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View Full Version : BNP support NOT linked to immigration



gumdrops
21-04-2010, 09:47 AM
http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/8396

Mr. Tea
21-04-2010, 10:46 AM
Interesting find, gumdrops. But:


In fact, the more immigration an area has experienced, the lower its support for the far right.

...could have a lot to do with the fact that immigrants themselves are pretty unlikely (!) to support the BNP, couldn't it? So even if a large proportion of native-born whites in a certain area support the BNP, but most people in that area are immigrants, then overall levels of BNP support will be low.

Unless the people who did the survey only polled white Brits, on the basis that there's not a lot of point asking Asians, Africans or East Europeans if they support the BNP?

Edit: though I agree entirely with JE about the root causes of support for the far right.

john eden
21-04-2010, 10:53 AM
Also dismissing Barking and Dagenham as an "anomally" is a bit off when the BNP are in a good position to take over the council in May.

But the general angle that mainstream parties would do better to focus on root causes like inequality and deprivation rather than immigration is a good one imho.

Edward
21-04-2010, 10:59 AM
Yeah Tea is bang on, that article was written by someone a bit dense, they forgot that immigrants are people who can vote.

Where I live in East London most people are Pakistani, Polish, Lithuanian, Chinese. There are very few white English people around.
Of course they don't vote BNP.
You'll find white people who were born here have moved away in large numbers to places in Essex like Chingford, Epping and Loughton where a lot of them do vote BNP.

I don't think the article linked says anything valid really.

droid
21-04-2010, 11:01 AM
I'm not so sure. I read something else recently that suggested that BNP support was highest in areas with less visible immigration.

scottdisco
21-04-2010, 11:04 AM
But the general angle that mainstream parties would do better to focus on root causes like inequality and deprivation rather than immigration is a good one imho.

bang on John.

the odd non-white Brit would probably support the BNP if they could, certainly w their new tack of anti-Muslim bigotry and their anti-immigrant populism.

i've said this on thread before but remember the naive surprise experienced by George Alagiah when he went to Burnley or Pendle * for the BBC a few years ago and met quite a few local lads of south Asian heritage, builders and such, who were coming out w anti-Polish plumber stuff straight from the BNP playbook. (George tried to meekly, bless him, think aloud to them about how he felt perhaps they could understand the nature of being discriminated against by a wider society. obviously when it comes to competing claims that didn't wash and they were having none of it...)

a mate of mine was in a cab in Brum recently and the (Afro-Caribbean) driver told him he would be voting BNP for the sorts of reasons as above.

obviously i don't want to take anything away from the wonderful fact that ethnically diverse districts of our country as a rule have no truck w the BNP and not many Britons do in general, whatever their ethnic heritage.

to see what gumdrops is saying in action, look at Stoke Central. one of two seats they want to win along w Barking (although they probably won't in Stoke, touch wood, as the campaign is imploding w infighting and Griffin/Darby and co are getting increasingly ridiculous as that ex-member Alby Walker stirs the pot, though Labour are fucking around there too unfortunately). the city of Stoke is 93.5% white British. what gumdrops' report says about social exclusion (or feelings of it, anyway) seems a bigger driver for many floating potential BNP voters than anything else, though i'm not denying an anti-immigrant-cocktail must go hand in hand for many of those prospective BNP floaters.

* i'm fairly sure, incidentally, that Pendle borough is the third least white borough in terms of ethnic/racial background in the northwest (behind Mcr and Blackburn), and certainly more so than neighbouring Burnley, perhaps considerably so, i believe. Burnley has a stronger BNP base than Pendle, i do believe, quite a bit more i think.

my Burnley and Stoke mentions would back up something Droid just said.

scottdisco
21-04-2010, 11:06 AM
In particular, areas with low average levels of qualifications (which can mean people struggle in today’s flexible, knowledge-based economy), low levels of social cohesion, and low levels of voter turnout (indicating political disenchantment) are the ones that show more BNP support.

this is Stoke Central, areas of the Black Country where the BNP have a go, and certain parts of Lancashire to a tee, of course.

matt b
21-04-2010, 11:21 AM
Interesting find, gumdrops. But:

...could have a lot to do with the fact that immigrants themselves are pretty unlikely (!) to support the BNP, couldn't it? So even if a large proportion of native-born whites in a certain area support the BNP, but most people in that area are immigrants, then overall levels of BNP support will be low.



You would have to overstate rates of immigration massively for this to be a meaningful explanation.

scottdisco
21-04-2010, 11:23 AM
You would have to overstate rates of immigration massively for this to be a meaningful explanation.

give over Matt, the country is full of immigrants.

i read so in the Daily Express.

(who, incidentally, have NOTHING AT ALL TO DO WITH THE RISE OF THE BNP, oh god no, how ever could you suggest such a thing.)

Mr. Tea
21-04-2010, 11:25 AM
You'll find white people who were born here have moved away in large numbers to places in Essex like Chingford, Epping and Loughton where a lot of them do vote BNP.


Yeah, this makes sense. A white person still living in an inner-city borough that's now mainly S. Asian/black/Polish/whatever probably is not going to have massively racist views and support the BNP - it's whites who've fled to what they see as the safety of communities that are still fairly white (except for the ones who prepare takeaway food, of course, they're allowed... :slanted:) that will harbour the real prejudice.

Scott makes a valid point too about non-whites potentially supporting the BNP, now that they've (nominally) shifted their focus from 'race' per se to 'culture', meaning mainly Us vs. the Islams. A fairly high-profile Sikh guy was in the papers a few months ago saying he was voting BNP for exactly this reason. And there are plenty of towns and neighbourhoods where relations between Afro-Caribbeans and S. Asians are pretty ropey.

Mr. Tea
21-04-2010, 11:32 AM
You would have to overstate rates of immigration massively for this to be a meaningful explanation.

Immigration rates for the country as a whole, maybe. Immigration rates for certain parts of certain cities, not at all. White people are in the minority where I live, so even if most of them voted BNP, that party would still not have a majority vote, on the (fair) assumption that Bangladeshis, Somalis, Chinese etc. are probably not going to vote for them.

The flipside of this is that there are small towns and rural areas with hardly any non-white people at all.

gumdrops
21-04-2010, 11:37 AM
a mate of mine was in a cab in Brum recently and the (Afro-Caribbean) driver told him he would be voting BNP for the sorts of reasons as above.

this is standard with loads (but not all obv) of 2nd/3rd gen children of immigrants though. its understandable - this country (not that its alone in this of course) basically teaches us all to take a sceptical view of any newcomers. whats more british than that?! plus, theres few things that allow someone to prove their own sense of belonging/acceptance etc than taking shots at the new immigrants.

scottdisco
21-04-2010, 11:37 AM
Scott makes a valid point too about non-whites potentially supporting the BNP, now that they've (nominally) shifted their focus from 'race' per se to 'culture', meaning mainly Us vs. the Islams. A fairly high-profile Sikh guy was in the papers a few months ago saying he was voting BNP for exactly this reason. And there are plenty of towns and neighbourhoods where relations between Afro-Caribbeans and S. Asians are pretty ropey.

cheers T.
you may be familiar w a few high-profile useful idiot type lads that the EDL use for their turn-outs, these few lads in question happen to be visibly practising Sikhs.

slightly OT but i read a piece on Shiraz Socialist the other day where a Salma Yaqoob campaign bod spoke off the record to one of the Shiraz bods and said for the Brum Hall Green seat their canvassing was totally avoiding the more ethnically mixed districts of Hall Green, Moseley (an area i know well, gloriously cosmopolitan pubs and such) and Kings Heath in the seat, and focusing on canvassing entirely in the areas of Springfield and Sparkbrook which are heavily populated by people of Bangladeshi and Pakistani heritage. that is how Galloway got in in BG & B, incidentally, same 'ghetto politics' drumbeat.

scottdisco
21-04-2010, 11:38 AM
this is standard with loads (but not all obv) of 2nd/3rd gen children of immigrants though. its understandable - this country (not that its alone in this of course) basically teaches us all to take a sceptical view of any newcomers. whats more british than that?! plus, theres few things that allow someone to prove their own sense of belonging/acceptance etc than taking shots at the new immigrants.

brilliantly put gumdrops.

Mr. Tea
21-04-2010, 11:48 AM
slightly OT but i read a piece on Shiraz Socialist the other day where a Salma Yaqoob campaign bod spoke off the record to one of the Shiraz bods and said for the Brum Hall Green seat their canvassing was totally avoiding the more ethnically mixed districts of Hall Green, Moseley (an area i know well, gloriously cosmopolitan pubs and such) and Kings Heath in the seat, and focusing on canvassing entirely in the areas of Springfield and Sparkbrook which are heavily populated by people of Bangladeshi and Pakistani heritage. that is how Galloway got in in BG & B, incidentally, same 'ghetto politics' drumbeat.

Well yeah, exactly. GG's tactic was to leave Glasgow, pick a constituency entirely at random (but happening to have the highest %age of Muslim voters in the country, IIRC), vocally oppose the Iraq war/occupation and ta da! instant seat.

scottdisco
21-04-2010, 11:55 AM
Well yeah, exactly. GG's tactic was to leave Glasgow, pick a constituency entirely at random (but happening to have the highest %age of Muslim voters in the country, IIRC), vocally oppose the Iraq war/occupation and ta da! instant seat.

next to where i grew up Mcr Withington is one of the few non-Lab seats in the conurbation, having used to be a fairly safe Labour seat. but Lib-Dem J Leech got in there at the last general and i think at least partly it was Iraq (despite the fact that for all i know the incumbent Labour bod might have been some Old sort totally opposed to it too), not least because of the seat's relatively large amount of student residents.

matt b
21-04-2010, 12:48 PM
Immigration rates for the country as a whole, maybe. Immigration rates for certain parts of certain cities, not at all. White people are in the minority where I live, so even if most of them voted BNP, that party would still not have a majority vote, on the (fair) assumption that Bangladeshis, Somalis, Chinese etc. are probably not going to vote for them.



There are only 25 parliamentary constituencies where over 40% of the population were categorised as being from an ethnic minority in the 2001 census (source (http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/newsandevents/pressreleases/ethnic_minority_vote/))

The IPPR piece isn't about whether the BNP get the majority of the vote, but the proportion.

In the above 25 seats (and a handful more, I suspect), your point may well stand, but that is a tiny minority of all parliamentary seats.

matt b
21-04-2010, 12:58 PM
Just found a reference to your point in the document, Tea:

"...where people live in mixed race communities they end ,on the whole, to be less agreeable to BNP arguments about the consequences of mixed communities. However, it may also be explained by the fact that relatively few ethnic minority people are likely to vote BNP"

They argue resiliance is a more important factor

Mr. Tea
21-04-2010, 01:09 PM
In the above 25 seats (and a handful more, I suspect), your point may well stand, but that is a tiny minority of all parliamentary seats.

I never claimed otherwise, but 25 seats is 25 seats, and a constituency can have an ethnic minority population that's less than 40% but still "significant". Plus that data's nine years old, and the figures have probably changed a fair bit even since then, especially with the expansion of the EU.

More than half of the new pupils starting at primary schools in inner London now speak a first language other than English. That's a pretty seismic demographic shake-up in what is by far the country's biggest city. (Yes, there's the standard disclaimer that London's-always-been-a-city-of-immigrants, but the phenomenon of white minorities is pretty recent. And as Scott points out, it's not limited to London. I'm not saying this is a bad thing, but it is a thing.)

crackerjack
21-04-2010, 01:15 PM
Well yeah, exactly. GG's tactic was to leave Glasgow, pick a constituency entirely at random (but happening to have the highest %age of Muslim voters* in the country, IIRC), vocally oppose the Iraq war/occupation and ta da! instant seat.

and a female half-Jewish/half-black (pro-war) MP

scottdisco
21-04-2010, 01:23 PM
Oona King's married to some Italian chap, i saw a programme once on her love of Italian food, it was essentially pornographic, lovely stuff.

scottdisco
21-04-2010, 04:45 PM
It's not everyday Nick Griffin writes to me begging for cash, but that's exactly what he's done. This morning thousands of BNP leaflets polluted Stokie letter boxes with their usual mix of lies and hate.

here (http://averypublicsociologist.blogspot.com/2010/04/shit-through-my-letterbox.html)

crackerjack
09-06-2010, 11:56 AM
Things are brewing round here
http://trialbyjeory.wordpress.com/2010/06/05/the-art-of-persuasion/
http://uaf.org.uk/2010/06/stop-the-racist-edl-in-east-london/

June 20, EDL vs UAF outside the Troxy, which is hosting Islamic (alleged) nasties.

hucks
09-06-2010, 12:13 PM
What if you want to protest against the EDL and IFE?

crackerjack
09-06-2010, 12:23 PM
What if you want to protest against the EDL and IFE?

You stay in and watch footy?

sufi
09-06-2010, 10:48 PM
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2446/4038713677_4759ee9d17_o.jpg
information is beautiful (www.informationisbeautiful.net/)

hucks
09-06-2010, 11:02 PM
You stay in and watch footy?

That'll show em.

Re that map - not sure how useful the 2001 census is on this. Populations have changed quite a bit. Barking, for instance, is much more ethnically mixed in 2010 than it was in 2001.

grizzleb
09-06-2010, 11:04 PM
http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/2010/05/david-goodhart-jon-cruddas-interview/

Pretty good interview with Jon Cruddas that touches on much of this...

john eden
10-06-2010, 07:29 AM
What if you want to protest against the EDL and IFE?

Whitechapel Anarchist Group are organising a demo on the day for people like you.

Which is good but will make things very confusing, I imagine!

crackerjack
10-06-2010, 10:12 AM
council blah



Councillor Helal Abbas, Leader of the Council commented, “I want to ask all sections of our diverse and vibrant community to hold their nerve but be vigilant in the face of this blatant attempt at division along crude racial and religious lines. There is no place for extremism of any description in Tower Hamlets.

We are a strong community with so much to be proud of. As leader I will do everything in my power to ensure our community stays safe and secure using all the resources and influence at my disposal.“

Whilst the Troxy is a commercial company they must comply with the law and have regard to the impact such an event will have on social cohesion in Tower Hamlets. The Council has encouraged the Troxy to sign up to the 'No Place for Hate' campaign and indeed they were happy to do so. To date over 700 people and 70 organisations have signed our 'No Place for Hate' pledge.

Councillor Josh Peck, Deputy Leader of the Council commented, “This conference is not supported in any way by the council and we call upon the Troxy to call off this conference in the interests of public safety and social cohesion. The views attributed to some of the speakers is completely at odds with our continuing work in building One Tower Hamlets. If necessary we will review our working relationship with the Troxy.”



Councillor Helal Abbas continues, “I will be asking the Police to explore all avenues open to them to ensure both the conference and the EDL demonstration do not take place in Tower Hamlets. Neither is representative of Tower Hamlets and will cause great distress to the people of the borough. If you feel threatened or unsafe please contact the Police directly or you can contact my office using the details below.”

The Council will continue to work with the Police, the Interfaith Forum and other local partners. We have all worked hard through the Tower Hamlets partnership to ensure a harmonious and cohesive community behind the banner of One Tower Hamlets. This has had some success and is borne out from the findings of our recent residents' survey. We will not accept attempts to divide our communities.

Mr. Tea
22-07-2010, 12:20 PM
I guess this is currently the default BNP thread, so: Griffin to attend Buck House garden party. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-10723764)

*sigh*

Dusty
22-07-2010, 03:12 PM
Would have been easier if they had just said they were banning him for being a fat annoying cunt. Then you sidestep the whole political issue.

Mr. Tea
22-07-2010, 03:29 PM
Would have been easier if they had just said they were banning him for being a fat annoying cunt. Then you sidestep the whole political issue.

In fairness that'd mean quite a lot of MPs from all parties would be unable to attend.

STN
22-07-2010, 05:08 PM
Haven't seen the clip yet, but apparently The Tatch confronted him in person and called him a gutless coward outside the BBC's offices yesterday.

Mr. Tea
22-07-2010, 05:17 PM
Awesome. Tatchell does talk rubbish sometimes but anyone who squares up to both Robert Mugabe and Nick Griffin is a dude in my book.

rubberdingyrapids
20-01-2013, 08:48 PM
anyone know of a good recent ish survey on peoples attitudes to immigration to the uk? i am quite positive that 95% of all british residents would prefer if there was no migration to these shores, full stop. and that cuts across class. even people that read the guardian and make all the right noises, i think deep down in their unconscious they hate it too. or maybe im just more conscious of cos were living in grimmer times. though not sure there has ever been a golden age for warmth towards migrants. or maybe this is just my own unconscious speaking after my night out last night and talking to a group of friends who have emigrated here in the last 5 years.

Mr. Tea
21-01-2013, 12:40 AM
I dunno, I reckon if "95%"* of people felt that strongly about it then we'd have a UKIP/BNP coalition govt instead of a Con/Lib one. The economic argument in favour of immigration is pretty much cast-iron and I suspect a lot of people know this. OTOH the UK, and especially England, is undeniably a small and already very crowded country, and a rapidly growing population is increasing competition for housing and all sorts of basic resources and services. Yes that competition could be greatly reduced with a fairer distribution of land and resources but, at the risk of stating the bleeding obvious, this doesn't look a likely prospect in the near future.

*Of course far more than 5% of the UK's population is made up of immigrants and the descendants of recent immigrants but established immigrants are often quite hostile to further immigration because it means an influx of people who are then going to compete with them economically.

rubberdingyrapids
21-01-2013, 09:21 AM
im saying that begrudging tolerance isnt all that special as far as host receptions go (not that i expect some sort of warm hearted endorsement, and obv saying all immigration is all positive is equally nullifying) but iirc, less than 10% of the national population is non-english/migrant/descendants of migrants. its only in london where the numbers are much more equal, and possibly some of the other cities like manchester and brum.


*Of course far more than 5% of the UK's population is made up of immigrants and the descendants of recent immigrants but established immigrants are often quite hostile to further immigration because it means an influx of people who are then going to compete with them economically.

sure. but a lot of them also dont like newcomers because they remind of them of their previous newcomer status. its also an absorption of the larger culture's feelings around new migrants.

Mr. Tea
21-01-2013, 12:44 PM
iirc, less than 10% of the national population is non-english/migrant/descendants of migrants. its only in london where the numbers are much more equal, and possibly some of the other cities like manchester and brum.

I think that's a bit conservative. Three years ago more than 11% of the population was born outside the UK (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreign-born_population_of_the_United_Kingdom), so that doesn't even include 2nd/3rd/4th-generation immigrants, and probably doesn't include people staying here illegally, who are thought to make up a further half a million or more.

There are quite a lot of places in Britain where most people aren't white British.



sure. but a lot of them also dont like newcomers because they remind of them of their previous newcomer status. its also an absorption of the larger culture's feelings around new migrants.

There's also significant friction and prejudice between minority groups that a lot of white people don't realize goes on. Antagonism between blacks and Asians in a lot of cities in the north and Midlands, anti-Semitism among people from Muslim communities, prejudice against non-whites among East Europeans...

crackerjack
21-01-2013, 03:07 PM
i am quite positive that 95% of all british residents would prefer if there was no migration to these shores, full stop. and that cuts across class.

I'd guess that figure is wildly exaggerated, probably doubled, possibly more, but I can't claim to have any numbers to hand. Presumably there's a lot of polling on this somewhere... and you could have a look around British Future. Their director Sunder Katwala is pretty active and responsive on Twitter too.

baboon2004
21-01-2013, 04:42 PM
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/jan/13/immigration-british-society-biggest-problem

just skimmed it - it quotes Katwala. It's unsurprising and probably universal - first reaction to difficult times is to blame the (perceived) Other. It saves having to confront difficult questions of what the real (internal) problems might be, by positing an age-old external threat (and it's also the glue for the primary way in which the political world is ordered - by discrete states). And you could say similarly on the micro-level of individual people's lives too - much easier to blame the outside world than to undertake the difficult task of changing oneself*.

It's understandable, but totally fucked and at the root of so much that's bad (on both micro and macro levels).

* I've been feeling particularly assaulted by other people's passive-aggressiveness/disavowed anger lately!

Mr. Tea
21-01-2013, 05:25 PM
So anyone who isn't convinced that immigration is an unalloyed good for everyone already living here is obviously a terrible ignorant xenophobe?


[much easier to blame the outside world than to undertake the difficult task of changing oneself

What if the outside world is changing in ways that you aren't entirely happy with? It's your duty as a good citizen to get with the programme and suck it up?

Patrick Swayze
21-01-2013, 08:34 PM
wasn't the non white british figure closer to 20% in the recent census...? definitely used to be around 10...

wikipedia's got england's white british population at 79.8%, with the british average being pulled up to 82% by the inclusion of wales, scotland and n. ireland.


I think that potentially 70-80% feel uneasy about immigration in general due to scaremongering about overpopulation/languages spoken in schools (because being surrounded by different languages and cultures is so bad for your education) but few of them have any specific ideas about what they'd do in response to it and certainly don't harbour any genuine malice toward immigrants, so it would take and extreme event to make them vote further right than the conservatives.

that's what the BNP are basically hoping for, some sort of cataclysmic event that can be spun with a race angle. I wonder how the riots affected their popularity?

Mr. Tea
21-01-2013, 08:58 PM
wasn't the non white british figure closer to 20% in the recent census...? definitely used to be around 10...

If 20% is correct then that shows how much immigration has increased over the last decade or so, since it means people born here to immigrant families are outnumbered by people born abroad.



(because being surrounded by different languages and cultures is so bad for your education)

OTOH, it can be hard to teach when half the class has no idea what the teacher is saying...of course the answer to that is to provide classroom assistants to help the kids get up to speed with their English. But that costs money, and if there's one thing Mr. and Mrs. Dailymailreader hate, it's public money being spent on immigrants, because it's 'unfair'. Never mind that a quid spent helping a Bengali or Somali kid learn reasonable English is going to benefit the economy by a far greater amount down the line - that's not the point.

One of life's little ironies that people who make the most noise about immigrants' failure to integrate are often the ones who baulk at the idea of the state actually trying to help them integrate - even if that ends up being completely self-defeating from an economic (never mind social) POV.

Patrick Swayze
21-01-2013, 09:41 PM
If 20% is correct then that shows how much immigration has increased over the last decade or so, since it means people born here to immigrant families are outnumbered by people born abroad.



OTOH, it can be hard to teach when half the class has no idea what the teacher is saying...of course the answer to that is to provide classroom assistants to help the kids get up to speed with their English. But that costs money, and if there's one thing Mr. and Mrs. Dailymailreader hate, it's public money being spent on immigrants, because it's 'unfair'. Never mind that a quid spent helping a Bengali or Somali kid learn reasonable English is going to benefit the economy by a far greater amount down the line - that's not the point.

One of life's little ironies that people who make the most noise about immigrants' failure to integrate are often the ones who baulk at the idea of the state actually trying to help them integrate - even if that ends up being completely self-defeating from an economic (never mind social) POV.

maybe when the native language is far removed from english. I grew up abroad speaking english at home and learned german just by being immersed in it i.e. through friends, their parents, classmates... everyday life. I definitely think that the difficulty is exaggerated.

having said that if you move here at say 7 or 8 with no english capability it's a different situation.

rubberdingyrapids
21-01-2013, 09:53 PM
I think that potentially 70-80% feel uneasy about immigration in general due to scaremongering about overpopulation/languages spoken in schools (because being surrounded by different languages and cultures is so bad for your education) but few of them have any specific ideas about what they'd do in response to it and certainly don't harbour any genuine malice toward immigrants, so it would take and extreme event to make them vote further right than the conservatives.

im starting to think that though not preferable, malice was at least easier to take the measure of. what i see now is a lot more veiled, and a lot more repressed, as people think they arent allowed to say anything vaguely negative (though tbh this has obvious benefits) so you end up with this awkward air of people just being disengenuous or passive aggressive and sending down their real feelings about non-english groups to their unconscious. so they might not say anything outright hateful but the reservations are massive. im sure i dont need to tell anyone in london that people dont tend to mix by and large.

Mr. Tea
21-01-2013, 11:31 PM
Thing is, I think most of the worthwhile, cogent arguments both in favour of immigration and against it are socio-economic, but very often it's arguments about culture that people get really worked up about. The Right tends to worry about the dilution of indigenous culture and evoke images of an alien bogeyman coming here with the express intention of banning Christmas, while very often the Left's none too helpful response is to label anyone who isn't unambiguously enthusiastic about unlimited immigration a massive racist - regardless of whether their reservations are to do with culture/'race' or not.


people think they arent allowed to say anything vaguely negative (though tbh this has obvious benefits) so you end up with this awkward air of people just being disengenuous or passive aggressive and sending down their real feelings about non-english groups to their unconscious.

I guess what you're talking about is people who are loosely liberal/centrist but not socialists per se - people who think Tony Blair basically did an OK job apart from the whole Iraq thing - but who would rather be thought of as being on the left than on the right - something like that? Then the sense of "not being allowed to say anything" comes precisely from the Left having equated even the desire to have open debate around immigration, let alone actually opposing it, with racism.

baboon2004
21-01-2013, 11:51 PM
So anyone who isn't convinced that immigration is an unalloyed good for everyone already living here is obviously a terrible ignorant xenophobe?


Not my point although yes, anti-immigration discourses are pretty much always fascist, given that the very concept of immigration stems from restrictions upon the free movement of people, their basic freedoms subjugated to an international system of states designed to include/exclude on an arbitrary basis (birth). Mass net immigration results from huge imbalances of wealth within the world, largely precipitated by what happened a couple of centuries back. So yep, as a discourse anti-immigration is pretty ignorant.

While the discourse is ignorant, why individual people (and more pointedly, lots of people who lack power within their own country) buy into it is obviously way more complex and based upon other factors such as fear and resignation - people are usually encouraged towards anti-immigration by the ruling class (insofar as it can get away with it without lapsing into crude racism - though obviously that doesn't stop some tories), as it diverts attention from the class politics going on within the country itself. So it's not ignorance, but just that it's generally easier to believe the threat is outside rather than fight forces perpetuating inequality inside the country (which obv usually starts with the government), because to take on the latter fight seems doomed to failure. But that means that nothing changes, and intolerance and racism are perpetuated.

baboon2004
22-01-2013, 12:04 AM
im starting to think that though not preferable, malice was at least easier to take the measure of. what i see now is a lot more veiled, and a lot more repressed, as people think they arent allowed to say anything vaguely negative (though tbh this has obvious benefits) so you end up with this awkward air of people just being disengenuous or passive aggressive and sending down their real feelings about non-english groups to their unconscious. so they might not say anything outright hateful but the reservations are massive. im sure i dont need to tell anyone in london that people dont tend to mix by and large.

but those are only their 'real feelings' because of the way in which the Other is constructed by society as a whole. what is often being repressed to an even greater extent are the feelings people who lack power in any particular country have towards those who hold power in that country (who are themselves constructing the powerless as another Other i.e. 'chavs' or any number of linked codified images/terms, in a racialised manner). Divide and rule.

Mr. Tea
22-01-2013, 12:05 AM
Not my point although yes, anti-immigration discourses are pretty much always fascist, given that the very concept of immigration stems from restrictions upon the free movement of people, their basic freedoms subjugated to an international system of states designed to include/exclude on an arbitrary basis (birth).

So the only non-fascist position to take is to support the global abolition of borders and the entire concept of the nation-state? I mean, fair enough if that is your position, but I wonder if it's not a bit of an abuse of the term 'fascist'. For one thing, it would define pretty much every country in the world as 'fascist'.

And down to what level do you oppose restrictions on the free movement of people? Would you be happy with the street you live on becoming a motorway? Or with a bunch of people you've never met before setting up camp in your garden, or your living room?

That may sound hyperbolic but really there's a whole spectrum of territory types that extends from 'country' at one extreme down to 'house' (or even 'bedroom') at the other. All territories are defined as areas where a certain class of people have the privilege - by whatever virtue, arbitrary or otherwise - of living there, while another class of people - everyone else - does not.

baboon2004
22-01-2013, 12:11 AM
Thing is, I think most of the worthwhile, cogent arguments both in favour of immigration and against it are socio-economic

basic human rights arguments.

Mr. Tea
22-01-2013, 12:27 AM
basic human rights arguments.

Is it considered a basic human right to live wherever you like?

baboon2004
22-01-2013, 12:28 AM
So the only non-fascist position to take is to support the global abolition of borders and the entire concept of the nation-state? I mean, fair enough if that is your position, but I wonder if it's not a bit of an abuse of the term 'fascist'. For one thing, it would define pretty much every country in the world as 'fascist'.

And down to what level do you oppose restrictions on the free movement of people? Would you be happy with the street you live on becoming a motorway? Or with a bunch of people you've never met before setting up camp in your garden, or your living room?

That may sound hyperbolic but really there's a whole spectrum of territory types that extends from 'country' at one extreme down to 'house' (or even 'bedroom') at the other. All territories are defined as areas where a certain class of people have the privilege - by whatever virtue, arbitrary or otherwise - of living there, while another class of people - everyone else - does not.

I don't know if fascism is the right word, tbh, not too interested in the semantics of it.
The nation-state system, insofar as it means borders are not open, is inherently based upon arbitrary inclusion and exclusion, in a way that asserts that some people have superior rights to others (access to resources of myriad kinds), for no reason other than 'birthright'. That seems pretty fascistic to me, but if another word fits better, that's fine by me too. So my position is as you say, yes. How could it be otherwise for anyone, if commitment to human rights is anything more than empty talk* (of course, restoring equality of riches between different areas of the world would be preferable to anything, but as that is not going to happen, then...)?

(*and all of us are guilty of this in various situations all the time, I know I am, that's the struggle of life, to make our principles and actions meet, and to make our principles coherent with each other)

I don't oppose free movement of people. Whether or not I'd 'like' it, in the sense of it causing me some discomfort, is kind of irrelevant - making a better world will involve discomfort to those of us born into comparative luxury. There's no way to oppose free movement of people without supporting a system that upholds basic inequality. I know you don't mean to, and I'm being mischievous here rather than anything else, but even in questioning it in the above, you risk sounding like a Tory campaign advert: "Or with a bunch of people you've never met before setting up camp in your garden, or your living room?" People want to move to Britain (in a net sense) because it's a rich country, and that relative richness is mostly founded upon theft, war, slavery and general immorality, not any kind of superiority to the people who live in poorer nations.

As to your last point, I see what you're saying, but really the point is that people don't want to move to my house much, cos it's an average house (within local standards). People do want to move to Britain though, because as a country it is not average, it is rich beyond the dreams of most people in this world.

baboon2004
22-01-2013, 12:32 AM
Is it considered a basic human right to live wherever you like?

That's an interesting question. I'd say yes, in any meaningful system of human rights. At least as far as territories go.

Of course, the UN exists only as an agglomeration of states, and therefore is in thrall to nation-state logic. So it says:

Article 13.

(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.

But of course the UN (represented as it is by the rich and powerful in each country) has a vested interest in maintaining inequality between nations, in the sense of keeping 'too many' poor people from moving to rich countries. Which the rich people in poor countries acquiesce to for various reasons.

Of course, I haven't even mentioned the lopsided immigration rules that privilege people from certain countries (with all the racialised elements that this implies) with easier access to Britain (or any other rich country for that matter). Immigrants are not all made equal (which of course is countered by both the right and the centre-left by sick-making appeal to 'economic benefit'. While of course tacitly accepting that shitloads of 'illegal' immigrants are required to make their services run smoothly, and then stigmatising these very same people by branding them 'illegal').

There's nowt (or very little) more political than immigration, come to think of it.

Mr. Tea
22-01-2013, 12:35 AM
Rather than pretending that we can accommodate the whole world, wouldn't it be better if the UK and other rich countries devoted a far higher proportion of their GDP to sustainable, progressive foreign aid to help developing countries actually develop? I mean, not just to become colossal pools of cheap outsourced labour for the food and goods we require, but actually to develop the kind of social infrastructures we enjoy.

Life is clearly pretty fucking tough in many parts of the world if earning a couple of quid an hour as an illegal labourer and living in someone's shed in Newham is preferable. A much more progressive approach would be to try to tackle the huge inequalities that exist between different parts of the world. Of course that's a pretty tall order.

Mr. Tea
22-01-2013, 12:59 AM
OK, so the UN guarantees "freedom of residence" within - though not across - national borders. But that assumes that when someone wants so move to a new area, the incomer can financially afford the area and the area can logistically afford the incomer. I mean, in theory it's my inalienable human right to live in a penthouse apartment in Kensington, right?

Edit: you're right about the status of illegal immigrants, and I've read some very persuasive arguments lately for a wholesale amnesty for people living illegally in the UK. Deporting them en masse would be unthinkably inhumane and also totally impractical, maintaining the status quo basically ensures the immiseration and exploitation of hundreds of thousands of people while granting citizenship would hugely benefit them and wider society as well.

And at the other end of the extreme, the insanity that is the housing market in London - and by extension the whole of the south-east - is fuelled in large part by the 'right' sort of immigrants, i.e ultra-wealthy foreigners who treat the UK as a virtual tax haven thanks to our 'business-friendly' tax laws (and the extremely lax enforcement of the laws even as they exist).

baboon2004
22-01-2013, 01:05 AM
Rather than pretending that we can accommodate the whole world, wouldn't it be better if the UK and other rich countries devoted a far higher proportion of their GDP to sustainable, progressive foreign aid to help developing countries actually develop? I mean, not just to become colossal pools of cheap outsourced labour for the food and goods we require, but actually to develop the kind of social infrastructures we enjoy.

Life is clearly pretty fucking tough in many parts of the world if earning a couple of quid an hour as an illegal labourer and living in someone's shed in Newham is preferable. A much more progressive approach would be to try to tackle the huge inequalities that exist between different parts of the world. Of course that's a pretty tall order.

Sure, I agree that this is what should happen (think I said that above, if only in passing). But it will never happen - the lack of wealth transfer is not mere oversight and lack of planning, but purposeful policy to keep the 'developing world' impoverished. Or rather, just impoverished enough to provide the slave labour Western capitalism require to expand its profits.

To say that massive wealth transfer would be a more 'progressive' approach suggests that we are considering two solutions to the same problem, rather than (as is actually the case) one problem and one measure to leaven the consequences of an ongoing Western political refusal to solve that problem (although problem is of course not really the word), a refusal that will never change.

'International development' as a whole is a fraud, as it maintains power relations just as they are and very rarely empowers (of course there are exceptions, and by god i want to work for one of those exceptions!) people in any meaningful way. Why would it, since most of the money that goes into it comes from powerful people in the West? See dependency theory and lots of other bodies of theory, no doubt. The West has no interest in the 'developing' world other than as "colossal pools of cheap outsourced labour for the food and goods we require", whatever the PR spin. It stands to lose too much.

So, as long as the world is hugely unequal, people will be, as you say, desperate to come to richer countries, risking their lives in countless cases. As a result, the human rights to free movement assumes an importance which one can barely quantify. If the area outside the compound is going to be kept as a desert, then we can at least try to wedge the compound door open (look, it's late, I can't think of any good metaphors-or-whatever-they-are!!)

baboon2004
22-01-2013, 01:09 AM
OK, so the UN guarantees "freedom of residence" within - though not across - national borders. But that assumes that when someone wants so move to a new area, the incomer can financially afford the area and the area can logistically afford the newcomer. I mean, in theory it's my inalienable human right to live in a penthouse apartment in Kensington, right?

I don't think that's really the point, is it. We're talking about the rights of everyone to a basic standard of living and self-determination, not the right of everyone to a luxury penthouse.

As to the very current political question of whether it is your inalienable right to be housed within the area in which your kids go to school and you have lived all your life, rather than being shipped off to the other end of the country, an intimately related argument but one for another thread. Depends whether you believe in ghettoes or not..

Mr. Tea
22-01-2013, 01:25 AM
About development: yeah, I was keen to stress a hypothetical kind of development that actually benefits ordinary people in poor countries, rather than being a way of facilitating cosy deals between their elites and our elites.

About penthouse apartments: luxury is relative. I live in a fairly modest studio flat but the upwards 'luxury gap' (if you will) between here and an actual Kensington penthouse is much smaller than the downwards gap towards, I dunno, a slum in Sao Paulo or whatever. I'm not sure where I'm going with this except to say that when you declare that such-and-such a standard of living is the bare minimum a human being can decently live with while such-and-such a standard of living is in the realms of MTV Cribs cloud-cuckoo-land nonsense, those standards are wholly contingent on the ambient levels of wealth and development that you're accustomed to. A couple of hundred years ago - scratch that, a hundred years ago - you were posh if you had running water.

About people being forced out of their homes, gentrification and so on: yes, this is a huge problem and largely a consequence of the lamentable lack of social housing in the UK and the total deregulation of the private rental market. And the presence of a super-rich elite, both native and foreign. It's a horrible, horrible problem but then an Englishman's home is his castle and if he wants to buy up a dozen castles and rent them out to the highest bidder then who are you to say he can't? Sigh.

About ghettoes: I dunno what you mean by 'believe in', I mean of course they exist but they're not really a good thing, are they? Someone mentioned upthread that London isn't really all that mixed, it's "multicultural" in that people from all over the world live there but they tend by and large to form self-sustaining communities. I spend a lot of time in east Oxford as my girlfriend lives there and interestingly I'd say it's a lot more genuinely mixed than much of London - you see a lot of interracial couples with mixed-race kids, there doesn't seem to be ghettoisation as such. Perhaps it's just because it's a far smaller city so there simply isn't the space for ethnic neighbourhoods to acquire critical mass like they do in London.

baboon2004
22-01-2013, 10:39 AM
Absolutely, I think we're in agreement on this. All I was insisting upon is that the immigration 'problem' only makes sense as a result of this. With equally rich countries, immigration becomes a peripheral issue, because it is rarely net (to any great degree) in one direction. I see that immigration laws are something that public pressure can have some effect upon (in order to at least make them more humane), but as for pressuring for proper overseas aid for billions of people...how to do that? It would require everyone to change their lives.

Yes yes, but you're collapsing into an 'everything is relative' zone there (or would if you continued along that line of argument). I think it's clear, in 2013, that as 'we' (the West) can provide clean water and food to live to everyone on the planet, 'we' should (or rather, facilitate it happening by giving shitloads of money - obv as above, this won't happen). Same as it's a disgrace (this is not strong enough a word) that in 2013 children in the UK are going hungry because of ideological 'austerity'. The massive problem after this is that the form of hyper-capitalism we have relies upon slavery however. To abolish slavery in the developing world (and here) would only result from a different world. The consumer world we have now is founded on slavery, simple as, as well as the denial of that slavery.


Think we're talking about several different questions at once now (prob my fault).
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jan/21/i-agree-with-churchill-shirkers-tax I agree with this, pretty much. Except to go further and to say you have to open the whole subject of private property up to debate. It's ideological, not objective - of course, proponents of capitalism will insist to the end that it is objective. But it was ever thus. As to the question, I'm no-one with any power, but you shouldn't be able to have twelve castles. No-one should. There should be a limit on the wealth any one person can have. Hardly radical, but in the current climate it's painted as such. And in terms of rich people buying to let, you could cap the number of houses they'd allowed to do this with, and improve rental laws in favour of the renter.Things can be done on a smaller scale, because unfortunately overturning an entire ideology with which 99 per cent of people are indoctrinated from birth (I certainly was, though thankfully my dad had some 'radical' views too) would take years of mass therapy (which is depressing)

Ah, I meant 'you' as in 'one' (this ambiguity has prob caused more arguments than almost anything else in the English language!). Pretty much agree with all that, just making the point that by shipping ex-council tenants out of London, the Tories are intent on making ghettoes a la France. Only thing I'd say - while mixed families are a barometer, the sexualisation of race can be one of the most fucked up things ever, so I'd be more interested in mixed friendship groups/community groups (and properly mixed, in class too). Actually, in both cases it depends to what extent racism is admitted as a real entity within the couple/group. Which is to say, the number of cases I've seen where this is not true, and where power dynamics based upon societal racism are played out and totally disavowed, is too high to count.

Are we talking Cowley Road btw (that's the area I know), or further east? Totally agree that a lot of hot air is spoken about how mixed London is. Obv some pockets are, but the amount of segregation in other (most?) areas is off the chart.

Mr. Tea
22-01-2013, 01:36 PM
Yes yes, but you're collapsing into an 'everything is relative' zone there (or would if you continued along that line of argument).

Well the simple fact is that it is - things we think of as basic necessary amenities were considered luxuries in recent historical times. Though I concede that this isn't really a fruitful road to go down as you soon end up in "Just be grateful you don't have rickets and weren't working down the coal mine when you were three" territory, so I'll leave it there.


I think it's clear, in 2013, that as 'we' (the West) can provide clean water and food to live to everyone on the planet, 'we' should (or rather, facilitate it happening by giving shitloads of money - obv as above, this won't happen).

Is this really the case, though? About food, I mean? The global flow of food is generally from developing countries to developed ones, isn't it? And surely I'm not the first person to point out how problematic it is to approach all questions of overseas poverty simply by throwing aid at them. I mean it completely destroys the local economy and ends up causing aid dependency, which is exactly what you don't want if you're trying to promote meaningful development. The countries that are now developed didn't get that way by being given "shitloads of money" - they achieved it primarily through the development of industry.


And in terms of rich people buying to let, you could cap the number of houses they'd allowed to do this with, and improve rental laws in favour of the renter.

Just some sort of sensible cap on the amount of rent you can charge for a given property type in a given area would make a huge difference.


Only thing I'd say - while mixed families are a barometer, the sexualisation of race can be one of the most fucked up things ever...

Of course you can never tell these things from the outside, but it generally looks like ordinary married (or not) couples where one parent - perhaps the dad, perhaps the mum - is non-white while the other is white. Rather than white girls fetishizing the hypersexual Negro or whatever.


Are we talking Cowley Road btw (that's the area I know), or further east?

Yeah, Cowley Road and environs, not Cowley proper/Blackbird Leys further east, which I gather is a bit of a shithole.

baboon2004
22-01-2013, 02:09 PM
1/ Yeah, it's not a fruitful line of enquiry to say the least. First, starvation/death form preventable disease sucked in whatever era. Second, whether diseases now weren't preventable 200 years ago is neither here nor there - we're not comparing eras, but rather rich and poor areas in the same era.

2/ The major flow in the world is of resources (of many kinds) out of the majority world into the minority world. I wasn't being entirely serious about throwing money at the issue, obviously - cessation of resource exploitation would work way better. As would leaving people to sort out their own affairs, rather than stealing from poorer nations and then sending money back as 'aid'. But first the West needs to stop stealing - that's at the root of this all. Talking about 'aid dependency' is naive at best, patronising and disingenous in the extreme at worst - just send back the fucking money/resources that're being stolen, or better still don't fucking steal it. Aid doesn't destroy economies; an international structure devoted to theft and appropriation does.

Rather than handing back 'aid' as if giving pocket money to a child, and then worrying whether people might become dependent on the scraps being sent in the absence of any other choice, the real wealth available to them being systematically siphoned off to countries thousands of miles away. Much more truthful to talk about the dependency of Westerners upon consumer goods/a certain kind of unsustainable lifestyle, rather than designate poor people as the ones who are 'dependent'. It is that first kind of dependency that is the problem.

3/ Rent caps, definitely. Agreed.

4/ Sure, but structurally-rooted racism doesn't need to be blatant, to be present and to infect any relationship. We'd hardly assume that all married men had transcended sexism. I've witnessed a fair number of mixed couples where the white person has done something (or more likely, not done something) unforgivable re race. I say unforgivable, but of course abuses don't prevent relationships from persisting, when society totally condones those same abuses.

Of course this can be true in friendship too, I know. I guess I was trying to get to an idea of what a mixed society would actually mean (don't have an easy answer)

5/ Well, Blackbird Leys is (or at least, was) one of the poorest areas in southern England, no?

Mr. Tea
22-01-2013, 05:37 PM
What's "patronising" about the idea of aid dependency? It's a pretty well established phenomenon, isn't it?

There's the added depressing problem that aid is very often just hoovered up by local elites and the people it was meant to help end up never seeing a penny of it.



5/ Well, Blackbird Leys is (or at least, was) one of the poorest areas in southern England, no?

Well of course it's poor. It has a rep for huge crime rates and general social dysfunction, which in general go hand in hand with poverty.

Slothrop
22-01-2013, 05:40 PM
2/ The major flow in the world is of resources (of many kinds) out of the majority world into the minority world. I wasn't being entirely serious about throwing money at the issue, obviously - cessation of resource exploitation would work way better. As would leaving people to sort out their own affairs, rather than stealing from poorer nations and then sending money back as 'aid'. But first the West needs to stop stealing - that's at the root of this all. Talking about 'aid dependency' is naive at best, patronising and disingenous in the extreme at worst - just send back the fucking money/resources that're being stolen, or better still don't fucking steal it. Aid doesn't destroy economies; an international structure devoted to theft and appropriation does.

Can you clarify / give examples for what you mean by "being stolen" here?

Mr. Tea
22-01-2013, 05:57 PM
Not to answer for baboon, but I guess he's talking about things like foreign-owned companies extracting mineral wealth from third-world countries and paying their workers an absolute pittance, that sort of thing.

baboon2004
23-01-2013, 11:31 AM
Not to answer for baboon, but I guess he's talking about things like foreign-owned companies extracting mineral wealth from third-world countries and paying their workers an absolute pittance, that sort of thing.

yeah, pretty much. How can, for example, the DRC be one of the poorest countries in the world, whilst being one of the most mineral-rich? Hmm...

There are some brilliant books about the 'shadow economy' around (i.e. all the flows of cash under the counter, which of course include huge profits from natural resources) - the one I read and can recommend:

Nordstrom, C. (2004) Shadows of War: Violence, Power, and International Profiteering in the Twenty-First Century (Berkeley: University of California Press) - happily, she's a brilliant writer too, it's written in more of an anecdotal style than anything overly academic.

http://www.globalwitness.org/ - lots of stuff here I'm sure.

baboon2004
23-01-2013, 11:49 AM
What's "patronising" about the idea of aid dependency? It's a pretty well established phenomenon, isn't it?

There's the added depressing problem that aid is very often just hoovered up by local elites and the people it was meant to help end up never seeing a penny of it.

Well of course it's poor. It has a rep for huge crime rates and general social dysfunction.

Re elites in developing world countries, totally agreed. But then those elites are often chosen, more or less, by the West - see what's happening in Mali at present - the West is militarily upholding an unelected junta, from what I can tell). Leaders genuinely in favour of improving the lot of their own people, don't tend to go down well with the West, because a natural result of that is that the leader in question wouldn't simply allow Western companies to come in and take what they want (with generous payoffs for the elites, natch). They tend to get dubbed 'socialist' or 'communist', as if these were dirty words! A

'Aid dependency' - well-established by people with an investment in it being well-established, yep, i.e. those with an interest in keeping power relations precisely as skewed as they have always been. But from any kind of viewpoint that wants people's lots to improve, it's deeply suspicious.

Maybe an analogy is best, with the way the Right in the UK talks about the benefits system, and so-called 'welfare dependency'. So poor people are prevented from getting jobs (in which they will anyway be little more than slave labourers) by the economic cataclysm prompted by reckless exploitation of the finance system blah blah. Then the same poor people are told that while they will still be given money to live (benefits/aid), they should really be trying to get a job (that doens't exist), and that their benefits will be withdrawn because we don't want to get you dependent upon money to eat, do we?

It's the same absurd abusive (and implicitly threatening with destitution) logic, except in an international context. EXCEPT, on top of everything else, the original wealth is being nicked from the poor in the 'developing world' in the first place! And then they're told they're becoming dependent upon aid. 'Patronising' is not the right word, you're right; a stronger word is needed.

re Blackbird Leys, I mean that it's only a shithole in the sense that it's poor. And huge crime rates because it's poor. Poverty is the cause of all the other stuff, which I'm sure we're in agreement about anyways.

baboon2004
23-01-2013, 12:08 PM
Another thing I think is really important (and deserves its own thread) is the bias towards right-wing ideas that is inscribed into academia, as a result of rich, right-wing people having more money to fund research. So, personally speaking, when I was studying this stuff (war in the DRC specifically), very obvious, coherent criticisms of Western multinationals were to be found not in the 'star' journals, but in smaller journals no-one has ever heard of.

That documentary 'Inside Job' (the one narrated by Matt Damon) had a really interesting segment on how academics were being bought off in 2006-7 or whenever to pretend that the Icelandic economy was in excellent shape, whereas any basic analysis showed that to be ludicrous. Harvard academics signed off on these papers, paid for by the banks, and then loads of people invested, cos, like, Harvard says it's true.

And that's a blatant example, of course. More generally, ion a day-to-day basis, pressure is on academics to endorse hegemonic ideas and not to state really obvious criticisms of them. So you get articles going on about why the DRC is so poor, yet somehow neglecting to mention that, perhaps, you know, we might like to look at what's happening to all those minerals (without just blaming those devilish Rwandans and leaving it at that, the scoundrels - cos, of course, they just kept the diamonds in their rooms as keepsakes...). Objectively, the level of scholarship is often risible.

Would be interested to get the views of any Dissensian academics.

baboon2004
23-01-2013, 12:41 PM
http://mg.co.za/article/2012-03-30-uranium-a-minefield-for-malians/ - quite good on resource extraction and Mali (from last year though)

Mr. Tea
23-01-2013, 03:34 PM
Maybe an analogy is best, with the way the Right in the UK talks about the benefits system, and so-called 'welfare dependency'. So poor people are prevented from getting jobs (in which they will anyway be little more than slave labourers) by the economic cataclysm prompted by reckless exploitation of the finance system blah blah. Then the same poor people are told that while they will still be given money to live (benefits/aid), they should really be trying to get a job (that doens't exist), and that their benefits will be withdrawn because we don't want to get you dependent upon money to eat, do we?

It's not that there are literally no jobs - otherwise immigrants wouldn't be coming here in their droves to do them. What there is, is jobs that pay less than what a lot of people are prepared to work for. No-one is literally "prevented" from doing jobs, but they may feel disinclined to do them if the wages they'd receive don't compare favourably to benefits they get from being unemployed. Why do you think so many east Europeans work here as seasonal farm labourers? It's because they've come from countries that don't have a social-security safety net, or at best a very minimal one. Unemployed Brits aren't being prevented by force from doing those jobs, are they?

Also I think you're grossly abusing the concept of "slavery" here. A slave has no choice not to work, and (the recent egregious "Workfare" scandal excepted) no-one is holding a gun to anyone's head and saying stack shelves, or else.

I understand that you're angry over Tory rhetoric about feckless scroungers and all the rest of it and I feel the same way, but I think you go so far the other way as to be unrealistic. I've been unemployed before and I could have walked straight down to the local Tesco at any time and asked if they had any vacancies. Did I? Course I fucking didn't. You can hardly blame people for not wanting to do menial jobs for very little money, especially in societies with enormous inequality and a high cost of living. There is obviously a real problem here and the way to solve it would be for these kinds of vital but unglamorous jobs to pay a decent living wage, rather than chipping away at the benefits system.

And yes, it goes without saying that to blame the present crisis on overly generous social spending rather than idiotic casino capitalism is an enormous lie, I mean that's not even open to debate among anyone who's seen the figures involved.

baboon2004
23-01-2013, 03:56 PM
I should have qualified - job that pays a living wage and is recompensed to any reasonable extent. I agree, I should have qualified, but you got my drift anyways. And as you say (and I understand why, of course), economic immigration/world inequalities influence this, and create conditions where living wages are much less likely to be paid. Solution - enforce the living wage and acknowledge the realities of 'illegal' immigration/easy exploitation of both immigrants coming here to work and people already in the UK. Of course there is no political will to do this.

I was saying 'little more than slave labourers', rather than actual slaves - wage slavery, really. Which the wikipedia page describes as 'quasi-voluntary slavery', which is more useful a term than I'd have come up with on my own. The illusion of choice - I don't think it's an gross abuse of the concept at all (although qualification is necessary, agreed) - in fact it's a very useful linkage, in the sense that chains need not be literal**. But I think you agree with this in general from what you've said above, just not the use of the term.

**
"Before the American Civil War, Southern defenders of African American slavery invoked the concept of wage slavery to favorably compare the condition of their slaves to workers in the North.With the advent of the industrial revolution, thinkers such as Proudhon and Marx elaborated the comparison between wage labor and slavery in the context of a critique of societal property not intended for active personal use;

Abraham Lincoln and the republicans did not challenge the notion that those who spend their entire lives as wage laborers were comparable to slaves, though they argued that the condition was different, as laborers were likely to have the opportunity to work for themselves in the future, achieving self-employment" - from Wikipedia, just thought it was interesting to show that the comparison between wage labour and slavery was well established even at the time of the Atlantic Slave Trade, among various groups. And in the present system, how likely is it that someone forced into wage labour will suddenly become self-employed?

Not to mention that for the majority of black Americans, actual slavery has simply been replaced over the years by an overarching system of wage labour and prison/similar for those who resist.

Chomsky on this - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oztdRo9GLLk Gist: "Free people do not rent themselves to others."


PS No-one was holding a gun to anyone's head during Workfare, only a metaphorical gun of the type of which I'm talking - threat of destitution. Even in Workfare, the threat was implicit (or at least the Tories try to deny it was actually there, and that there are all other kinds of considerations that need to be taken into account, it's not as simple as losing benefits blah blah blah), in the same way as the more general threat is now implicit: 'we are cutting benefits, take a job whatever it is, or else'. And not accepting workfare is far from the only morally repugnant way in which people are being pushed off benefits, there are loads of ways this can happen - Lewis put me onto a great book recently, Ivor Southwood's Non-Stop Inertia, which details this better than I ever could. People are effectively forced into jobsearching even where it is pointless, etc etc, else they forfeit benefits. The very state of being on benefits is being made untenable, by pushing people into a state of constant surveillance.

Mr. Tea
23-01-2013, 11:20 PM
Well what's the alternative? I can see that on a micro scale, collective ownership of enterprises would mean that profits are shared by the workers rather than skimmed off to pay dividends to investors (leaving aside the fact that above a certain size of business, a certain amount of capital is generally required even to get going in the first place and it's hard to see how this can be raised without investment). OK, great. But someone still has to hold to keys to the cash box. Extend that to the macro level and you've basically got Soviet/Maoist-style tyranny where private enterprise is banned and everyone is simply a wage-slave of the state rather a private company. I mean look at China today, the country is no less capitalist than ours, they're just far more efficient at it.

baboon2004
24-01-2013, 10:32 AM
Well what's the alternative? I can see that on a micro scale, collective ownership of enterprises would mean that profits are shared by the workers rather than skimmed off to pay dividends to investors (leaving aside the fact that above a certain size of business, a certain amount of capital is generally required even to get going in the first place and it's hard to see how this can be raised without investment). OK, great. But someone still has to hold to keys to the cash box. Extend that to the macro level and you've basically got Soviet/Maoist-style tyranny where private enterprise is banned and everyone is simply a wage-slave of the state rather a private company. I mean look at China today, the country is no less capitalist than ours, they're just far more efficient at it.

Well, that's what needs to be thought about - that's the whole project of making a better world, right? The answer is never going to be simple, to dismantle a system that is all-consuming. Some of the stuff we've talked about would be a start (drastic limitations on ownership, proper checks and balances rather than the judiciary being in thrall to the politicians etc etc). Just because the answers are hard to reach, and hazy at this point because we have both been brought up and indoctrinated into a particular all-encompassing system (although it has got worse during our lifetimes, I would argue), doesn't mean that they shouldn't be sought. Anyone who thinks (and I'm not at all implying this is what you said) the capitalist world in 2013 is the best world possible, would be so pessimistic as to be clinically depressed in a very real sense. It's only even bearable for us because we are at the very top of the tree, the top 1%, in terms of the world. Can't argue, with Goethe, again, as quoted on another thread: "“None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free" - this is exactly what the current system of capitalism relies upon to safeguard the power of those at the very top (so the 1% of the 1%, or however you want to phrase it)

I would say that changes have to be made at the personal level, in order to stop kids imbibing the ideology of capitalism from day one, and therefore believing that 'this is the way people are', rather than it being a specific ideological system. Introducing psychotherapy and its (still totally radical, depressingly enough) ideas into the school curriculum would be a start, so that the psychotic accumulation of wealth/things can be understood for what it is, rather than something to be aimed towards. Society gets better at a stroke - people stop punishing others and/or relentlessly seeking status at their expense as an alternative to sorting out their own issues. Or at least they get better at it). ***

Of course China is capitalist - but I don't understand your connection and how that follows from the previous sentence about 'Soviet-style tyranny' (which is a tired thing to say when you trot it out without any discussion of what life was/is actually like for people, certainly in comparison to Russia now under capitalism - the discussion needs to be had, not just buried under dismissive phrases. There's a great article on this that I annoyingly can't find at the moment. Sure lots of things were fucked up, but what happened post-1992 was worse for the majority). China's not more efficient at it necessarily, they're in the earlier stages and therefore can commit more human rights abuses/pay ultra-low wages with impunity. Like Britain during the Industrial Revolution, I guess.

A certain model of capitalism certainly 'won' on the world stage, but that connotes nothing about whether it is the best system for human beings to live under (it obviously isn't, as the most powerful people are the ones who are truly mentally ill in their pursuit of money at all costs. The world is run by people who would be considered psychotic addicts** in any other scenario, essentially. And they hold those keys to the cash box....).

** and this point has been made again and again by lots of people, not just by me and Bret Easton Ellis

*** my personal view is that the reason socialist revolutions never work is because the people leading them have studied Marx but never Freud (I oversimplify, I'm not a Freudian, but you get the point). Without the other, each one is effectively useless (Erich Fromm wrote well on this). It is of course interesting that both are still utterly radical 150 and 100 years after their main body of work (or however long it is) - shows how utterly reactionary Western society has become.

craner
24-01-2013, 04:39 PM
I don't think more Freud (one of the most specious thinkers to affect the Twentieth Century) would've really helped matters along; in fact, you could argue that when Marxists did get hold of him, it rather retarded (or neutuered) their praxis. For example, Althusser. The extent to which French neo-Marxist philosphers maimed the left in the 70s and 80s (and not just in France) is a remarkable and almost untold story. And that was partly to do with Freud.

baboon2004
24-01-2013, 04:59 PM
I don't think more Freud (one of the most specious thinkers to affect the Twentieth Century) would've really helped matters along; in fact, you could argue that when Marxists did get hold of him, it rather retarded (or neutuered) their praxis. For example, Althusser. The extent to which French neo-Marxist philosphers maimed the left in the 70s and 80s (and not just in France) is a remarkable and almost untold story. And that was partly to do with Freud.

I'd like to hear more of that story - I have no doubt that taking/retaining the wrong parts of Freud (the areas in which his thought was reactionary) could have catastrophic effects.

My intention was certainly not to defend Freud in total, or Freudians in general**, although I think to describe Freud as specious would be to disregard the fact that some of his ideas were remarkable and that he remains an incredibly important figure. My point was more than without reforming the internal reality of people, a reform of society can only ever be partial (and often lapses into failure/goes into reverse). And the reverse is true - no point of going through psychoanalysis if it doesn't encourage you to see society more clearly as well as yourself (as in essence, questioning presumptions about yourself will inevitably lead to a similar questioning of presumptions in a wider context). Or rather, you have a shit analyst if that's not the result.*

*The problem is, sadly, that so many psychoanalysts are unwilling to interrogate their own, overwhelmingly bourgeois, social circumstances (and social inequality in general). And what hope is there for the client if the analyst is in denial about 'difficult' things about him/herself.

** though in the scale of psychoanalytical cuntery, Lacan and his acolytes loom above everyone.

craner
24-01-2013, 05:21 PM
I sincerely recommend reading this (http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Psychoanalytic-Movement-Paladin-Books/dp/0586084363/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_nC?ie=UTF8&colid=WCF8KVUN7BVR&coliid=I1HK6A3BAO3TPS) and this (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Decline-Fall-Freudian-Empire-Eysenck/dp/0765809451/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_nC?ie=UTF8&colid=WCF8KVUN7BVR&coliid=I2JQ9O47FJH309) if you can spare the time.

baboon2004
24-01-2013, 05:36 PM
Probably can at some stage - it looks interesting. I reject the idea of a single 'language of psychoanalysis', but that might just be the blurb and not what Gellman says. The splits within the discipline are legendary, in terms of language as well as almost everything else. One of the things I like about the best psychoanalytic writers is precisely that they are able to debunk the medicalisation of so-called 'mental health conditions', medicalisation which occurs partly through the privileging of a certain kind of scientificised language (the idea of 'schizophrenia' for example, has been hugely influential. And also of depression as some medical condition rather than just as a learned mode of behaviour through, primarily, families). I would say these terms from psychiatry have become far more mainstream than psychoanalytic concepts, a lot of which are barely acknowledged. Obv this may be completely not what the book is about, just a comment.

Also problematic: "makes unsubstantiated claims concerning its therapeutic efficacy". In my experience the claims made are often pretty conservative, and anyways, vary hugely within psychoanalysis as a whole.

From a reader review: "His description of transference is so awful I felt it dishonest in that it's description only served his argument. Although published in the 1980's, he also ignores recent developments and focuses almost singularly on Freud and his, very human, failings." May not be true, but in my experience critiques of psychoanalysis that purport to be addressing the whole discipline generally do something similar. Does he address Winnicott, Bowlby*, Fairbairn, Laing...? And having a terrible grasp of the basic concepts...well, that's quite typical in my experience among people who set out to rubbish the whole discipline. It's almost as if they've made their minds up beforehand!

* Attachment theory, or rather what I know of it as I'm hardly an expert, is full of concepts that I have found completely revelatory. They explain so much about, well, how people are. Who'd have guessed parents could be so influential!?

Mr. Tea
15-02-2013, 10:23 AM
OK, so some ideas about slavery, freedom and all the rest.

First, the claim that "None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free". A snappy soundbite, for sure, but is it true? I believe I am considerably more free than, say, most black people in Alabama were in 1800. Or the average woman in modern-day Iran - in fact, the average person in modern-day Iran, full stop. Or, you know, the North Koreans. Would you quibble with this? Or would you seriously claim that my conception of my own (relative) freedom actually makes me *less* free than someone who is literally a slave, or a subject in a totalitarian (be it fascist, theocratic, Marxist-Leninist...) state?

Another problem with it is that it's unfalsifiable, in that anyone's claim to freedom can simply be turned around and use as evidence for their unfreedom. This can equally well be done from a religious perspective as from an anti-capitalist one; I'm sure plenty of Christian fundamentalists are convinced the 99.5% of the world that doesn't follow their own narrow interpretation of that particular religion are enslaved by Satan. And Satan, being the Father of Lies, has as his most powerful weapon the illusion of freedom and self-mastery. Can you see the similarity in approach here?

And without wishing to get bogged down in a very well-trodden what-is-freedom debate, I think it is worth giving some thought to what we actually mean by the word. I'm sure I don't have to point out that absolute universal freedom is logically impossible in any society bigger than a single person living on a desert island. I'm not free to run out into the street and stab to death the first person I come across, or at least, in practical terms, I wouldn't be free for much longer if I did. This is a good thing, isn't it? Rights that ensure our freedom from the violence of others necessarily curtail the freedom to commit violence, at the very least. And in economic terms, rights that ensure our freedom from exploitation necessarily curtail the freedom to exploit; but where does 'exploitation' begin? Your definition seems to encompass any form of employment by a private enterprise...

The reason I mentioned 'Soviet-style tyranny' on the last page is a result of your extremely broad definition of "slavery" (which I still vehemently disagree with, BTW). You seem to be using the term to cover pretty much any situation whereby one person employs another. So in order to abolish "slavery", you'd basically have to ban all private enterprise other than self-employment - which is a bit ironic since self-employed people naturally tend to be economically quite right-wing.

Sorry if I've misconstrued you but that seems to be the inescapable conclusion of your argument.

baboon2004
15-02-2013, 10:49 AM
But the quote in question says 'more hopelessly enslaved' rather than 'more enslaved'. It's making a very good point about how, if you can't even see the things enslaving you (construed broadly, including chains of the mind), then you have no chance whatsoever of ever escaping those binds. If you can at least conceptualise of what it is that is limiting your freedom (albeit that this is something massive), then you have a chance of eventually being free. Which is pretty obviously true, I think. Sure, it's expressed with a rhetorical flourish, but it makes a useful point.

You're right that claims to freedom/unfreedom are unfalsifiable, sure. Doesn't make it not worth discussing.

I think the points about employment are well worth considering. Of course they go against decades of hegemonic thinking, which makes it difficult to even raise these questions without people getting defensive.

"Self-employed people naturally tend to be economically quite right-wing" - I don't understand this at all. My aim would certainly be to be self-employed, and I don't think I'm going to suddenly turn into a Thatcher worshipper!

I'd simply say that (economic/wage) slavery is a (very long) continuum, which is the predominant mode of labour interaction in the world today. Of course I'm very near one end, so that the extent to which I am not free to do as I please is relatively minor (although still appreciable - most people in the UK have to work a certain number of days in order to afford to live, simply because that is the way the capitalist imperative of accumulation forces everything to be set up - it has little to do with genuine need. A three-day week would easily be possible if people had been driven less mad, and I'm sure you'd agree that this would give everyone appreciably more freedom.). Many billions are deep in slavery around the world - it's the logical consequence of a consumer capitalist system such as we have now.

Whatever language we wish to work, it is clear that the system we live under now (whether you want to call it capitalism, consumerism, or whatever) dramatically limits what people are free to do with their lives, by threatening destitution unless they comply with that system, and work five days a week (or however many necessary) to pay bills and buy the stuff they're/we're continually told that they must buy in order to 'be fulfilled'/assuage self-esteem difficulties etc etc (these goods of course being produced largely by people who are in the depths of slavery). And who are they (mostly) working to enrich? Usually not themselves to any significant degree (which would be the point of cooperative arrangements) - rather, the people who are, to all intents and purposes, their masters. It's a desperately poor vision of the possibilities of human beings, and one that seems to belong in 1813 rather than 2013. What happened to the better future?

Mr. Tea
15-02-2013, 12:06 PM
OK, well about self-employment first: I read something recently about how, if you look at a breakdown of the British electorate by employment type, self-employed people are (by what margin, I don't know) more likely to vote Tory and less likely to vote Labour than the population as a whole. Which I think makes sense, in that people who voted Labour - at least, historically - did so because they were employees who wanted a bigger slice of the cake and because business regulations benefited them. Whereas, as an employer, you're in charge of the cake and regulation tends to make your life more difficult. It's all just simple Randian self-interest. :D

Though I guess there's a distinction between being self-employed in the sense of running a one-man show, e.g. being a freelancer or consultant of some sort, and of running a small business that employs other people. I guess once you get above a certain size of business you're more likely to be a PLC, in which case the boss is no longer self-employed but is in a sense an employee of the board of investors.

(Also, I think there's a fair stretch of the economic spectrum between being just right-of-centre and being a "Thatcher worshipper" - but anyway.)

About the necessity of a five-day week, or of doing paid work in general. Of course it would be nice if this were unnecessary, but - at the risk of asking a clichéd question - what's the alternative? Utopian socialist ideas tend to describe a future society where everyone works together for the common good, and where no-one is exploited by anyone else - but there's still work to be done. At the most basic level, crops don't grow and harvest themselves. Maybe if wealth were directly available to the workers who create that wealth rather than being extracted by investors then we could all work a three-day or two-day week and enjoy the same standard of living, I don't know, but work would still have to be done.

Edit: sorry, I see you mention a three-day week in your post above. Well if I could earn the same money working three days a week instead of five then that would be great, who wouldn't want that?!

baboon2004
15-02-2013, 12:45 PM
Ah OK, gotcha. But I think there's a massive difference between people who are self-employed only to make more money (i.e. buy into capitalism in a big way, your so-called entrepreneurs', though what value most of them actually create is highly open to debate), and those who are self-employed because they (a) want to free themselves of the employer's shackles, and not reproduce that dynamic with them in the role of boss; and/or (b) do something of genuine worth to others that they don't see anyone else/many other people doing effectively, rather than to accumulate cash/capital, while of course earning a reasonable living doing it.

I think the very genuine problem is that the second type of person might over time turn into the first type of person, if they weren't careful. But I think that's a typical problem under capitalism, that a sick kind of Randian self-interest (!) can pervert people if they have not sorted out their own issues with self-esteem/fear etc etc. Which is, incidentally, where I see a large part of the problem coming from in regimes that set out to be socialist - so, for example, while Castro may have had lofty ideals in a lot of ways, he still thought it was OK to send gay people to camps, presumably because he hadn't bothered to interrogate his own prejudices. Which is to say, real political change is impossible without real psychological change - the oppressed simply adopt the roles of oppressors after a time, which is pretty heartbreaking.

Five-day week - definitely lots of alternatives. Of course these are pie in the sky as long as most people stay locked in the idea that: (a) all jobs are genuinely productive, rather than a great many of them being more about enriching already rich people; (b) five days a week/20-25 days annual leave (though in the US is it still closer to 10?) is somehow an arrangement ordained from above, rather than the best compromise that labour reformers could get from capitalists way back when; and (c) somewhere, deep down, they don't deserve any better than this arrangement. Also, it would help if even supposedly left-wing media stopped bowing to the god of constant growth, as being an inanimate arbiter of how successful a society is.

Agree totally that work still needs to be done - did you read Dan Hancox's book on Marinaleda btw? - but certainly not the levels/types of work we are 'told' are necessary.

http://www.neweconomics.org/blog/2010/02/15/21-hours-a-new-norm-for-the-working-week - as said, fanciful until there are other changes in the way people think, but something to aim for. Obv one of the main things preventing this is the artificial inflation of the housing market, at least in the UK, coupled with rental laws that make everyone feel insecure. Not sure how this compares to the Netherlands? I've heard Belgium is significantly better.

I always find it amazing the number of people who claim they would be 'bored' if they didn't work five days a week! Chilling.

Mr. Tea
15-02-2013, 03:42 PM
Even 'entrepreneur' is a highly ambiguous word, at least in terms of scale - I mean, it could mean Richard Branson, Steve Jobs or whoever, or it could mean some guy who runs a little café or a minicab firm. Someone who employs three people and has a turnover of a few hundred grand a year.

But I'm not really talking about people who set up enormous companies, since they can end up forming monopolies, influencing government policy and doing all sorts of other things that are generally detrimental to most people's freedom - I think someone who has a business idea, takes some risks, invests their own (literal and figurative) capital and works hard to make it happen deserves to enjoy the fruit of their labours. Although not everyone thinks that, I mean 'entrepreneur' may be a French word but the current French government doesn't like entrepreneurs very much. Did you know that every time a business changes hands in France the government helps itself to over 60% of the value in tax? That's absolutely outrageous! And it's clearly not even 'real' socialism, if we define socialism very loosely as a system whereby people work together to help each other - it's pretty much state kleptocracy, a system whereby a vastly bloated state is parasitic on those who actually create wealth.

In analogous way, the system operating in the UK isn't in any meaningful sense a 'free market', since big business constantly influences (you might say 'dictates', in fact) government policy, and at the same time relies on public money to operate, both by taxpayer subsidies for expensive PPP initiatives and, more recently, huge cash bailouts for appallingly mismanaged and overexposed banks. Hence that line about "socialism for bankers, the free market for everyone else" line that I remember you liked.

I dunno, I do genuinely hope there is a viable alternative to shitty pseudo-free-market capitalism and shitty pseudo-socialism.

Edit: yeah, I read Dan's book, very inspiring I thought. There just seems to be such a huge conceptual as well as practical gap between that kind of system working for a small township and for a whole country with however many tens of millions of people.

baboon2004
15-02-2013, 05:01 PM
re entrepreneurs, I'd tend to be interested in what way what they've done makes the world a better place, rather than simply creating more things for people to consume/creating new desire without bettering quality of life. Part of the issue must be getting people to recognise alternative forms of remuneration/satisfaction for what they do other than cold, hard cash, but that applies across the board. I think that change needs to be at the centre of everything, but it's hard to see such a real change happening when the system, such as it is, encourages people to feel incredibly fearful about falling through the cracks, esp through housing policy. So change for me needs to begin with the reversal of the dismantling of the welfare state, more social housing etc. All the usual stuff. Then more interesting things can happen - but as long as people are kept in a constant state of fear/jealousy/oneupmanship/consumerism to fill the void, then....

re the issues of scale - i'm always intrigued to see how smaller countries manage their societies. it's easier to see relatively radical alternatives working in a country of 6 million (or less) rather than 60 million.

Mr. Tea
15-02-2013, 07:06 PM
Is it the moral duty of someone who starts a business to "make the world a better place"? If you sell food that people like or, I dunno, paint people's houses and do a good job of it, or run a pub that locals enjoy coming to, then you're making at least one very small corner of the world a better place, aren't you?

And what's wrong with creating things for other people to consume? In a world where no-one did that, we'd all either be subsistence farmers or starve to death. Doesn't sound too great to me.

baboon2004
16-02-2013, 02:32 PM
Is it the moral duty of someone who starts a business to "make the world a better place"? If you sell food that people like or, I dunno, paint people's houses and do a good job of it, or run a pub that locals enjoy coming to, then you're making at least one very small corner of the world a better place, aren't you?

And what's wrong with creating things for other people to consume? In a world where no-one did that, we'd all either be subsistence farmers or starve to death. Doesn't sound too great to me.

And I'd agree that the things you've mentioned are making the world a better place. But there are lots of things being produced which are aimed mainly at the conspicuous consumer, or more widely at filling a supposed void which consumerism (or its evil branch, advertising) has itself created in order to sell things to people to fill that void - I don't think they add very much to the world tbh. Also, the things you've mentioned are unlikely to earn someone a fortune, and they're not profitting majorly off the labour of other people (assuming the pub owner treats his staff well, pays well etc, ). The 'entrepreneurs' who earn a fortune are almost invariably doing so by exploiting the labour of others (often through conditions of slavery in order to maximise profits), which is the crux of this - they haven't 'earned' their money just because they came up with an idea for a gadget or whatever.

Re consumption, the problem, as I see it, is not that people consume stuff per se, obviously not, but that we live in a world where people value their own consumption above anything else, including (and especially) the well-being of other humans, and also their own betterment as people (using what you have as a substitute for what you could be, blah blah). That's fucked and makes all of us accomplices to oppression. Much of the world has come to revolve around people's lust for things; the more money people have, the more many of them waste it on absolute shit they don't need in any conceivable way, as you can see from the - booming during a recession for the rest of the world - market for luxury goods (though obviously it is instructive as to how empty this approach is, that many rich people end up giving a lot of money away to 'good causes'. Pity they couldn't have realised this beforehand, though, and they might have been less keen to exploit other people in order to earn a fortune).

And to answer your initial question, it is the moral duty of anyone who starts a business not to exploit others. After that, making the world a better place would be nice, don't you think?

And to bring it back to freedom: the reason many people want to be rich is that they realise that the alternative involves always living in a state where there is little freedom from others instructing you what to do, because of fear of destitution. How much better if they devoted their energies not to solipsistically freeing themselves while enslaving others (as above), but to helping to free everyone (by altering this system in some way)?

Mr. Tea
17-02-2013, 09:53 PM
Well yeah, this is why I was keen to differentiate between the 'entrepreneur' who just wants to make a decent living, support his/her family and save a bit for a comfortable retirement vs. the mad(wo)man hell-bent on Taking Over The World, Pinky-&-The-Brain style. So we'd both agree that someone of the latter persuasion is quite likely, directly or indirectly, to be contributing to exploitative labour practices that may effectively amount to slavery. But the thing is, a really hardcore Marxist-Leninist would consider even our humble pub owner to be 'exploiting' his staff if, at the end of the day, he owns the pub as a private business rather than a workers' cooperative, regardless of how well he treats them or whether he pays them above the going rate for bar staff of whatever. So the only way to safeguard people's freedom from this 'exploitation' is to have draconian laws that make it difficult or completely impossible to actually run a private business at all (hence my comment about Soviet-style tyranny).

Then consumerism is a whole other thing, and I agree that it does drive people to do incredibly irrational things but again you can end up on a slippery slope of bringing in authoritarian, paternalistic laws ostensibly to ensure the 'freedom' of the general public. If you think aspirational advertising is a bad thing, and I'd have to agree that I can't really see it as a force for good in the world, what can you do to try and curtail its influence that doesn't end up infantilizing the public, just as we currently do with drug laws that are predicated on the idea that people have to be protected from themselves? Of course the Right tends to fetishize choice and self-determination as if everyone were operating in a vacuum, unaffected by external social and cultural conditions and their own personal circumstances, but I think the Left can end up at the opposite extreme, treating everyone like they're deterministic automata entirely at the mercy of these external forces, with no choice in anything they do.

Eventually you just have to accept that a fundamental level, measures intended to safeguard certain sorts of freedom will inevitably curtail other sorts of freedom. There's an irreducible bottom line.

Mr. Tea
17-02-2013, 10:07 PM
Also, about the gaping chasm between big business and small business. My brother is I guess you would say a web entrepreneur of sorts - he makes a good living but has no interest in Trying To Take Over The World, in fact he's extremely active (via parliamentary advisory panels, that sort of thing) in attempting to prevent the people who control the movement of digital information from taking over the world, or at least in trying to slow them down a bit. Anyway. A couple of years ago, he received a tax bill from HMRC, paid it and them promptly got a threatening second demand. He rang them up and explained that there'd been a mistake, and their response was "Oh sorry, right you are, our mistake. BTW you still have to pay the second bill, we'll give it back to you as a discount on next year's bill". I mean seriously, what the fuck? Of course he'd have had every moral right to tell them to go fuck themselves but if he'd done that, he could have ended up in prison for evading a tax bill he'd already paid! So of course he had no choice but to pay again, for which he had to take out a loan, which isn't free - and if his circumstances had been precarious anyway, it might have meant bankruptcy.

Now compare that to the UK operations of Google, Facebook and so on, which don't even have to worry about paying their corporation tax once, let alone twice. All of which just goes to show how ludicrous it is that the Tories try and pose as the party of the small businessman, the shopkeeper, the publican. Bullshit. I mean Labour never pretended to be the friend of small or big business until Blair's leadership, since the whole point of the party was originally to protect employees from exploitation by employers.

sufi
18-02-2013, 03:15 PM
http://www.irr.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/State_of_the_Nation_4-300x255.jpg
slightly baffling chart from slightly baffling thinktank
from IRR on BF (http://www.irr.org.uk/news/british-future-and-the-new-patriotism/), which is worth a read - no comments from BF as yet?