The Future Is For Sale

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‘Conflict investment is the way forward!’ Applause rose, and clattered at the glass roofing like the wings of pigeons startled into flight. Around the lecture theatre, men and women came to their feet, hands pumping together. The entire contingent of Shorn Associates were gathered in the room. The youngest, Chris noticed, were the most fervent. Faces gashed open with enthusiasm, teeth and eyes gleaming in the late afternoon sun from roof and picture window. They looked ready to go on applauding until their hands bled. ‘

– Richard Morgan, Market Forces

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Time was that when people felt disaffected with the way life choices were dished out in England, they rioted. But not any more, now they make a concerted effort to rediscover their roots (or some roots), and they may even go so far as to seek utopia abroad. There can be no more glorious a venture than embarking on jihad in order to help one’s Muslim sisters and brothers fight against moral and social injustice. Indeed many have done just that, remember the conflict between Croatia and Serbia in which the UN forces were able to do very little? No? Then you’ll surely remember the photo of a child, raped and hanging from a tree after the fall of Srebenica. There were a lot of people (mostly Muslim) hung from a lot of trees by Serbian ‘soldiers’ after the fall of Srebenica. That was a pivotal moment, communicated to us by the British media, and probably the moment in which many Muslims decided they would risk travelling to to that war zone to defend their Muslim brothers and sisters. Who could blame them? After that photograph of a seven year old Bosnian girl who had hung herself after being raped came out who would dare?

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Stories came out after the war had ended, stories of mass rapes and one story told me by someone who had counselled a former soldier. A young man who, whilst high on drugs had taken and killed somebody’s baby in the most drug crazed way he could think of. When I heard that story I had nothing but unstinting admiration for those young Muslim men who had gone off to fight, doing for their people what no UN soldier had been allowed to do.

An Isis propaganda photograph.

Not so with ISIS, who seem to have adopted some of the tactics the Serbians employed in Srebenica, raping Yazidi Christian women, slitting the throats of charity workers who left Europe and America to offer help, and threatening to slit more throats if their demands aren’t met. Yes, they have a slick corporate media machine exuding a very persuasive message. But like most slick corporate machines, you get left with a really ‘icky’ sense of manipulation afterwards, as though you’ve been ‘slimed’ over. Do I get why they initially travelled out to Syria? Given Basher Al-Assad’s brutality towards his own people, of course I do. What I don’t get is why cultural disaffection or disconnection, has caused them to set up a state that infringes on the territorial sovereignty of two nations, or why twenty-first century women have elected to take a step back in time, and play ‘step & fetch it’ to a bunch of throat slitting idealists. The whole developed world has been panicked into action by these fanatical idealists and rightly so, after all they are as passionate about their fanatical beliefs as say the average corporate executive.

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Choose Life?

Some months ago I took  a walk through the huge Stratford Shopping Mall that lies just beyond the Stratford Train Station, in London. I was really really impressed; not only could you shop to your heart’s content there, you could eat and drink to your heart’s content too. Imagine that! A shopping mall that gives you all you could desire and has its own social cleansing mechanisms as well! I kid you not, if your face don’t fit the security team will make sure you’re not coming in (again). I was told this with much pride by a frequent shopper there. The holistic shopping centre experience, one of those markers that tells us beyond a shadow of a doubt that the economy is on the turn around. Now we’re back to never having had it so good!

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Low wages for extortionate hours of work are a side issue next to the opportunity to shop till you drop. Zero contracts? Irrelevant next to the ability to buy Louis Vuitton, Burberry and the latest Tommy Hillfiger products. A lot of people (roughly) are on minimum wage and zero hour contracts, so how you may ask, do they afford to ‘shop till you drop’. How indeed, working for money grabbing organisations, issuing draconian contracts of employment, with lop-sided sickness and holiday entitlements (in many cases). Think about it, if they are earning barely enough to pay for any financial outgoings (minus food), how are they going to obtain the means to live David Cameron’s dream?

Talk to many people who have entered Britain from within Europe in order to find work, and you will hear the same old, same old. They know they came to England to generate a substantive income they can’t generate back home. They know that the work they’re getting in England isn’t really paying significant amounts. They see politicians who have well and truly never ever had it so good. So they don’t see why they shouldn’t enjoy some of what they see unscrupulous business people and politicians having. So let us ask the question again, how are these people making the money from the jobs they have managed to obtain? It’s a bit of an enigma isn’t it?

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Ah, but the attitude of the government towards the poor and the wealthy isn’t. The poor we are told must learn not to presume on the largesse of the state, meanwhile the affluent may presume all they want. The closure of public libraries all over England, the prolific sanctioning of benefits claimants, the reallocation of single parent mothers to neighbourhoods they don’t know, the withholding of benefits to disabled claimants on spurious grounds, the proliferation of food banks for the working poor, the closure of youth centres and child care centres, the culture of pay day loans and pawn shops, all these things have made the presumptions of the rich possible.

It is possible to manipulate the morality of the whole situation but in the end we all know the truth. If I am unscrupulous, lacking in morality, cut throat and ruthless in business and contemptuous of my workers to the point of making a bumper profit, I will get a clap on the back from the government in the form of a back door pay rise. If I’m honest enough to claim the benefits I myself paid into the system when I am unemployed or worse still ill, I will have my benefits frozen for two years and hence receive a slap in the face.

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