Douglas Bastard's Rants of Rage


This article was written on 09 May 2016, and is filled under Uncategorised.

Managed decline

French people talk in terms of the ‘trentes glorieuses,’ the thirty years after the second world war in which living standards only increased. In the UK, Harold Macmillan said with some justification that we’d ‘never had it so good.’ Life since then has been decidedly uneven, with a cycle of boom and bust, conspicuous consumption and austerity, bellicose and smug self confidence yielding to agony and doubt. I was born in 1973, roughly the time that it all started to go wrong and there’s one message I want to communicate: it’s downhill from here.

When I was young, places like India and China were regarded and populous but hopelessly backward backwaters. Now the news that an Indian or Chinese company is interested in buying a British one is hailed as fantastic news for jobs. Items made in either country are on our shelves, in our wardrobes and being used by us every day. Lucky old us, then. We get cheap products to put in houses, flats or whatever and as long as we don’t think too much about the means of their making, we’re just fine. Except we’re not. We’re paving the way for our pampered Western living standards to decrease.

I’m not, incidentally, arguing for change, because it’s too late. What I most definitely am saying is that any politician in a Western country who tries to tell you that everything in the garden is peachy and will be peachy forever more is lying. This next stage, whether we like it or not, is a period of managed decline that is already steadily slicing our living standards away. Should I live to be seventy plus, I will be ageing into a society that looks very different from what it does now. The Tories will have done away with the NHS, because the writing is on the wall, we’re not building houses, so the idea of one person to a house will seem fantastic and wages will be stagnating or in reverse.

The first politician who says this will, of course, lose his deposit, but that doesn’t mean that it’s any the less true for all that. We’re all working, longer and longer hours with less and less return, to keep our heads above water. The people who want testing pushed through every layer of the education system insist that we’re in some kind of fictive ‘race’ with the Chinese and need to make our education system look like theirs (this overlooks the fact that in Finland, which has a very non-Chinese and eminently Nordic system routinely thrashes us). We can’t hope to win, but by struggling and kicking, we can tell ourselves that we are Doing Somethinh.

What we’ve created are two, notional pipes that are funnelling money to India and China. Their living standards go up, and ours can’t hope to stay the same. If they get richer with our money, then it must surely follow that we’re getting poorer. The consequences of that, merrily urged on by Tory economic policy which wants everything sold off and bugger the poor, are here already. More people are using food banks, poverty stats that were steadily decreasing are now spiking and homelessness is up. If we want to extrapolate a trend from this, in thirty years time when my dotage is well advanced, I’ll be lucky if I have a workhouse to go to. More likely, I’ll be lying under an archway being pissed on for sport by the affluent and insulated.

To keep us grinding on, they need to pretend that we’re all beavering away for something lovely and fine. And, of course, we’re not. Society arranges periodic performances to show that it isn’t all pointless. The elections are one, where we choose Barbie or Ken, Ken or Barbie as though the world is at stake. It isn’t, of course. We can’t vote on our head of state, we can’t vote on the House of Lords or whether we think unfettered capitalism is the way to go. We can choose between Barbie and Ken, because that’s safe and isn’t going to upset anyone. Anything else is tricky.

And this will carry on, of course, certainly for my lifetime. Those pipes that connect us to India and China will only get thicker and broader, our society will get poorer and the people will feel the effects. Including me, of course. And along those lines, here’s a prediction. We have an ageing population, because populations can’t go on increasing exponentially forever, and we’re dealing with that with our usual clumsiness. Stick them in a home where they’ll die in high-backed vinyl chairs, half senile and sat in their own piss and shit. And that’s why, by the time I get old, we’ll have state mandated suicide pills.

Doubt me? Think how easy it will make life for the government. They’ll have next to no money to spend on old age pensions so the offer will be this – take your own life or you are, financially, on your own. This means that if you’re reduced to beggary, then it’s because you have, in effect, chosen to be a beggar and what happens next is entirely your own fault. In time, society will be manipulated to see this as a wholly logical choice and the people who are left, the young and able bodied, will be working so bloody hard, possibly without weekends because they’re a bit decadent, they won’t care anyway. In fact, death might just even look like a bloody long, free sleep. This is the logical end point of our downhill journey. And for confirmation, all you need to do is get old.

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