Home » Backpacking in Thailand » Dialectical Materialism, Marx, Engels, Farage, Zelig, Trump an’ shit: what’s driving the revolt of the Disappointed?

Dialectical Materialism, Marx, Engels, Farage, Zelig, Trump an’ shit: what’s driving the revolt of the Disappointed?

Another fucking farrago

I’m astounded by the media this morning.

Even The Guardian seems convinced that the huckster, Farage is a person of importance, of standing, the very architect of Brexit (he couldn’t even get nominated as the official Leave spokesman), and it is fitting protocol that he should be showing his cheeky-chappie mush in the Trump Tower as Britain’s self-appointed ambassador, to be the first to congratulate his new pal Trumbo on his shit-kicking victory, ahead of either Mrs May or her ditzy blond buffoon of a Foreign Secretary.

It isn’t fitting, it’s a fucking embarrassing shambles, a humiliation for the British government, and when the limelight-grabbing little shyster gets back he should be sent immediately to another Tower, the Tower of London.

Why is no-one jumping up and down saying this? Is the hated liberal elite all so stunned by the way things have panned out lately that they’ve got nothing left (or right) to say?

Mr Johnson has clearly been too busy trying to wrestle the keys to Chevening off the trustees. That’s the agreeable country house normally reserved for the Foreign Secretary, that’s been given over to the ‘triumvirate’ who are supposed to be planning Brexit. Except it became a duumvirate after the trustees refused to let Johnson in, as he wouldn’t stop bickering over which rooms he should have for his own use.

“A friend of Mr Johnson said: “The hold-up is over deciding who would use it, when and where. It is like arguing over a caravan in South Wales.” – The Telegraph

Interesting that the Old Etonian, Mr Johnson’s friends apparently take their holidays caravanning in South Wales. Former miners, perhaps? Anyway, it seems the trustees have relented, so Mr Johnson can now turn his attentions to matters of State, possibly.

Trump won, Boris, did you hear? You can take back all that stuff you said about him.

As for Farage, someone has to tell Trump and the American people that he is of no account whatever. He is Zelig. He has no official standing in Britain, other than as (for the third time) the temporary leader of a disorganised rabble calling itself a political party, UKIP, which is hopelessly enmired in an undignified scramble for the leadership; a party that has only one member of Parliament, a former Conservative publicly regretting that he defected, Douglas Carswell, and he and Farage hate one anothers’ guts.

A privately educated former commodities broker who poses gracelessly as a man o’ the people, Mr Farage has seven times failed to win a seat in Parliament, so toxic is his brand, even in what would be considered a safe UKIP constituency. He thus scrapes a living on his generous salary and expenses as a member of the European Parliament, the very institution he has campaigned for over a decade to pull down around his and everyone else’s ears.

The kind of tiresome, arrogant bore you’ll find any evening, propping up the bar at the golf club, moaning about incomers and why doesn’t the Committee make the little holes bigger, the egotistical Farage has two things going for him, however. Colossal nerve, and an uncanny ability to court publicity.

Plus, he also seems to have tapped into the zeitgeist, as political ‘bubbles’ can be heard bursting all over the free world. Wrapped in the flag, he is very much of the new, darker era of the politics of confusion, the post-truth era of Mr Putin, in which anything goes, and everything goes.

Meanwhile, the corporates and the oligarchs are inheriting the earth.


Trusting the sources

In recent days the BogPo has received a number of enquiries regarding so-called ‘Fake news’, untrue stories being confected to influence political decisions and voting intentions and put about on social media such as Fakebook.

It is not a practice with which we would have any truck.

The BogPo maintains a large team of dedicated journalists housed in an affordable signature building in Boglington-on-Sea, whose job it is to fact-check such stories as ‘Queen to be taken up into a cloud, says Palace’, and ‘al Baghdadi nephew to run for White House in 2020’, that have appeared recently on popular websites such as Chatbot.com and Nigel.net.

We can therefore guarantee that 99% of our stories could be fairly accurate, given that our sources are often the press offices of political parties and BBC News.

But it is surely up to individuals to make up their own minds and to prepare themselves for a new and possibly more dangerous era of misleading news information by going to University and getting a good degree, nein?

Professor Doktor Ernst von-und-zu Bogl, Editor-at-Large, Boglheim-am-Rhein. (By appointment)

What’s driving the revolt of the Disappointed?

“This whole series of forms (mechanical, physical, chemical, biological and social) is distributed according to complexity from lower to higher. This seriation expresses their mutual bonds in terms of structure and in terms of history. The general laws of the lower forms of the motion of matter keep their validity for all the higher forms but they are subject to the higher laws and do not have a prominent role. They change their activity because of changed circumstances. Laws can be general or specific, depending on their range of applicability. The specific laws fall under the special sciences and the general laws are the province of diamat.” – Alexander Sirkin, Dialectical Materialism (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dialectical_materialism)

This incomprehensible quote, for those who can’t get away from their Instagram memes long enough to digest the whole of Das Kapital, succinctly defines the basis of Marxism. I defy you to get from this bumbling, confused and amateurish attempt to reconcile mid-Victorian scientific thought, the ‘laws’ of matter and its relationship to social development, to the idea that all rich people are bastards and we should overthrow the System!

Marxism is based on ideas of hierarchy formulated by another Karl, Linnaeus, in the C18th, that a century later encouraged the more noxious prescriptions of racialism: that just as Man is the ‘highest’ form of evolution of the species, so there is a hierarchy of human genotypes that places the rich white man at the top of the tree; a state to which the lower orders must necessarily evolve through unremitting class struggle.

Now, I wouldn’t want to go my whole life imagining myself to be among the lower orders, I’d want to do something about that, starting with my mental attitude and my knowledge of the world beyond my street. Luckily I don’t have to: I was born into a family of rich white folks, who read me bedtime stories and gave me the education which, regrettably, I rancidly threw back in their faces. But a lot of people seem to enjoy wallowing in the trough of self-pitying misidentification with a class of persons whom, in reality, they despise. The ‘working class’ (remember them?).

Being ‘working class’ allows people to feel righteous anger at the way things are, within an all-encompassing philosophy of envy of others, fear of strangers and pride in ignorance; the primacy of ‘family’, without necessarily implying that you have to spend 12 hours a day down a coalmine, toiling in the dark for 14 shillings a week while the missus scrubs the doorstep away. It’s more a state of mind nowadays, than an economic reality.

Thus, I find myself wondering what is it that people really want?

I keep reading that there’s this great groundswell of anger about things: politicians, rich people, inequality – The System. Millions of disappointed people all over the world are marching with placards. They’re angry about the way they’re governed. They’re disenfranchised (only because the people they want to win elections sometimes don’t). Yet you go on voting for autocrats like Trump, apparently imagining things are going to change for the better if we could only elect someone even greedier and nastier, more dishonest, intolerant and authoritarian, and above all rich, than the last lot.

(Trump may be those things; he may not. But it’s what he wanted people to believe, which suggests something about how he perceives the mind of the electorate.)

The ‘Arab Spring’ is a perfect case in point. In Tunisia, it’s happily resulted for the time being in a more progressive regime. In Egypt, so inchoate was the protest that it led, first, to the wrong people getting elected; and then to another military dictatorship, perhaps not yet as corrupt as the previous one the protestors overturned. In Syria it’s led to a never-ending bloodbath, total war sucking in regional players, global powers and a seemingly infinite proliferation of brutal gangster militias professing evermore extreme and sadistic variants of Islam.

Is that what you want to happen here, maybe?

I should have thought the upheavals of the C20th and the wholesale purging of swaths of humanity in the name of para-religious ideologies would have given you pause for thought*? When you carelessly call for the overthrow of governments that are seemingly hopelessly entwined with the capitalist oppressor, do you not understand that the alternative is decades of violence, extortion, imprisonment and murder at the bloodied hands of ideologically backward and tyrannical warlords?

Exactly how things’re going to change, and in what way you want them to, you don’t appear to be able to articulate. Which makes me think it’s not about changing things at all, but about something else.

Boredom, possibly?

It can’t surely be about acquiring more stuff? Because, in case you haven’t really thought about it, the billionaires who are making you feel unequal get to be billionaires only because you keep buying their stuff; then throwing it away and buying more, filling that spiritual vacuum in your lonely life; and if you can’t afford it, you stupidly borrow the money from them to buy their stuff at eyewatering rates of interest, making them even richer. ‘Credit’ – or ‘Debt’ as it used to be known – being the new slavery.

I suspect you’re probably bored with buying stuff, you’ve already got more big TVs and sofas than you need, you might by now have noticed that your iPhone has reached the limits of technology and now you sense there has to be more to life but no-one is able to tell you what. A ‘good war’, a purging of our complacent, pampered and soft generation, that should do it! Remember the last show, when we all pulled together in the spirit of the Blitz? That’s what we need.

I think we have to stop romanticising the Second World War, certainly, and Britain’s role in it. We came within a hairsbreadth of losing, it was a horrible, horrible affair in which 50 million people died, including 27 million Russians, and the only ones who actually enjoyed it were the gung-ho, upper-class chaps who led the mostly disastrous commando raids and flew the Spitfires – the prostitutes, and the spivs who profited from it, before and after.

A lot of the current upheaval appears to be about envy, too; imagining that people who are in fact worse off than yourselves are getting more favourable treatment. That’s not very nice, is it? But easy – many of them are a funny colour, and have funny accents – if they can even, like, speak English proper. That makes it easy to pick on them; and for our less scrupulous politicians and newsprint shysters to persuade you they’re to blame for all your discontents. Our nasty attitude towards refugees being a case in point, led by the repellent Dacre of the Mail, the nation has become meaner, more narrow-minded and and more selfish than I ever remember it.

Those are not, I hasten to remind you, the attitude of the real working class.

So, I’ve been reading up on Hegelian dialectic and Dialectical Materialism, Marx & Engels an’ shit, in an effort to understand why people are still proud to describe themself as ‘working class’; something I’d have hoped we would have shaken off by now, unless you mean you do actually work – and not in an office. You’re a porter, a bin-man, a welder, a press operator, right? A dirty-jobs type, like I was for years, digging gardens and polishing people’s Agas and mopping-up sick after weddings? Someone who’ll put in an honest day’s work for a dishonest day’s pay?

No, really, does how you work necessarily still have to play into C19th ideas of class struggle? When the average wage is now £560 a week? (That’s more than I ever made, even when I had my own business.) While the majority now work in white-collar clerical jobs and the service industries rather than gritty manufacturing? When graduates are covered in chip fat rather than ink? And when you have instant access to unheard-of means of learning and processing and exchanging information, all the entertainment you could want, cheap food and clothing, long-distance travel, holiday rights, free healthcare, educational opportunities and (thanks to the EU, you ungrateful bastards) legal limitations on what your employer can make you do?

Is that not the sort of progress you wanted?

Yes, it’s a hollow promise the capitalists have made to us, house prices and rents seem to keep on rising (not the fault of the capitalist oppressors, but of the building industry ‘banking’ land and unprecedented levels of demand); but it’s certainly got a lot to do with materialism. You’ve got your iPad, your 50-inch TV, your pay-nothing-now sofa, seemingly unlimited credit and all the dumbed-down Danceoff content you could want for. And if you want for something better, who or what is stopping you attaining it, other than your own conviction of your permanent social inferiority?

Of course, there’s the ‘underclass’. You wouldn’t define them as white and working; they’re not part of labour history. And while even the most corrupt and lubricious government minister recognises their plight, there’s only so much to go round, and that’s a sad fact. Their lives are shit, and that’s where the money needs to go, and the time and the care, and that’s what you fucking resent, you ‘working-class’ people, anything going to those worse off than you; which is why the politicians won’t act!

There’s something tragic about people who are trapped in past modes of thought. It seems to negate the evolutionary progress (including the ‘punctuated equilibria’) Marxists always imagined humanity making, that seems entirely visible to me but not to you. You think you’re going nowhere, yet here am I, an Old Age Pensioner living on £250 a week (luckily I have my little house), my wages when I could get work having fallen year-on-year over a quarter of a century,  envying but not envying you your ability to take off on a weekend break to Las Vegas, or follow your team to Rome at the drop of a hat.

You’ve never had more power!

It was Harold Macmillan who notoriously told the British public sometime in the 1960s, that ‘You’ve never had it so good!’. But I have to echo that now. And you’ve never had more power. To say you’re disempowered, disenfranchised, that you don’t make a difference, you have no control is just self-pitying crap, and I’m sick of it. Grow up!

Have you any idea what the political corruption, the influence-peddling were like in the early C19th? If you didn’t own property or you were a woman, you couldn’t even vote. A poor cottager, you could be chucked off the land. While small children were working in the mills 14 hours a day or operating a trapdoor half a mile underground in the pitch black, nobody collectively bargained for higher wages and better working conditions, those that tried were thrown in gaol or deported to Australia. Today’s politicians and businesses are whiter than white by comparison, with more oversight than ever before. (That’s largely thanks to the EU you’ve just thrown out with the bathwater…)

Only yesterday, a cynical Government attempt to remove local authority responsibility for child protection was voted out in the House of Lords. Why? Because of a huge public petition that was presented during the debate. The unequal TTIP trade agreement has been shouted down by ordinary people all over Europe and the politicians listened. Big companies are forced to change policy almost daily by consumer revolts. What you view and say and buy online dictates strategic production decisions. Whole new industries are coming into being, to service your demand for rapid access to cheaper goods. Politicians are acutely sensitive to public opinion, to polls and petitions and headlines in populist newspapers.

After my angry letters were ignored for months, I published a bitter review of my energy provider online the other day and within hours they were desperately trying to contact me to see what the problem was (they’re the problem, but that’s another Post).

You are listened to by those you imagine to be ‘in power’ as never before. They are terrified of you! Do you not understand that the more they have to lose, the more they are beholden to you, the voters?

The ballot box is, it’s true, increasingly irrelevant. Society has evolved, is evolving, other means of distributing political power. Everything the Bank of England has done since the financial crisis has been about trying to pump more money into your pockets, although it has mostly failed, as its parallel and somewhat paradoxical strategy has been to force the banks for safety to increase the capital they hold in reserve, reducing lending. Even George Osborne recognised the problem: low wages and lack of investment were stifling economic recovery – so he upped the minimum wage for three million workers.

Now, the new Chancellor, Philip Hammond has virtually abandoned Bank control of the money supply and his predecessor’s austerity programme intended to balance the budget by 2019 at the cost of our social security net.  Why?

Because of you, the voters.

So it isn’t necessary to overthrow the system, the system has become acutely conscious of your demands. The problem is, you don’t know what it is you’re demanding!

To me, the Marxist theory of Dialectical Materialism, Lenin’s ‘three rules’ (equivalent to Asimov’s ‘three laws of robotics’ only less relevant!) is just mental masturbation, dated reading-room nonsense from the mid-Victorian era. Somehow you’re expected to get from a woolly neo-Classical view of the atomic relationship between matter and biology, via poorly understood Darwinism, to Socialism and the inevitable rise of the proletariat. (Marx never actually advocated mass murder, only ‘struggle’.)

I’ve never yet understood what the proletariat was supposed to do then. Become politicians? Manage the economy better? Or just shoot and starve lots of people whose lives they envied?

Marxism was the philosophical equivalent of alchemy, in its superficial but anachronistic resemblance to quantum mechanics: bogus but plausible (because obfuscatory) scientific theories about the hierarchical ‘laws of nature’ (an improvement at least on the medieval spherical view of the cosmos) extrapolated to a view of human progress emerging out of social situations and relationships that haven’t been historically relevant for most of the last century. And the poor booby didn’t consider entropy, the law that higher orders of energy decay to lower; not the other way.

The ‘working class’ is, you may find, the only ‘class’ of persons left, that compulsively self-defines itself as a class.

Ruskin coined the phrase ‘pathetic fallacy’ to describe the irrational belief in a correlation between the natural world and human emotions. If anyone is guilty of perpetrating the ‘pathetic fallacy’ (you may need to be reminded that ‘pathetic’ has changed its meaning over the years, think ‘sympathetic’), it’s poor old Karl Marx, struggling to describe – prescribe – human social development in terms of dimly understood scientific laws, ‘modern’ theories and misguided rationalisations relating to the nature and behaviour of invisible matter.

His ideas today wouldn’t pass muster in a student debate. Except they wouldn’t be debated – the Union would have de-platformed him in case he upset anyone. The Mail would be campaigning to get him deported. Fortunately for him, nobody bothers to read what he wrote anymore, they just have their own ideas based on a few slogans on T-shirts, a poster of Che Guevara, and fancy they can construct Utopia for the masses.

I’m sorry, but it doesn’t work like that. Trust me.

*There is a depressing vox pop running over on the BBC News website this morning, to celebrate Armistice Day. Virtually none of the ‘millennials’ interviewed in city streets from London to Moscow had any clue about when or why the First World War happened. One said ‘1819’, a German boy thought Hitler had something to do with it…. Educators have to get a grip on this or we’re done for a third time.

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