On impulse one evening I decided to visit the circus. The show was over and as the audience was leaving, I remained in my seat so as to avoid the crowds bunching at the exit. As I sat and looked around, I noticed a small man near the rear of the tent with a shovel and a large battered bucket. I could see that he was busy removing a steaming mound of elephant dung. After observing for a while, I became curious and made my way over to speak to him.
‘That looks like hard work’ I said
He nodded but said nothing
‘How long have you been at this old timer?’
He paused from his work:
‘Must be nearly thirty years now’
‘So you must like it?’ I asked
He turned and looked at me
‘Its absolutely awful’ he said.
‘I have to work seven days a week and not a holiday since I can last remember. The pay is lousy and there are no medical benefits’
‘What about the living conditions?,’ I asked
‘They are disgusting; I sleep in a small bunk behind the elephant stalls. The smell of elephant farts is overwhelming’
‘At least you have the camaraderie of the circus family’ I offered
‘Not at all’ he said, ‘I am despised and treated despicably. I have been here thirty years and not three people know me by name’
‘Wow that sounds really bad’ I said, -‘Why don’t you give it up and try to find something else?’
He turned to face me;
‘And leave show business?’
We can only stand and stare in bewildered horror at developing conditions in Greece. In the face of ongoing and intensifying abuse, with no prospect of relief in the foreseeable future, why do Greeks seem determined carry on down this path? Why don’t Greeks seem to be able to see their own best interests?
Except of course this is all wrong, because there aren’t any Greeks. Because the majority of people living in the Greek territory have repeatedly voted to be part of Europe- which means they have voted not to be Greek- by definition.
To become a modem Germanic nation state (as Greece would need to be), means to be able to create and control your own finance, to make the laws and regulations that decide the way your society is run. Greeks have made it clear they do not want that. They do not want to be organised along Germanic lines- they want to be organised by Germans. I trust you can see the difference.
That a group should abandon the concept of modern Germanic independent nationhood is beyond comprehension to many people, especially of the left. Because this nationhood is central to the concept of economic rationale and the ‘left’. Without modern Germanic nationhood there can be no economic rationale and no ‘left’.
This stunned refusal to admit that a people can reject MG nationhood has given birth to the Oxymorons; a Greek chorus, that chants over and over: ‘SYRIZA has betrayed the Greek people!’
But you can’t betray the Greek people because there is no longer a Greek people to betray.
So why do the people living on the Greek territory want so badly to be European?
Because they distrust each other more than they distrust virtually anyone else. That is what a society made up of cultural constituencies is.
It is a failed state.
Both sides of the referendum debate; ‘in’ or ‘out’, offered extreme financial deprivation as a consequence of voting for them. Staying in the EU or leaving the EU inevitably involves long term suffering.
Both sides in the debate are cultural constituencies and cultural constituencies are not primarily interested in economic matters. And there is a reason for this: Cultural constituencies don’t care about economic matters because there is nothing that can be done about them. The choice is no longer a significant factor.
This point is of fundamental importance:
There is increasingly less and less an element of choice in the political and economic decisions that are being made in developed economies.
Margaret Thatcher famously said: ‘There Is No Alternative’ and after nearly fifty years of Monetarism her prognosis/proclamation is in the process of becoming indisputably true.
And since there is no longer any economic room for choice, the political basis for ‘left’ and ‘right’ is gone. What do they have to argue about? When people realise that there is no longer a significant economic choice they stop giving allegiance to traditional economic parties and instead give allegiance to cultural constituencies. This is what has happened in Greece.
But there is another, potentially frightening aspect of this to consider. Economic rationale has two component parts (that can be considered to be benefits), Economy is one and Rationalism is the other. When economic rationale goes, rationality goes with it. What happens when rationality is gone? Emotion takes over. There is clearly a psychological component to what we see unfolding in Greece and elsewhere.
Which brings us to Perry’s Cats.
Put in a bag and thrown in the river, the cats inside the bag try to kill each other in their last moments- what else can they do? For Schrödinger’s cat there was at least the possibility of survival. That’s not on offer – not this time around, if the river doesn’t kill you the other cats will.
This is the emotional content of cultural constituencies. Every cat in the Greek bag knows what is going to happen. There is no longer even an element of chance. So they fight each other. The blame each other. Which takes us to the United States of Everywhere.
The Business of America …Annie get your gun
The writing of F Scott Fitzgerald offers profound insights into American society, not the least of which is that the ‘Business Of America’ is and always has been… show business. Fitzgerald shows us that Americans conduct individual lives as though they are competing shows on Broadway. Everybody stands outside each respective theatre barking for custom and selling tickets. But the shows they want you to see are all the same.
Fitzgerald also understood that America is not interested in shaping the future, that has always been at best a secondary consideration; America is interested in shaping the past. Americans constantly want to impose order on what happened, when it happened, to whom it happened and why it happened.
The battle for American democracy and free speech is the freedom to tell individual and collective lies about the past. Contrary to what most people in the world believe, the American Dream is a dream about what did happen not what will happen.
In America there was never going to be any choice about the future because in America there was never any choice but capitalism. Even when there isn’t any capitalism anymore the choice is still only capitalism. Because in America culture and capitalism are one.
Nowhere better illustrated than in this startling cultural artefact:
The eponymous Annie, an archetypal German mädchen,
is dressed in faux Native American hides (I think they call this ‘cultural appropriation’ nowadays). She is surrounded by three men who are pretending to be American archetypes, except everyone knows there weren’t ever any Americans like this. They are all singing a song telling the girl that an inauthentic life of show business is the most authentic life anyone can have…
And everyone knows that the American rodeo circus was based on a myth but that doesn’t matter because anyway its a film of a stage musical of circus that never really was..
We know its all fake. They know we know. That is part of the ‘charm’ and since it is supposed to be ‘charming’ Americans expect the world to cheerfully take part.
Annie Is Divergent
When the USA elected Ronnie Regan to the Presidency it marked an irrevocable split with the rest of the globe. I don’t think any living American really understands the extent and the depth of this split and the way its effects persist to this day.
Intelligent Americans understand ‘Ronnie’ in the same way that they understand ‘Annie’, and they are surprised and somewhat resentful that everyone in the world couldn’t just go along. But they figure that with a little more musical jollying and a little more charm everyone can be persuaded. To see history ‘our’ way.
Unfortunately like Shirley Temple or JonBenét Ramsey, for the most part, the rest of the world is not buying. It’s a cultural thing. Think of Paul Craig Roberts defending Reaganomics and condemning Neo Liberalism without realising they are essentially the same thing.
This Charming Man
The truth of the Ronnie Regan persona in as far as it can be found, is in his portrayal of Jack Browning:
‘a gangster, posing as a legitimate businessman’ (Wiki)
in the 1964 film ‘The Killers’ with Lee Marvin, John Cassavetes and Angie Dickinson- excellent actors all.
This was apparently the only time Reagan played a villain and I think he is eminently suited to portraying a crude and devious business man who is quickly seen to be a lot less than he appears at first sight. The story goes that Ronnie regretted playing a villain in his last role. Perhaps he didn’t like giving the gag away before the final act.
The premise of the film is that ‘The Killers’ don’t have to try too hard to kill the John Cassavetes character in the first reel, because he wants to die. He knows what the future is. Which reminds us of Greece and Perry’s Cats..
And Ronnie Reagan brings us to Donald Trump; a famous American self made man (except of course he isn’t). Trump is perhaps most well known as the central protagonist in ‘The Apprentice’ a programme that portrays Capitalism as soap opera. (The English version shows Capitalism as farce. If you have any doubt in your mind how low faith in Capitalism has fallen in England, you should watch a little of this programme).
The narrative behind the Apprentice is that of a prolonged Job interview that is punctuated by people being fired. This is especially odd as the candidates don’t actually have a job to be fired from yet.
Another example of fabricating history, which by the way, is the only thing any of these people would be capable of actually fabricating.
In the course of his Presidential campaign Trump recently ran into a little difficulty when he trespassed onto Republican Senator John McCains personal history myth. There was outrage in the media that Trump should impugn another Americans God Given Right to make stuff up about himself so as to make himself appear favourably in the public eye. As of writing this Trump has agreed to tone it down, after all, it’s the American Way.
Trump represents the WhiteKochasian cultural constituency. And he tells them stories about what happened. The more elaborate and fanciful these historical constructions are, the more his constituency likes it. Which is obviously going to be the case if you think about it.
And in case anyone is of the opinion that this is all happening in a ‘far away country about which we know little’ I would remind you that we are all living in the United States of Everywhere.
Now let’s go on with the show….