Wednesday, 3 December 2008

The Ultimate Cockup

Our elected leaders seem to be content to allow us to descend through depression to disaster - and seems that there is nothing that can be done about it. The smart advice, as for example from George Monbiot, gives us a way out of our current problems. He proposes a sensible set of steps that could be taken, that might save the world, but at the least would make the country a better place to survive the impending nightmare. Things like installing insulation and improving public transport are just so damn sensible - so why are our leaders so committed to saving the banks and our debt culture?


The latest announcements allowing those struggling to repay their mortgage to run up more debt seem designed to just make it all worse! The complete lack of thought in what they are doing might seem unbelievable - but unfortunately it is all just too believable.

In Banks' novel Excession, this remarkable author presents the idea of an Outside Context Problem, the kind of problem "most civilisations would encounter just once, and which they tended to encounter rather in the same way a sentence encountered a full stop." Our leaders are facing not just one, but two of these. They have let the money game escalate to such a state that they have no idea how they can find a way through it, and have noticed that our capitalist penchance for growth has led to a situation where, even if the disastrous climate shifts don't occur, we still can't supply the wants of the billions who now inhabit this limited globe.

The claim is that this country is richer than it has ever been - yet we cannot consider the massive building programmes from the past. We have lost our way as a country, and probably as a culture. Watching the remake of "Survivors" on the BBC leads me to realise just how much we have lost - these people cannot even build a chicken run - while the representation of a politician as being prepared to shoot a frightened survivor as a looter is just all too believable.

The suggestion is to hope for the best and plan for the worst. Just how do we plan for the worst at the moment? The worst is so incredible that it is impossible to plan for. It is certain that I am not the only to read this in the situation we currently face. Our leaders are so detached from reality that they do not realise just how bad things are. I am minded of the wonderful description from the Illuminatus! Trilogy...

"He spoke with some asperity, since he lived daily with the dread that someday the secret tapes he kept of all Oval Room transactions would be released to the public. He had long ago vowed that if that day ever came, the tapes would not be full of "(expletive deleted)" or "(characterization deleted)." He was harassed, but still he spoke with authority. He was, in fact, characteristic of the best type of dominant male in the world at this time. He was fifty-five years old, tough, shrewd, unburdened by the complicated ethical ambiguities which puzzle intellectuals, and had long ago decided that the world was a mean son-of-a-bitch in which only the most cunning and ruthless can survive. He was also as kind as was possible for one holding that ultra-Darwinian philosophy; and he genuinely loved children and dogs, unless they were on the site of something that had to be bombed in the National Interest. He still retained some sense of humor, despite the burdens of his almost godly office, and, although he had been impotent with his wife for nearly ten years now, he generally achieved orgasm in the mouth of a skilled prostitute within 1.5 minutes. He took amphetamine pep pills to keep going on his grueling twenty-hour day, with the result that his vision of the world was somewhat skewed in a paranoid direction, and he took tranquilizers to keep from worrying too much, with the result that his detachment sometimes bordered on the schizophrenic; but most of the time his innate shrewdness gave him a fingernail grip on reality. In short, he was much like the rulers of Russia and China."

We certainly live in interesting times. Those who are down-trodden will eventually be faced with a desperation, and I cannot think that they will take it as well as they did in the last great depression. Unless our leaders get to grips with the current reality, the future reality will be a nightmare.

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