ONE blogs – JOHN CALDER – Monday Man: LOOK BACK, DON’T STARE

editors’ note: If you know anything about John Calder, one of the UK’s most notorious publishers — who has brought us Alleg, Beckett, Duras, Hiss and Selby, you’ll note that even he jokes that anything electronic, from the TV to computer, tends to malfunction in his presence.

This is his first and only blog, an experiment. Typed in London on a manual, mailed to and re-keyed in Glasgow, ONE Magazine is pleased to present the Man for Monday. If your computer freezes on the article, you’ll know you went to the right place.

If a man walks off a cliff he cannot just walk back, and a burst bubble cannot be re-inflated by wishful thinking. But such obvious truisms never seem evident to politicians of whatever party, who will not allow themselves to realise that the artificial and corrupt boom of the last forty years has finally ended and will not return.

We are in a new era now, and it resembles less the depression of the 1930s, (although reading Galbraith, the course of events are much alike), as the immediate post-war situation when reconstruction meant rationing, regulation and control of food, essential materials and imports – as well as a general austerity that was accepted because there was no alternative. The gap between higher and lower incomes was not that great, and enforced by heavy taxation at the top.

But life was not dull. Culture flourished on all levels, the NHS and free education for those who wanted it helped to mix the classes. Food was not that interesting but there was just enough, no one starved, and there were enough jobs for general survival, council houses began to be built. Small industry did reasonably well and the asset-grabbing period of takeovers, the root cause of many of today’s ill, had not yet begun.

It was from that bedrock of the Attlee government that things gradually got better, not from trying to return to the boom of the 1920s, but by building a better society bit by bit, until the way was opened, unfortunately, to a new era of vulture globalism, Mainly by Margaret Thatcher.

Certain obvious things have to be recognised. Small industry, public or private, gives more jobs than large conglomerates, which always try to cut out people and replace them with machines. Trust in business, banking, and interrelationships of all kins, are based on human contact – knowing who you are dealing with. Computers, button pressing, and the increasing remoteness of even the simplest activities has lead to a growth of crime, fraud, duplicity and careless incompetence, always covered-up and denied. No one ever says ‘Sorry’ any more or admits an incompetence. That applies to the highest in the state, which simply cannot face anything other than going back, which is impossible.

An overpopulated world, soon to be largely drowned in low-lying areas, the growing threat of war, fueled by our insisting on selling arms to everyone, the growth of fundamentalism, fanaticism and every kind of nationalism, kept going by our insistance on invading other parts of the world, usually to get their oil or some advantage, the galloping global warming and shortages of food, water and energy, will soon lead to violent revolutions that will force out our blinkered politicians, who think of little except getting elected. 2009 will be a sinister year in world history. Where, I wonder, will the coming upheaval start and where are those that will lead it?

John Calder
51 The Cut, London SE1 8LF