Friday, 14 December 2012

Why Weymouth and Portland Borough Council hate and fear the people they purport to represent

The explicitly anti-internet rhetoric in said council's Christmas freesheet is all too typical of a basic distrust of the people whose interests it is supposed to defend.  This is not coincidental or dreamt up overnight; this is a basic condition of the very existence of that kind of shire elite.  As has been discussed at length here before, the self-image of these people is built on a fraudulent assumption that global capitalism isn't really happening to them, and any acknowledgement of the fact that it very much is would destroy the central delusion of their lives, their unearned sense of specialness and difference.  The admission of how similar their lives actually are to those of people in cities would be too much for them to bear, because their belief that they're Not Like That - that they have escaped what is in fact carried on the very air and in the very fabric of the economic system that sustains them - is the foundation stone of their existence.

But now it has become blatantly obvious that most people round here actually very much like global capitalism and are not ashamed of the fact - they are quite happy to play its games and have their lives defined by its major players, and somewhere like this, without a meaningful socialist tradition, who can blame them?  You have a straight choice here between global capitalism at its most deregulated in living memory and Rotarian parochialism, "the club tie and the firm handshake" - and faced with such a choice, Marx knew well that the former is infinitely more progressive.  And this is where the local elite's anger and paranoia comes in.  Knowing that what it thinks the area is has nothing to do with how most of its people choose to live, it resorts to coercion and emotional blackmail - saying "forget the internet" is really saying "forget global capitalism", but it's being said by people who read newspapers and vote for or represent parties which regard even the 1945-79 British model as akin to communism. So they go on, pretending that they exist somehow outside global capitalism when in fact they need it simply to eat and sleep and breathe, and all they can offer makes tax-dodging monoliths seem like the most open and free-thinking things in the world.  Look at that freesheet and you know in five seconds why so many socialists use Amazon, just as you could look at a meeting of the same council in 1967 and know in five seconds why so many socialists supported a singer and a set of entrepreneurs whose politics were, pace Rees-Mogg, "straight John Stuart Mill".

If an area such as this cannot find an identity for itself which doesn't involve attacking any kind of broader interrelationship or affinity with the socially "unsafe", can it blame itself if so many choose to isolate themselves from it?  If people like me are told that we don't really belong round here because our interests and aspirations are global, it is hardly surprising that our response will be mutual; in saying we don't belong we are, in fact, merely agreeing with our masters.  If a culture has to define itself by what it is not, and lacks the self-confidence and self-assurance to survive solely by what it is - if it has to stress the negative so as to strengthen any kind of positive - then it must be waiting for death.  It's a sign of profound weakness and insecurity that it cannot simply be proud of what it is, that it has to attack and denounce everyone else.

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