Monday, 13 May 2013


There may not yet be need for the national distribution of tinfoil hats and ‘Keep Calm’ public service announcements, but there is something badly wrong at the heart of British politics. Nobody in Parliament quite knows what to do any more and nobody outside quite knows how to vote; just what do the parties stand for? Conan Doyle had Sherlock Holmes say “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

Franciscan friar William of Ockham gave his name to the theory known nowadays as Occam’s razor whereby, among competing hypotheses, the hypothesis with the fewest assumptions should be selected.  Or in modern parlance the least complicated explanation is most likely to be the truth. But to hell with all that theoretical bunkum - everybody loves a good conspiracy theory, don’t they? And both sides have them:

Polemicist gob-for-hire, Owen Jones likes to talk about some odd sort of right wing conspiracy whereby the (Boo!) Nasty Tories seek to permanently subjugate the former working classes, denying them a living wage and forever keeping them down. They hiss and point and stare down their beaky, toff noses while quaffing Champagne and passing legislation to allow their cronies to buy bits of the NHS even while millions die in unstaffed wards. Oh and they closed down t’pits in which the young Owen once dreamed of earning an honest crust. Now he’s reduced to spouting his neo-Marxist waffle at any newspaper willing to pay his fee.

Well, I’ve looked into all this right-wing conspiracy how’s-yer-father and as far as I can see, those with a right-of-centre bent are far too busy making a living to give a toss about keeping the workers down. The only thing they’re bothered about is paying as little tax as the system will allow. One thing that seems actually demonstrable is that in administrations practicing a light touch, almost laissez-faire approach to their economies the role of the state shrinks, as do its costs, as prosperity rises for almost everybody. Because these devious capitalists actually cause jobs! Of course some people can’t be helped, whatever system is in place.

On the other side of things we have the left and oh my, what a lot of devious meddling has been going on since 1848 when Uncle Karl offered up the family recipe  for, er… the destruction of the family, among other things. We get Lenin and Stalin and Mao and all sorts of purges and five-year plans and plots to murder intellectuals before they think about you too cleverly. We get Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals and we get Jean Monnet, the architect of the EU, with his plan for a full-on federal European state by stealth, which is going so well that even when countries try to leave they can be told to vote again or are forced to follow economic bail out plans that leave their people starving.

We get Cultural Marxism and Common Purpose and Demos and the Fabians and the Frankfurt School and so on. Every campus is riddled with right-on children wearing Che Guevara tee shirts and dreaming up witty and ungrammatical slogans for placards. We get all sorts of variants on the theme such as Utopian Socialism and Anarcho-Syndicalism and Mutualism and even, oxymoronically enough, Libertarian Socialism. My god, Marx could make a few bob on licensing if he was still about. It’s no wonder his followers can’t run a country - they can’t even agree what flavour of pinko they are. How about, for the chattering classes, Mocha-Marxa-Cappu-Commuccino?

And so to those conspiracy theories: Capitalist conspiracies - for they do exist – always revolve around a few people forming cartels to make big profits, usually by offering something too good to be true and relying on human greed to do the rest, taking advantage of a few thousand gullible mugs. Socialist conspiracies on the other hand involve ambitious, evolved, disconnected Über -brains plotting over many years the means of bringing about the subjugation of hundreds of millions of people to a form of interminable Sisyphean serfdom on the basis that only the schemers know what is best for everybody else. But which is true?

Sherlock's method quickly dismisses the socialist conspiracy as impossible, so where does Occam’s razor guide us? Will people fall for the stealthy, clever-clever socialist plan for the breakdown of society by attacking its traditions and criminalising words and deeds and thought itself, eventually driving everything down to its lowest level in pursuit of an undefined equality in which everybody is too poor to rob? (Labour currently call that ‘One Nation’.) Or is it more likely that some greedy rich bastards try to get richer by exploiting the just-as-greedy poor? Either way it seems we're doomed.

 You know what? Owen must have it right, after all. No matter which way you look at it, Communism is just too bloody complicated and implausible to ever work - all those rules! Now excuse me while I fashion myself a hat...

(PS: You want real conspiracy? Try this: Christopher Booker)


  1. A complete new system is what's needed; there is no other way? I remember all the scare-tactics used first time round with the EU: that was the beginning of the end for me when it came to honesty in British politics. I was astounded then and still am now at the gullibility of folk and how they swallow all the lies..

    1. Yep. First time for me was when the dockers were on strike and suddenly sugar was virtually rationed. I couldn't see the logic of the strike - they would rather the industry fail than stay working - so I thought, fuck them, I'll do without sugar.

      The next political thing for me was the so-called referendum on the 'Common Market' which it turns out was never any such simple thing. I was unconvinced as a teenager about the sagacity of the no-deal we are offered, but now I'm thoroughly convinced that the EU is a monstrous invasion of people's liberty and it must be destroyed before the country of Europe becomes a miserable reality.

    2. I have the most horrifying feeling that it is already too late. And that we are 'already' that 'miserable reality?'

  2. i have said before that politicians are in charge of a juggernaut so big that they don't know what to do. They are helpless because they can't understand it all. No book can tell them, no expert has a grasp, nothing leads to an experience of something this big and this complex. Nothing has prepared the ones at the top (aka the fairies jostling for space on top of the tree) for handling all this. The whole system, whether capitalist, communist or notpartoftheshamblesist (registered trademark) spins along like a giant top, careering this way and that.

    The experts line up in its shadow and proclaim they know the answer, but they can't because they cannot see the bigger picture. They can only see what they like to see and are scared of being trampled in the stampede for bread when the promisory notes often called money run out.

    As for Marx and his baleful influence, how convenient he had a handy theory. But had been alive in the time of Stalin and Mao, etc, then yes, you've guessed it: he would have been quickly salted away in some slave mines if he hadn't already been shot as a rabble rouser. The tyrants use any excuse for their rule, the would-be tyrants spout the collected works and point fingers and yes, those who make it to the top stare out of the window and fear the coming fall while dictating memos and memoirs that never quite tell us that they haven't a clue. But if the elite can keep what they can they maybe, just maybe, they have a chance to survive...

    You and me? Much less so, but who ever said politics was about the welfare of people?