In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

Great Britain: What is it and where is it going?

Posted by seumasach on October 14, 2008


Cailean Bochanan

14th October, 2008

Optimism returned to the markets today as Gordon Brown, the rock on which the new doctrine of “part-nationalisations” is built, set the master plan in motion. But will it work, will it, as they say, “do the trick”? 


If the trick in question is how to bailout the banks to the tune of £500 billion without the figures turning up on the government’s current account, the answer is a resounding “yes!” But what about the real economy? I can already see the puzzled, inquisitive expression on the City financier’s face. They didn’t get where they are today worrying about the real economy. Did I mean would it reignite the housing bubble or mean a resumption of credit card fuelled binging by Britain’s “there is no tomorrow” generation? If so, certainly not! The banker’s have got better things to do with our money than simply giving it back to us.


With regard to the real economy and the real everyday lives of the inhabitants of this country , it will most certainly not “do the trick”. The party is over and the bill has been handed to us. It’s not  that we can’t pay it just now: we can’t pay it tomorrow – we can’t pay it ever!


What are we to do?  To even begin to answer that question we have to address the question of the fundamental nature of Great Britain.



Few nations can claim their origins in a conspiracy to invite a foreign financial, military and constitutional takeover. Such, however, was the coup d’etat of 1688. A small group of conspirators, in touch with William of Orange and the Whig exiles in Holland pulled of a plan of stunning boldness precipitating the greatest military invasion since the Roman Empire, and an accompanying influx of Dutch money on which the British empire was to be based.


This extraordinary operation, whose essential nature would have to be concealed from the British people in perpetuity, was only made possible by prolonged ideological preparation, a propaganda campaign  which had been running for over a century. This “war on terror” was a device all too familiar to us today: but it was directed against Catholics, not Muslims. Just as today the evocation of the ‘Muslim threat’ has made all kinds of things possible which would not otherwise have been, so it was with the evocation of the “Catholic threat”. It even made the self-liquidation of English nationality possible.


The idea was essentially to create an offshore base in which to reproduce the financial system already developed in Holland and from which to fight France and to construct a maritime empire. Controlling England was not sufficient to attain this goal: control had to be extended to the whole British Isles, merging Scotland and England,subduing Ireland and extirpating the  Gaelic culture of the Celtic periphery. There could be no point in shifting the massive wealth off-shore out of France’s reach only to allow France in by the backdoor i.e. via Ireland or Scotland. The resulting constitutional arrangement, Great Britian established by the sword and by deception in 1707 and more or less stabilised by 1715 was a completely artificial entity. 

The great novelty of the financial system was the permanent indebtedness of the the executive power to a consortium of private bankers, constituted in the so-called Bank of England. The financiers were able to permanently enrich themselves at the expense of the nation who had to meet the interest payments which the executive was charged on the national debt. The principal was not repaid but merely rolled in perpetuity. This gave Britain a great advantage in the prosecution of wars, the funding of which had caused so much difficulty to the Stewart kings. Swift alludes to this situation in one of the many illuminating passages from his masterful satire on Britain, Gulliver’s Travels, which should be read by all who wish to find the roots of our present predicament.


Having  noted the excess of expenditure over income the King of Brobdingnag expresses his  perplexity that “a kingdom could run out of its estate, like a private person. He asked me who were our creditors, and where we found the money to pay them. He wondered to hear me talk of such chargeable and expensive wars; that certainly we must be a quarrelsome people, or live amongst very bad neighbours, and that our generals must needs be richer than our kings. He asked what business we had out of our own islands, unless upon the score of trade, or treaty, or to defend the coast with our fleets. Above all, he was amazed to hear me talk of a mercenary standing army, in the midst of peace and among a free people.”


The connection between Whig finance and war was already clear to Swift. It was also linked to the ruination of the yeomanry through taxation and the related export of people through colonisation. Gulliver’s distaste for the latter is the reason, which made him “less forward to enlarge his majesty’s dominions” by his discoveries, he having “conceived a few scruples with relation to the distributive justice of princes on these occasions”.


“Here commences a new dominion acquired with a title by divine right. Ships are sent with the first opportunity; the natives driven out or destroyed; their princes tortured to discover their gold; a free licence given to all acts of inhumanity and lust, the earth reeking with the blood of its inhabitants: and this execrable crew of butcher’s, employed in so pious an expedition, is a modern colony, sent to convert and civilise an idolatrous and barbarous people.”


With the treasonous Orange takeover and what Disraeli called the Venetian system in place, the new Great Britain was the the greatest instrument for war and conquest ever created. Through conquest, through usury, through trading in slaves, guns and every commodity, through monopoly and the ruination of native economies it became the greatest instrument for the accumulation of wealth.


All of this was three hundred years ago but we can see the persistence of similar trends in modern Britain. If there was ever any doubt, we know now that this place is controlled, as it was then, by high finance. We know that this power centre is closely linked to war and that this connection gives rise to a military industrial complex. Then as now the economy was parasitic, living of global financial dealings based on stealth and brute force. The original Whig elite lived of government bonds issued in Britain. By 1820 the bond market was rapidly extending throughout the world. Today, money is sucked into London as foreign producers except our currency in payment for the goods we consume and recycle them into our government bonds.


The mechanisms behind these mechanisms of exploitation are complex, but the essence of the situation is that we have placed ourselves at the centre of a web of relationships and a kind of international division of labour which are favourable to us, or, rather, our financiers, since this massive public debt and  our endless wars are now also as intolerable to us as they are to the wider world. 1688 created imperial Great Britain , but, contrary to popular consciousness, it is still an empire, albeit one on its last legs. This realization must be the starting point for any attempt to resolve the present crisis.and I will try to draw out the implications of this in my next article.

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