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Shankar A. Singham & Global Britain

Shankar

A response to Trade tools for the 21st Century published by the Legatum Institute

Another of those cod latin names – you know what’s coming, corporate muscle flexing to make sure us timid ones stay way back in our burrows.

While capitalism’s failures – unwanted goods & services – choke the natural globe these people still believe that because their mouths grow wider the cake does too. The argument runs make more and more people able to act aquisivetely and the pyramid can grow on mounting to the clouds, with of course, rockets shooting off the top of it to other “cleaner” planets where there will be no poor people.

Shankar is quite clear who he wants inside the ring: Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland, UK, US. The powers that be protected by costly military servants who in their lower ranks merge with criminal milieu. (Think G4S)

 This template is the one used by Global Britain. Let us get on with becoming richer and aquiring goods and oh, let someone occupy themselves with, in  Foreign Secretary Johnson’s words – “getting rid of the dead bodies” –   which becomes for  Shankar and his associates “getting rid of the poor, since it is quite out of the question for them all to become rich or even comfortably off – the natural globe won’t stand it.

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Fantasia for armchair

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The reign of the people of many colored hair is coming to an end in a welter of consumer selfishness, concentrating down to a hard knot of military-industrials and their regalian adjuncts.

The protestant virtues  are no longer needed in a supa automated world – other values like group think, effacement of self, herd communication come out top which is why islam, fundamentally mendacious, has the mass.

I see a broad muddy lane stretched out towards a pale, empty horizon. On my left is what was once a car but now is wheel less. To the right a makeshift fence made of pallets partly hides a low brow cottage. Where am I?

Central europe – the mindless muddy wasteland, bogs, putrid lakes, forests being destroyed by proto capitalists and all the undead and the buried horrors of the wars and state murders of the last two hundred years. Central Europe, the place people if they have any spark wish to move out from. The part of the world where neanderthal interbreeding with homo sapiens lasted longest.

Dust has not settled, wet, gluey, poisoned dust after the collapse of the Communist building. Western Ukraine, Poland, Hungary are beefing themselves up as nationalist, authoritarian, catholic against the soft liberal elitist mass of the Brussels European project.

The Americans are interested, always have been. They supported Ukrainian Nationalists as late as the middle 1950’s. Strong sympathetic juntas hard up against Russia’s side ready to be one half a pincer to nip off the useful bits of Europe (the mercantile triangle in the north-west). The other half of the pincer will a Brexit Britain keen to have an authoritarian barrier between itself and the hordes from Africa.

Germany, god bless her, hovers. Shall she come down on the side of the hards or the softs? Meanwhile Austria has spotted the gap and nipped in – the first state to have deployed the army against the immigrants. No doubt somewhere in a Carpathian health resort her generals are meeting in mufti with those of Hungary and Poland in order to construct a seamless security mechanism.

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Stealing the Emporer’s clothes – appropriation example.

passagenwerk

photo ref. passagenwerk

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Gitanisation

men woman car

An old Spanish gypsy song has it (with a laugh, a hop and a cry) that the world is full of objects made by others for the taking. Why soil your hands with work when there are others who seem to need the status that goes with it? Let them produce the goods, we will take them when we need them.

Soiling their hands with work (until the lay offs began with the neo-liberal order) meant that people had a relation however dulled and abused with the process of production, with fabrication and its attendant skills.

This relation to production that the gitanie spurned for reasons of honor (the nomad code) is now absent in the new populations growing up into worklessness.

As it was for the hunter gather of the stone age the world is stuffed full of objects and nowadays since there is no relation to production, objects can be seen as natural or given. so that there is a seamless progression from walking down a street and plucking apples from trees growing on the railway embankment to zooming around on a scooter and plucking Rolex watches “come from the other side”.

When the neo-liberals began their crusade they did not think about whether creation would keep pace with destruction. Since they were not interested in social questions they did not ask what would happen if despite discouraging circumstances the poor increased their birthrate in adversity. And then learnt from other cultures fatalism and absence of civic sense. And began after three half-generations to be socially creative in the manufacture first of gangs then tribes who saw the world as a collection of objects to take, if you were fit enough to do so.

Paralell with the neo-liberal crusade another universe of objects has been built. The Internet. By now it is near enough to be called a rough and ready Borgian copy of everything people recognise on Earth. Millions of cameras attached 24/7 act as eyes and ears of a gigantic occurrence beast. There are visual artists like Richard Prince who make fortunes just from re-working this traffic flow.

Habituation to the experience of seeing images of Rolex watches transforms the original object into a template carried in the head. There is then an obsession to actualize it. The brain can only take so much stimulation before it throws up deferred pleasure and goes for the real thing, whatever the risk, or rather becomes eager to enter the risk area for its sense of lightness, its absence of hand holds, its tingle of the present moment and the fascinating idea you might not come back.

You could say the scooter robbers are copying and pasting, except those sticky old concrete objects refuse to duplicate. Don’t worry, in time the Rolex will re-grow on your wrist – the insurance companies are working on it.

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Macronism

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Living in France with the French as they go thru, at the lowest pitch, their Blair / Thatcher years and at a higher pitch the prototyping, the starting up of a steadier, saner, more people-friendly, ecologically (which means digitally) savvy Europe is a piece of luck. I wouldn’t wish to live anywhere else right now (except Paris!).

Macron, like Trump, is a post-modern ruler. By post-modern I mean a clean sweep over university dominated, thoughtful, seminar based government into flash-of-enlightenment, nimble footed media outflanking and betting the farm on enough weight of popular mass following you through the gap.

But Macron is intelligent enough, more than enough, to understand you can’t rule France like America (even tho for immigrants like me France is Europe’s America). Clearly Macron’s ambition is to prove that in ruling France he is capable of ruling Europe. I wish him luck, not having a vote I can afford to be neutral for a while. I enjoy his spectacle.

Both Trump and Macron are trouble-makers, perturbers, risk-takers but while Trump, typically of certain Americans, wears his wackiness on his sleeve, Macron, proudly wearing what suits him, deploys language not in 147 character snaps but in penetrating, wide ranging, intelligent discourse. And in France language is still respected, people still think that talking to each other as citizens is valuable in itself and vital for a sense both of home and future.

Macron’s vision (his wager?) is that the two lashing tails, the right and left of the popular dragon with its stock of crude, indeed cruel, stereotypes of bankers and blacks, will curl into place when he gets the radical structural reforms he wants under the current constitution. I am reminded of LBJ as Senate majority leader, according to Robert Caro, when he had the political genius to see what use could be made of the place, even under the old rules.

The only problem with vision is that it only depends on you, the concrete needs others. Watching Macron in a stunning series of Mediapart transmissions  I recalled times in my cannabis charged youth I could illuminate my glum companions with a word picture that brought them into helpfulness. But it never went further than that, somehow the day to day business of living seemed to be too absorbing to lay aside for the illuminations. The lights stayed out.

 

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On the beach the ghosts rattle,

lespritbritanique

I am tucked away in the hills, unsophisticated and a long way from the front line. English by birth, a privilege I wore but never embodied, I live on the honey and apples butt end of the Continent, a part of the world designed to receive, to welcome.

When I go to the Metrop I take no weapon and although territory is parcelled out by the strongest on the street I still imagine I can sit at any pavement cafe. The notion of public space remains valuable to me. I do not want to retreat with look alike think alikes into gated (cloisonné) communities but the tide is going out and leaving stark and bare our differences, we no longer swim in the same medium, we have to shout across gaps. Everybody shrinking into hardened, pre-fabricated shells, drawing back in (rétrécissement) for hard shelled years of drought.

And now there is a new strike against me, a new colour slashed across my back thanks to Brexit. Have to think about it, if I start to disentangle my Englishness from my European roots it doesn’t add up to much, natch, otherwise I wouldn’t be this side of the Channel. And not just roots but shoots since of my four granddaughters two are half Italian and two half Spanish.

How to live with this future coming on so quick like raging fire? There are models for it. English people of the Catholic faith who refused to attend the State Anglican services in the sixteenth century were labelled recusants, a word whose time has maybe come again like the @ did.

“But the question is not the same with this Brexit thing”

“True but I like the word, recusant”

It seems churlish not to be able to identify with the country I was born in, to feel a foreigner there, to have to disavow its current posture yet I have day to day life to think of. I may become an adopted child of Marianne (liberté égalité frivolité ) and will do so with a sense of return since my ancestors, persecuted for their religion, left for England in 1715.

But then who is to say which English? The Northern Islanders who see the world as their oyster are unassimilated Europeans. There is something that doesn’t quite click, there is a bee in their bonnet, something makes their pants itch to be off. We see the irritation over here amongst some of the second homers who just don’t get practices which conform to personal and family space not to efficiency.

Now the vote has been taken, I have no beef with their choice, I’d sooner it was over with and quick. Thatchers children have grown up and swiped the reins from nanny. English reserve has been cast aside, ale swapped for lager, and a piratical mercantile race re-engineered (see Hakylut) I doubt they’ll find new lands though, nor ignorant savages. In which case they’ll come back over here for the honey and the apples no doubt…

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“He drives a slick silver Audi that smells of new leather and stale cigarette smoke…” (Fahrinisa Oswald)

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I could never be a people smuggler, I haven’t got the smarts. Skipping over the primary situation of the overloaded boat people with the fake life jackets and assuming they’ve got as far as mainland Greece, thanks to Inside the world of human smuggling even those of us standing at the sidelines can peek thru cracks in the Wall and see stuff for ourselves when it gets to  Airport stage.

Where some see the refugee burden as a cost for Greece, its economy already overburdened, others see an opportunity if you sport a blind eye, since it harnesses the pressure of the desire to move on up to native ingenuity in by-passing rules and the tech savvy of young people with a taste for success.

The vocabulary has been there a long time, false papers, bribed guards it hasn’t needed a lot of organising and once the wheel starts to spin it sucks in the refugees cash and funnels it down into Greece and spreads it in neat packets, steadily rising, around Athens and other significant localities. Watch out for Gangsta Rococco building boom, tell it by the screaming heads on the gateposts.

Free ports, enterprise zones. Except here it is not top down, it is constructed informally by unknowing and unknown agents. The community at large is left with the problem of what goes along with this creative process, the ugliness, the violence organised or not, the slavery, the corruption. But just who is the community at large?. Is it the city of Athens? Is it Greece, is it Europe?

In 1941 Arthur Koestler wrote the classic insiders study of how human hierarchies get constructed from zero. Titled The Scum of the Earth it dealt with his imprisonment by the French as an enemy of the state. He came to realise that in a finite crowd every transaction changes both the parties standing in relation to all the other parties. A form of sorting by having or successfully pretending to have an advantage, knowing when and how to deploy it and, very important, having a self conscious idea of better conditions, more sleep, more space, more food, more security, always in relation to the enclosing powers, the guards and the criminals.

History’s giant brown peristaltic motion squeezed a bunch of people into bare-bones living, primitive sanitation, physical cruelty and sub-existence rations just so that a gifted science journalist could bear witness you might think. Something like this must be going on today in those places centered on a depository for arrivals surrounded by a more or less porous fence and then a host community. The fact that the fence is porous implies association with the host community, “I walk carrying my baggage, in one hand I carry the good stuff, in the other the bad. Do you want to help me clean up?”

I am not a responsible person so it is not for me to wonder why  refugees with  fake Italian or French passports (despite supposed EU joined up action) aren’t faced with having to speak Italian or French at the airport check-in. The teeth of the comb meant to filter the good and the bad end up being human somewhere down the line. Human hence fallible, bribable, complex and these complex human encounters, so far unmodelable, allied with faceless ubiquitous technologies and their savvier than thou operators that are making, below the media horizon, a new transnational diasporic world whose crowds will not stop swirling chaotically in and around the embittered old white elites in their shrinking, stinking, fortified refuges.

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