Before the G8 rolled into town, full of their (unfounded) gravitas and self-importance, there was one tricky matter that needed addressing: the real-world economy of the host (like that of all members of the G8) is, shall we say, somewhat knackered. Empty shops, run-down buildings and a general air of economic-malaise risked upsetting the oh-so-delicate sensibilities of our glorious world-leaders. So, what should be done? Accelerate an urban-regeneration program? See what can be done to support local businesses? Or, an even more radical notion, leave it as-is, so all can see how dispiriting the real-world is for many. Use the urban decay as a totemic call-to-arms: it’s time to face facts. No more bullshit.
"There are a terrible lot of lies going about the world, and the worst of it is that half of them are true." ~ Winston Churchill.
No, of course not. Instead, in true DIY-Hollywood style, it was decided to paint the shops in the style of make-believe retailers and have them decorated with false windows that would depict a thriving business. All lies, of course, but remember these people are accustomed to lies. They are all culpable and complicit. In a few days time they will have all moved on; in a few months time the cheap film-set faux-shops will still be empty and the inevitable consequences of economic entropy cannot be denied.
"Economists treat economics as if it is a pure science divorced from the facts of life. The result of this false accountancy is a willful confusion under cover of which industry wreaks its havoc scot-free and ignores the environmental cost." ~ Vivienne Westwood.
This affair reflects the general attitude towards fixing our economic and social ills. Let’s pretend it’s not really that bad - which indeed it isn’t for many: typically, the same people who wield power and so are totally detached from the mess they have created and that they choose to perpetuate. Paint an empty shop, fit a false window, print some more currency, appease the bankers, let the stock-markets rampage like an amphetamine-fuelled bull in a china shop. Everything’s fine and dandy they say, even with unemployment in much of Europe in excess of 20% and signs of social unrest increasing every day. It’s a mess out there and what do we do? Paint some empty shops and pretend they are full of consumer-goods. Consumernomics will save us all, apparently.
Not only has the stock-maket become a virtual-reality game, with HFT algobots playing with trillions of ethereal dollars, but now our analogue world is becoming little more than a canvas for a political Photoshop re-touching exercise. Still, this is nothing new…
For a sociopath, such a detachment from the pain they cause is easy. But, shouldn’t we expect more empathy from our ‘leaders’? And, without wishing to state the obvious, some intelligent leadership and accountability? It’s clear that David Cameron has more important things on his mind…
"As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world - that is the myth of the atomic age - as in being able to remake ourselves." ~ Mahatma Gandhi.
Because these people are never confronted by the ugly truth of reality (other than in the discourse of platitudes and sound-bites), they continue to glide around in blissful ignorance. Similarly, every few weeks or so, The Gilded Age (‘Bubbles’ are so childish) members of Silicon Valley deign to bestow a billion dollars or so on the latest Internet hobby (sorry, business). Churn those virtual dollars! Who needs money-laundering when you’re printing money? Anyway, use them or lose them, while you can, seems to be the message. Let’s just make sure a few of us get very rich along the way so when it all implodes - as it will - we are even more detached from the squalor and we will have a few friends to party with.
"We of the sinking middle class may sink without further struggles into the working class where we belong, and probably when we get there it will not be so dreadful as we feared, for, after all, we have nothing to lose." ~ George Orwell.
Yesterday evening, on our regular walk around the glorious countryside that surrounds our village (we live very modestly, but have an obscene amount of beautiful nature all around us), we heard the routine sounds of the local wildlife at twilight, which was interrupted by the sound of a lamb that was clearly in great distress: we clambered over some fencing, fought threw a hedgerow and found it - trapped in a barbed-wire fence. Had we been members of the G8 or a Silicon Valley metrosexual technocrat I suppose we would have airbrushed such an ugly little detail out of our lives. Not that such important folk would be walking down a muddy country-lane, anyway. Instead, we spent a long time getting ourselves covered in cuts and mud trying to safely extricate the poor animal whilst trying to placate its increasingly fractious mother. In the end we succeeded and freed the lamb, reuniting it with its mother. It felt good. It felt real.
"Things won are done, joy’s soul lies in the doing." ~ William Shakespeare.
This is the only way things get done: you address the problem and you get your hands dirty.
Instead, the plutocrats and autocrats will be content with leading their privileged and insulated lives; protected by wealth and power or, for the more humble amongst us, by the false-shield of consumerism, living their self-satisfied and quantified-lives.
"If you have an important point to make, don’t try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time - a tremendous whack." ~ Winston Churchill.