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Posts Tagged ‘Boom’

Big Fish Eat Little Fish

pieter_bruegel_the_elder-_big_fish_eat_little_fish

As something of an introductory post, I will only touch on the concepts and ideas I will be writing about in depth in the future. May you find it all worthwhile.

The 16th C drawing above is by Flemish artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder. I first saw it during my teenage art studies and thought it fascinating for some then intangible reason. While a lot of profound renaissance pieces do well to capture the grandeur and the vibrant decadence of the time, the smooth lines were too well purchased for me and most didn’t affect me nearly as much as this grubby drawing. It appeals to me so much because not many things I can think of better depict the corporatism that is so prevalent in our mishmash of a neo-liberal, neo-conservative, proto-ludicrous modern culture.

This drawing is what I see before me when I step outside. I see the rich bending the rules so that our infantile democracy better serves them than us – the people, the baying crowd, “the beast”. I see the poor being pitted against each other, so that whatever scrap of wealth they have becomes a jealous burden for their neighbour. I see violence of the most insidious, transformative kind being employed against us. I see us being individually gutted by others sporting smiles. “That’s the way things go” echoes in our ears as we look at our entrails. Finally, dispirited and downtrodden, the carcass of our dreams washes up on the shores of the concrete jungles we live in.

Then we show our children how to bear the process.

The best way to keep any group down is to keep them dependent. This is what our corporate masters do to us. We are promised choice, freedom, and equality – we get wars, slave labour, and wage theft – all made possible by engendering apathy and detachment amongst the population. The clash of civilisations is a smokescreen for an impermeable shield the wealthy have erected around their assets. Sure, I might not understand a certain ethnic custom or tradition, but these are the things I can appreciate aesthetically or refer to secular law for.

On the other hand, the economy is completely ambiguous. It is something we vaguely hear of every now and then, usually alongside huge barely recognisable numbers we have no real experience of. The real war is and never was between the “East” and the “West”, but between the “North” and the “South” – this is why we are flooded with information and opinion regarding the former, and only hear whispers about the latter. The rich exist in every country, and in every country, they are propped up by the poor. It is only the rules of this arrangement which appear to differ. Globalisation is merely standardising the rules of any success.

Sometimes though, there can be too much. Boom, bust, crash… help? Hold on, “we are all in this together”. This is the gospel of the ruling Tory party in Britain. Of course we are. The banking system failed all of us, then public money was used to bail out the irresponsible banks who concentrated on their more profitable investment arms. Failed bankers and businessmen are hired elsewhere (or left willingly), while public servants must now suffer redundancies, sector cuts, and pay freezes.

But hey, the champagne is rolling again in “the city”, so everything must be getting better. Everywhere else is supposedly unprofitable wasteland – I mean, why pay someone to make something here when you can a) make it abroad with cheap slave labour, poor working conditions and no benefits or b) not make anything at all and just make money with money in some game with numbers somewhere in “the city”.

It was not our teachers, our secretaries, or our youth workers who scandalously betted with and lost our money, it was our bankers and business elites. Yet, we live in a system where they have become the barometer of our economy, our employment, and ultimately our livelihoods. Bosses are not more important than their workers, they just pretend to be and we seemingly go along with it.

“Look, child, this is how you gut a fish”.

The public sector has recently been a stable source of employment for many of us here, and that is what matters – employment. Employment determines peoples livelihood. The Tories naively want discarded public sector workers to migrate into the private sector. They want state workers to reprogram themselves into money-centric robots – what they tentatively call “entrepreneurs”, or more realistically, “failed entrepreneurs”. There can only be so many bosses, after all.

Anybody who works in the public sector in the first place was probably dismayed by the conditions and erratic behaviour of modern business practice, hence their choice to serve the permanent state in some way. The job may have been superfluous (through no fault of their own), but at least it was honest. The fact of the matter is, the money isn’t across that bridge the government is telling us to cross anyway. The invisible hand plays with an invisible deck most of the time.

Schools and universities have also, for the most part, become cloning centres teaching subjects that are cute but not deemed employable. A quick look at the graduate section of all jobs sites will land you in a deluge of sales, marketing, and recruitment consultancy roles. “So”, the graduate reflects, “my options after leaving with a degree is either to directly sell something, indirectly sell something, or help someone else get a job selling something, or indirectly selling something”.

Our economy is built on jobs that compel people to forsake their youthful ambitions and their true passions. We must now, having seemingly failed at being architects or archaeologists for example, make a living shovelling the dirt away from the river of capital flowing into our masters’ well-tailored deep pockets. This is sometimes euphemistically called “growing up”. Bollocks to that, this is more like “growing down”, or growing a hunch on your back.

The wealthy are protected from such harsh realities through mounds of inheritance, being paid more attention to at school in smaller classrooms and being paid more attention to at home from their affluent parents. When it comes to starting a career, they can afford prestigious unpaid internships (again, daddy’s wallet) at organisations whose reputations sell themselves and need offer no expenses whatsoever, even with relocation involved (winking at the United Nations here).

We are weaved this illusion that the poor must be lazy benefit cheats who use Britain and are jealous of the rich. We despise them for it. We start looking down at “them”, these vile citizens of our beloved righteous country, to feel that ugly but intoxicating feeling of superiority that is so rare. We do this rather than look up to see the real culprits who make us feel powerless.

The government too is something we are meant to elect to serve us, to be on our side, but it has become a shadow of corporate nepotism, together forming a tag-team of oppression with business for mutual preservation. We have been lied to forever; by our schools, by our government who control our schools, and by those who tell us our reliance on a market controlled by invisible forces who only have to buy you when you’re down to win you is the only way to prosper.

We are only useful insofar as we become obedient cogs of this alien machine we live within. We must never lose the unfamiliarity of it all – of being in this construct. We must never accept our bitter toil as sacrosanct. Oiling the wheels of this tyrannical machine with all its distractions we live under is unacceptable; we need to change the wheels altogether and burn the old dysfunctional motor down to the ground.

This little space on the internet will be devoted to ripping apart the webs we live in. Our “knowledge economy” is bankrupt because freethinking is not cultivated in our youth. What we need is an “ideas economy”, with a realigned education and value system emphasising the dignity of life and labour, rather than the religion of “maximum profit at minimum cost”. The latter has seen the erosion of the classical market system into one where wealth simply begets wealth, regardless of product.

Many of us hope to break into this game with good intentions and change it from the top. This is impossible. For one only makes it into the boardroom precisely because one has no intention to change the way things are done. Things change because the people want them to change. The rich have fantastic defence mechanisms in place to prevent this and deflect attention away from the real problems.

They cultivate animosity between those they see as beneath them. They have eager government lackeys and lawyers who do their bidding. And the most powerful of all – a pen and a blank cheque. If you can’t beat them, buy them, and have them for dinner later with a bit of tartar sauce.

No more.

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