Posts Tagged ‘tragedy’

We’ve just witnessed a seismic event in our national history; I’m fairly certain of that. The Grenfell Tower disaster will be talked about for weeks, and written about for decades. The working classes, who have generally been patronised, written off and demonised by the media and establishment since Thatcher’s day, have a voice again, but only in the aftermath of a delirious nightmare come true.

 

You cannot listen to any of the residents’ stories without welling up with grief or fury at the injustice of this catastrophe. Mothers throwing children from high-rise windows; frantic narrow escapes involving vaulting over piles of corpses; trapped people screaming in desperation as death enveloped them. This must have been as close to a manifestation of Hell as the human mind could conceive.

 

Safe in my family postwar council home, I got up and watched the news footage in genuine astonishment. My first thought, other than horror at the people caught in the nightmare, was the intensity and scale of the inferno. How could a modern building be so consumed so quickly? Even my modest knowledge of fire prevention told me that fires do not spread like that unless there is an accelerant involved; certainly not if there are sprinklers or fire retardant material on every floor. The reports confirm the first response team arrived a mere six minutes after the alarm was raised, and yet the building was absolutely engulfed from the fourth to top floors as it was still being battled, and took hours to bring under control.

 

People disparaging any mention of political decisions (and ideologies) in the context of this horror are disrespecting every victim of this utterly avoidable tragedy. A few things swirled around my mind when the wretched scene had sunk in; was this another case of neglect from private companies cutting corners on safety in tower blocks not meant for affluent residents? Subsequent reports heavily imply that recent refurbishment seemed to concentrate more on making the outside of the building more pleasing to the eye of the wealthy denizens across the way, than ensuring every floor had basic fire prevention and safety measures implemented. It was also revealed that a resident group’s previous warnings were ignored. Perhaps some zealous ministers will think twice about using their favoured “bonfire of red tape” idiom from now on, for this is ‘deregulation culture’ writ large.

 

The disgusting irony of that phrase in this context also brings to mind former London Mayor Boris Johnson’s decision to close numerous London fire stations, as well as telling a critic of this policy to “get stuffed” in his own trademark infantile manner. Boris himself is of course renowned for blowing over £320k on water cannons that were later declared illegal and had to be sold unused; the notion that water jets should be used to protect citizens from the worst effects of devastating conflagrations apparently less desirable than using them to potentially blind protestors to the corpulent gibbon.

 

Neoliberalism should have been laid to rest in 2008, when the inevitable culmination of its ideology in the finance sector saw it bring the world economy to its knees. But then Cameron and his coalition of chaos decided to apply defibrillation, and its zombie version rose to begin cannibalising the few aspects of the system that could be seen as remotely positive. Jeremy Corbyn’s success in the snap election has cast a shadow over its immediate future, but this disaster should be the last rites for this sickening cult of individualism, corporate greed and abdication of state responsibility to its people.

‘The tragedy of the Commons’ was an economic theory by Garrett Hardin, which essentially suggested that in a situation of common ownership, an individual’s self-interest would inevitably lead to depletion of the shared resources, meaning that people unthinkingly pursue selfish ends, despite the actions harming them in the long-term (and others).

Critics denounced this as a justification for private over public ownership, suggesting private self-interest in public scenarios should be remedied with by…private self-interest in private scenarios. You see, the prescribed antidote is the poison; only concentrated! It certainly reminds me of aspects of the kind of doublethink and duplicitous actions enacted by these latest shades of neoliberal demagogues.

Examples are plentiful and delight in insulting the intelligence of the electorate. My personal favourite is the ‘self-fulfilling paradigm’ when David Cameron, or one of his many corporate stooge cronies, makes a comment about the Government being ‘wasteful’ with taxpayers money, followed by the government he leads wasting taxpayers money. He actually made a comment about State ‘vanity projects’, after spending a significant portion of his early tenure railroading (pun intended) through HS2, amongst other farcical projects, like bribing the Chinese to build nuclear power stations for us at no financial risk to them. (A House of Lords committee has even confirmed recently that the positive case for HS2 is virtually non-existent: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-32041167)

Then of course there is the generic Tory bogeyman: ‘bureaucracy’, which they have markedly increased by introducing widespread outsourcing in almost every element of essential public services, particularly and shamefully; the NHS.

In the face of the Islamist threat, not at all created or grown through the UK’s illegal wars, or our arms manufacturers selling their country weapons, GCHQ must be able to spy on anyone at all times, regardless of context. To defend our nation’s freedom, we must curtail our nation’s freedom.

Apparently, this is a Government that wants to help young people buy a house. So they have offered to underwrite most of the deposit…but have done nothing to make the house more affordable, in terms of its cost or the value of anyone’s wages. And it won’t step in if these people can’t make payments. So it is actually helping BANKS buy homes.

The Government is getting unemployment down in an innovative way. One might assume they would create jobs, either in direct public sector work, or by spending on infrastructure or such to create demand in the economy. But no, our enlightened overlords simply bribe jobcentre staff to hound people into self-employment or penury. Don’t worry, work will pay. Because benefits are being scaled back so you won’t be able to afford food otherwise.

Interestingly, at least one private hospital provider sucking on the NHS teat has pulled out, leaving the taxpayer to clean up the mess:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/11333986/Damning-report-as-first-private-firm-to-run-NHS-hospital-pulls-out.html

Oooh it’s Circle! Didn’t they bankroll Andrew Lansley, who forced through the Health and Social Care Act in 2012 amid huge opposition? Apparently they bribed him, took the NHS money and ran away scot-free. Or so the evidence would suggest.

Remember when George Osborne said the nation ‘couldn’t borrow its way out of the crisis’, only to borrow more in his first 3 years than the Labour government did in 13? http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/11/21/uk-borrowing-_n_4316084.html

Or successfully turning the worldwide financial meltdown and subsequent bail-out into an irresponsible public spending spree? Funny thing is, Osborne (or the advisors writing his speeches) pledged in 2007 to match Labour’s public spending for 3 years:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6975536.stm
and his party was renowned for urging less City regulation, right up until the crash, with John Redwood incredibly urging mortgage provision (the major cause of the crash in America) regulation be abolished:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1560100/Tories-plan-14bn-cuts-to-red-tape.html

You see, in a post-political era, where elite politicians represent nothing more than highly-remunerated gatekeepers between multinationals and the taxpayer pot of gold, their main task has nothing to do with empirical evidence, constituent feedback or referendums; it is a psychological war with the electorate. With the right-wing media as their tanks, they roll out stream after stream of doublethink, convincing us that the suspiciously golden shower soaking us to the skin is in fact soft summer rain.

Half a dozen notable tactics deployed thus far:

1) Outright lies (“No more top-down reorganisation of the NHS”/”We are not privatising the NHS”) followed by denials and hoping it all blows over come May.
2) Using corrupt practices your own government deals in to justify ‘less government interference’.
3) Using acts of terrorism your foreign policy and arms dealers bear most responsibility for to justify keeping the entire population under surveillance, despite heavily criticising the previous administration for their proposed ID cards to apparently combat the threat of terrorism. Essentially following an identical agenda via a backdoor route (see also ‘Health and Social Care Bill’)
4) Questioning the ‘witch-hunt’ against phone-hacking tabloids generally favouring the Conservative Party, before demanding crucial investigative files on NSA activity obtained by the Establishment-challenging Guardian be handed over or destroyed: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/20/nsa-snowden-files-drives-destroyed-london
5) Talking tough against fundamentalist indoctrination, before allowing waves of ‘free’ faith schools to be founded, with no criteria for qualified teachers! (What could go wrong?)
6) Talking ENDLESSLY about cutting taxes, only to end up cumulatively hiking them more than the previous administration….except for the 5% cut for those earning over £150k a year of course: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/20/nsa-snowden-files-drives-destroyed-london

Tragedy of the Commons indeed.