The Sheer Arrogance of Tony Blair's Clone

Sunday, 8th September 2013

"But let me be clear - Britain may be a small island, but I would challenge anyone to find a country with a prouder history, a bigger heart or greater resilience.

So presumably thousands of years of Chinese, Indian or Middle Eastem history, literature, innovations count for little, and Britain's neighbours have little to teach us. Britain may have had its heyday in the 18th and 19th centuries, but today just builds on its past glory as a marketing tool.

"Britain is an island that has helped to clear the European continent of fascism and was resolute in doing that throughout the Second World War.

Such gross simplifications open up a can of worms. Broadly speaking in the 1920s and 30s more stable countries with relatively tame and malleable populations retained some form of consultative democracy, while those that underwent greater economic instability and had a more rebellious and free-thinking populace fell under the control of more authoritarian regimes. Moreover, Britain and France relied on resources from their empires to placate workers at home. The British government and UK businesses were happy to do business with a wide range of dictatorships. Indeed in much of the non-white British Empire, natives were only consulted through their leaders. In the first world war Bismarck's Germany and David LLoyd George's Colonial Britain had similar democratic credentials.

Britain is an island that helped to abolish slavery, that has invented most of the things worth inventing, including every sport currently played around the world, that still today is responsible for art, literature and music that delights the entire world."

The new capitalist ruling class only sought to abolish slavery after it had become an obsolete means of exploitation, replaced by wage slavery and the uprooting of traditional rural communities to make way for a new era of industrialisation and later mass consumerism. Child labour (exploitation of preteen boys snd girls)continued in the UK well in the 20th century, e.g. as late as 1911 over 18% of Lancashire boys between 10 and 14 had to work.

Reportedly at the G20 St Petersburg Summit a Russian official, close to Vladimir Putin, dismissed Britain as just a small country that nobody really pays much attention to. That may seem rather undiplomatic, but for over 15 years the government of this small island has been busy promoting military intervention under false humanitarian pretexts, while lecturing everyone else on free trade, democracy and human rights. Such an attitude presumes the UK government and its favoured NGOs know better than the rest of the world, eagerly awaiting Anglo-American emancipation.

All countries can cite their heroes and achievements. Without the agricultural revolution that spread from the Fertile Crescent of Mesopotamia via Anatolia to Europe and North Africa, few of the subsequent technological advances in later European empires would have been possible. To put things in perspective, the Sumerians had mastered the art of writing 5000 years ago, yet before the Roman Conquest there is little evidence of any writing besides isolated ideographs in ancient Britain or Ireland. Without literacy and an understanding of mathematics, developed by various civilisations over thousands of years, the famous scientists and inventors of the early industrial period would have lacked the intellectual building blocks that underly many ubiquitous objects like ball bearings, pistons, camshafts or electric motors that make our modern world possible.

Cameron's eulogy to the greatness of the small island he represents does have a modicum of truth. Beyond doubt between the early 18th century and the late 19th century, scientists and inventors flourished more in the British Isles than in many other larger countries. However, by the turn of the 20th century the US economy had overtaken Britain's while the centres of technical innovations had moved to US, Germany and Japan. Without its technological headstart, it is unlikely Britain would have conquered over 1/4 of the globe. Yet throughout its heyday of industrial power, the subjects of this blessed isle toiled away in factories, down mines and on ships for 12+ hours a day, were condemned to abject living conditions and had little say, if any, in the way their country was governed for the electorate was restricted to just a select group of male property owners. Infant mortality in the England of 1800 was much higher than in today's Malawi. Mine owners would willingly send 8 year old boys into dark and narrow coal shafts inaccessible to adults to gain a competitive advantage and drive their country's economic expansion.

If one's sole sources of current affairs news are the Anglo-American mainstream media (namely BBC, CNN, Fox News, Sky News, the Guardian, the Times of London, the Independent etc.) and one has failed to check their track record in the run-up to previous military interventions, one may be forgiven for believing, at least temporarily, that the head of the Syrian regime is a bad guy responsible for heinous crimes against his people, while the US and UK represent the forces for good. One can just imagine the spectre of multicoloured UN peace corps marching into Damascus greeted by thankful Syrians eager to join the global consumer frenzy. Indeed for some that is the end game, so all places just become provinces of a happy global empire of Latte-sipping Bohemian marketing executives debating the relative merits of Google Glasses, iPhones and Samsung Watches. In such a world regions would only differ in their climate, historical architecture and accent of World English. However, such a reality is unlikely to extend beyond an affluent elite. Behind the scenes the system's dependence on permanent economic growth in a finite world is causing greater tension over access to precious resources. The kind of free trade that successive British governments have championed have promoted not only greater interdependence and less food security, but have also enabled some financially rich regions to consume much more than their landmass and resources would otherwise allow. The UK may be a small collection islands, but through its reliance on imports it is a major offloader of pollution. All those inexpensive Chinese-made goods pollute China and depredate resources from the rest of the world to drive the UK economy. They do not somehow magically appear prepackaged in warehouses and retail outlets in wealthy countries, without undergoing multiple stages of industrial transformation and travelling thousands of miles.

Most ironically, the globalist neoliberal elite do not really care about ordinary British people. When employers spoke of a skills shortage in the debt-fuelled boom years of the early noughties (2000-2007), New Labour had a golden opportunity to reform the welfare system and encourage the millions of workless adults reclassified as disabled to get back into work. Instead they decided to allow recruitment agencies to bring in Eastern Europeans in bulk to do jobs that ordinary working class people used to do, but now reportedly refused to. The pseudo-left liberal intelligentsia looks down on ordinary English people, dismissing them either as unenlightened feckless layabouts if they do not work or Daily Mail-reading whingers if they do work, but complain about mass immigration and social engineering. So the country that gave birth to Isaac Newton, James Watt and Alan Turing, now has a severe shortage of home-grown engineers and scientists because the new generation entering the workforce is more interested in easy money in management, training, recruitment, advertising and consulting. Britain has become a country where most workers can talk the talk, but few walk the walk without the aid of foreign machinery and resources.