By the 00s, the state was everywhere now in life; topping up wages here, awarding a huge contract there. The state is everywhere in a different way than before. Public sector monopolies had become private sector oligopolies which have had the consumer at their mercy. Political focus became fixed on the demands of the dominant neoliberal paradigm.
At one stage this New Labour government went a long way towards introducing ID cards for everyone, fundamentally changing the relationship between people and government. One positive of the current age of economic austerity was the ditching of this, but the state will be back with this one day. There’s a huge industry that’s grown around this to award public contracts to.
There’s an awful lot of history we’re not mentioning here, but in all the world’s other hideous problems there are some roots in the great mistake which we are trying to chart, the great mistake which has produced the concentrations of wealth and power that have warped society to its demands and driven society to such compounding mistakes. The original great mistake that led to the growth of governments and experts and people that know best, and produce such perversities of logic that have driven the world’s progress.
The world has been hijacked by bad ideas, which have accentuated the worst in human nature, stifled and squandered a fathomless wealth of human potential.
And in the face of these bad ideas, the political confusion contorts further. In the UK, it’s hard to believe that New Labour actually set out to preside over such an increase in the polarity of wealth as they did, but such was the outcome of their attempts. Is it that it was only in this form that they could hold political office again? It all seems so illusory now, now that the bills are arriving.
Dr Andelson said in 1992, and it became increasing so in the years since:
What we are presented with, from Right to Left, is not a coordinated structure embodying the best elements from both sides, not even a well-thought-out attempt at syncretism, but rather a bewildering welter of jerry-built solutions, each one based on political and emotional considerations and lacking any functional relationship to a unified system of socio-economic truth — let alone any rootage in a grand scheme of teleology or ethics.
And that’s how it is, just try and make it a bit better. There’s always been a feeling - like football fans chanting at their hapless manager: you don’t know what you’re doing! – that something is just fundamentally wrong with all of this. It’s mostly only football managers that get told this, it’s more obvious what to criticise them about.
This age has seen the rise of Managerialism, basically the idea that society is not a collection of individuals, but of groups, and that managerial skills and theories are wholly translatable between fields, without training or experience in a given field. Those that are trained in management can provide moral leadership to society and broker the relationships in a society. Just as surely as under state socialism, the individual dwindles, dependent on their betters for everything, even for moral guidance from corporate shepherds. They're almost the equivalent of political officers in Soviet factories, there to keep reinforcing the message.
If you work in an organisation of any size, next time you look at your boss, consider: he or she has probably been on a course that’s has told them that it’s their role to take moral leadership in society. And they could well have been given some contrived form of Darwinism on the same course.
It’s about management because the whole of it is an unnatural state, it needs constant management to keep it working. Governments and their whole sphere of activity exist purely because people are denied their economic rights.
What would happen – nay, explode - with the application of Henry George’s remedy would be just natural, it wouldn’t need management, and it really wouldn’t very much need government to serve it, at all. It wouldn’t need armies of bureaucrats and managers, running programmes with complicated funding streams, and all to alleviate the results of a simple injustice. All this could be swept away. All the management would come from the individual people, managing their own world. And we would see then that the people freed are right and know much, much better than managers.
We live with the inefficient waste of the vast state machine we have, yoked to enormous military and security power, managing the mangled and twisted relationships around the world, to supply the rich world, to enrich the rich of the rich world.
It’s made fairly explicit, a nation can’t have influence at the toppest of top tables unless it possesses credible nuclear capability, so colossal sums continue to be paid for nuclear weapons. It’s unclear what actual influence this attendance at the toppest of top tables brings. Actually, it's unclear what actual influence the others at the top tables have. It's all unclear and this is confused drivel really.
Why does the UK want to spend £100 billion or so for Trident? Hans Blix, who knows a bit about weapons, existent and non-existent, wrote this about it:
We’re going to be really ignorant now, probably, but something we’ve talked about regarding nuclear missile systems like Polaris and Trident, and we’ve never heard anyone ask, is: why do nuclear missiles need replacing? Do they get rusty? Do the warheads go stale? And if they do need replacing, why does it always have to be with a completely new system? What exactly needs to be updated and upgraded? Are the new missiles yet more destructive and even more accurate? Was there any requirement at all for them to be even better than they were before? If they need replacing, why can’t the order be for just a few more like the ones before, completely compatible with what is already there?
Obviously, the company that makes such things would want to sell states a completely new system that costs untold billions to develop, but why is such a thing agreed to, given the injurious expense of it? Whatever the arguments about the UK to have nuclear weapons, why couldn’t the UK have built their own? Is it because it isn't the UK's own? Why do we fall for these things? What really is the deal? It can be a puzzle what exactly this special relationship is. Obviously, these things are very complicated, just our whimsy, there’s experts on top of this. There's so many things that are so complicated and impenetrable, and seemingly no one ever asks about or considers.
In a letter to The Times in 2009, Field Marshal Lord Bramall and Generals Lord Ramsbotham and Sir Hugh Beach said that Trident was completely useless, and an awful lot of money was being wasted. We’ve come across the estimate that getting rid of Trident would finance the building of a million affordable homes, which is the imperative the nation needs.
Governments writhe and contort themselves to contain and manage society in the midst of the economic and military orthodoxies they must adhere to, and from this, try and come up with something they can sell to the electorate – or 25% of them, anyway – to meet the aspirations they’ve been brought up to believe in, the promise of progress. They patch things together year by year, election to election. They desperately seek economic fixes and employ cheap tricks on us to preserve the illusion of progress. They manage the truth about things, and frequently they lie.
Robert Andelson again:
A little Socialism here, and a little Capitalism there; a concern for the public sector here, and a concession to the profit motive there; a sop to the “underprivileged” here, and a bow to incentive there — put them all together, and what have you got? Nothing but a great big rag-bag, a haphazard pastiche of odds and ends without any bones and without any guts!
It is all desperately stitched together by governments as they go along, because it’s all based on a set of premises which ultimately don’t make sense, a whole load of assumptions that are falsehoods, a jigsaw where the pieces don’t fit. It isn’t natural, it doesn’t work and it has to be forced into contortions to contain this unnaturalness.
The State, as we know it, is a colossal historical mistake. Government of the scale and complexity it has reached is a product of this historical distortion of natural sense and moral right. Governments wrestle to square a circle and force false jigsaw pieces home. They manage society in the interest of international capital.
The Keynesian remedy of the post-war decades was called demand side economics, which put money into people’s pockets and thus create demand for more production. And then came the age of supply side economics, which puts money into the pockets of elites, and thus stimulates investment in production and increase demand for labour.
Neither of these macroeconomic focuses have worked in addressing the boom and bust cycles and the chronic problems of economics, and they can’t, because they’re both based on a falsehood. We’re still novices in all this, but we can’t help going as far as saying that really there is no such thing as macroeconomics. That there even is something called macroeconomics is a symptom of the great problem.
Sometimes it seems like governments themselves are perhaps the whole problem; after all, it is they that have collected all power together and given it to the powerful. Sometimes it feels like the woes of the world can all be traced back to having government in the first place, that can be bent to corrupt purpose.
The principal point and legitimacy of government is to secure the natural rights of its citizens, and to prudently issue money for their use, administer natural monopolies; little else is required.
Henry George said:
To prevent government from becoming corrupt and tyrannous, its organization and methods should be as simple as possible, its functions be restricted to those necessary to the common welfare, and in all its parts it should be kept as close to the people and as directly within their control as may be.
We’re a trillion miles from there at the moment. It begins with a single step. Please read Progress and Poverty.