All Hail The British Revolution!- All Power to the Oligarchy!
Posted by seumasach on May 28, 2009
28th May, 2009
At first sight the whole MPs’ expenses scandal looks like a carefully prepared and choreographed stratagem to divert attention from the mega-corruption of the oligarchy’s bailout to the micro-corruption of our representatives’ little pilferings. The oligarchs have taken everything we’ve got upfront and in advance; surely it’s ungenerous for them to deny the House some small reward for their supine passivity in the face of this greatest of all heists. But its not soft-heartedness that got our robber baron’s where they are today: they know more than any that wealth without power is ultimately vain, and that absolute wealth demands absolute power. And so it is that they have decided add to their great financial coup a political coup which will, they hope, free them from political hassles in perpetuity. The new man in their life, the one chosen to undertake this task, (the undertaker, if you like, for what remains of British democracy) is David Cameron. For revolution is in the air and who better to entrust with “the transfer of power from the powerful to the powerless” than one freshly sprung from their own ranks.
At the heart of Cameron’s reform programme is a theme which I have dealt already in these columns: the oligarchy don’t like strong executive power fearing that, no matter what precautions they take in grooming the candidates for no. 10, at a certain point it may be the focal point for a counter attack based on popular or establishment disaffection. Better then to completely emasculate the executive to preclude any power rivalling theirs. So it’s not enough to have humiliated Brown and reduced him the the pathetically pliant creature we see today: the prime ministership itself must be dimished to the point of impotence. This the first plank of Cameron’s programme.
Here, the beauty of Britain’s constitution , or lack of one, pays dividends: the executive power is inextricably bound up with the legislative. The head of state is the monarch and only through a process of evolution did the prime minister, from the time of Disraeli onward, accrue power. It did this indirectly through the development of the party system and the whips. Therefore, by weakening these the Prime Minister’s status and power is undermined. This is precisely Cameron’s elegant solution. In general, all these plans to reform the legislative look quite sensible except that they all require one thing to complete them: a president elected by a popular vote. But that would be Jacobinism; it wouldn’t do as we Brits say. Similarly Cameron knows not to put forward proportional representation thus allowing a chamber which represents a range of views and not just the endless mudge and fudge of the mire that is the middle ground of British politics. That wouldn’t do either.
Having knobbled the political process at its core and put the politicians in their place(for it is to these that he refers when he talks of “the powerful”) let us turn to the powerless. There is a strange admission in Cameron’s terminology since how can people be powerless in the world’s foremost democracy. Did we fight and win two world wars to be powerless. The answer is “yes” as Cameron implicitly concedes in what I suppose you could call “ a breath of fresh air”. Anyway, what remedy for the powerless? Power is to be decentralised; we are to be given local power. Yes, it’s the old power to the people trick. We can concede the importance of local government without being so stupid as to think it a substitute for central power. Without central power, oligarchy, corporate and financier power rule. They can knobble local councils easily and just to make this solution even more elegant, they have already done so. I’ll leave readers to speculate on or explore the modalities of this vassalage for themselves. It is all around us: just look at how the mobile phone companies have enforced their will on local bodies.
The third plank of reform is taking power back from Brussels. Here in Britain both left and right oppose Europe because it’s “bourgeois”. You know bourgeois law, all that stuff- regulation, what have you. Too many hassles, man! Oligarchs particularly dislike the rule of law since it contravenes their right to loot whatever they can get their hands on. That’s why they have effectively privatised the courts system in this country. But if Europe won’t move with the times, won’t “modernise” then we must shun them. And so say all of us! And anyway, what’s wrong with the Pound? ( I’ll come to that point further down)
So here, in a nutshell, we have the principles which will guide us through the rapids of revolution under the infallible guidance of the Dear Leader to Be, once everyone has been told to elect him. Does anyone see any problems with it? It has every chance of success, will be supported by all parties apart from a bit of quibbling about PR and should guarantee bankster power in our time. Never in the field of class conflict have so few owed so much to so many (and so many just allowed them to keep it).
Still, there is a problem. This is so very a much a British affair. A rerun of that pageant of history in which barons, big whigs, financiers and oligarchs made their stand against sovereign and constitutional power in the name of that timeless British ideal of Private Interest. From the treasonous barons at Runnymede, to the genocidal Puritan lunatics; from the Dutch invasion and coup d’etat of 1688 to the unabashed delinquency of the Gordon riots, always the same theme dominates: oligarchy. Why should it not do so now?
Were our wars not to have been so disastrous; were our productive capacities not so diminished; was our credibility in the world not to have sunk so low; was our currency not about to become the butt of short sellers and jesters, this apotheosis of Britishness might be accepted as an unpleasant but inevitable culmination of our development, the fulfillment of our spirit as the Prussian state was of Hegel’s. But in a global world, our position looks precarious. A global paradigm shift is in process and we’re not part of it. We’re locking ourselves out and, quite frankly, given the state of the place, the utter shambles, we might be better off as North Korea. The reality of today’s world is expressed in geopolitics: the power shift from West to East and the alliance of creditor nations from Russia and China to the Arab world are the predominant emerging facts on the ground. If we want the capital inflows, on which we are totally dependent, to continue we must start to recognise these new factors. The power of the City of London, the Empire, in other words, is over and their little plans to stitch up what’s left of the realm, though quaint, will hold no sway in this greater scheme of things.