Friday, 17 June 2016

Our Fractured Society

What we are seeing in the tragedies at both Orlando and Batley is the same phenomenon of the marginalised, dis-empowered men on the margins of society who seek to take power back for themselves through violence against people who they consider have made them 'victim' and because they feel this is the only way their 'voice' will be heard.

The media on both sides of the pond are busy pointing fingers in the wrong direction to find the 'easy' answer for their readers and viewers. It is lazy simply to call these men 'unstable loners' who are 'disturbed individuals' with 'extreme political views' because to do so allows the politicians to ignore the reason why these men became isolated from society in the first place. The politicians can then gloss over why more men and women in both the USA and UK feel a similar sense of ever increasing isolation, as they too are pushed onto the margins of their society. People who find themselves increasingly reliant on food banks and other hand outs simply to keep starvation from their door. Many of those feeling increasingly marginalised in the UK are people who if you met them in the street you would never think they should be. They are the archetypal solid UK citizen who finds themselves on their uppers through unemployment, zero hours contracts, descent into ill health or minimum wages. The people who would never normally be considered 'benefit scroungers' and just need help and support, they hope, until they get themselves back on their feet. The same people who are now being criminalised by right wing politicians and their propaganda media magnifying glass in the never ending pursuit of the failed political and economic dogma that is the current model of neo-liberal, Western Capitalism.

In 'Das Kapital' Marx discusses his theory of the impact of the ever increasing demands of the pursuit of profit on the individual and its destructive action. Simply put every human being has a certain 'value' in terms of a balanced return of work given to society versus the return from society (the same idea was put forward by Adam Smith 50 years earlier in The Wealth of Nations). Marx pushed the argument beyond Adam Smith's contention of "a fair days work for a fair days pay" to argue the constant search for increased profit destroys this balance as 'work given' becomes ever greater while the return back to the individual is ever decreasing. This is a massive over simplification of Marx's core argument but is the basis of his assumption that capitalism will eventually destroy itself because profit is finite and thus 'revolution' is inevitable. A revolution which Marx considered would return the balance back to one which is sustainable by human beings, a social revolution such as the Beveridge Report inspired welfare state and NHS brought into being just after the Second World War in the UK, a social revolution which current Tory political dogma seeks to reverse and undo in the pursuit of increased profit and unfettered neo-liberal capitalism.

The new revolution against neo-liberal capitalism is underway across Europe, the striking workers in France, the mass marches against TTIP in Germany, the anti-austerity protests in Greece and the Junior Doctor's strike in the UK. In the latter case no politician nor media reporter appears to be grasping the message behind the mass support given the junior doctors by the English public. All attempts to demonise the junior doctors dispute by the Tory's friends in the media has fallen on stony ground, the English public know what is happening and are saying thus far and no further Mr Hunt, as far as the NHS in England goes. Sadly the same public still seem to be buying the 'immigrant benefit scrounger' line but as anger with regards the sick and disabled and their treatment by this government grows even this may begin to change. The same can been seen in the armed forces as more and more serving and ex-service members are making their work conditions and the UK government failings in support of the 'Armed Forces Covenant' be known widely where as two or three decades ago this very public presentation of UK Government's military 'dirty washing' would have been unthinkable.

We tend to think of Marx's political revolutions in terms of the Bolshevik Revolution of 1916 and its bloody aftermath and metamorphosis into the murderous repression of Stalinism. This is of course why 'Marxism' is claimed to be so dangerous to the Western political system. The problem with this argument is what happened in Russia post 1916 was not Marxism in any shape or form because Marx argued for social balance and liberty for all as the outcome of any post capitalist revolution as this was the only way the natural balance of sustainable 'profit' could be re-established. This is miles away from the command economy and the Gulags of Soviet era Russia or the 'Communist manifesto' of RISE or the SSP which is Stalinist and not Marxist in its roots and makes claims for a worker's paradise, one where only the political apparatchiks and intellectuals of RISE and the SSP know what is best for the 'workers'.

Scotland has seen a Marxist style revolution since 2000 with the rise and rise of the SNP as the electorate elected politicians who they consider are seeking to restore balance (fairness) into Scotland's society. We see the combination of Adam Smith and Marx's thinking in Scotland's 'living wage' program, we see the 'protection' of Scotland's NHS against excessive profit extraction by Westminster, we see the alleviation of the worst impacts of Westminster's welfare reforms; all as part of this process of returning the necessary creation of profit back into 'balance' as part of society in Scotland and not as the sole purpose of society which current mainstream neo-liberal political and economic theory would have us believe. The opposite of the Gordon Geko style claim the Cameron and Boris Tories sell of 'Greed being good'.

The tragedies of Batley and Orlando lie in the ever increasing fracturing of society as a result of the current excessive pursuit of ever greater profit at the expense of us as humans. A cost which will be paid for in increasing incidences of violence, by those who feel powerless, against innocent bystanders who are seen as agents of the 'state' and the cause of all suffering. These attacks are a symptom of the increasing failure of the present model of Western capitalism which current US and EU governments will try to cover with the veneer of 'terrorism' and the claims the perpetrators are just 'loners and nutters'. 

Yet to accept this view is similar to a cancer specialist ignoring precancerous lesions until the point where the patient's cancer is incurable and hides a far more serious problem growing in the heart of Western society.


  1. Great article and piece of analysis, but and forgive the "quibble". RISE and the SSP are hardly Stalinist but are Trotskyite opportunists in Trotsky's best fly-by-night, battening onto popular liberationary and democratic traditions.

    And, yes and otherwise, agreed, Scotland is undergoing a popular, civic, Marxist revolution at the very forefront of a peaceful vanguard which would have made MacLean, Connolly, Thomas Muir, RB Cunninghame Graham, the 1820 Martyrs, Matt Lygate et al, proud.

    Gandhi, also.

    The citizenry of Scotland/Alba are truly shifting the democratic tectonic plates on nations of these Atlantic islands and, perhaps, beyond these shores.

    Thank you, again, for your thoughts.

  2. Erratum: "are truly shifting the democratic tectonic plates on the perceptions of the nations...".

    Paulo Friere would also have been proud of this bottom-up display of revolutionary civic democracy (as would have been Camillo Torres, Simon Bolivar, La Passionaria, and the United Scotsmen, etc).

    Agai, thank you, and keep it coming, please.