Britain’s economy heading for bankruptcy? / FRFI 207 Feb / Mar 2009

FRFI 207 February / Narch 2009

$14 trillion was wiped off global share values in 2008, a record yearly decline. The US Dow Jones lost nearly 35%. The main European stockmarkets performed even worse, with falls of more than 40%. London’s FTSE 100 lost 31.3% of its value, the largest annual decline since the index was created in 1985. The British government’s rescue plan for leading UK banks last October made little impression. In 2008 HBOS lost 90.4% of its value, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) 78% and Lloyds TSB 73%.

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The spectacle

the spectacle

Napoleon said he would give three regiments for a newspaper. What price would Tony Blair pay? Whatever was asked. Remarking on how the most modestly gifted might assume statesmanship, Baudelaire observed that ‘the supreme glory of Napoleon III will have been to prove that anybody can govern a great nation as soon as they have got control of the telegraph and national press’. Well, almost – don't forget the costume! ‘Fake it till you make it.’

World advertising expenditure is now over half the world expenditure on public education. The rate of growth of advertising spending far exceeds that on education: marketing works. It lures, seduces and we buy. And so this political process laughably called a democratic election is colonised by public relations’ agents, focus groups, sound bites – anything that fits on a t-shirt; the ever-optimistic, entertaining, smiling pose, the photo-opportunities, film sets and art of shop window dressing. A tale of two dummies and a political process without people. The electorate are passive observers and information flows one way – down to the consumers. Millions of pounds, miles of newsprint and screen hours are devoted to sustaining the myth of choice: gone are political meetings open to the public. Welcome to the sanitised, staged rally and woe betide the intruder.

Presented like reassuring memories of the authentic in this world of fakery and fraud are Major’s soapbox and Blair’s handwritten contract. Mocking parodies of things that were once real and, as such, suitable emblems for this deceit.

‘In the era of printing and parliamentarianism, it is impossible to gain the following of the masses without a widely ramified, systematically managed, well-equipped system of flattery, lies, fraud, juggling with fashionable and popular catchwords and promising all manner of reforms and blessings to workers right and left – as long as they renounce the struggle for the revolutionary overthrow of the bourgeoisie.’ (VI Lenin)