue about this) in the pot and as a society we desire to educate as many University students as are able, regardless of their socio-economic background, and at the same time we wish to maintain high levels of public spending on the compulsory elements of our education system as well as the NHS and policing, then these two points are entirely contradictory. We EITHER need higher tuition fees to pay for expanding university education, OR we need to cut public spending elsewhere in  order to find the money for Universities. This is basic economics, and economics and politics are one and the same.

Lovers once, Murdoch & Labour
Down with NewsInt/Rupert Murdoch/Support for the Trade Unions: 
The unions and News International are identical in every way. Both have a body of membership who pay a relatively small subscription in order to be part of a large machine which lobbies and pressures in their interests. Both News International and the unions have very highly paid leadership with almost no public accountability, and both seek to influence polity for their own interests and the interests of their paid membership. The only difference here is that New International can switch political allegiance from time to time, the unions never do.  

Support for freedom of speech and democracy/Support for the Palestinians:
Democratic accountability; Hamas style
Israel remains the only county in the Middle-East to be classified as a 'democracy' by the UN and Freedom House. Further, you simply can't be on the left of the spectrum, thus opposed to the fascist extreme right AND support Hamas. Their record on human rights, equality for women and religious minorities are deplorably undemocratic and decidedly fascistic in nature.

Therefore, Boutique Leftism has two features. First, it is largely expressive. It expresses great sympathy with the poor and the marginalised, but fails to engage in any serious and complex analysis of what might make their condition better. Indeed, whilst it waxes lyrical about standing up for the 'disadvantaged' at home and abroad, it does so from the position of a kind of middle-class self-interest rather than in any meaningful or understanding way. Second, boutique leftists understand the old adage that the surest way to ward off criticism is by making it yourself and placing it at the feet of others. This second point explains why those on the left seem to lurch from one issue to the next without any meaningful direction of travel, almost hopping from one piece of moral high-ground to the next whilst never venturing into the valleys of reality. This lack of cohesion ensures that solid policy thinking is impossible because of the often contradictory nature of the items selected, and gives the distinct impression of band-wagonism. 

If Mr Miliband(wagon) is to make any serious inroads as leader of the opposition, he must understand this article and begin to jettison contradictory issues in favour of cohesive policies which have real depth and credibility. He will only be able to do this if he stops listening to those who shout loudest, but very often know the least. My advice is to ignore anyone with a placard. 

For now at least, the Conservative Party remains in government and, with it's coalition partner, firmly in command. Miliband is lurching about in the PMQ shop, interested in different items as dictated to him by the placard wavers and the left wing headline makers. Mr Cameron at least is able to stand firm behind the counter/dispatch box and continue with his course of fiscal responsibility with a degree of integrity and continuity, even in these difficult times. It is with hope that I commend this article to the blog; hope that enemies of the Left recognise the contradictory nature of their boutiquism, and use it to eject them from the UK political shop altogether.

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Sunday, 10 July 2011

A future war in Sudan is now inevitable

This week witnessed the birth of the world's newest state; the Republic of South Sudan. The jubilant scenes and triumphalism depicted by the world's media would have us believe that this is a victory for self-determination, and the first step towards peaceful prosperity in this enormous corner of Africa. However, history is littered with examples which show us that the future for South Sudan will be anything but prosperous and certainly not peaceful.

Despite the hope, the only seeds being sown in Africa are seeds of civil war, murder and famine. The examples of Rwanda, Burundi and others have been completely ignored and the lessons of building in the 'West's' own image remain unheeded.

Hope and Naivety

Ever since the treaty of Westphalia in 1648 the world has been organised by way of ring-fencing geographical areas of land and the people that live within it; and calling that tranche a country or 'state'. The Westphalian system is one which has produced very mixed results. In some cases, like that of Britain and the United States, the Westphalian structure has led to stability and therefore prosperity. In these and similar cases this has been because of sheer luck, rather than design, the 'state' has been insulated by geology, ecology and meteorology against the socio-economic effects of  natural disaster, famine and severe extremes of weather. In these states, survival is almost naturally assured and both national and individual advancement (and enlightenment) is therefore both possible in and enabled by statism.

Nationalism meets Tribalism
However, in others states the notion of statehood itself has led to division and instability. Whilst the state system has meant that we in the West have been kept secure enough to prosper and advance, statism based on geography, religion and perceived ethnicity has also been the very reason why some states 'fail'. An essentially European invention, Westphalianism forces tribal cultures outside of the West to live in false allegiance to a nation with which they recognise no histiographical foundations. It forces ancient moral codes to 'modernise' to Western ideals in less than a generation and ancient hierarchies to contort into western notions of 'civil' society and order.

Against this backdrop, South Sudan has been born, it's legal basis provided by Wilsonian and Kantian ideals of 'self-determination' and legitimated by those states which have emerged as the most successful in the international community, the United Nations security council. However, with the establishment of a state in the south, so too is the north of Sudan significantly altered. Recent history provides us with many north/south divisions in this manner, namely Vietnam, Korea and now Sudan. In each case, those successful heirs of Westphalia have backed the south over the north (curious quirk of fate?) and, in each case this division has led to deep and protracted conflict which has cost millions in what Kant's Perpetual Peace described as 'blood and treasure'.

In South Sudan, the flash-points are already there. In a Foucaultian sense, South Sudan is an essentially tribal society maladjusted to nationalism and reinforced by a commercial system founded in bribery, violence and coercion. Geographically, the border is undefined and has no set internationally recognised for delineation, huge resources of crude oil lay only just inside the south with no port from which to export it, except through a shaky agreement with the north. In addition there are, as ever in Africa, internal divisions within the new state and southern South Sudanese separatists have already begun attacks from within even before the celebration hangovers have cleared. Therefore, whilst we celebrate the birth of a nation, it is difficult not to predict its terminal illness.

One day in the future, those of us in positions of power in the West will realise Ken Booth's assertions that 'emancipation, not power or order, produces true security'. We can only hope that this realisation doesn't come too late for South Sudan.

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