Brangelina

I have no intention of writing about some semi-private grief. I am not, however, above shameless google-bait, so many apologies to anyone who came here panting upon my thoughts upon Angelina's break up. All I have to say is that that's the sort of thing that happens when women go on the rebound from me but, well, Angie--I can't take you back. Sorry.

Anyway, I've been thinking about the false consciousness of market liberalism, and specifically about the way that the credit boom encouraged people to think that self-creation and self-created loyalties were in some fashion much more valid to the middle classes than traditional ones over the past twenty years.

I think that the process erupted into popular culture at some point in the late nineteen seventies, matured (if that is the right word) over the eighties and nineties and then began to recede early in the new millennium.

The essential features of this consciousness were the idea that friends, the personalisation of political issues, and the inflation of lifestyles and apparent education through credit, could replace faith, ethnic association, and family. It spoke to an older strain of largely Anglo-American 'sensibility' in which people were not wholly free unless their rights were defined as personal and inalienable, and their lives as journeys of discovery.

A sort of psychological subjectivism, which was exactly aligned with the personalisation of media and the interests of companies promoting differented but essentially identical products, was accompanied by a sort of feral fear of anything that challenged the appearance of new freedom. Lots of interesting television and a good few novels came out of it; but it ultimately disappeared into a sort of sad, isolated selfishness. A part of me hopes that one of the companies that defined the narcissism, Apple, really does name its new product the i-slate; they have, with the ipod, actively modelled the isolation of so many as well as promoting deafness in later life, after all.

This new freedom was tied to mortgage ownership of houses, which essentially is a form of bank ownership. That's in part why we all ended up working for them.

Banks encouraged it because it inflated the derivative bubble and also because it raised the largely electronic credit ratings of those who held the houses, and therefore the nominal assets of the banking system.

Governments loved it because it offered cheap bonds and a chance to offload social responsibilities, and organisational accountability, onto a private sector that was doing government jobs and underwritten by government promises to underwrite debt that no one understood would ever be called in.

The system also allowed those sensible enough to get in early, or to save, to develop a line in property ownership, in which 'buy to let' soaked up property, provided housing for the roughly 13% in the UK who rent privately but who could not afford to buy, and kept mortgage funds flowing.

Media did their bit, full as they were of people who were wholly convinced of the liberal case for rights and self-righteous secularism, by systematically undermining the last vestiges of religion, civic humanism, neutral science or professional independence in the law and education. Globalisation fed by cheap oil seemed to offer an unanswerable case for tearing up the communities based on manufacturing, but in Europe at least failed to completely destroy farming. Urbanisation, however, shifted the focus of the globalisers outside America (which had a different experience) so that the political-media class ignored farmers anyway.

Where has this got people though? Now, at the end, we are subject to panicky scares; friends under exactly as much pressure can't meet up in the pubs and restaurants that are closed anyway and oil their meetings with the credit they had; families have been turned into savings-sharing organisations whilst the middle classes go the way of the workers and the rich are confirmed as super-rich.

I think that we are moving into a new era, and oddly enough, Newt Gingrich sensed it the other day when he said that these coming years would be ones in which '2+2=4"--plain speaking and commonsense--would defeat the irrationalism of the last few years. People are going to become more skeptical, more serious about politics, less tolerant of showmanship and the media, and less predictable to the media class. Green madness, surveillance, control, and the whole pc-framework of social organisation that excludes anyone not speaking from a convenient script is going to run into the buffers; and wars of choice for corporate or elite ends are not going to be fundable.

We're not quite there yet, though, and things are going to get tougher before they get better. Expect, in politics, underdogs to do better, pundits to get it more consistently wrong, and individuals to become more conservative and to hold those defining things that stand the test of time closer. Globalism is going to be more restricted, and large, ideal-based and fund-wallowing international organisations are going to become less rich and more restrained or face popular anger. I think that party politics, in the hands of a clique, is going to break down, and I think that attempts to turn blame towards immigrants are going to fail.

I'm also not convinced of the case that the west and Islam must be at odds. The centre of gravity in the muslim world is shifting, to states like Egypt and those of the gulf, and in Iran debate and discussion is being waged in blood. There may be disorder, there may be a long conflict at the margins that erupts at home because the free are more vulnerable; but we may come out of this together. I'm certainly not going to present myself as a liberal who must be opposed to Islam, because I am a catholic and a Christian Democrat, in the broad sense.

Distributism's hour may be coming around, but before that, I think, real trouble awaits. There are objective reasons for that--the banks are unreformed, the energy companies are presiding over a model which must leave less oil, and too much money is being bet on China and not enough on Asean and India.

Follow the money; car and defence companies will still be subsidised and their models of business will encourage urban growth, food monopolies and minor wars that politicians will embrace. But the Asians will contain China, and global imbalances may be resolved through trade and more expensive oil.

A world based on a variety of personal and family forms of property ownership, with local banks, food security, regional trade, and the resolution of disputes locked in by the achieved translation of the WTO's 30000-page rulebook into 150 systems of national law is more than achievable. A four-state solution to the middle east's problems, once states stop sponsoring

antisemitism, that neutralises Hamas and protects Israel's right to exist, is within our grasp. The arcs of instability are capable of being contained.

Things could come right. But, first, most, and always--hold to those you really love and to those things that materialists don't like and want to subvert, but which define you. Don't spend yourself on invented crises or nonsense, and understand that in a functioning being an awakened brain is inextricably linked to a functioning backbone.

Things are about to get really tough. But the good guys are going to win. Low, flat taxes, lower debts, no needless wars, sensible people, proper science, courtesy, commonsense, proper jobs, safe local food, global stability, markets not monopolies, an end to panics, serious education, independent thinking, faith and family, tranquil confidence and strategic activism; these are just words at the moment. At the other end of the crisis, we have a chance--even pointless, small bloggers have a chance--to make these things work.

Right, that's the world sorted. Now, let's work out how.

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