Our Increasingly Dystopian Society

We are, perhaps, more familiar with the term ‘Utopian’ that describes a society that’s conceived to be perfect. ‘Dystopian’ is the exact opposite — it describes an imaginary society that is as dehumanising and unpleasant as possible. Dystopian stories are often set in the future and come as warnings for us to reflect on trends in our societies and mend our easy-going ways or else risk falling into the hands of an oppressive regime. Popular literary examples are George Orwell’s 1984 and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, now finding new readers.

DevilGateDawnModifiedCover_Aug_2016As a writer, I’m also constantly attuned to trends in our governance that might be undermining the personal freedoms and opportunities for advancement we currently enjoy in Western societies. My attention was drawn to a news item this morning (12/02/2017) tucked away in a tiny space in my e-newspaper, The Mirror, that to me screams, ‘Beware of the encroaching Dystopian Society!’

ONE MILLION ON ZERO HOURS CONTRACTS

The report states, quite calmly, that the number of workers on zero hours contracts is set to exceed one million for the first time. Figures for 2016 show over 900,000 on zero hour contracts – workers on hourly rate with no guarantee of working hours, no job security and often on the minimum wage. Employers argue that a flexible labour market where staff are called in at a moment’s notice with a lack of fixed hours boosts employment. But this leaves workers uncertain of how many hours they will work and how much they can earn each week, often leaving them short of ability to pay rents, transport and feed themselves.

The report states that the Trade Union Congress (TUC) believe that as many as three million workers (one in ten workers in Britain) are now in insecure jobs, such as seasonal, temporary or agency work.

Such insecurity of tenure goes against all the efforts by worker’s representatives and trade unions going back over a hundred years to fight for workers rights and to be treated with respect by their employers. Sadly, the current climate we live in of harsh capitalist exploitation, backed up by uncaring governments who see their job as furthering the interests of Big Business ahead of looking after the welfare of citizens is, well, leading us down the rocky road to a dystopian, authoritarian state.

This is coming fast, in my opinion. In Britain we have had thirty years of Thatcherist politics that have seen national infrastructure ruthlessly asset-stripped under the name of Privatisation, to the extent that most of our utility and transport companies are foreign owned and operated at high cost to the consumer. Also, our property market has become a free-for-all investment product for international criminals, Tax-dodgers and foreign governments, pricing our citizens out of being able to afford a roof over their heads.

I have long been suspicious of successive governments feebly apologising for missing net inward migration targets by several hundreds of thousands, foolishly believing their narrative that they’ have no control’. Of course they have control, at point of entry. In reality, I believe they have deliberately created a large, multi-cultural, low-paid labour pool of people desperate enough to work long hours for the minimum wage, and thus drive down wages for our working class citizens. We are already witnessing tensions in our towns and cities as this ‘divide and rule’ politics takes effect.

Our opposition parties have been completely compromised by this, not sure on whether to listen to the complaints of hard-pressed citizens or embrace the diversity of new arrivals. By trying to do both, they end up pleasing no one. They are unable to provide a coherent opposition to the forces of rampant global capitalism as represented by our ruling party, The Conservatives. Sadly, our educated liberal elite in their rush to embrace ‘One-World-ism’ are unwittingly aiding and abetting our sly capitalist leaders in their aim of creating a large, low-paid underclass of workers whose freedoms and rights are slowly being whittled away.

Don’t get me wrong. I bear no ill-will to any people looking for ‘a better life’, and reject all forms of discrimination. I just have a problem with the cynical politics of exploitation for profit that throws people from different backgrounds together, whilst denying them the ability to have a descent standard of living (added to a growing crisis in schools and healthcare) in a race to the bottom of average earnings. Our government is taking us out of the European Union and will use that opportunity to repeal worker’s rights and human rights legislation. Citizens need to wake up and see what is happening…

Boris in ChinaOtherwise we will end up in a 1984-type totalitarian state with ‘Big Boris’ as a pantomime-villain leader. Let’s face it, the States have already got one – Donald Trump!

Check out my tongue-in-cheek novel, Devil Gate Dawn, now described as ‘dystopian’ because I predicted a paranoid Trump America and post-Brexit chaos in Britain leading to mass voter apathy that leaves us with King Charles (not Big Boris) running the country. Don’t laugh too much, it might happen!

http://myBook.to/DevilGateDawn

Post-Brexit Blues

One week on from the shock of the Leave Vote winning the EU In/Out Referendum, and the country is still reeling in a state of fury, dismay, confusion, denial and regret. There have been marches and protests against the result – one might say, against democracy itself.  Instead of sulking over the drop in the value of their shares and properties, the well-off should spare a thought for the deep seething discontent in the country, and realise that our current political system has created this and continues to fuel it. Brexit Protest1

Our political leadership has been exposed as lightweight and not up to the job of leading us out of this mess. Opportunistic politicians have chosen instead to plunge the knife into rivals with personal ambition uppermost in their minds.  We were not prepared for a Leave Vote because the Conservative Party in government were busy assuring international partners that they would succeed in threatening and bullying the electorate into voting Remain.  They failed, and now stand like rabbits caught in the headlights of a runaway truck, careering madly across the cultural, social and political landscape.

“Rarely if ever in our lifetimes has Britain faced such an uncertain and unpredictable future. Rarely have the main parties at Westminster been, simultaneously, in such chaotic disarray. Who can recall a time when such a large section of the public, and not only the 48% who voted Remain, was in a state of such furious anger, confusion, denial, regret or heartfelt dismay?” The Observer (03/07/16).  We could fight them on the beaches, but who should we fight?  And who are we, anyway?

Personally, I feel the country should accept the outcome of the referendum and get behind a settlement for the nation so we can move forward.  This settlement must include listening to the voices of those who voted Leave, many voices of protest from those who feel a deep rooted resentment against the London-based ruling elite, who carry on their merry way, regardless of which party is in power, with their capitalist agenda, marginalising and patronising those who get in their way.

The Conservative Party has opened Pandora’s Box and must now be ruing their miscalculation in believing they could manipulate the outcome of the referendum to come down on the side of political and economic stability – the side that would allow the preservation of the status quo and the continuation of the damaging policies of divide and rule.  Vote Remain was seen as good for business, despite the fact that many see the EU as an undemocratic organisation in the process of morphing into a Federal Superstate.  Their political objects are not ours, and so a Leave Vote appealed to many in the UK –  52%, in fact.

Brexit Protest2However, as a result of the vote, we find ourselves at a social.political and cultural crossroads, and need to ask ourselves the question, ‘Who are we?’  A national debate on who we are and what society we want to live in should be fired up, to curtail the forces of greed, nationalism, xenophobia and division who lurk in the wings waiting for their moment.

The main problem I foresee is our lack of leadership, as our two main political parties are riven with infighting and hopelessly ill-equipped to address the fundamental divisions in our fractured society.  The Labour Party, having shuffled to the centre ground of British politics, is now disconnected from the core working class, and have become accomplices to the seemingly irresistible forces of ‘free market economics’,  ‘International Capitalism’ or simply, ‘Thatcherism’, take your pick.

The mass influx of cheaper labour to feed the machine has caused widespread discontent, as British citizens have been told to ‘shut up and get on with it’.  Well now they have had their chance to protest, via the In/Out referendum, and have chosen to stick two fingers up to the Establishment, and the sham democracy that leaves them as powerless serfs in an age of greed.

Can the Labour Party shake itself out of its torpor?  What of the Green Party?  They should get together and start a national movement for change. Citizens Against Capitalism. For starters, school leavers should be given clear guidance and training to do the jobs required, and we should focus more on producing what we consume.  Let the business community find new markets through the world wide web – are trade deals even relevant anymore?  Some fresh thinking is required, but can we find the leaders needed to drive the process?

In my near-future novel, Devil Gate Dawn, set just 10 years from now, I predict increasing divisions in British society following Brexit, that leads to a mass General Election boycott, followed by a Government of National Unity headed by King Charles.  It was complete fantasy just two weeks ago, but now has been described as ‘increasingly believable’.  My everyman hero, George, gets dragged into helping the police track down a deadly terror group, as they are forced to flee their homes and hide in the countryside… let’s hope it won’t come to this.

DGD promo banner 06_2016

UK: http://amazon.co.uk/dp/B01EGDLHLW

USA/World: http://amazon.com/dp/B01EGDLHLW

Post-Brexit Blues

As the dust settles on an historic day in Britain’s socio-poltical life, we are left to reflect on the full realisation that ‘we have done it’. That is, we have just voted to leave the European Union. A slap in the face of the Brussels autocrats we came to loathe, a wave goodbye to the unyielding Jean-Claude Junker. If only they had agreed to review their free movement of labour charter, then maybe this wouldn’t have happened?

Let’s remind ourselves how we got here…Well, when the Common Market was first set up, the French tried to block us from joining. This irked our politicians who then wanted to join even more, despite warnings that the Franco-German drivers of the free trade union were looking for closer fiscal and political union. Britain was unsure so a referendum was held in 1974 and the result was ‘Yes’. By then, General de Gaulle was dead, so we were permitted to sign the Treaty of Rome that gave us access to free trade with other (at the time) twelve members.

Fast forward 40 years and several treaties later, and, what is now the European Union has doubled in size, has its own currency, and is making no secret of its plans to become a federal super-state.

Over in Britain, the buoyant economy and relatively high wages had continued to attract a steady flow of migrants looking for work, at the rate of a third of a million per year. This had started to irk those who saw their living space being invaded, access to school places and health care restricted and jobs threatened, causing rumblings of discontent, roundly ignored by politicians and castigated as ‘rascist’.

Meanwhile, over in the Westminster Bubble, the ruling Conservative Party decided to action their campaign pledge to have an In/Out referendum on our EU membership, smugly believing that if they threatened and cajoled the electorate enough, they must surely vote to Remain. This would then dampen down protestors and allow them to go on their merry way of replacing expensive and troublesome British workers with cheaper alternatives.

They mis-judged the mood of the citizens in large parts of the country, and despite the combined urging of political leaders of all main (bar one) parties, the USA, IMF, EU, China, Uncle Tom Cobbley and all, the stubborn Brits – mainly the English and Welsh – cast their votes to leave, winning an overall majority.

So now we sit contemplating possible trade isolation, a shrinking economy and the impending break up of the United Kingdom. Or, the glorious revival if a truly independent Great Britain….depending on your point if view.

Hooray for Politics!😠

A Dystopian Brexit

“George picked through the odd assortment of items in his trolley outside the looted supermarket. Life inside the Red Zone had descended into a desperate battle for survival, as the caged-in labour pool waited glumly to find out if they had been chosen for a day’s work in the Green Zone to the east, or the Blue Commercial Zone to the west. A day’s labour for food tokens was as much as the working class could hope for in 2044 Britain….”

Welcome to the Red Zone

Yes folks, the EU In/Out Refendum poll takes place this week, on Thursday 23rd June, with the opinion polls now showing ‘The Remainers’ edging slightly ahead after a fraught period of bitter deadlock where ‘The Leavers’ appeared to have gained the ascendancy.  The violent murder of a Labour MP, by a mentally ill man shouting ‘Britain First!’ has been callously exploited by Remainers as a further threat to your personal safety in the wilderness of a non-EU Britain.  It appears to have tilted the predicted outcome in their favour.  Fear and threats are now standard tactics in British politics.

Resistance is crumbling and an air of resignation has set in amid threats of a collapsing economy and further hardship being piled on the ‘difficult’ white working class if they vote Leave as some kind of protest against the dark forces of Capitalism. They are angry that their ability to earn a descent wage is being eroded, their quality of life and future prospects are being gradually stripped away, as is their right to feel comfortable in their living space, recently invaded by millions of ‘alternative’ workers from poorer countries. But will a Leave scenario really help them?

If the vote really comes down to a question of ‘which right-wing politician do you hate the least?’ then it is a damning indictment of where we are after 30 years of Thatcherism, under which we are witnessing our national assets being privatised and the on-going dismantling of our welfare state, depressingly aided and abetted by the Labour Party. The disenfranchised working class have been backed into a corner, and now plan to vote Leave in a futile two-fingered protest against the Establishment, ignoring the fact that by doing so they are doing the bidding of political leaders who care less for them than the ones currently in charge.

It is a bleak scenario, a world where hope is gradually being strangled, and citizen’s rights are being sacrificed on the altar of capitalist greed. Our property market ignores the basic need for shelter for our people and has become an investment platform for the world’s rich, with no one asking how they got their money. The Establishment are lined up on both sides of the referendum debate, each group calculating their profits should their side win. They threaten, cajole and brow-beat a tired and increasingly powerless population, confused with so much mis-information, to vote for their side, so they may continue with their own brand of oppression.

It really is no choice at all for those at the lower levels of society. ‘What brand of personal hell would you like to vote for, sir?’ Go ahead and protest-vote for Leave, thinking it might slow up the process of replacing you with a cheap and easy to exploit foreign doppelganger. Now it’s immigrants, but in the future it will be robots – whatever is the most efficient and cost-effective way of having basic functions fulfilled in a world becoming polarised between the haves and have-nots.  What has happened to us?  Are we really sleepwalking into losing our rights, welfare and dreams?  It’s the illusion of hope that ultimately kills our souls and destroys our motivation to resist.

As for me, I’ll exercise my democratic right to vote (whilst I still have it) by presenting myself at the polling booth. But I intend to put a big cross through my paper – a NO THANKS vote. A spoilt ballot, but still a democratic statistic. I reject them all, and continue to hope for a sea-change in British politics, a change to a citizen-focussed agenda. I will not be the puppet of right-wing zealots.  That’s my personal protest.  Let the sneering BBC presenters pour cold water on all those who don’t buy into their misguided one-world utopian (but not in my street) hypocrisy.  They are misguided fools who are merely doing the work of those who exploit us for profit.  How about prioritising the needs of British citizens?  An unpopular proposition in this age of greed and short-sighted liberal do-gooding.

A plague on Bojo, Farage, Cameron, Osborne and the Slithy Gove! They are all products of the same private education system that props up the Establishment. They are all power-mad narcissists who only have their own interests at heart, who would rather seek out the company of international murderers and thieves with money to invest or launder in Project Off-Shore Britain than you or I.

Our role in their vision of future Britain is as low paid and powerless serfs.  So I say again, why should I vote for them? It’s like voting for your own internment in a Labour Pool Camp (see above). I have finally decided….I’m registering my protest at the failure of our democratic system to deliver an equitable and fair society, and at the elevation of selfishness and greed to an acceptable mode of behaviour, by SPOILING MY BALLOT!!!

The Great EU Coin Flip

 

“Never, in the field of human history, has so little been known by so many about something so important,” is what Winston Churchill might have said, should he have lived to see the political shambles that now surrounds us. In the run-up to the June 23rd British referendum on whether we remain a member of the European Union, or choose to leave, we will be assailed with lots of opinions and thinly disguised threats, but few facts, to raise our stress levels to Critical, as we are asked to vote on a leap into the unknown – on the social, political and cultural direction our country should take.

patriotic-british-peopleOkay, maybe I shouldn’t be gloomy about this. It is always exciting to pack for a journey into the unknown, except you don’t really know what to pack. Better to travel light, like Frodo Baggins heading off for the adventure of a lifetime and to save his world from the forces of evil. It could be fun, but are we collectively up to the challenge of forging a new identity on our wind-swept rock off the north-west coast of Europe? Geographically speaking, we can’t leave Europe, and should we vote to leave the EU our nearest neighbours – France and Ireland – will still be member states. So there can be no dramatic, “I’m off then!” followed by a slamming of the door. We aren’t going anywhere, and in the event of an exit, will have to talk to (and try to trade with) grumpy neighbours whom we have chosen to reject. No one can say, categorically, how they will take it. Yes, trade may go on, as money tends to find a way of multiplying in the hands of capitalists, but they may choose to reject us. Make an example of us. After all, we would be rejecting their great post-War European peace and integration project.

french-personYou see, I’m already saying it – Them and Us. Shouldn’t I be saying, ‘OUR great post-War peace and integration programme?’ And here lies the problem. Because we occupy an island, suspicious of our mainland neighbours, who at various times during our violent history have sent armies to invade and generally make our lives a misery (and vice versa), we don’t really feel a part of their club. We were not defeated and occupied during World War II, and we all survived the Cold War, so we remain bullish in the face of security threats, whereas our European mainland neighbours are more worried about history repeating itself and internal tribal feuds boiling over into messy wars. For them, the EU is a necessity, and is seen as a major reason why relative peace (aside from the Balkans re-adjustment, and Russian aggression in the east) has prevailed over the past 70+ years.

 

mr beanThe OUT campaigners will say that our security is assured by our membership of NATO, and as long as we stay pals with the USA, then they will back us up in a fight. We hope… Remember what happened in 1940? Churchill begged President Rosevelt for help to resist German invasion. Instead, he pointed out that he had to campaign for re-election, and the will of the American people was against getting involved in a messy war in Europe. But he did agree to sell us 40 of their oldest war ships, in return for territories in the Pacific. Thankfully, we were able to hold out until the Americans eventually turned up in 1944. At least then, the British Empire had something to offer in exchange for assistance. What do we have now? I’m prepared to discard security as a major factor in the vote, as I accept that our NATO membership is more important than being linked to a flimsy and dis-trusted EU defence force.

BraveheartSecure our borders! A major reason to vote to leave. Will it work? No! It will make little difference, and no one is even willing to discuss the favoured politics of growing a large unskilled international labour pool. This horse has well and truly bolted. Britain has changed dramatically since the time of Margaret Thatcher, where the class warriors of the Conservative Party (aided by Blair’s New Labour) came up with a fiendishly clever plan to undermine the emancipated working class by simply by-passing them. They had become troublesome to business owners with their demands for fair pay and insistence on safety in the workplace. Too many holidays and too well paid. How can a greedy capitalist ever afford an island in the Carribean?

houses_of_parliamentNo, let’s replace them with eager and desperate foreigners, easily exploited and less likely to cause trouble. With over 10 million recent settlers from Commonwealth and European countries now living and working in the UK, this debate has already been decided. An OUT vote will not lead to settlers being thrown out, nor stop those living here from continuing to send for their friends and relatives, unless there is a major downturn in our economy. Infact, for what remains of the British working class, a vote to leave the EU will see their slim work prospects diminish even more, their cost of living go up, and they’ll be driven further into the arms of exploitative, greedy right-wing capitalists who will continue to control the political agenda. Sorry guys, you’re already screwed. Better stay in the EU where there is some social policy to protect you.

Canary WharfAnd that, ladies and gentlemen, is what it all boils down to. Forget security, immigration, the rise in the cost of living, Herman Van Rumpouy’s cheesy grin, Angela Merkel’s pudding basin haircut and nylon trousers. These things are distracting window displays. This vote is all about how you want to be governed – your vision of the future. A vote to leave pushes us away from European integration, but towards Britain being a haven for tax-dodging corporations, bankers, traders, cash-rich dictators, oil barons and the Chinese. The current political trend of stripping away our personal freedoms will be accelerated. In time, we will no longer be citizens at all, just a multi-cultural amorphous body of serfs, working for a pittance for your lord and master. Furthermore, leaving the EU will almost certainly lead to the break-up of the Union, with the remaining states looking even more puny and insignificant on the world stage. We will be bullied into accepting unfavourable conditions of trade and suffer shortages, whilst the wealthy elite will continue to feather their nests and pass on all cost increases to us, the powerless consumer. EU legislation holds this process in check, or at least up for scrutiny.

So here it is…the last and most important fight for your freedom. Don’t be misled into believing you will share in a liberating independence outside of EU membership. Your personal freedoms and quality of life will diminish. EU citizens will still have rights and the protection of the law long after ours have gone. There are no grounds to believe things will get better. Quite the reverse. Political opportunists will thrive on fear of the unknown, and we risk getting sucked into poverty and oppression. Don’t risk it… vote to stay IN.