What Recent Events have Taught Us...

(or, how Jonathan Swift's satirical warning about a world where an Establishment full of pretensions and self importance feeds off a Gullible Citizenry became reality ... 300 years later!)

  1. The Ruling Class:
    1. The American Dream was founded on the core liberal value of equality of opportunity and the formation of a classless meritocracy. However, this old belief that anyone - irrespective of background - can penetrate the elite as long as they have talent, perseverance and gumption no longer applies. Over the past 40 years misguided anti-liberal economic, education and social policies across the world have led to a renaissance of a a new Ruling Class based on a hereditary meritocracy where only the hard working children from privileged backgrounds are most likely to succeed.
    1. Whether in the guise of Socialism, privileged paternalistic Burkian Conservatism, or a Masters of the Universe corporate culture, this new Ruling Class used the "we know what's good for you " mantra as the vehicle from which to impose their will. In charge of government, industry and finance, this Ruling Class fooled everyone into believing that they were an intellectual elite, and self importantly they strutted and postured as if they were more knowledgeable and naturally superior than the rest of society: all we needed to do was trust them and they would lead us to the promised land.
    1. This shameful deceit was brutally exposed by financial crisis of 2008: this revealed that far from setting the agenda or being in control, they were in fact at the mercy of events and were not acting in the best interests of their citizens. Unaware of what was going on around them, unable to control or fix the economy, this Ruling Class were shown to be acting in their own interests, often corrupt, immoral and uncaring, and intellectually incapable of creating a vision for a better world for anyone but themselves. These really were Swift's Lilliputians: small men posing as giants!
    1. However, perhaps the real villains are the masses themselves: for too long they were all too willing to believe the propaganda of the ruling class and let their hegemony go unchallenged in return for an easy life of low aspiration and minimal responsibility. The Ruling Class infantilised and intimidated a population who washed their hands of personal and community responsibility by having too much done for them. Personal responsibility, self help, and self confidence were all undermined to such a extent that the majority were duped into believing that Government was the solution: in fact it was the problem. "Government should do something" had become the default battle cry of the masses who thought so little of themselves.
  1. The Deceit of the Expert:
    1. Economists were especially guilty of believing that their discipline was a natural science and that they had new paradigms that could control and predict the future: they didn't and they couldn't! The hubris of economists hand-in-hand with politicians - who are looking to find an economic theory that sits neatly with their ideological stance - is especially dangerous as the certainty of economic/political theories like “No more Boom & Bust…” illustrates. Nobel prizes are dished out to economists with their new mathematical formulae that will anticipate the future, only to see them quickly overtaken by events and consigned to the dustbin of history again. No economists predicted the extent of the worldwide financial crash in 2008, but that doesn't stop them from still arrogantly believing that if they look hard enough there is a golden equation locked away somewhere that will answer all the questions. They are wrong, there isn't!
    1. Poltiticians who are put in charge of government departments they normally have little or no experience in are easly manipulated by so called experts within academia, Think-Tanks and the civil service. This makes them prey to all the latest trendy ideas and fads, but because the ruling class are desperate to maintain that old lie that government knows best, decisions are being driven through by totally ill-equipped and under trained politicians who blunder into framing policy that they are intellectually unequipped to challenge properly. Combined with the fact that so few top politicians have any scientific background, they are so reliant on political advisers and dogmatic imperative that they often ignore solid scientific evidence because it doesn't suit their agenda (eg. the dangers of restricted drugs). But most arrogantly, some politicians (especially those with a socialist mind set) think that the have the capability to pick winners: they interfere in industrial policy despite having no business or technological experience and use tax-payers money (rather than their own!) to invest in vanity projects. Concorde is the most obvious example , but there are so many other times when politicians catch on to latest crazes (usually after it's too late!): the Apps and Coding obsession are two recent examples of politicians latching onto misunderstood technological mumbo-jumbo.
    1. Unfortunately, Scientists also all too often speak with certainty because admissions of doubt or scepticism would expose the truth about the politicisation of many sensitive science based areas. Climate Change is the most prominent example where much of the discussion now relies on policy based evidence rather than evidence based policy, so scientists, politicians ans journalists now line-up behind the side of the argument that best suits their political affiliations. This is clearly illustrated when climate scientists are spoken to in private when they always then talk in terms of probability and doubt in what is an extremely complex and uncertain field, but in public fears about losing influence and funding all too often leads to an emphasis on the desirable facts.
  1. Economic Management:
    1. Governments around the world encouraged financial misconduct and failed to predict the crisis. They almost bankrupted our state through bank bailouts and ‘pump priming’ the economy and borrowing even during the good times. (ie. 2001 to 2008). All the Ruling Class agreed with the central policy planks both before and after the financial crisis. And their solution? Return the state to exactly the way it was before – but now with an additional massive debt burden for future generations.
    1. Central Banks around the world utterly failed to predict financial crisis, failed to pre-empt it with appropriate warnings or rate setting, failed to restrain the banks as the lender of last resort, and completely failed to understand that just having an inflation target strategy to regulate the world economy means of stopping boom and bust was laughably simplistic. For instance, the Governor of the Bank of England (Mervyn King) totally washed his hands of responsibility for anything, which makes you wonder why he was there at all(?) Or indeed, what the point of a 'Central Bank' is? Accepted interventionist theories like Keynesianism & Monetarism always fail: governments, central banks and economists think that they can control the economy, but in fact only create problems for the future.
    1. Financial Watchdogs: All of the above! Failed in their one primary task of regulating the financial sector. (eg. theUK's Financial Services Authority).
    1. Banks: Total failure to recognise their responsibilities to the the community at large, its citizens, or to act for the greater economic good. Knowing that they were 'too big to fail' allows them to borrow cheaply, lend without hazard, feel that they were above the law, and pay their staff extortionate amounts. Governments (tax payers) subsidise the banks even in the 'good' years. The financial sector bullied and duped timid, clueless governments, central banks and financial authorities into believing that tax payers had to underwrite them rain or shine. The Bankers also persuaded the hapless authorities that an economy could be built on money making money, which led to the acceptance of socially useless practices and permitted a culture of excess. Far from being a service industry that fuels the real economy, the financial sector became a detached and self interested entity on their, and took money away from socially productive investment in the real economy.
    1. Bailouts: Financial institutions lending to countries, businesses and individuals went out of control because lenders and borrowers alike always knew that government and central banks would bail them out if they got into trouble. This removed moral hazard that underpins the successful running of the capitalist system. The effect was to load huge amounts of debt onto taxpayers who will be paying the bills off for generations to come. The Greek Crisis is a microcosm of everything that is wrong with the current system:
      1. Out of control bank lending to Greece in the knowledge that the creditors could always be bailed out by the European taxpayer;
      1. A government that was allowed to borrow without any thought of the long term consequences.
      1. A hapless and politicised Central Bank (ECB)
      1. Arrogant, naive and hopelessly incompetent European Union governments that bulldozed through a single currency project without thinking through the consequences;
      1. A complete failure by the EURuling Class to understand the consequences of further Political Integration of nation states.
      1. When combined together, all of this EU interventionist hubris has inevitably led to a rise in European-wide nationalism and animosity not seen since 1945.
  1. The Forces of Anti-liberalism & Anti-globalisation are gathering:
    1. There has been a renaissance of the radical left and right as illustrated by Vladimir Putin’s Russia, Marine Le Pen’s Front National in France, Syrzia in Greece, and Donald Trump in the USA. What they all have in common is a belief that globalisation and the integration of the world's economies is the root cause of their nation's problems. They want to return to a 1930s world of nations that are industrially independent, restrict imports through tariffs, restrict competition, and re-open old industries. The State will once again be the vehicle that decides industrial and social policy, not the free-market or the people.
    1. The mainstream media is once again openly talking about the end of Capitalism and Postcapitalism (eg. Paul Mason) predicting a neo-Marxist Utopia with the State once again in the ascendant.
    1. A revival of very conservative Religious Fundamentalism with anti-liberal, anti-enlightenment authoritarian dogma at its heart is creating a dark cloud over the world: the very existence of our tolerant and free world is being challenged. Islamic conservatism is the most obvious threat, but Christian fundamentalists who take a literal view of the Bible (teaching issues like Creationism) and the rise in Hindu Nationalism are two other glaring examples.
  1. The Failure of Socialism:
    1. Wherever and whenever it has been tried, socialist governments end with economic bankruptcy, personal repression, a dependency culture, and the impoverishment of its people and their spirit.
    1. Even now, 20 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, states such as Venuzuela and Argentina have not learnt the lessons. Their governments borrow hugely to fund their statist projects, and then turn on the very people who lend them the money in terms of evil capitalist parasites who should forgive them all their debts and lend them still more. Socialist governments have never reconciled this fundamental contradiction that they despise the hand that feeds them, whether it be lenders, private industry, or tax payers.
    1. Socialism and its two 2oth century offspring Communism and Fascism (both Anti-Liberal and Anti-Capitalist systems of government) have crushed the spirit, enterprise, creativity and fundamental freedoms of its citizens, and always leaves a nation's citizens poorer and spiritually less equipped for the self reliance that bring people true happiness and fulfillment.
  1. Politics of Nothing - the emptiness of Rage & Anger:
    1. The fact that preening self publicists like Russell Brand and Donald Trump have been taken seriously is a terrible indictment of how far mistrust and disillusion with the establishment has gone, and how powerless normal citizens feel. Brand and Trump have lots of anger and rage towards the ruling class that they claim to despise, but do not offer any coherent alternatives. Brand's so-called revolution of cringe-making anti-establishment ramblings and Trump's bigoted isolationist and anti-globalisation rhetoric would in normal times be treated with contempt and hilarity by all but a few pathetic fringe groups.
    1. The Tea Party in the USA and UKIP in Great Britain also offer lots of anger, but very few solutions. They confusingly refer to themselves as Libertarian despite the fact much of their woolly rhetoric is very authoritarian, believing that the state should tell people how they should conduct their lives, they are anti-choice, and they want to isolate themselves from the global capitalist economy. For instance, they want to prosecute people who make the personal choice to take drugs, they want to prosecute sex workers, they want to tell people who they can marry, they are NOT pro-choice on Abortion, and the Tea Party are vehemently anti-globalisation, pro-isolation, and want to put up external trade barriers to protect US industry. They are all full of venom and hate and want to destroy the existing order, but offer virtually nothing in its place. Their so-called Libertarianism seems to be primarily based on a depressingly pessimistic desire to hide and retreat from the world and society as a whole, and just concern themselves with their own self interest: in their small world less government and lower taxes is all about maximising their own wealth and being left alone to lead cut-off and isolated lives. This anti-social hatred of the rest of society means that they do not care about equality of opportunity for those less fortunate than themselves, they have a total disinterest in the plight of many Minorities, and have no regard about their responsibilities to the global community as a whole.
    1. The danger is that we disregard these confused and angry voices at our peril: as the history of the first half of the 20th century has shown, if the establishment does lose trust and respect and is perceived to just be feathering its own nest, then fringe and extreme elements that were often written off as comical are able to succeed and thrive. The rise of communism and fascism weren't takeovers and coups by a few: they were supported by a large disillusioned population who felt powerless and disenfranchised .
  1. Freedom & Rights: The recent attacks on basic personal freedoms and liberty - as most tragically illustrated in the Paris Charlie Hebdo massacre - have illustrated democratic governments around the world have completely failed to protect and promote the basic rights of the individual. The Ruling Class have been tolerant of intolerant ideologies that are diametrically opposed to the liberal values and are the foundation of a free democratic world, and repressed our fundamental rights to talk openly and offend. This repression of free speech under the guise of fear of causing offence has two main sources:
    1. a cynical attempt by governments to cosy up to deeply unpleasant regimes if it is supposedly in our strategic or economic interest (eg. Saudi Arabia).
    1. the growth of a politically correct establishment of guilty self haters who wrongly associate our core western liberal values and traditions as being inexorably linked to our inglorious imperialist past (inc. slavery, cultural repression and military occupation).
  1. Press: A Free Press is central to the success of an open, democratic and liberal society. However, recently there has bee a global self inflicted retrenchment of these freedoms due to:
    1. Tame, weak and frightened journalists who are too easily scared and intimidated by a politically correct establishment and extremist threats. Mainstream media are now terrified of causing offence to certain groups, and even so called satirical publications like Private Eye lamely pick on the usual soft targets who they know won't hit back: a total contrast with the publish-and-be-damned attitude of Charlie Hebdo.
    1. Total failure to regulate itself, and a total disregard for what a free press’s fundamental responsibilities are in an open and free society. An obsession with Celebrity culture has meant that all sorts of socially unacceptable and criminal behaviour takes place often directed towards those least able to defend themselves. Meanwhile, a proper scrutiny of governments, business, religious groups, and wealthy individuals fails to occur, often because of fear of legal action.
  1. Legal Profession:
    1. Failure to prosecute wrongdoing in the financial sector, and a restrictive force on competitiveness and Free Trade. The legal profession is now mainly used by large corporations who use expensive law companies to prevent competition - smaller businesses and startups do not have the financial resources to take them on.
    1. Wealthy individuals and governments too increasingly use lawyers to repress the press and freedom of speech, knowing again that they have the financial muscle to bully people into silence. The legal profession is increasingly becoming regarded as not a defender of our rights and freedoms, but instead a restrictive enforcer of the ruling class.
  1. Child Abuse Cases: Establishment figures from within religious organisations, politics, and the world of celebrity got away with child abuse often for decades because they believed they were untouchable. This global scandal goes to the heart of the problem with unaccountable closed institutions such as churches, an arrogant, bullying Ruling Class, and a media obsession with celebrity figures that are built up to be far more important and relevant than they actually are.
  1. Police: A complete inability to regulate themselves, and a worrying trend towards becoming a defender of the few rather than a protector of all the people.

(Next: What is the Liberal Awakening?)
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