Wednesday, November 02, 2011

4 Skeletor

“All the powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre: Pope and Tsar, Metternich and Guizot, French Radicals and German police-spies.”

I was reminded of this great quotation by the appearance of supporters of the “Robin Hood Tax” on the news again today. According to Russia Today, Occupy Wall Street protesters want this tax to be implemented. According to Channel Four News, G20 protesters want the same. And according to the BBC, the Archbishop of Canterbury is also promoting this tax, along with the Pope himself. We might imagine, therefore, a motley gang of real and imagined radicals, priests and police spies (maybe!) gathered to invoke rather than exorcise something most people don’t have the slightest interest in.

The “Robin Hood Tax” is, in my opinion, an extremely bad idea. Could one contrive a better system to effect the following:

1. Incentivise people to trade options on shares, untaxed, rather than shares, taxed

2. Dissociate the number of share options from the number of shares: effectively monetise equity shares

3. Establish economies of scale in the trading of options by large financial institutions, because … if you imagine options sold by an institution are backed to an extent by shares held by the institution, a larger broker can make share purchases based on option sales to a greater extent internally, untaxed

4. Establish a system where equity is legally owned by a few large financial institutions, who then sell options to buy the same equity, which are traded in place of equity shares

5. Concentrate control of the economy in the hands of large financial institutions – JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs

This is absolutely not a grass roots initiative. Anarchists are not interested in the tax system. No-one is interested in establishing payroll imputation against output VAT, which is eminently sensible. The government piss away far too much money as it is. It’s like, they expect people to support this because it’s named after Robin Hood and so maybe seems anti-establishment. Anyone convinced by that line of reasoning should perhaps reappraise the proposals, imagining they went under the banner of King Herod, or Skeletor, or some other figure who more closely resembles our intellectual entrepreneurs.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Celebrity groundbait (1) - Katie Price and Alex Reid

Katie Price and her crossdressed cortejo

Generations of theatrical performers have found themselves confronted with the problem of how best to portray the ghost in Hamlet; that is, how best to convey insubstantiality with substantial means. In the absence of a codified symbolism, such as exists in the Chinese Theatre, our actors have to date managed with stiff legged shuffling, talc, woos, etc.

But perhaps Katie Price has further enriched our culture by elegantly solving a similar problem: how to show symbolically that a lover is haunted and rendered insubstantial by the withdrawal of the sunlight of her attention, and she has achieved this by the simple expedient of marrying a transvestite boxer.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

a "new" tax meme

A couple of weeks ago this tax theory “meme”, launched by a PR company on behalf of undisclosed corporate interests, was officially a Major News Story:

Twenty of Britain's leading economists have urged the Chancellor to scrap the 50p top rate of income tax – for the sake of the recovery

It’s sort of jarring, but at the same time completely predictable, to see wooden 90s neoliberalism once again paraded as serious scientific work. All these people have is a theological rejection of the acquisition and use of resources by the state in furtherance of a social democratic agenda, arguing:

1. That profit at current rate is really a necessary cost of production

2. That all activity for profit is productive

Both are untrue; but the current economic crisis, brought about by the overdevelopment of clearly unproductive activity in western countries, should surely have made a person interested in describing the real world have second thoughts about this inherited dogma.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Pepe Escobar on Russia Today

One of the ideas appearing on and under the surface of the coverage of the war in Libya concerns "al Qaeda" fighters - this is picked up by Pepe Escober here:

and in the Asia Times:

His name is Abdelhakim Belhaj. Some in the Middle East might have, but few in the West and across the world would have heard of him.

Time to catch up. Because the story of how an al-Qaeda asset turned out to be the top Libyan military commander in still war-torn Tripoli is bound to shatter - once again - that wilderness of mirrors that is the "war on terror", as well as deeply compromising the carefully constructed propaganda of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's (NATO's) "humanitarian" intervention in Libya.

(I suppose "Belhaj" was "allegedly" friends with "al-Zarqawi" mkII: it's impossible to pin down any of this)

Also, I can half remember a thing about Benghazi militias being flown from front to front by NATO, like Hollywood extras.

When people were massacred in Tripoli last week, and in some places reportedly only non combatant handcuffed black men, the UK press evidently had to report it; but the same things had been reported months ago in the rebel area, and were excluded from the teevee context of the war in Libya, as if they had ocurred only in "liminal news", and so didn't need to be accounted for.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

don't forget ...

... that this culture's dislike of the middle classes, always for the wrong reasons, ought to be considered alongside its indifference to, and profound estrangement from, unskilled workers considered as human beings

Friday, August 19, 2011

London 2011

From 1780:

“There is about a thousand mad men, armed with clubs, bludgeons, and crows, just now set off for Newgate, to liberate, they say, their honest comrades. - I wish they do not some of them lose their lives of liberty before morning. It is thought by many who discern deeply, that there is more at the bottom of this business than merely the repeal of an act - which has as yet produced no bad consequences, and perhaps never might.”

Unfortunately, it’s rare that anyone ever gets to the bottom of any of this business. On the 4th of August, Mark Duggan was killed by police, following which, according to the Daily Mail:

“the IPCC was forced to deny reports that Mr Duggan was “assassinated” as rumours spread like wildfire on the internet that he was unarmed, having put his gun down on the ground when he was shot.”

Mark Duggan’s friends and family organised a demonstration in Tottenham on the 6th of August, demanding answers from the police as to what had happened. At this protest, it’s reported that a sixteen year old girl was beaten by the police prompting a confrontation with police. Parked police cars were attacked with apparent impunity, and then shops were attacked and robbed, certainly by people with a different agenda from the initial demonstrators. A large carpet shop and the flats above it were set on fire. Over the following few nights, Londoners who were so inclined, discovering that they could apparently steal with impunity, attempted to do so (social policy for thirty years has been to resurrect nineteenth century social relations: it is almost as if they had brought back the classes laborieuses and the classes dangereuses). Overwhelmingly, unemployed Londoners have been charged with crimes relating to the riots.

But was there any more at the bottom of this business: the killing of Mark Duggan, the girl who got beaten, police permissiveness (followed by a police crackdown)? But also the surreal sentences handed out to rioters and the teevee disinformation? They’re probably just aspects of the British system, along with institutional racism, permanent house price inflation, the war in Afghanistan and the 2012 Olympics, but we can’t be entirely sure.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

School of Aphex

There is a nightclub in London, ostensibly closed and boarded up, from which the Aphex Twin is directing rioters to attack Halfords or Tesco Metro, using two specially grooved cardboard disks, that have been laid out on his decks

That isn’t true. I think it’s just a normal response to think about what happened in London and try to reconcile it with what’s happened in popular culture, as well as what’s happened socially and politically. There is something about the staged inscrutability and desperation in this advert for microwaveable sausages:

But, if anything, Chris Cunningham/Chris Morris inspired adverts are a consequence of the senselessness of modern life, more than an influence on it; just as the “shock and awe” advertising campaign for NATO’s looting of Iraq eight years ago, or Libya now, was a consequence of the political organisation of the US and its satellites, and may not have influenced at all the decisions of Londoners to rob Halfords.