We took a late summer stroll through Salisbury yesterday. I like Salisbury. It has modern flashes amongst an architecturally ancient forest of buildings. I liked the photo below. The building has been there for centuries. It’s hard to comprehend how long that building has been there, the many faces that have looked out of those windows at a world that has seen so many changes and upheavals since the first pair of eyes looked out of them. I looked at the reflected landscape in the panes and felt a little reflective myself. I sense another major upheaval in the offing, another change of the global landscape that the building will surely survived. Whose eyes will be looking out of those windows next, I cannot tell.
I missed the sense of catastrophe when the economies of the world were on the brink at the end of the last decade. Life in Mexico was simple, and somehow detached. I felt isolated and protected from the worst it had to offer. It was as if I were on the outside, looking in at a world I recognised but was utterly unfamiliar with. It didn’t feel real.
That’s not the case today. I feel very much a part of it this time round. The Greeks are teetering, ready to take us all with them. We could argue about the causes, if you like. I’m a strong believer in a mixed economy. National infrastructures, health services and education should be state run and ‘free’. Business should be in private hands, but regulated.
Some western economies have let capitalism run amok, to its extreme, too close to the laissez-faire model that Britain abandoned a hundred years ago. But only after it had amassed its fortune and left tens of millions dead in its wake. Fancy an argument over which of history’s dastardly regimes topped most people? The British Empire can potentially claim a number greater than the the next two combined.
Capitalism and socialism have both lead to rioting in streets. I suspect things are going to get much worse. The deeper the hole gets, the closer we move to revolution over evolution. The idea of revolution seems unreal, even as I suggest it. And yet. History does repeat, as we know. It’s only visible from hindsight. But the same old drums are being banged. Different tune, same old beat.
The same narrow-minded type of fool pointing fingers of blame at different races, religions and nations. Anything but looking inward. Blaming oneself doesn’t sell. Multiculuralism is the 21st century Jew. Islam in the new ‘n*****’. Neither are relevant to the real problems we face. They’re not even in the top ten. But they are easy targets for a finger of blame.
I digress. But only slightly. These musing do all actually have an impact on everyday UK life. Increased xenophobia, racism and sectarianism are distracting from the real problems that we face. And by far the biggest is the entrenchment of failed capitalist (as opposed to capitalism, full stop) policies to solve a problem that it created in the first place. There’s a couple of places I’d like to see the UK government start, although I shan’t hold my breath.
It’d be nice to see legislation preventing employers advertising a mass of part-time jobs instead of secure full time jobs. It’s become a epidemic of short sighted cost cutting that is self defeating in the long term. It’d be nice to see companies obliged to share a set and sizeable chunk of their profits amongst their entire workforce, as they do (in theory) in Mexico. It’d be nice to see job agencies forbidden from allowing staff to opt out of the European Working Time Directive. It’d be nice to see the national minimum wage being set in accordance to what it actually costs to live, and not what employers can get away with paying. This would all be a start.
Failing that happening, maybe now is a good time to sell up and buy a plot of land in Hidalgo, Mexico. Just big enough to grow some corn, farm some chickens and lay some solar panels. Build a little house, stick a rocking chair on the porch. Invest all you have left in gold, and hide it under the floorboards of your porch. Sit back in your chair, hold tight to the shiny new shotgun you bought, and watch the show. If the show doesn’t come to pass, you can check out the rest of my Autumn Salisbury photos instead – click here.