Monday, December 07, 2009

Eternal truths, the "other" and you

The Nameless Libertarian has an excellent post up in which he links up the government's latest assault on the bankers with the concept of the "other".
The government's desire to control the banking sector is not simply down to their natural obsessive compulsive need to justify their existence through constant fiddling. No, this is something more.
...

A lot of political philosophy discusses the concept of "the other"; that (under)class of people within a nation that wider society defines itself by being in opposition to. There is much debate about whether "the other" naturally exists, or whether it is created by the powers that be in order to unite a naturally divisive society behind its ruling elite. I personally think (somewhat pessimistically) that it is a mix of the two. However, what is startling about Labour is just how carefully and cynically they have worked to create "the other" across their years in power. You can actually trace the history of Nu Labour by looking at which parts of society Nu Labour have set up to be shat on.

This is, of course, a similar theme to that which I explored in a post entitled divide et impera—"divide and conquer".

My contention was that the government identifies the bogeyman of the moment and—having whipped up a frenzied hatred of this group, through the compliant media and their own briefings—and takes punitive measures against them.

So far, so the same as the Nameless Libertarian's definition of the "others".

But my contention went a little further than that. Your humble Devil pointed out that the hatred whipped up against the "others" was used to push through terrifyingly illiberal laws—laws that no one would normally stand for.

And I maintained that people allowed these because they naively imagined that they would only be used against the "others"; but—equipped with mini-Enabling Act clauses—these laws are all too often altered, on the quiet and by statutory instrument, to be used against the entire population.

The extension of the Proceeds of Crime Act is a textbook example of this process. This law was originally aimed at stopping drug barons and other crime lords enjoying the fruits of their crimes: it has now been extended (by statutory instrument, of course) to allow public and private agencies to seize the entirety of anyone's assets upon mere accusation.

It is these terrifying laws—and the underhand and deceitful methods used to achieve them: that is the true legacy of NuLabour and there are, after all, an awful lot of them—the NuLabour government has created more than 3,600 new offences over the last twelve years. That's about one new crime every, single day that they have been in power.

"But what has this to do with the bankers?" I hear you cry. "Those bastards deserve everything they get."

Maybe, maybe not.

And here's the rub: the law might be aimed at bankers' bonuses right now, but we know that NuLabour has also attacked the renumeration of many other so-called "fat cats", e.g. energy company bosses. So, sure, NuLabour will pass this law and it will be aimed squarely at bankers' bonuses—after all, everyone hates the bankers, eh?

But watch out for the mini-Enabling Act clause in the Bill: it will be something that allows a government minister to change the terms of reference, probably by statutory instrument.

And then watch the law become extended to cover energy company bosses, and then other private company managers, and then—sooner or later—you'll find it's your company and your money in the firing line.

And when that time comes, don't say that I didn't warn you...

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wait a second. Apart from the fact that even *before* the financial collapse that they were benefiting enormously from government privilege, these city fucks have taken BILLIONS of our money and you're fucking defending them?!

What the shit. Swap "bonuses" for "expenses" and "MPs" for "bankers" and you'd be just as wrong.

Alan Douglas said...

Dear Devil,

I think you might just have formally codified "Niemoller's Law".

Alan Douglas

Maturecheese said...

Energy companies aren't making huge profits are they? We aren't paying more for our gas and electric than the Europeans, are we? I have no sympathy for energy fat cats so F**K em.

GH said...

Maturecheese and Anonymous,

Congratulations for missing the entire fucking point.

Now go and read the article again.

Do you think that the Government should have the right to cap the amount that YOU earn? Because unless you do, you should be very worried.

Local governments using anti-terror legislation to snoop on what people put in rubbish bins.

Plastic policemen using anti-terror laws to stop ordinary folk taking photographs, or to search through random peoples' belongings.

The Proceeds of Crime law as described in the article.

Now stop being the Government's useful idiots and wake up to what's happening.

Hysteria said...

Wot GH said.

I would add to that list Money Laundering laws, and the Data Protection Act - real examples of the assumption of guilt before innocence, and the obstruction of normal peaceful activities by over-weening officialdom (in both the public and private sector)

Gareth said...

As an aside to the very well made point of the article (...

"But what has this to do with the bankers?" I hear you cry. "Those bastards deserve everything they get."

We live in an illogical world. Were logic at the heart of that argument people would (rightly) be calling for punitive action against the Government for allowing bankers to get into such a mess (What was the FSA for?) and divvy people who just had to borrow more and spend more than they could afford.

The key to the pernicious behaviour of Labour is that in shining a spotlight on supposed cockroach bankers they are doing so both to make political capital and distract from their own culpability, which in the case of the prolapsed banking sector is massive.

By regulating the banks in the way they did (and it was by no means 'light touch'*) meant that the danger signs were covered up. It's a bit like road markings - remove them and people become naturally more careful because it isn't clear what is what. The FSA's box ticking, busybody mentality lead banks down the route of 'Do as you like until the FSA says stop'. The FSA never said stop.

The FSA were as clueless about CDOs as the Government and Bank of England were if John Moulton is anything to go by - he explained what a large risk they were to people in charge and was met with blank expressions.

Would people be susceptible to hatred of bankers if taxpayers hadn't been strong armed into propping them up? This mess is a failing of Government and of Government regulation not of banking as such. Savers should have known the limits of the FSA guarantee and arranged their money wisely. The Government should have had the balls to let the bad banks fail.


* Much of what Labour means is the very opposite of what they say and has been for years. For such light touch regulation banks were having to hold meetings with FSA at least once a week. The exception being Northern Rock for reasons that have never been investigated AFAIK.

Jeff Wood said...

Spot on, DK.

Personally, I have been on the enemies list twice, as a pistol shooter and as a smoker.

Every time I see someone else become a target, I vaguely recall a chapter in Gulag, describing how party members were constantly whipped up against the Enemies of the People du jour.

Dick Puddlecote said...

"So, sure, NuLabour will pass this law and it will be aimed squarely at bankers' bonuses—after all, everyone hates the bankers, eh?"

In a swift extension, Brown turns the same principle towards Public Sector high earners. If he would consider kicking hiw own, I don't think Labour would have any qualms about attacking private sector pay.

Oh, and Jeff Wood, we smoking 'others' are so much fair game now that the Lottery is bunging huge amounts at anti-smoking loons to stop you smoking in your own home.

It all fits in perfectly with the Nameless Libertarian's theme.

Jeff Wood said...

Many thanks Dick. Leg-Iron's comment under your post is chilling.

Anonymous said...

@GH,

> Congratulations for missing the entire fucking point.

Have a biscuit for missing mine, you little genius.

> Do you think that the Government should have the right to cap the amount that YOU earn?

Nope. My point is that the banks are so dependent on state intervention (and this was true even before the economic crisis) that they may as well be considered another arm of the state. This is the ruling class turning on itself and as such, I find it vaguely entertaining.

> you should be very worried.

Oh I am. But they're going to fuck us one way or the other; if they end up taking a few of their own down with them, then I'm all for it.

> Now stop being the Government's useful idiots

I'll do that when you stop being a corporate apologist masquerading as a libertarian. Do we have a deal, Mr Anderson?

chris said...

In a swift extension, Brown turns the same principle towards Public Sector high earners. If he would consider kicking hiw own, I don't think Labour would have any qualms about attacking private sector pay.

More than that. Labour having been playing to their core vote over the last months. That they are now deliberately willing to alienate a large chunk of the payrole Labour vote must mean that the numbers about the current state of government overspending in the pre-budget report must be terrifying.

neil craig said...

Blaming the bankers for the recession is about as accurate but also about as useful to the ruling class as blaming the Jews for losing WW1. Possibly more damaging to our economy as, with modern manufacturing having been made almost illegal by the Luddites, banking is such a big industry for us to drive overseas.

Prodicus said...

'Remuneration', please.

If you of all people let standards slip and start writing as Phil Woolas and other illiterates-in-office speak, all is lost.

Forgive the pedantry but both language and the cause of liberty need your light on the hilltop, not smothered by a linguistic bushel.

wv - charman. As in chap who cleans. Heh.

paul said...

Do you have to own your own company to be a libertarian?
Given the ratio of people who make these sums of money to those who dont, youll be hard pressed to find many of the latter against clipping their wings on a point of principle.

Devil's Kitchen said...

paul,

"Do you have to own your own company to be a libertarian?
Given the ratio of people who make these sums of money to those who dont, youll be hard pressed to find many of the latter against clipping their wings on a point of principle."


No, I don't own my own company; I work for a small software company and do not, I assure you, earn anything like these sums of money.

But this is the difference between those who do actually hold to their principles and those who merely pay lip-service to them.

DK

Stephen said...

Personally, I have been on the enemies list twice, as a pistol shooter and as a smoker

Well as also an ex-pistol shooter, I'd have been happy to have had the deal given the smokers. I never particularly wanted to shoot my Colt's New Service in a crowded pub; a range with the appropriate safety certificate would have done just fine by me!

There is nothing new about governments choosing scapegoats. Asylum seekers, the disabled claiming benefits, unemployed people, social workers, etc, etc, have all been targets over the past few decades and all of them received rather more vitriol than bankers. The only difference is that this time rich powerful people are the target. Of course the government is trying to distract attention from its own grievious mistakes. Well that's what governments do. At the least the bankers have more means of defence than a disable person who manages to make it to an assessment interview and is told that because they were able to make it to the interview, the payments will be cut.

Dr Dan Holdsworth said...

The other basic problem with the Government's habit of imposing windfall taxes is that this frightens companies off making profits of any sort in this country. This greatly hampers any potential economic recovery since the very essence of economic activity is that it makes profits for people. Windfall taxes therefore label countries that impose them as being run by idiots, thus making them unsuitable for running profitable businesses in, but eminently suitable for taking to the cleaners via assorted scams.

The Corus plant closure is just such a scam; the plant was profitable until the EU's lunatic carbon trading scheme made it more economic to close it, pocket the carbon credits then further plunder the resources of the EUdiots by getting a grant to upgrade some Indian steel plants. India isn't in the carbon trading scheme (presumably because they like having an economy and so on) so Corus, by outsourcing to India, gain carbon credits to sell, an upgraded new plant, and willing and cheap to pay Indian workers.

This is a win-win for Corus, and one hell of a big lose for Britain.

Any chance we can elect some politicians with non-zero IQs next election?

Anonymous said...

Funny how the "political class" are avoiding the issue of the steelworks closure, a deafening silence from them all.

Derek

paul said...

"I work for a small software company"
Spooky, so do I. Dont give up your day job, going to be a long time before you earn an MPs wage defending bankers in this country. :p

paul said...

And, for the record I am against the government telling anyone what their pay cap is. People should have the sense to realise they are greedy exploitative parasites on their own and cut their own pay. Although thats going to be an equally long wait.