For if I am able to see through the Eye of Time, this Moment can last Forever

I have had my time. I have had my chance at fresh, unblemished skin. I have relished in the vainglory of taught muscles and beautiful bones. I have had youth.

 

I have had my fill of the eyes of young women as they glance through curiosity, then twice through interest, then a third time because they imagine futures stretching off in permanent adolescence.

 

I have had my opportunity to clutch caution and consequence, and throw those notes scrawled upon torn paper up into the air to be snatched by the wind and whipped away to some distant revelation.

 

Now I have marched with blind naivety the path that so recently felt to be such an unconquerable distance. Now I look back upon the hesitancy of youth, upon those worries of the simple unknown, which turned out to be but the tiniest goblin growling as a lion concealed by shadows. I look back on the heedful prudence that haunted every of my steps and I wonder whether regret is a companion I have managed to avoid. Whether that sad man is left in one of the gloomy inns along the way.

 

For I have had my time as the young man – the vessel for old men to stuff their own regrets in, to project their own dreams and aspirations on to in frustrated impotence, to seek to belittle and browbeat and beat with the sticks of their own insufficiencies. I have had my time as the brief light of realisation, that coarse reminder that their bones and their muscles and their joints no longer afford them the opportunity to achieve those dreams that long ago felt could take place in eternity.

 

Yes, I have suffered the resentment of the aged. I have had my dreams and my ideas undermined by those who have given way to time’s judgmental nature. I have had my green horns and I wanted nothing more than for them to be severed, not realising that with them went the hope that can only come from perception of a world undiscovered.

 

I have smelt of new birth and possibility. I have been the exciting prospect. I have been the untapped mineral reserve in the mines of humanity amongst the dark, brownish matter and the dripping muck. Now my preciousness has been looted and I hope the world got all it could. I hope that the jewels of my raw, blank material that now sit in the shop window are a source of delectation and delight for the passers-by. I shall never know. Such is the curse of having access only to one mind, so full of curiosity as to the state of others’.

 

I do not know whether that potential of which so many spoke, whether the unknowable seas that were so vast and so infinite were blue illusions. I do not know whether the depths of my waters contained something worth finding, or whether the dips and the troughs of their beds retain something left unfound. I can never know. Though, perhaps I can say I am satisfied with the treasures I discovered.

 

When I was young, I knew that beyond the pale, death and his creeping embrace awaited. Still my collar was grabbed vociferously from behind by wary watchfulness. How was I to know that it would not lead to ruin or pestilence or impecuniousness to act upon the lustful desires of spontaneity and luck?

 

It is both the curse and the blessing of mortality that it brings life’s end. It is both the curse and the blessing of life that it must involve the slow depreciation of both one’s flesh and one’s thoughts into some unhinged and unimpeded abstraction. It is both the curse and blessing of the ages that with the impending possibility of youth comes the stifling stranglehold of uncertainty, and with the stifling stranglehold of senescence comes the limitless power of knowledge.

 

I am still young. I am still beautiful; I am still the capsule of possibility that so draws ire and admiration, which spins the loom of regret and resentment in those who have not the gifts of my temporariness.

 

So I stand in the doorway of the rundown boozer and its beer that inspires my introspection and I crane my neck to the night sky, feeling the breeze upon reddened cheeks. As I pull the cigarette between my fingers to my lips, cracked and pink in the cold, I watch the cherry ignite boss-eyed and suck that intoxicating poison down into my nubile lungs. Viscerally and immediately I am propelled back from this imagined future that I created for just an instant – just a floating, forever moment. With the nub of my cigarette stomped beneath a flat foot, so is that future extinguished as if it had never existed. But it did exist, for an instant; for the glimpse of a second I was myself, only with trench lines etched into my skin and the bags of years beneath weathered eyes. For a moment I had seen all that is to come and then I was plunged back beneath the surface. But now, of course, the vigour of such electric air infects my blood and I am renewed with my knowledge.

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The Little Shop that Shouldn’t

Every day I walk past a little shop: The Village something or other. Some whimsical misnomer that transports one’s mind to the pastoral wholesomeness of a little hamlet set into greening mountainside, far from the bustling grey of London, far from the anonymous rush and the industrial, faceless cement and plastic flimsiness of relentless commercialism, to a quaint place of smiles and bowed roofs where cows chew the cud and the smell of slow baking bread fills the valley with its hearthside scent.  

Through the windows of the shop I see great loaves and cakes and biscuits and exotic chorizo, crumbly cheese and jam jars of chutney spread out on a bare, gnarled tabletop. The table legs are painted pastel and the tops are barren and raw and unvarnished, as if the table was rescued from the kitchen of a farmer’s homestead somewhere in rural Cyprus. The floor is bare wood and were it not for the warmth dribbling up from the underfloor heating, one would feel as though they had stepped in the romantic idea of some well kept peasant’s hovel. Brown twine hangs by the window frames and tied into are cloves of garlic interspersed by little packages of delectable niceties. Their sugar coatings glisten innocently. 

The bread, rotund and fat and welcoming, looks freshly baked but there is no oven in the small room. The crusts are cracked and tanned as if they had been sprayed by an artist and they are just the right amount of imperfect, just the right amount of misshaped. Sourdough, pumpernickel, ciabatta, focaccia; loaves with seeds in them, loaves dotted with raisins, square loaves and spherical loaves; all picketed by their own twee little signs denoting the prices: £4, £5, £6 and so on. Pleasantries and trite nothings are scrawled crudely and in charming handwriting about the walls of the shop and words jump from the curated mess: “Artisanal”, “Freshly baked”, “Organic”. In the fridge humming and casting a lazy glow by the wall, cans and pop-cap bottles with unrecognisable, calligraphic labels and beautiful pictures of lemons and hops and barley, and rose-cheeked children smiling, that look to have been masterfully designed in a loft in Paris, shiver with seeping droplets of condensation.

And each day, alone in his empty little shop, the proprietor, a young man in the mire of his thirties stands clicking dolefully on a Mac upon the table top, one foot crossed over the other. He glances outside past the milk cart he has sawn in half and placed pristinely by the doorway next to two empty milk pails and sees me stroll past. I imagine him to have started his stupid little shop on the capital of a trust fund. I imagine him to have thought himself mightily clever for noticing a gap in the market for unpackaged bread that warrants being sold for quadruple what it is worth, since it is wrapped in brown grease proof paper and tied with twine. I imagine him to delude himself that he is a self-sufficient entrepreneur and happily contributing to Britain’s economic growth.

I see him, and I look into his eyes and a small, guilty, fantastical part of me wishes that one day I could walk by his shop and see its doors shut, the lights off, and just beyond the glint of the window panes, the silhouette of his feet dangling loosely, rotating, ever so gradually, North East to South East and back again. He having despaired at the ruination of his silly, silly business.

For he is a symptom of the attritional gentrification that pours like a plague over London. He moves in flogging bread that, unless its flour is harvested from the fields of Elysium, is possible only of being marginally better than whatever is on the shelves of Sainsburys. He marks up his wares so they are unaffordable to all but the slickest of City bankers. And with him come those inordinately, undeservedly wealthy bankers. And with the suits comes higher rent, higher house prices and more expensive pints. And slowly, slowly, unnoticeably withdraw the poor citizens from this little area of London further afield, kowtowed and beaten by the subterfuge of gentrification that does not push them, but gnaws its way into their being and forces them to march. With this man’s faux-wholesome bollocks – a little play at purity and rugged pastoralness in a place devoid of it – come wankers who slurp it up because “you can taste the quality, Grace” and “well, actually, Oliver won’t eat Hovis; he’s very discerning!”

That is just the way of it. Slowly the culture of London that comes only from the poor is bought by the rich for pennies on the pound and turned into a gross parody of itself; it is purchased like intellectual property and framed on the white walls of large living rooms in the penthouse suites of glass towers. And the painters are left to scrounge on the dole, the inventors and creators scrabble for the crumbs. There is no stopping the advance of Artisanal bread.

Well, today I walked by the shop. The lights were off, the doors were shut, and in the window a sign said “Shop to Let”.

It seems the invisible hand of the free market has some welly in it yet.

That is, until the next foppish young scout comes along, and just behind him waiting, his clientele. 

Brexit Litigation in the Court, and Brexit Litigation in the Court of Public Opinion

Every person has the capacity to act intelligently, to consider calmly and to do what is right, so long as they are equipped with the proper tools. The problem is that instead of comprehensive and investigatory news built on facts and a neutral eye, they have been fed shocking and angry tabloid headlines that pander to their basic animalistic predilections for protectionism and tribalism. Instead of being immersed in a culture of intellectualism and willingness to accept progressive change that might benefit them, despite it being alien and overwhelming, they are swaddled by the Kardashians and information within traditional parameters of what seems logical based on outdated notions that were only relevant to a world that has since changed. Instead of having had fostered for them a culture of involvement in civic duty and public discourse, and having responsibility for their society, they are removed and taught only to focus on what they can materially gain. They are bred on a culture of lethargy and apathy toward matters of Government based on ideas that nothing changes and the institutions of state do not represent them, that they are something distinct from the people themselves, when in reality, removing this perception would remove this problem, since the people would realise they can be as involved as they like and they do form an important part of their society.

So, when suddenly a matter of extreme constitutional importance, a matter that affects the future of global geo-political relations, that affects humanity’s culture and the next steps that we take, is thrust upon them, they react as only they could be expected to, having been bottle fed on nonsense and lies and having had their knee-jerk, archaic instincts pandered to. The people have been bred in a culture that wilfully allows them to retreat to comfort and ignorance.

When David Cameron announced that the people would have a direct say over Britain’s membership of the EU, he was not affected by an unusual desire to empower the British people. He was affected by panic over losing power with the rise of UKIP and right wing populism generally. He was affected by fear of the oncoming shift in the political status-quo that he could see on the horizon. He was scared that neoliberalism and globalisation would soon be undermined by the will of the people. And instead of combatting populism, which is an erroneous, knee-jerk and uninformed solution to undeniable problems surrounding immigration specifically, and globalisation generally, as well as the lack of democracy in global institutions, he pandered to it. He chose the tactic of the East German Soviet government, to attempt to appease the people with the illusion of control, hoping that they would then shut up and sit down. But, as in East Germany, it only meant that they grasped the opportunity and rode the wave until it crashed down around their superiors. Because deep down the people know that they want control over their destinies. They simply have not been equipped with the right tools to exercise it with the requisite foresight and understanding.

The people voted to leave, and they expected to leave. They did not expect that their decision would be reviewed by the High Court in the first instance, and now the Supreme Court on appeal. And so we find the first example of the disparity between the law, and the law as reported by the media and by manipulative campaigns. The referendum took place pursuant to the European Union Referendum Act 2015, which the High Court reiterated does not confer a statutory power (as does no other piece of legislation) to give notice of withdrawal from the EU under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. This is not what the people thought. The literature disseminated by the Government of the day told them that their say was final. The decision was reported by the media as one that would be final.

The media, especially the British tabloids, instead of telling the people the true state of the law and the true position of the referendum – never mind giving them a true account of the specificities and complexities of either side of the argument – pandered to their flag-boners and to illusive, chimerical notions of abstract control and tribalism, which in any real sense no longer exist. In doing so, once the decision of the High Court had been handed down, the Daily Mail, the Express and the Sun et al. had set the tone to be able wantonly and without consequence or shame to brand the judges as traitors to their country and usurpers of democracy. The irony is that in actual fact the journalists, owners and editors of these papers are the true traitors to their country and to their countrymen, and their publications actively and maliciously undermine the proper exercise of democracy.

The judges in the High Court, far from deciding on the merits or demerits of Brexit, were deciding on the proper, lawful process according to the British constitution by which it should be brought about. That is, they were deciding whether the Government could ‘trigger’ Article 50 unilaterally using the Queen’s prerogative or whether Parliament is required to vote on the matter. The second irony, then, is that in condemning the judges for deciding that Parliament needs to vote, the papers were impliedly supporting the use of a monarch’s undemocratic executive power and rejecting parliamentary sovereignty, which is the very thing that was being voted for in voting to leave the EU.

The Brexit litigation was reported as if the judges were deciding on Brexit. The legal issues were not communicated properly to the people. You have been lied to from the very start of this referendum by the institutions who owe you a duty to equip you with ample and correct informational tools to be able to form a constructive and responsible part of this society.

The tabloids’ treatment of the Brexit litigation goes far beyond issues of shoddy journalism. It strikes at the very heart of our political and legal structures. The law is given legitimacy through consent. We all impliedly, by not revolting, consent to the legal structures in place and the laws that mediate our social relations. This is important because without consent a legal and political system is not legitimate and it then has one of two recourses. One, it breaks up at the behest of the people and a new system is formed. Two, and far more likely, those responsible for its continuation and who benefit from that continuation use coercion to keep it in place. Behind every law and every institution of state is the inference of force. That is what gives a Government made up of thousands of people power over millions of people. And this is fine, since for the most part we all impliedly agree that the legal system, the constitution and the political framework work in our favour and that their use of force will be legitimate because it will only be used in the event of someone or something breaching the social contract, and that it will be used for the good of the majority.

Therefore, when we get to a state of affairs in which an unrestrained media can demonise members of the most evolved judiciary on the planet and undermine their very position as arbiters of the law and checks on Government power by deliberately mis-communicating that law and said judiciary’s actions, we risk a breakdown in the social contract and the consent by which we are all governed.

Rest assured, the judiciary is exercising its constitutional duty. It is deliberating on the law and on the law alone. It is not deciding whether Brexit should happen. At the very worst it is deciding whether Parliament should decide whether Brexit should happen. And Parliament is made up of MPs who are your representatives, who you elected. Do not take my word for it though, read the summary of the case in the High Court. Before you take a position on the basis of the propagation of massive media corporations, think to yourself firstly, why are they shouting so loudly? It is always the case that those who shout loudest are either the weakest or the most scared. The media is both, because the people are the ones with ultimate power; all you have to do is equip yourself.

You Can’t be Trusted with Democracy

Pure, direct democracy is an unfeasible and unattainable aim.

 

The people have proved they simply cannot be trusted with it.

 

Like a big fat baby gurgling lumpy phlegm they throw the right across the room like a rattle in a fit of tantrum, not realising that the vote actually means something, that the rattle is made of titanium and can crack the wall.

 

Of course, the people could be trusted with direct democracy if they were properly informed. Perhaps they could make educated and tempered decisions en masse; perhaps national conversations would be possible without resorting to slogans and clumsy statistics recited into oblivion until the breath that gives utterance to them forms a giant swirling vortex and all forms of intelligence and knowledge are sucked down into it and we forget what thinking even is. Perhaps we could have a population all on the same page as to the best path for humanity to take.

 

But who has the time to get properly informed, to gain a comprehensive and explorative understanding of any given issue, let alone all of them? You do not have the time. And nor should you be expected to make the time. The majority of us were not put on this earth to contemplate philosophical, ideological or pragmatic ramifications of policy. We elect representatives because they do have the time; it is literally their job to be properly informed, to cut behind the media’s bullshit, behind misinformation and misunderstanding; to gain a broad and overarching view.

 

People want to enjoy their lives. They want to finish work and be allowed to zone out, to relish in their leisure time. They do not and, if the system was well, would not, be obligated to be as informed on matters of complex policy as politicians are so as to become de facto captains of our collective ship.

 

Of course, it could be that we enact ample media regulation, for instance, or campaign regulation, so that the people are well enough informed (because those informing them are prohibited under pain of penalty from misinforming them) so that they are theoretically capable of making the decisions required of them in a pure democracy – their personal prejudices notwithstanding (or made irrelevant through enlightenment).

 

The print media in the UK, for instance, is – you may be surprised to know (or not, having seen the bottom feeding content of the tabloids) – entirely self-regulating. It has established Independent Press Standards Commission of its own volition. The only sanction if a consumer complaint is deemed valid? That the paper publish the PCC’s finding, and/or a fine.

 

But of course, regulation of the media is a slippery slope. Even when proposals seem wholly for good, one must always question the loopholes they may give rise to for the regulators and the regulators’ influencers, and the motivations of those drawing up the laws. Perhaps statutory regulation would give rise to a maelstrom of complications.

 

So then, media regulation is without doubt a dire necessity. The abhorrent, despicable, retrograde, embarrassing, childish, stupid front-page reactions to the High Court Brexit litigation by the Daily Mail et al shows this. And so too is campaign regulation a necessity. The abomination of the £350 million lie, and how it went unchallenged until recently when a complaint was made to the Crown Prosecution Service under the Representation of the People Act 1983 (now it is too late) proves this. Although both are necessary, neither can be as comprehensive as each of us in our personal inclinations would perhaps wish them to be. Since thereafter bias has the potential to follow.

 

One may say the internet means that a universe of information has been opened up to us. We can draw one story from Breitbart, another from the Guardian, and yet another from Buzzfeed and we can be ensured that we are chewing on all sides of the fat. But unfortunately that just does not happen. The people cannot be trusted. They plop themselves in their echo chambers and scream and delight in hearing their intonations crash back to them a million times louder.

 

We must entrust policy and major decisions to representatives. But this comes with the crucial caveat that those representatives be accountable more so than they are now. To us. As it is meant to be. We decide the ideology we want our species to represent and we ensure that the policies of our governments are dictated within the boundaries of said ideology through the use and utilisation of proper laws, checks, balances and regulation.

 

Our representatives cannot, as a prerequisite, be allowed to be influenced by self-interested lobbyists or bloated financial or corporate interests.

 

MPs expenses, lobbying transparency and limitation, backroom trade deals like TTIP, MPs’ employment before and after Parliament, and campaign funding are all particular flashpoints of the battle over this dearth of regulation. But there are many others, all in need of tightening and reforming as part of a bolstering of the girders of our great political and legal system.

 

A representative democracy – as would a pure democracy – also necessitates fostering a culture of intellectualism. It means bridging the gap between the academy and the builder, between scholars and scaffolders; thinks tanks and warehouse workers. I call bullshit on the claim that the British people are tired of experts. What the British people are tired of is condescension. What people everywhere are tired of is condescension. And if 2016 has taught us anything, it is that condescension breeds populism, which rises like the perennial serpent to bite us all in the ass.

 

So no, the people cannot be trusted with pure, direct democracy.

 

But this is not to despair. This is not to render you an impotent observer watching in conscious paralysis as your betters carve up your beating cadaver. For a representative democracy comes with a crucial benefit. It means that you may holler and scream in favour of the cause you promote through whatever medium you choose in the hope people flock to you and the government hears, and when they do, you are absolved of the responsibility of making it work. It is up to them. They are your representatives; they must represent your interests.

 

So, if you reject being detached from democracy like this, then there are routes in to the fray for those so inclined. You need not run for Parliament.

 

You could write, for instance. Write and disseminate your views.

 

That is how policy should and usually is made. First the people stir; then the intellectuals write about the opinions and examine them, validate them if they are deserved of validation; then the active sea change occurs within the ranks of the population and opinion shifts and then, finally, the politicians enact the people’s will if it is sensible and has passed through the various filters and, fundamentally, they are pressured enough.

 

Take gay marriage for instance. The LGBTQ community owes no debt of gratitude to Cameron’s government for legalising it. Nor are any of the companies now cynically promoting LGBTQ rights as if they did all along deserved of congratulation. All they did was rubberstamp something the people had already decided amongst themselves. That is one of the government’s jobs. They are the final filter, the final legitimating force – legitimate themselves only because we trust that they will act as such.

 

Life is about balance. Populism belies that balance. Populism is a reaction to a detached political class and to gross inequality. But, though understandable – we are human after all – it is the wrong reaction. What is required is considered, informed, unified pressure on our representatives. This itself is dependent on a reformed system, which we can only achieve through revolution. A system built so that checks and balances are better placed. We cannot rid ourselves of representatives; they are what ensure our civilization.

 

Representative democracy also comes with a duty, because no checks and no balances are without corners around which psychopathic politicians can peer to find the boundless freedom of corruption beyond. This duty is eternal vigilance. It was said that every generation must have its revolution. This is the price we pay.

 

The necessity for representative democracy, as oppose to populism or direct rule by the many, is that if done properly, it makes ignorant reactionism impossible. Because policy is dictated by ideology arrived at by the process above mentioned, rather than ideology being an unfortunate concomitant of policies arrived at as knee jerk reactions by the majority, it means that a solid foundation is built from which to construct policy and sensible, informed decisions in response to contemporary issues.

 

Plato, after all, said that “Dictatorship naturally arises out of democracy, and the most aggravated form of tyranny and slavery out of the most extreme liberty”. Looking at the blonde-haired demagogue who got so popular so recently, and the state of discourse on our Emerald Isle after a vote, essentially, for isolationism, I would be inclined to agree with him.

 

Balance must be restored through understanding and being informed. Not despite being human, but exactly because we are human – the most intelligent and adaptable species we know of.

 

I urge you to get involved in one aspect or another, whether activism or contribution to the intellectual ether. And if you do not want to, then that is exactly why you cannot be trusted with direct democracy, and that is fine.

 

The Corporation Makes Babes of Us All

A corporation is a business entity with a separate legal personality – it is a person in the eyes of the law. Fundamentally it is a mechanism through which to do business more efficiently and on a bigger scale. A corporation is effectively an individual; it can enter into contracts, sue and be sued, and cause massive ecological disasters, mistreat workers to the point that they commit suicide, or cook their books so that thousands lose their jobs… and get away with it – you know, just like me and you.

 

The East India Company, established in 1600, made famous by that film about a roller coaster with that dude who chased Johnny Depp and everyone was wearing wigs, is probably the earliest and most famous example of a vast, transnational corporation. The difference between corporations like the East India Company, and corporations since the late 18th century, is that originally they were established by Royal Charter or legislation. They were intrinsically linked to the Government and established namely to bring revenue home to the Crown.

 

Since the late 18th century, though, corporations have effectively created themselves. They simply register. They are completely private entities with no links to Government (wink wink). They are born to make profit for private individuals – pure business machines; giant neon glowing instruments in the Capitalist experiment.

 

As the 18th century turned into the 1900s and planes and methods of transport more effective than griffins and centaurs – or whatever olden-day people drove – got invented, as infrastructure developed so it became easier to cart things up and down the country, as telephones and TVs got invented, as the borders of nation states got more porous, as capitalism took hold and foreigners went from scary aliens to potential bottom lines, as email got invented and the stock market matured – as all that happened throughout the 20th century – so too did the corporation grow from an embryonic sprog into an incorrigible robber baron and now, as hair sprouted on its nuts, into a finely tuned, streamlined, toned bro with an MsC in Business.

 

Now the logos and motifs of corporations are as ubiquitous in our society as pictures of Kim Jon Un defeating Cthulhu in North Korea. We couldn’t imagine our lives without corporations – they are a part of our culture. They have reputations; notwithstanding their legal personalities, they have personalities. Corporations are important characters in the pointless, endless soaps of our lives.

 

We could not live without corporations now. Not in the way we are accustomed to – able to order a TV wider than a Chevrolet and thinner than a baby’s finger for a pittance at 2AM and have it delivered the next day to our door, and fitted for us, because we “realllyyyyyy neededddddd one dudeeeee”. This kind of indulgence is only made possible by huge, strident corporations with more money than Essex has STIs, more influence than Michael Buble in a room full of horny mums called Debbie, and more all-access passes to the VIP parts of the world than Chris Hemsworth has all-access passes to your vagina.

 

This evolution of corporations into entities with power equal, or superior, to that of Governments, comprised of more employees than some countries have soldiers in their armies, means that corporations themselves have had to change internally. Keeping control of that many resources and that many people and ensuring that each part of the business syncs up across oceans and over borders means that corporations have had to develop a method of ensuring uniformity – that all their disparate parts are working towards the same goal.

 

But the leaders of the corporation can’t keep its members in line with party policy like Stalin would have, they can’t lock them in gulags or purge them because, you know, employment law and human rights and democracy. Also let’s chill because after all it’s only a business trying to make money, and the people working for it probably all have degrees and egos and think they’re pretty important and impressive and useful and that their opinions on the War in Iraq after two glasses of middle-of-the-range white wine are well insightful.

 

So rose corporate culture – a culture within a culture. It is usually prescribed from on high, by some modern Moses in a bland head office in Atlanta, in the form of synergic, enterprising, dynamic diktats. They’ll implore the employees to live things like: ‘Working Together’, ‘Giving our Best to Clients’, ‘Being Socially Responsible’, ‘Remaining Collegiate’, ‘Working Fun’, ‘Working Smart’, ‘Taking-Over-the-World-with-a-Smile’, ‘Trying-To-Fit-as-Many-Ethnics-into-the-Promotional-Material-as-Possible’. Every single corporation has basically the same slogans, just worded differently – because seriously, to make them vague enough as to be digestible in a sentence and be aptly noncommittal, but specific enough to actually nearly mean anything whatsoever, there really isn’t much elasticity in what is considered good.

 

Corporate culture has reduced every self-important John packed sweatily into the 8:40 to St Pancras, every severe Jane forming part of the mass of rats teeming up train station steps, every worried Jeff marching hurriedly around with a Pret sandwich to an important meeting with Amy from accounts, to nothing more than a fatuous, gurgling child being managed by the paternal hand of their omniscient corporation. With so many cells making up the body of the corporation, something is needed to make sure they’re flowing through its veins in the right direction and getting that sweet, sweet paper to where it needs to be.

 

In order that the corporation’s nucleus can be sure each one of its floating, bobbing atoms is definitely moving in tandem with its objectives and living its culture, training days are laid down to show how to live the company’s values, appraisals are vacantly filled in while scarfing down a depressing Sainsbury’s meal deal and away days are attended with super-fantastical-fun-mega-awesome-wicked-you-guys-I-totally-don’t-feel-suicidal activities to act out the corporation’s values and culture.

 

Corporate culture imposed from on high by maniacally grinning HR grunts, splashed over otherwise desolate off-white walls in garish, headache-inducing primary coloured-posters, and written out in faux-approachable, condescending lingo that some marketing dick thought would be soft and cuddly enough as to prevent revolt makes children of men, reduces women to babies and turns back the clock on enlightenment, the grand philosophising discoveries of the ancients, the revolutions that forged democracy, that insatiable, insuppressible, uncontainable, ebullient, infinite roaring wolf of the human spirit that lifted us from caves to the highest mountains, from mud huts to towering, shimmering, celestial golden towers. Corporate culture, corporate values, the corporate ethos for its workers makes babes of us all.

 

A corporation exists to make money. That is all it exists to do. Certainly it provides a good or a service to the people of the planet but, honestly, by the time a business has reached size enough to be a publicly traded corporation, any thought of bettering mankind through the provision of whatever it sells is lost. By that point, all that matters is share prices and the bottom line. If you even for a second flicker on the idea that the PR fuckhead delivering some regurgitated shit on your TV about [insert corporation here] “going in a new direction: one that will provide a better, faster, more efficient [insert product here] for the consumer, while making the world a better place” is talking anything other than complete spunk then you, sir, are clinically a moron.

 

So then, the idea that the anonymous, vapid vapours of late zombie-capitalism in their brutalist head office in Atlanta think that handing down their corporate culture blather and their list of seven values for a brighter work space is anything other than absurdly abhorrent, is incomprehensible. The idea that a neurotically optimistic grin-in-a-suit with oddly sexy silver-fox hair thinks that his employees – who, lets not forget, are otherwise intelligent, accomplished people – will be seduced by this asinine, saccharine nothing; that they will live those values, ‘be a team player’, love the corporation like the teat of their own mother, is repugnant. Yet that is what these wobbly motifs seem to expect.

 

Not only is the corporate propaganda infantilising because of the way it is written: smiley emojis after every word in that email from Janet in HR, stupid multi-coloured fonts, at least ten words misspelt, and the world’s supply of exclamation marks because your invite to the Rennaysance Evening is so exciting!!!!! – but so too is it infantilising because it is deliberately obfuscating bluster and fluff. Instead of a pay rise or actual walls instead of tacky cardboard and fabric dividers, or a computer system that works, or interest in your opinions, or control over the days that you – a grown-ass man – can take as holiday, or freedom when you’re off sick instead of Brian from the Gestapo questioning you in the quiet room, or autonomy and creative flexibility over your work – instead of that – you get platitudes and placating drivel. Like your mum when you really wanted a matchbox car in Asda and instead of buying it she’d just smile so wide her cheeks detached and floated away and effected effete jubilant optimism in the hope that fake joyousness would anaesthetise you from your actual woes and prove contagious so you shut up and took the superficial satisfaction rather than the thing you actually wanted.

 

This is not to mention the fact that the corporation’s smiley, chummy, lovely, care bear, fluorescent, marshmallow-infused vomit is entirely insincere. Its culture and having it rammed down our throats that the corporation is one big family is insincere. The last I heard, nanna can’t make you redundant. So rather than trying to deny that you are only a part of the great big cuddle family until you’re no longer of any use and that the CEO is still beholden to profit and loss accounts and the money men telling him they need to cut costs, let’s just accept it as one of the vagaries of business and instead of trying to muffle it and swaddle the coarseness of business so it is smoothed and the evils of capitalism muted, lets have a corporate culture that engages in actual investment rather than superficial, shallow show tunes that try to convince you you’re in the gang and we’ve all got each other’s backs, yo.

 

Really the problem with corporate culture is the lack of control. When vast, globe-straddling institutions run the world, there is no choice but to work for them. And when we do, we become powerless, patronised, condescended-to little kittens batting a ball of wool about and thinking we’re hunting mice when really we’re being placated and pacified and blinded to the sanitised reality of our lives: that we are no longer providers, no longer virile, vicious hunters, but children paid a cheque by an invisible hand to tap keyboards in some vain, divided aspect of ‘labour’ so that money gets made for far off shareholders. And so that we feel like anything we do matters, like upwards of 8 hours a day, 5 days a week are not a waste, like we can be gratified in the corporation, we are sold platitudes and sweet-nothings in place of any democratic say, in place of any autonomy, in place of any bargaining power or anything that may imbue us once more with the mature power of sentience which is rightly ours.

 

We all want control. We need not be control freaks, but we all want to be masters of our destiny, the arbiters of our fates. That’s why Gwinn who hogs the photocopier gets in 20 minutes early every day and martyrs himself every evening doing busy work so he doesn’t go home when you go home, and tuts air between clenched teeth if Patricia is five minutes over her allotted lunch break One. More. God. Damn. Time. Gwinn doesn’t matter really. He doesn’t matter to his line manager, he doesn’t matter to the CEO. He is entirely expendable and nothing he does is consequential in the slightest. But Gwinn still forwards every email inviting the office to the picnic in the park, he still goes to every drinks mixer and tries really hard to blag about ‘the game last night’ with Anthony – who’s apparently friends with a guy who plays golf with the CEO – he still talks about the direction of the corporation and watches the share price every day as if his stupid, pathetic opinion means anything. And he does this because he is trying to effect the hollow symptoms of control. He is trying to fool himself into the conviction that he has any ounce of control over his life, over his work, over anything – that he chose to dedicate his life to the corporation. That it is not all some puppet show and all he is necessary for is to clock in and punch his keys every day and shut up and eat his cheese sandwich because to admit that to himself would only open up the void – the abyss within which lurk gutting truths and fish with bulbous eyes that whisper “you are meaningless, you control nothing, you are an expendable accessory, you have nothing that 20 other people don’t have, the corporation has you by the neck tie” endlessly into the infinite ether.

 

The thing is, HR busybodies so happy it’s like they double fisted 12 xanax and 15 valium and washed it down with a red bull-heroin milkshake before railing lines are a necessary evil. So too is the propaganda. At least, when an organisation is of that size and comprised of so many disparate constituent parts, it is hard to think of another way to filter down the company’s end game to all the little hamsters so they know vaguely the direction their work is meant to be going in and why they’re even doing what they do.

 

So then, it is a result of the globalisation of capitalism – the rippling, veiny, steroid-gains of enterprises of all structures so that they come to mimic the corporation in feeling, of the vigorous pace of business and the massive scale of production, of the huge wealth of wealth of modern society, that reduces all those workers who fever away for the machine into tiny little molecules and each of us truly not people, but workers and consumers. And workers and consumers need to be controlled so that their efforts are expended productively for the generation of profit.

 

It is an inevitable side effect of the top down governance of corporations, and indeed of our world – this detached, distant, globalised world – that real interaction gets replaced with instant messaging and emojis, real informed democracy gets replaced with endless, inconsequential petitions and a vote for a far-off identikit politician who’s either a bit more or less left or right than the other one, and real contribution to industry, real enterprise within an organisation, real job satisfaction, real training and real investment gets replaced with serious sounding appeals to your entrepreneurialism ejaculated onto a blue steel poster, and with empty HR conduits of “just a little something from Ted, the CEO, guyssss!”, and with unilaterally imposed contracts – “Yeah it’s two days less holiday, but look! Cycle to work scheme!”

 

Everything in the world is connected. Every idea is connected to every other idea and everything affects everything else. Corporate culture, therefore, and everything it depends on and replaces and all its attendances are but one microcosmic example battleground upon which we can argue the kind of capitalism we want. Just like the debate over taxing mega-wealthy individuals and mega, super-rich businesses. It may seemingly stifle explosive growth, since the ‘job providers’ are being impinged and the businesses might all run away from the horrible HMRC (although certain studies have cast doubt on this prediction), or we may have a capitalism in which growth is more moderate, but more sustainable, and it does what it is supposed to do – benefits the infrastructure of the country in which it takes place.

 

Likewise, one may say that a corporation simply needs to do a job, to provide a good or a service and to make money, to keep the economy moving, to keep development and never ending financial progress on track and therefore it should not concern itself with creating a habitable environment for its employees – this will serve only to be fruitless since workers all have homes anyway, and will only limit the entity’s potential. Or, one may say that investing in brighter office spaces, providing pay rises at least in line with inflation, and bonus schemes for good performance at every level, delegating autonomy and control over holiday allowance to the individual concerned, trusting that sick days are sick days because this is work and we are adults, not children at school, making sure that reviews are localised to within teams, and the same with social events – since there is no point trying to get 1,000 people from different offices to have a good time together – providing facilities and amenities so that adults feel valued and like they matter – one may say that all this – although it may divert monies away from risky investments and expansionary targets and board members’ pockets, is a worthy trade off for a workforce that is satisfied that they are actual adult humans, and therefore a society that is satisfied, and therefore a world more at peace with itself.

 

This is the part a corporation can play in the world. That all the corporations and partnerships and alternative business structures can. Because the question has to be asked – what is a corporation’s duty? Surely, when like behemoth, mythical beasts that squat strident casting their shadows over seas with one giant, all-encompassing webbed foot in Asia and the other in America, chewing nonchalantly on hay stalks and burping, sending great green gas clouds into the air, corporations owe some kind of duty beyond that of a mere private enterprise entirely separate from Government that functions within society instead of defining it.

 

It’s not bullshit to try and get more stuff either. The Hawthorne Studies showed that greater localisation of decision making, greater autonomy given to workers, greater involvement can trump even money as an incentive to work harder.

 

Or, you know, we could continue being nothing but frantic little suits scuttling to the train station sweaty and broken because we might be five minutes late otherwise and that would reflect badly in our mid-year review. We could continue to give the majority of our lives over to something that gives nothing in the form of self-actualisation back. We could continue using the concomitant of millions of years of evolution that have brought us to our feet only to be kicked to our knees and infantilised and made babes by corporations. The choice is up to all of us.

In support of Jeremy Corbyn

“Of course you know that ambition and avarice are held to be, as indeed they are, a disgrace? … [T]he forwardness to take office, instead of waiting to be compelled, has been deemed dishonourable. Now the worst part of the punishment [punishment being the third of three inducements to rule, the first two being money and honour] is that he who refuses to rule is liable to be ruled by one who is worse than himself.” Socrates said that, in Plato’s ‘The Republic’, but in Greek originally, obviously. Stupid, innit, bringing ancient Greek political philosophy into a debate about Corbyn. But it isn’t, really. I mean, our entire democratic system is borne of ancient Greek politicial philosophy. The word itself is Greek. So it’s weird, then, that our political thinking and analysis and punditry has become so detached from ancient political wisdom. There is no reason that a vast majority of the truisms of old can’t hold true now. I mean, now we wear lenseless, thick-rimmed glasses and beanies that look like deflated ball-sacks instead of togas, and we carry iPads with Pokemons on them rather than tablets with inscriptions, but really nothing’s changed – not to us, not to our humanity. And it is our humanity, after all, with which politics should concern itself.

 

That quote of Plato’s was what came into my mind when I saw Angela Eagle’s desperate, cynical, grasping, fickle, stupid attempt to become head of the coup currently floundering in the Labour party. That eighties gay-club pink Union Jack scrawled over by the lady’s pretty signature recalls Ed’s Labour’s cynical and mis-judged pink battle bus – a futile attempt to court the female vote. You’ll remember, of course, that Corbyn was a dark horse when he was first nominated to stand in the Labour leadership election of 2015 after Ed’s resignation. He came out of nowhere, he didn’t really put forward a campaign to stand, and he had expressed no desire previously to stand (and not in a Govian the-lady-doth-protest-too-much way – he just had expressed no desire). But he was nominated and then he was elected by the party members. More members elected Corbs than Tories and the Liberal Democrats have combined members in total. Truly, he was an unwilling leader chosen by the people.

 

“And the fear of [punishment], as I conceive, induces the good to take office, not because they would, but because they cannot help – not under the idea that they are going to have any benefit or enjoyment themselves, but as a necessity, and because they are not able to commit the task of ruling to anyone who is better than themselves, or indeed as good.” (That’s Plato again, by the way.)

 

And ever since taking the podium, Jez has faced slander and malice at the hands of the right-wing press, the Blair-leaning Labour MP’s, the Tories and basically anyone who fears the rhetoric of egalitarianism and change that comes out of the mouth of this scruffy, beige-jacketed socialist. Cameron famously shouted in his plum-mouthed tones that Jeremy should “put on a proper suit [and] do up [his] tie”. I get it, I do. I love nothing better than a good suit, and I think the British should keep up their image abroad as suited, top-hatted gentlemen swinging umbrellas and controlling the world’s finances – always silently superior. But I see something in that uneven face, that silver shock of hair, that train conductor’s hat, that sports jacket and that starkly tieless un-ironed shirt. I see something I didn’t see in Cameron’s middle-management cufflinks and his lighthouse forehead. I see something I do not see in Angela’s identikit campaign. I see truth. I see someone who’s too bothered with principles and ideology and with believing the words he says, with wanting to effect something progressive for this country, to bother with his public image. I see someone unwilling to engage in PR and spin, unwilling to play the shallow, nonsensical, irrelevant, bullshit games of Westminster – who actually gives a shit about people with Northern accents or black skin or vaginas that used to be dicks, or wheels where legs used to be.

 

You know that feeling after you eat a Maccy D’s? You know the one. When you’ve gorged yourself on a Big Mac and you’re full for ten minutes, tops, but when the initial sensation of an object having descended your trachea fades, you’re left with the feeling that you haven’t really consumed anything. Your organs don’t feel rejuvenated like after food with any actual nutritional value, you don’t feel warmed or fed; you just feel like you inhaled some synthetic food-like product; some plastic-based, cardboard-flavoured trash that really is nothing – it looks colourful and like food should look, but inside it’s hollow ash and empty calories. Well that’s the feeling I had looking at Eagle’s campaign when she unveiled it. She wrote an article for the Guardian to coincide with it and oh-my-fucking-God it was a whole mess of nothing. It contained such insightful, sparkling, intelligent, ideological, meaningful tidbits as these:

 

“It is our duty to ensure that the new prime minister, Theresa May, faces a credible and forensic opposition, and to offer a bright future for our damaged economy and fractured society.”

 

“I’m no Blairite, Brownite or Corbynista. What I am is my own woman”.

 

“But if we are to succeed, we need to concentrate on the politics of hope, not on grievance and blame. That’s the only way we can deliver on our principles of equality, social justice and social mobility.”

 

She’s said… nothing, really, has she? Nothing that hasn’t already been spouted by others of her ilk, anyway. Corbyn is unelectable. That’s basically what she said. Oh and remember – she’s her own woman. Phew. I was worried she wasn’t. She did make the recycled point that MPs who were elected by 8,000,000 constituents are trying to get rid of Corbyn, and therefore, arguably, they have more of a democratic mandate than Corbyn does, elected as he was by a paltry couple hundred-thousand members. But this point is rather easily quashed. You know how much it cost to be a Labour party member? Three quid. All 8,000,000 of those constituents, if they agreed with the MPs to whom they have given a mandate, can register as members and get rid of the old man before you can say “worker’s revolution”. Now they can register as members of the Unite union for 50p a week. They can become members for £25. But they didn’t, and they don’t. Which suggests one of two things. Either they are ambivalent towards Corbyn or they actively like him. And if they just don’t have 25 quid going spare… Well, then, we need Corbyn now more than ever.

 

To be honest, I am not even sure, personally, that I want Corbyn in power. I have no horse in the race, truly. I’m a white, middle-class, straight, mentally balanced male from the south of England with two law degrees. The dude isn’t looking after me. I don’t need looking after. Whatever system we have ever had so far has done that pretty well for people like me. But I am damn sure I want him in opposition, because I care about Britain and its people. I want him, shadowed by his massive grass roots support and Momentum – a united political movement the likes of which people of my generation have never seen – across the dispatch box from the Tories, bearing down upon them, snarling at them that we will not take neoliberalism and globalisation if it means our infrastructure, our rights, our livelihoods get destroyed.

 

Perhaps he may be misguided. I wasn’t alive during the seventies. I didn’t see the mining unions hold the country to ransom; I didn’t see bin bags piled high in the street; I didn’t see ‘Communist’ Russia, so I don’t have any of that to refer to. But I tell you what I have seen: I have seen a Department of Work and Pensions responsible for indirect manslaughter because the private profiteers to whom it contracts out care more about cutting costs that ensuring Johnny Disabled can eat. I have seen food banks proliferate in my great country – a country I deem to be the best in the world, which should be able to engineer a state that ensures the poorest in society are looked after if the private sector fails them. I saw banks get bailed out by the government while the people get poorer on zero-hour contracts. I saw financial criminals given a slap on the wrist in the papers and a bonus by their bosses for ruining this country and bringing its main industry – the City – to the precipice. I’ve seen the systematic selling off of our industries and our infrastructure and the gradual privatisation of public services we rely on. I see an electoral system plagued by billionaire donor money and corrupt media moguls. And I do not want to see it any longer. Those policies are not sound economics, they are not long-term ideas to generate sustainable growth and prosperity – they are the last belches of a country sick of itself, that has run out of steam like a bankrupt Aristocrat selling all the old paintings of his descendants. It can’t last. I want to see some nationalisation, some investment in the public sector and some regulation of the private sector, an end to the illusory, fallacious rhetoric of defecit economics.

 

I would like to see the private train system, an effective monopoly, taken back in to public hands so it can no longer raise ticket prices year on year beyond inflation while gutting the service it offers with no accountability besides a complaints procedure. I would like to see our head of state at least lead the world in a conversation about nuclear disarmament. I know, you may think his view on Trident is wildly dangerous, but remember it is still Labour policy to renew it. At least we would have a leader willing to discuss the issue. And when it comes to Trident, I always like to think of something Carl Sagan said – the concept of nuclear deterrents and mutually assured destruction is like having two people standing waist deep in petrol, one holding three matches, the other five. I would like to see our NHS not only protected, but improved, built upon and thriving. And I would like to see an end to the rape of our lands through fracking, and a new dawn for renewable energy. All this is to say nothing of the valuing of the poor and the workers and their rights.

 

And you know what? Maybe it won’t work as well as idealists and socialists hope. But that doesn’t matter. Not in the long run. It seems our politics is always preoccupied with the idea of the “final solution” when it comes to progress. That we need policies in place and a governing ideology that can stand forever, always working. There isn’t one. There are merely solutions to situations that present themselves. I applaud Thatcher for breaking the grip of the Unions in the eighties and taking our country into an era of economic prosperity. The only problem was that she did it not only for the purpose of ending the union tyranny, but because she was clinging vehemently to the ideology of neoliberalism. The neoliberal philosophy that informed her actions became scripture, and still is – unable to be altered or argued against. There is no flexibility and it has meant that we are where we are now – stuck with an economic policy that seeks to whore our country out to the highest bidder and which fetishises and idolises individualism to the point of isolation and which is, when you get down to it, nothing but numbers circulating on trading-floor screens, and waiters and waitresses. Really, we should place flexibility and freedom upon the pedestals of our regard. Remember what Churchill said of democracy after all: that it is the worst system we currently have, apart from all the others. Flexibility informed always by overarching goals: those of progress, of satisfaction and high living standards, of cohesion and competition, of liberty and work and intellectual evolution.

 

The fear mongering is unwarranted. I voted ‘in’ in the referendum, but I buy in to no fear mongering. The FTSE 100 – arguably as good a gauge of how things are going as a Twitter poll, being as it is an externalisation of the fears and prejudices of detached, money-hungry investors rather than a measure of the actual productivity of the companies themselves – is doing okay. As is the pound. We will be fine. Likewise, we will be fine if Corbyn gets elected. And, on top of that, perhaps we’ll have a country informed more by ideas of egalitarianism, a country less divisive and divided and more prosperous, run for its citizens rather than CEO coffers, and a society more collusive in its capitalism. I support Corbyn, because he is the solution to the issues that blight us right now.