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Saturday, 25 February 2012

Nation Revisited

Nation Revisited # 89, March 2012. Following the Mob Representative government would be a fine thing but parliamentary democracy based on the party system has very little to do with “the will of the people.” Public opinion is orchestrated by the mass media and exploited by unscrupulous politicians. Instead of trying to lead and educate the mob they pander to its basest instincts. The Labour Party encourages class war and the Tories promote xenophobia. We have had an equal share of Labour and Tory government since the war. We survived the economic downturns that come every ten years or so and we enjoyed the good times in between. But most of the improvements have come from the scientists not the politicians. The scientists gave us modern medicine and labour-saving devices and the politicians gave us mass immigration and unemployment. The UK is owned and controlled by big business. BP has got more power than the Bank of England and Tesco is more influential than the government. Our armed forces are under NATO command, our economy is controlled by the World Trade Organisation and our foreign policy is dictated by Washington. Putting our illiterate crosses on ballot papers every five years is therefore a complete waste of time. But things are starting to change. The Rothschild deficit spending system depends on a growing economy to keep up the repayments and a compliant population to keep paying taxes. But the economy is standing still and people are worried about their declining standards of living. The dollar has reigned supreme for nearly a century but it’s now being challenged. India is negotiating to buy Iranian oil with gold. This could be the beginning of the end for American hegemony. Having the dollar as a reserve currency has enabled Wall Street to dominate the West but they don’t have the same power in Asia. And China holds $1 trillion of American bonds. Most of the UK press is owned by big business and committed to the status quo. We can only hope that falling newspaper circulation means that people are starting to think for themselves. At present they get their opinions from billionaires like Rupert Murdoch. On his instructions the great British public voted for the Tony Blair/Gordon Brown circus three times in a row. They believed the lies about “weapons of mass destruction” and allowed a spendthrift government to borrow £1 trillion from their friends in the City of London. The system that made this possible is plutocracy not democracy. Colourful Language The websites and publications of the far-right like to use colourful language; much of it borrowed from the great religions. We therefore hear about the “Abyss” in connection with the EU. We have apparently been pushed into the Abyss by the “Juggernaut of Doom,” and we are now facing “Armageddon.” “Admin” posting on the BNP Ideas website used some hair-raising phrases: “The difference between Brazil and Britain’s economies is apparent and vast: the Brazilians have ensured that their government acts in the national interest, while the British people have continuously voted for a vile nest of vipers who seek nothing less than the entire destruction of our country at all levels. The work of the traitors in the House of Treason has already plunged Britain below a Second World nation like Brazil. Let us all pray that the coming year brings about a change in the fortunes of our nation, before it sinks ever lower into the Third World.” It’s hard to believe that Dave Cameron and his team seek our “total destruction.” And it’s hardly surprising that we have been overtaken by Brazil; a huge nation of nearly 200 million people with abundant natural resources. Our decline is surely the result of efficient competition from abroad. But the BNP puts it down to a “Vile Nest of Vipers.” Not to be outdone for hyperbole the “official” BNP website offered the following careful analysis: “William Hague has got a nerve lecturing the DR Korea and Burma, for all their faults at least the native inhabitants can walk their capitals safely unlike the third world sewer called London with its criminal knife-wielding scum ruling the streets…” This sort of language is counter-productive. Nobody in their right mind thinks that North Korea is a better place to live than the UK. If the BNP wants to be taken seriously they should drop the purple prose. Changing Times Our school holidays date back to the days when the kids helped out with the harvest. But today only 1.5% of our workforce manages to produce an impressive 60% of our food. Machinery has replaced manpower in most industries. It used to take weeks for a gang of men to unload a ship but now containerized cargoes are unloaded by crane in a matter of hours. Open-caste mines excavate near-surface coal by dragline in a fraction of the time taken by miners working in deep pits. A truck driver using a vehicle-mounted crane can unload palletised materials in minutes. And the thousands of printers that used to produce our newspapers have been replaced by a few technicians. Automation has made life easier but it has put people out of work. New jobs have been created in electronics and telecommunications but they require higher levels of skill. This will change patterns of immigration and education. The days of recruiting cheap labour from all over the world are numbered. People will still go abroad to find work but the free-for-all of recent years will give way to a more selective system as specialized labour becomes more expensive. Economic forces are starting to work against globalism. Chinese labour costs are escalating as migration from the country to the cities drives up rents and prices. The Chinese economy is growing at 9.7% per year and inflation is running at 4.2%. At the same time the rising cost of oil is making shipping dearer. This means that products can now be made competitively in North America and Europe. British manufacturing suffered badly from “outsourcing” but it’s now recovering. Our top exports are; nuclear reactors, fuel oils, cars, electrical machinery, pharmaceuticals, precious metals, optical and surgical equipment, aircraft, space equipment and plastics. We cannot compete with Asia for mass production but we are winning orders for quality products. Many of our manufacturers are foreign-owned but they employ British workers and pay British taxes. Of course it would be better if our industries were British-owned but it’s good that people are employed instead of living on the dole. Racism The conviction of two white men, Gary Dobson and David Norris, for killing a black man, Stephen Lawrence, revived the debate about racism in the UK. At the same time Luis Suarez a Liverpool footballer from Uruguay called Patrice Evra a “negro”; he is a Manchester United player from Senegal. Now Chelsea’s John Terry is accused of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand, a mixed-race player for Queens Park Rangers. Both men are important members of the England squad. The murder of an innocent man naturally upset the black community but their sensitivity to “racism” is hard to understand when they listen to black music, study black history, believe in black power and take every opportunity to celebrate their blackness. The French believed that culture would prevail so they insisted on speaking French and refused to collect racial statistics or work to racial quotas. The result is that their black and brown people have confined themselves to ghettos and occasionally riot. In the UK we took the opposite approach and “celebrated diversity” by encouraging every language and culture. We also introduced “positive discrimination” to promote blacks over whites. The result is that our black and brown people have confined themselves to ghettos and occasionally riot. The truth is that immigration is all about numbers. A trickle of black or brown people can be absorbed into the culture of a white country but an uncontrolled flood is overwhelming; and when entire areas are taken over assimilation becomes impossible as invasion turns into colonization. Most of the Third World immigrants who came to Europe looking for a better life found jobs and settled successfully. But the factories that used to employ them are now shut and many of them have been forced onto the dole queue. It’s time to look at the problem of supply and demand. It is not racist to conclude that a country with nearly three million unemployed does not need more immigrants. The Myth of Competition Conservatives insist that nationalized industries are wasteful and inefficient. But some private companies are dependent on subsidies and the banks are effectively a cartel offering similar rates and services. We were told that privatization would bring competition and bring down prices. This has happened with telecoms but the private railway companies get £4 billion a year from the state and we still have the dearest railways in the world. Gas, electricity and water companies appear to be competitive but there is actually nothing to choose between them. Privatization only works when there is genuine competition and a level playing field. Industries that depend on subsidies and hide behind regulation deserve to be nationalized. Let’s start with the banks. They take no risks because they only grant loans and mortgages to customers with collateral. Years ago the interest rates on savings and loans were only separated by a couple of percentage points. Now they give you a pathetic 0.5% on deposits and charge a massive 19% on loans. A state bank could provide all the services offered by the private sector without getting involved in casino capitalism. The state is the guarantor of the banks so it might as well own them. The image of nationalized industries being drab and old-fashioned dated from the post-war Labour government that created them. That was because the old Labour Party was comprised of drab and old-fashioned people mostly from Marxist and Methodist backgrounds. They were suited to the austere conditions of the time. The Labour Party was obliged to have food rationing and exchange control regulations because of the desperate shortages they had to contend with. But they kept them much longer than most countries because grim austerity suited them; they actually liked the idea of people queuing for everything and having to carry ration books. But it doesn’t have to be like that. There is no reason why the banks, the railways and the utilities should not be state operated. With modern management skills nationalized industries could be efficient and profitable. No private company can afford major infrastructure works like railways, motorways, power stations and hospitals without government help. The idea that private enterprise is better than the state at running things simply isn’t true. Some of our biggest companies only stay in business by milking the taxpayer and even private hospitals depend on the National Health Service to train their doctors, nurses and technicians. Reforming the System Banks charge interest on loans according to the risk involved. Borrowers without collateral pay the most and property owners pay the least. This logic applies to high street banks lending individuals money for a new car and to international banks lending governments the money to build hospitals or fight wars. Without it the world economy would grind to a halt. The Bank of England has been nationalized since 1946. It issues money backed by the sale of interest bearing bonds. But since 2009 it has bought £325 billion of government bonds from financial institutions. This incestuous practice known as “quantitative easing” is a dangerous experiment that could end in disaster; but if it works it could stimulate the economy and get us out of recession. Even revolutionary regimes relied on the banks; the Soviets borrowed from international bankers such as Kuhn Loeb & Co and made huge profits from the worldwide wheat shortage following WW1. The Chinese communists followed the Soviet example and are now a formidable capitalist power that holds more than $1 trillion of American bonds. The National Socialists in Germany denounced finance capitalism but they ran an entirely conventional economy driven by rearmament and funded by international banks including Harriman and Warburg & Co. Fascist Italy was also part of the international financial system. At the end of the war the Italian Social Republic adopted syndicalism but before it could get going Benito Mussolini’s fledgling republic was destroyed by Allied bombing and shelling. Apart from a few fortunate counties like China, Iran and the Gulf States the world relies on borrowing to pay for social security, health care, education, defence and all the services of a modern state. We have been living on credit for so long that we take it for granted. But the Rothschild model is not the only way to run an economy. Before the disastrous Vietnam War the United States balanced her books without recourse to borrowing. One day Europe will unite and self-sufficiency will liberate us from global capitalism. But for the time being all we can do is regulate the banks and reduce government spending. Forces that shape the world The Frankfurt School was a group of almost exclusively Jewish academics who set out to create a Marxist society by manipulating teaching. They are accused of promoting feminism, multiracialism and the dumbing down of education. They may have influenced events but the main causes of change have been economic and technological. Of course critics of the Frankfurt School would describe this interpretation as “Marxist.” Emmeline Pankhurst and Germaine Greer both helped to liberate women but Gavril Princep was their real benefactor. When he shot Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914 he started a world war that conscripted Europe’s men to the front and replaced them at the workplace with women. For the first time women earned their own money and it wasn’t long before they won voting and property rights. Their liberation was complete when the availability of contraception allowed them to control their own fertility. For centuries men controlled women with oppressive religious and political constraints but one bullet changed things forever. The slave trade from Africa to the Americas proved the viability of mass migration. William Wilberforce and the abolitionists are credited with ending slavery but it was stopped when destitute labour from Europe became available after the Napoleonic wars. Lessons learned about logistics were used to populate North and South America in the nineteenth century; and again after WW2 to bring African, Asian and Caribbean immigrants to Europe. The purpose was to provide cheap labour and the result was that the races of the world were redistributed. According to the 1841 UK census 33% of men and 44% of women were illiterate. The Education Act of 1880 instituted elementary education but education from the ages of 5 to 14 was not made compulsory until the Education Act of 1918. Many of the men who fought in WW1 were illiterate. And even in WW2 education was sadly lacking amongst the working class. Standards may have fallen in recent years but “dumbing down” is largely an urban myth. The Frankfurt School did not cause mass migration or the peacetime rejection of authority. Left-wing academics might have welcomed such changes but Soviet communism collapsed over twenty years ago. And it’s not Karl Marx’s fault that people watch TV trash and read the popular press. Western liberalism lacks order and discipline but the Soviet Union was authoritarian and patriotic. They also tried to deconstruct the Arts. But artists like David Hockney, authors like AN Wilson, actresses like Maggie Smith, architects like Norman Foster and musicians like Andrew Lloyd-Webber are the living proof that all is well with the Arts. It’s time to reevaluate the effectiveness of the Frankfurt School. Their long march through the institutions may have been a waste of time because intelligence is a matter of heredity not conditioning. Karl Marx said: “It is absolutely impossible to transcend the laws of nature. What can change in historically different circumstances is only the form in which these laws expose themselves.” Blaming the decline of education, morals and manners on the Frankfurt School is rather like believing in conspiracy theory. It may be hard to admit it but our current situation is our own fault and our eventual recovery is in our own hands. Liberty Within a European Confederation By John Bean The Confederate States of America , 1861-65, advocated the preservation of individual states rights, including its own tariffs, within the Federal Government. Although opposed to international slavery and slave trading, it included the right to hold slaves within each state. This writer does not support slavery in any form – and never has. A new Confederate Constitution of June 29, 2005 stresses that it wants a return to the importance of individual liberty, on which the republic was founded in 1776. This has been superseded by what is in reality an American Empire. In the same manner, a European Confederation would enhance individual liberty and give the right to operate selected tariffs ( Greece please note) in place of the existing ‘Empire’ of the European Union. Today in the USA the states still maintain more power that the counties of Britain or regions of France to legislate different taxes on many goods – notably fuel, drinks and tobacco – and laws governing driving and marriage licences, for example. In Europe we must not forget that Germany, a Federal Republic, is still made up of 16 states, of which Bavaria, Saxony and Thuringia are most important. Again, unlike Britain, many retain some powers that are similar to those of the individual states in the USA. It should not be overlooked that Great Britain is already heading towards a United Kingdom Confederation with more powers increasingly being given to the Scottish and Welsh parliaments and the Northern Ireland Assembly. However, it is the example of Switzerland that could provide a working template for the development of a European Confederation, not least because it has shown that people who are German, French and Italian have learnt to get on with each other, plus the small number who speak Romansh. Switzerland is a Confederation of 26 cantons which enjoy some degree of autonomy. An aspect of its democracy is expressed in its regular referendums that enable ordinary citizens to propose a change to the constitution as long as it is supported by 100,000 votes of the approximate 5.8 million total electorate. Referendums have gone through that restrict the number and heights of mosques in Switzerland . Others have helped to control immigration numbers. Retain Different Currencies Much of the depth of the economic depression that has hit all Europe , but particularly the South, is down to the common currency of the Euro. Surely logic dictates that with the abolition of the Euro it would allow each nation’s currency to find its own exchange rate against each other, as opposed to being in reality pegged to what is best for Germany’s exchange rate. It would not come about overnight but with reduced exchange rates Greece , Spain and Italy , for example, would find a rising demand for their goods and services. Machine tools and cars for Italy , and a marked rise in tourists for Greece and Spain where holidays would become cheaper for those coming from north of the Alps . This ignores Spain ’s additional advantage of its own overlooked modern manufacturing industry. Therefore, a Confederation would keep its individual currencies where this was most advantageous to the nation concerned. Spain and Portugal might decide to use a common currency. Ireland – who have been commended for their hard work and resilience in overcoming their fall from euroland grace – might decide to go back to the pound, even if they wish to call it the punt. Retain National Armies Because of the reduced size of the British Army the last 30-40 years has seen the disappearance, mainly through amalgamations, of many of the former county regiments – eg the Suffolk Regiment is now absorbed in the East Anglian Regiment. Most military analysts and historians believe that this has reduced their effectiveness to some degree, not least in serving with your own local people and its resultant competitiveness. Although Robert E.Lee was the Confederate Army’s most brilliant and effective General in the American Civil War he was only the General of the Virginian Army. All the other Southern States had their own armies which, of course, worked closely with Lee. French hegemony over Western Europe in the 18th Century was finally overcome by an alliance of separate national forces from Britain and the German states under Marlborough and then the downfall of Napoleon by the alliance of the Duke of Wellington’s army, Dutch soldiers and the invaluable help of Blucher’s Prussians at Waterloo . Thus history suggests that we should still retain our national forces within a Confederation but working in close co-operation. That is already being seen with future plans for the British and French navies and the limited joint ‘strikes’ made by British and French aircraft in the recent Libyan campaign (not that I supported this interference in Libyan affairs). Finally in this brief outline of how a European Confederation would function, we must avoid a common police force. We do not need some imitation of the FBI but rather an Interpol that is upgraded by the tools of the electronic age. It could become more useful in tackling illegal immigration into Europe , particularly by destroying people-smuggling gangs. Editor’s Opinion I asked JB to explain the idea of European Confederation. I believe in a united Europe with a strong central government for defence and the economy and national governments for domestic affairs. I understand that members of the BNP and related parties are hostile to the EU and would prefer a looser arrangement. Their fears are rooted in their own propaganda but without a common market and economic cohesion I doubt that a confederation would hold together. The European Union is a political reality that would have to be dismantled in order to construct a confederation. Those of us who believe in “Europe a Nation” support the efforts of the campaigning group Federal Union who are petitioning the European Parliament for closer fiscal union. Instead of allowing narrow self-interest to undermine European solidarity we should encourage European consciousness and dump the insular nationalism that led to two disastrous world wars. Times are hard at present but we will recover from the worldwide recession that has hit America and Japan as well as Europe.

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