It Is War. Class War.

I have just listened to a vox pop piece on the Radio 4 Today program with the ‘woman in the street’  interviewing the various parties in the Southern Rail strike. Both sides levelled accusations of unreasonable behaviour at the other. The lady pronounced them childish, and on the basis of what was said it does sound like petulant kids arguing over the toys. However, no one seems to be able to describe the real toys at issue, because they sure ain’t the ones they speak of.

This is not an argument about safety. That one has been put to bed long ago. Technology moves things on whether you like it or not. The Luddites fought it, the rail unions are attempting the same. Sadiq Khan, the Labour Mayor of London, said as much about the advances in safety enabling driver operated trains only yesterday, and one would reasonably expect him to be a union ally. However, Khan sees the massive disruption to the people of London that is being caused by the ideologically motivated actions of the few and he is condemning the unions behind both the Southern Rail and London Underground disruptions.

Still, the ASLEF and RMT  bods scent blood. There is no gaping wound of safety, they think they are inhaling heady scent of a wounded right wing bastard. Fighting ‘the right wing’, the filthy capitalist bastards who are all Tory,  is the single most worthy and exciting thing a class warrior can do. Going down in flames and possibly dragging everyone  around you into your fiery victory pit is pretty de rigueur for a good Marxist/Stalinist/Trotskyite (I am never sure of the terminology, and rarely are the protagonists).

[As an aside: to defeat the left one merely needs to ask them to agree on an ideological question, close the door and come back in the morning. There will be one left who may be right but has killed their fellow interlocutors to reinforce their point] 

The media is talking about the discontent spreading to other parts of the country and that is fanning the flames of class-war. The unions want to take us back to a previous time where the unions were powerful, they had a voice in government, they have a story of success to sell back to the workers who pay dues. It is all so financially grubby. The capitalist railway owners are doing what capitalists do: increasing operational efficiency and increasing market share. Both sides need to be controlled.

The sides are now at loggerheads and oddly the union(s) are making a claim that is very Trumpesque. They claim to their supporters that the Tory Transport Secretary is pulling the strings thus making this strike a working class versus the Tories battle. Trumpesque because it cannot be proved or disproved. It plays well to the audience and that is all that matters. In case you are grappling with it: this is what ‘post truth’ means. You make shit up that your side believes. End of.

This strike has assumed a great importance for both sides. The Tories – who have recurrent wet dreams about Thatcher and often set everything in the light of Maggie and Ronnie – fear that this is the top of a slippery slope that saw Maggie set against Arthur. The left are similarly scared of being crushed.

My experience is that the hard left are on a constant war-footing against the right. This is a very tiring position to adopt. Being born ready is one thing, hyping oneself up into a state of heightened alert and staying alert just doesn’t work. The ones that maintain anything approaching this state of hypervigilance  rapidly become dull. They fail to see their own hypocrisies and have a very limited focus. It makes for boring company.

The right rarely seem to invest the same amount of effort in setting themselves to ready against an attack from the left. They are too busy trying to make money and amongst them there are the people who are similarly fixated and therefore dull. The difference is that they are looking outwards to this mythical market in search of opportunity and not at their immediate foes. This infuriates the left. They are always trying to entice the right into a battle and the right just feels they are a tiresome interference in the quest for growth and profit.

Who is right? Not sure. As ever I believe that it would be wonderful to have a sensible middle ground. In the meantime, ASLEF and pals will destroy the lives of millions of ordinary people to prove their ideologically correct stance.

As I proofread the High Priest of the left is on, Jeremy Corbyn. He makes some sense but we know he has been coached. Hilariously (one can imagine the press people doing yet another face-palm) he leaks hard left ideology about 1 min in. They have got him onto the strike, the union leaders and it is all unravelling as he disagrees with Khan. It is about the struggle, not the issues. He signs off with the usual verbal tropes, none of which will get him (Labour) elected.

This or this?

Class War is so boring.

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An Imbalance In The (Charitable) Force

Fo a bit of context: I have moved 150 miles away from home to pursue an MSc at a good university. It has a great big Students Union (SU) building and more often than not there is a gentleman in the foyer selling the Big Issue, about my age. This means that he is homeless and is working to rectify that rather than just expecting others to do the heavy lifting. I find that most inspiring and endeavour to give him my spare change. However, this post is not about my charitable choices though, it is about Rob.

Today I spoke the the gentleman, he is called Rob. Rob stood there talking to me telling me a bit about his story and how, after 10 years, he has got his first flat and doesn’t have to live rough anymore. All the time Rob is holding a bulging rucksack and after a few minutes excuses himself to put it down. I asked what was so heavy and Rob astonished me with his reply.

Rob pointed at the SU foodbank collection and explained that he has brought in some tinned food for the foodbank. My jaw hit the floor and I checked that he, Rob, the chap selling the Big Issue, who has been homeless for some time, who is clearly just making it with a frayed shirt collar etc etc, was giving food to the food bank. In his soft voice he said, without any hint of irony, that there were people worse off than him, it was from his spare income (WTF???) so he was just giving the little bit that he could.

Capitalising on the shock on my face he wordlessly reached in his bag and produced a Christmas card for me, a regular. I was humbled and had to thank him and walk away as I thought I was going to cry from the huge mix of emotions that welled up in me. Shock, shame, relief, wealth etc. It really was rather overwhelming, for moments before I was cursing the feeling of deep fatigue brought on by my endless petty sicknesses that I have had since coming to Sheffield. It was a really sucky feeling that was jolted into perspective by Rob.

It is easy to intellectualise about the plight of others distant from you, share in a sense of empathy and be horrified at the people around you that don’t seem to care. If you want to do anything to make a difference this Christmas go up to a stranger like Rob, engage them in conversation and prepare to be surprised. Me? Stuff like this throws me more and more. Perhaps it is age.

 

Dear Labour, Here Comes UKIP.

In Great Britain the Labour Party (the party of the left, in all its guises) has pulled off the astonishing trick of disappearing so far up its own arse by squabbling amongst itself that everyone can see it for what it has become; Labour is a bunch of power-hungry people, so focused on their own gain, that they will commit collective suicide rather than back down to one another. This public, Faustian style death pact that all the warring elements have bought into is very worrying. These self-obsessed clowns are no longer representative of the voters and nor do they provide an effective opposition, so the Tories just march around doing what they please.

Labour used to be the antidote to the so-called ‘Nasty Party’ (the right-wing Tories) and provided an effective opposition, sometimes got into power and occasionally mitigated some of the more egregious things the hardline Tories do. However, these days there is a new force and it is going to subsume Labour.  I watched the address of the new leader of UKIP on a Channel 4 clip and it was terrifying. Terrifyingly good and terrifyingly dangerous if you are the Labour party. In fact, just scary for any person with even a semi-liberal outlook on life.

In this post-factual political world Paul Nuttal, the new leader of a very unpleasant right-wing party, has marched up to the centre ground and declared that UKIP is the voice of the working classes. His message and delivery are very convincing. An apt metaphor is the new dog in the neighbourhood seen peeing higher on all the lamp posts. These lamp posts are the parliamentary constituencies that the Labour infighting has let go unattended. Anyone who has had a dog knows that they regularly remark their territory, lest the other dogs forget. Labour has failed to do this and the new dog is here.

Nuttal is appealing to traditional Labour voters and I believe that – important caveat now – if he can galvanise UKIP he will decimate the Labour party. If they think he won’t because commonsense dictates that no sane decent person will vote for such a bunch of unpleasant people as UKIP then I have just the one word: Trump. People identify with his message and he is skilled in its delivery. Watch out.

Let The Accommodating Begin

We have all heard the words of Lord Aston in 1887, “Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” True then, true now.

In the stunned aftermath – at least in the liberal intelligentsia – of the US Election result the thing that caught my attention was the amount of Republican politicians that were, at best, ambivalent about The Donald before his win.

There is no doubt that he terrified and confused them. On the one hand, apparently one of them as a rich white man yet on the other, he had the propensity to say worrying things in a scary shoot-from-the-hip manner. Whilst The Donald, seeing power came from embracing a more right-wing christian position (Guns, good. Abortion, bad, etc) he lacked a filter. That scares these folks, for what lurks underneath? More importantly: will it compromise them to be too close to a man who is emotionally akin to a hand grenade with the pin out?

Watch what happens now, for it has already started. The power obsessed, self interested, Republican establishment are all scrambling to (re-)establish themselves at the right hand of the amazing new leader. One who speaks to change and represents the suppressed voice of the downtrodden underclass of America etc etc. What a guy, what a visionary, what an extraordinary change agent and what a stunning bullshit artist.

What they see in Trump is a man whose victory is merely the figurehead vehicle to dismantle any social advancement seen in the last 8y. Bye bye Obamacare (it is terribly unfair you know, affordable healthcare), bye bye Roe v. Wade (gotta insert punishment in here. After all, a good grabbing by the pussy is hardly sufficient for defiling one’s own body against the wishes of god, even if it is The Donald doing the grabbing). Bye bye same-sex marriage. I mean, seriously, that is just sick and against the natural order of things. Love has nothing to do with it in the deranged christian view,. Marriage is about a woman being a procreation machine, and you just can’t make more people if the fags get in on the act, ergh.  Climate change: can’t say bye bye to liberal bullshit can we, we can but dismantle the ideas that are perpetuated by people trying to neuter the great benevolent nation that is the USA. Oh yeah, free trade agreements like NAFTA are just liberal bullshit too, designed to disadvantage the great benevolent nation. And so on and so forth.

Brace yourselves for a tide of Trump lovin’ by the right-wing fence sitters now he has made it. An undignified rush for plum jobs will ensue, as memories are not helpful things to have in politics. At last, getting off the fence will provide these poor people with well deserved crotch comfort and at least someone is getting some relief somewhere.

 

 

Just The One Reason

The febrile US Election atmosphere that has become my, and many others, Facebook feed and lurches between interesting, erudite and alarming to watch. It is akin to watching the leader of the free world (America) as the central character in a disaster film. Except this film has two villains and no good guys.

One villain is a deranged and unstable egotist and the other a smooth criminal. I have decided that getting straight reporting is nigh impossible and my overall emotion has become, “gah.” The furious parade of facts and figures to support the alleged criminal (historical allegations going as far back as Whitewater and not just a, “whoops, was that the wrong email server?”) which are being wheeled out to discredit the deranged egotist have reached a fever pitch.

I do, however, have one over-arching concern and that is rooted in self and group preservation; Trump will have authority to use nuclear weapons. He has hinted that he isn’t averse to doing whatever it takes to make America great again, whatever that means. Though the implication is that shows of force are his idea of demonstrating power and ergo greatness. With his record of not listening to wiser heads – he believes that he knows more than the Top Brass – that is a terrifying proposition. After all, a  nuke is likely to be his idea of an international grab of the pussy.

Clinton, on the other hand, for all her alleged faults has never ever acted in a way that causes a rational person to think she views nuclear weapons as anything other than a deterrent. There seems to be no stated need to go around flexing for the benefit of those that don’t consider the US as great as many Americans feel it is.

Additionally, it is becoming an ever more credible theory that the Russian support for Trump is rooted in Putin’s desire to undermine NATO. It is my junior international relations understanding that the unified block that is NATO is a very useful deterrent against nuclear war.

I want to die very quickly: if Trump wins and decides that the way to bring an unspecified ‘dang foreigner’ into line is just a small nuke we are all, in the vernacular, fucked. Someone else with a nuke will use the attack as an excuse to launch a weapon in support of the victim. Hey presto, a small portion of the globe is eradicated and the fallout, literally, will come to us. My understanding of radiation poisoning is that it is not a great way to die and doesn’t fulfil my criteria of quickly.

So, a vote for Clinton Mark II is really the only logical choice. The least worst option scenario. She may screw up a lot in four years but she is unlikely to get us all fried. “The Donald” otoh…

Why Trump Will Win

The words ‘President Trump’ are some of the most repulsive and terrifying ones imaginable. Nonetheless, I think it will happen. If you haughtily cock your head and allow the merest hint of a Billy Idol sneer then you are one of the reasons why.

In my earliest days of selling I remember the old adage that you never called someone else’s baby ugly. It can have a face that looks  like it has been chasing parked cars, but it is still beautiful to its mother.

Trump appeals to the masses. That mass of people that we, in our intellectual bubble (that is you, you can read, you’re reading this ergo you are intellectual to them, plus you know what ergo means) simply don’t understand.

These people  lack identity and Trump’s message resonates with them. He knows this and he assures them that they can identify as American again and that he will make America great again. They will be great. Many have never been great, feel overlooked, neglected, passed over, victims. Well, no more. With ‘The Donald’ at the helm America will be great and they will be great once more.

Whether that can be intellectualised away means nothing to them. Donald has told them what the problem is and has promised to fix it. A nice and clean message from a guy that talks their language.

The intellectuals think that this is stupid. I agree. There is no sense in the demented ramblings of this egotistical sociopath. However, what I think Does. Not. Matter. Whatsmore, I and my ilk are not the gun-totin’, immigrant blamin’, downtrodden minority . This not so small minority votes too and they are voting Trump.

Hilary isn’t peddling a heady cocktail of freedom, identity, God and whiteness. Oh no, she is a criminal elite that sucked the fine United States into this mess. Her and that pseudo Kenyan guy that made it into the White House. They are the people to blame according to Trump.

If there are more who swallow the rousing ‘yee-hah’ chorus of identity, greatness and blame, than us thoughtful folks then tough shit, common sense loses. In the meantime we can wrap ourselves in our intellect, make snide remarks about egomaniacal racists etc and write articles in magazines that the Trump voters never read, and cometh the day we’ll all be wringing our hands and setting the Internet on fire asking how it could have all gone so wrong.

The answer is you. You sneered at ‘those people’ who couldn’t think like you can. You called the dang baby ugly. It is more than scary: it is quite possible. Brexit anyone?

 

Not Much Then

My ambition is to win a funded PhD. Simple, low-level, not much. Just the hardest thing I have ever done.

It is easy to say it and sometimes hearing myself commit is an appropriate spur to action. I have now publicly nailed my colours to the proverbial mast. To this end I was going back and forth with a soon to be tutor and they kindly produced this simple guide for me:

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A PhD proposal should look along the lines of:

Rationale

• What’s the problem

• Why is it problematic

• What, therefore, is your Central Research Question

Aims and Objectives

• How will you answer this question 

• What are your sub-research questions

• What is your interesting angle

Research Context

• What is currently said in the literature?

• Where is the hole?

• How will you fill it

Methodology

• What methodological strategy will you employ?

• Why is that the most appropriate way of conducting this type of research

• What is it you will get out of doing this and why is this the most appropriate way to answer this question?

• How will you limit risk?

Personal Impetus (optional)

• Why this project?

• How will your UG diss and MA build into this project?

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So, nothing much really. And I need to have this all nailed by Christmas. Which is why I intend to move to Sheffield in a rented room and become slightly monkish.