ONE blogs – JOHN CALDER – CHAIN REACTION

Modern communication technology is effecting events that is involving the forgotten segment of society internationally in a way that no-one foresaw. And that segment is the youth of today, not only the teenagers and early twenty year-olds, but also those younger ones who have to share all the miseries of hard times and the indifference of the affluent middle-age bourgeoisie. The rich get richer and not only do the poor get poorer, but they get far more numerous. And the speed of communication, through all the electronic media, together with the universal spread of mobile phones – nothing is easier to steal – is bringing that generation together internationally as never before.

The Arab Spring brought together deprived youth in revolution against long-established dictatorships, some of which have collapsed while others are daily likely to follow suit. The same phenomenon has now brought about wide-spread revolt amping deprived British youth. While the authorities threaten strong measures against what it calls criminality, even daring to use the word greed, so recently applied to banks, politicians and stock-market-users generally, only a few lone voices raise the important events that have led to the recent violent eruptions among the young. And that is obvious, except to politicians.

For years a large portion of society has been poorly housed, if at all, badly fed, deprived increasingly of every social benefit that was previously taken for granted, often so badly education that illiteracy has become common and numeracy inadequate, for modern society, as well as general knowledge being confined to the basic needs the poorest existence etc. etc. Along with this goes all the racial abuse and hostility of a native population that dislikes difference, especially when job competition is involved; while, at the same time the different lives and prospects of those who have found ways to live well, avoid taxes, get admired for being in some way celebrated. Envy can quickly turn to hatred, very similar to what we have seen in Arab countries.

Politicians, once elected, seem unaware of all this. Ministers have gone on holiday to pleasant places, leaving behind hungry masses who can afford neither holidays or any other leisure, except to hang about street corners with nowhere to go, no activity provided by council or state, living in stultifying boredom. It is the elected representatives, being salaried, pensioned and holidayed, who should be arrested, not the ignored youth, which has nothing. One in five of them has no job or a prospect of one and every day the unemployed grow, while every social benefit is cut because all the state money has been given to the banks, who are paying bonuses to the very people whose stupidity and greed caused the problems.

It only needs a few leaders to turn the demonstrators into something much more dangerous. They will come. They may be fascist or on the left, or both, or even have other agendas. But the clamor for action will not be forgiving. History courses have been stopped, another misguided economy. We will learn what happened in the great revolutions of the past, and also in the religious wars, and the nationalist wars: massacres, executions, mayhem, but too late.

As during the thirties – the Baldwin and Chamberlain years – the government prefers to do nothing and let events take their course because it can think of no alternative. But I can. Change the laws so that everyone must pay tax wherever they choose to live. Bring in an incomes policy with a bottom and a top, controlled through taxation. Nationalise, with no immediate recompense, all activities that have a necessary social or necessary function. Bring in rationing and import controls. An austerity budget – a single act of parliament can do it – must be introduced that takes precedence over private property, global finance and currency exchange. In other words, back to 1947. To know what the alternatives are, see what happened in 1887, 1917 and the following years, and in other years of revolution. Better austerity than repression with all the bloodshed that follows mob-rule.

And time is short. There are worse things on the horizon. Like nuclear war!

–   John Calder