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.

Unintended Consequences

Having spent the last eight weeks on the beginnings of socialist theory in a historical context I am suddenly see British Columbia in an entirely new light. Cos I am doing a degree, innit…which I suspect I’ll lever into most posts until the novelty has worn off.

I come back to BC every 12-18 months and it’s pretty much the same old same old. Now I notice nationalised – or do I mean provincialised? -functions where I am used to seeing privatised operators (in the UK). BC Hydro is the water company, BC Ferries are the ferry operator, BC Transit is the public transport company and so on and so forth. Over 50% of the population works for the government so this is the closest I have seen to the workers owning the means of production. Marx would be beaming.

Everyone seems fairly happy, few people are disgruntled. Perhaps this is just because the Brits are genetically programmed to moan about their lot and the Canadians are just simpler souls not prone to the introspective self-destruction and external envy that fuels British society. Class distinctions are completely absent here. Not suppressed, not there at all. People don’t judge you by the car you drive, the accent you speak with, where your kids go to school (there are so few private schools here they number under ten). Whatsmore, the have-nots don’t hate the haves. There is no class war, struggle of the workers against The Man, the assumption that all the rich are bastards that only got wealthy by screwing the poor.

All the usual ills of society are here. Drugs, homelessness, historical mistreatment of the indigenous population etc etc. In place of the Class War that the radicals in the UK are forever fighting (I doubt it will ever end) the biggest movement seems to be the environmental protesters. In a tiny little island like the UK I kind of get the worry about large infrastructure projects. Here you only need to drive for four or five hours to get an inkling of the absolute vastness of this one province out of ten. The country is extraordinarily large and is one of the biggest contiguous land masses in the world.  Yet the thought of driving an important pipeline across the province excites the most extraordinary levels of indignation. If anywhere has the land to afford this kind of necessary blight, it’s Canada. Necessary because we ain’t gonna be weaned off oil just like that. Especially here. The Canucks (and I daresay the Septics) think a pick-up truck that manages 25mpg is an engineering marvel. And they moan about petrol that is half the price than it is in the UK. In fairness though most of the distances, except in town, where the environmentalists seem to congregate, are not sensibly cycleable, especially in the winter. The car is here for a while yet.

Food. Food here is terrible by and large. Sweetened to death and with gargantuan portion sizes when eating out and buying. Quantity is considered a marker of value for money. Rarely is the conversation about the quality of the ingredients or cooking. Pile it high, sell it cheap, throw a shitload of high fructose corn syrup on for good measure and then puzzle over the obesity problem? It is considered de rigeur to bitch about the European Union and on many counts it is a gigantic waste of money. However, the directives on food labelling seem to produce more informative packaging for the consumer. Here the lobby groups for the big corporations seem to have won the day regarding what goes into “food” and how it is labelled. Alternatively, I might just be the nut with my obsession regarding what I buy to shove in my gaping maw. I like my bacon to be just that, bacon. Not some minced together turkey (god knows the conditions it was raised in – like the worst chicken farms I imagine) agglomeration that is so full of other stuff in order to look, cook and taste like a bacon rasher with lower fat – for that is how it is marketed, as a “healthy” alternative to bacon – than the real McCoy. Here is an idea…how about steer clear of regular bacon consumption and then when you do eat it enjoy it for what it is? Bacon. Food rant over. It is cheap (and sweet) so broadly speaking no one is moaning. Proper cheese? The Quebecois have a lot to answer for so lets leave it at that.

Just re-reading the last proves to me the basis of my stock reply when asked which is better, Canada or the UK? The grass is always greener. I think the magnificent outdoors would swing it for me if there were not other unchangeable factors keeping me in the UK. That and Hockey Night In Canada.