Party Game is Over. Stand and Fight
By John Pilger
lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number!
Shake your chains to earth, like dew
Which in sleep had fall'n on you:
Ye are many - they are few."
October 05, 2013 "Information
Clearing House -
These days, the stirring
lines of Percy Shelley's "Mask of Anarchy" may seem
unattainable. I don't think so. Shelley was both a Romantic and
political truth-teller. His words resonate now because only one
political course is left to those who are disenfranchised and
whose ruin is announced on a government spreadsheet.
Born of the "never again" spirit of 1945, social democracy has
surrendered to an extreme political cult of money worship. This
reached its apogee when £1trn of public money was handed
unconditionally to corrupt banks by a Labour government whose
leader, Gordon Brown, had previously described "financiers" as
the nation's "great example" and his personal "inspiration".
This is not to say parliamentary politics is meaningless. It has
one meaning now: the replacement of democracy with a business
plan for every human activity, every dream, every decency, every
hope, every child born.
The old myths of British rectitude, imperial in origin, provided
false comfort while the Blair gang built the foundation of the
present "coalition". This is led by a former PR man for an asset
stripper and by a bagman who will inherit his knighthood and the
tax-shielded fortune of his father, the 17th Baronet of
Ballintaylor. David Cameron and George Osborne are essentially
fossilised spivs who, in colonial times, would have been sent by
their daddies to claim foreign terrain and plunder.
Today, they are claiming 21st-century Britain and imposing their
vicious, antique ideology, albeit served as economic snake oil.
Their designs have nothing to do with a "deficit crisis". A
deficit of 10 per cent is not remotely a crisis. When Britain
was officially bankrupt at the end of the Second World War, the
government built its greatest public institutions, such as the
National Health Service and the arts edifices of London's South
There is no economic rationale for the assault described
cravenly by the BBC as a "public spending review". The debt is
exclusively the responsibility of those who incurred it, the
super-rich and the gamblers. However, that's beside the point.
What is happening in Britain is the seizure of an opportunity to
destroy the tenuous humanity of the modern state. It is a coup,
a "shock doctrine" as applied to Pinochet's Chile and Yeltsin's
In Britain, there is no need for tanks in the streets. In its
managerial indifference to the freedoms it is said to hold dear,
bourgeois Britain has allowed parliament to create a
surveillance state with 3,000 new criminal offences and laws:
more than for the whole of the previous century. Powers of
arrest and detention have never been greater. The police have
the impunity to kill; and asylum-seekers can be "restrained" to
death on commercial flights.
Athol Fugard is right. With Harold Pinter gone, no acclaimed
writer or artist dare depart from their well-remunerated vanity.
With so much in need of saying, they have nothing to say.
Liberalism, the vainest ideology, has hauled up its ladder. The
chief opportunist, Nick Clegg, gave no electoral hint of his
odious faction's compliance with the dismantling of much of
British postwar society. The theft of £83bn in jobs and services
matches almost exactly the amount of tax legally avoided by
piratical corporations. Without fanfare, the super-rich have
been assured they can dodge up to £40bn in tax payments in the
secrecy of Swiss banks. The day this was sewn up, Osborne
attacked those who "cheat" the welfare system. He omitted the
real amount lost, a minuscule £0.5bn, and that £10.5bn in
benefit payments was not claimed at all. Labour is his silent
The propaganda arm in the press and broadcasting dutifully
presents this as unfortunate but necessary. Mark how the
firefighters' action is "covered". On Channel 4 News, following
an item that portrayed modest, courageous people as basically
reckless, Jon Snow demanded that the leaders of the London Fire
Authority and the Fire Brigades Union go straight from the
studio and "mediate" now, this minute. "I'll get the taxis!" he
declared. Forget the thousands of jobs that are to be eliminated
from the fire service and the public danger beyond Bonfire
Night; knock their jolly heads together. "Good stuff!" said the
Ken Loach's 1983 documentary series Questions of Leadership
opens with a sequence of earnest young trade unionists on
platforms, exhorting the masses. They are then shown older,
florid, self-satisfied and finally adorned in the ermine of the
House of Lords. Once, at a Durham Miners' Gala, I asked Tony
Woodley, now joint general secretary of Unite, "Isn't the
problem the clockwork collaboration of the union leadership?" He
almost agreed, implying that the rise of bloods like himself
would change that. The British Airways cabin crew strike, over
which Woodley presides, is said to have made gains. Has it? And
why haven't the unions risen against totalitarian laws that
place free trade unionism in a vice?
The BA workers, the firefighters, the council workers, the post
office workers, the NHS workers, the London Underground staff,
the teachers, the lecturers, the students can more than match
the French if they are resolute and imaginative, forging, with
the wider social justice movement, potentially the greatest
popular resistance ever. Look at the web; listen to the public's
support at fire stations. There is no other way now. Direct
action. Civil disobedience. Unerring. Read Shelley and do it.
What's your response?
Scroll down to add / read comments
Please read our
Comment Policy before posting -
We ask readers to play a proactive role and click
the "Report link [at the base of each comment] when
in your opinion, comments cross the line and become
purely offensive, racist or disrespectful to others.