Friday, 24 June 2016

Well Done, England - Enjoy Your Labour Camps

V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd

The country in which I was born, lived, and worked for the first forty-five years of my life has voted to withdraw from the European Union. Specifically, 72.2% of the electorate turned out to vote, and 51.9% of them voted to leave, according to the Daily Telegraph. The leave vote was therefore cast by considerably less than half of the electorate, unless you feel like counting each abstention as a leave vote. Whether or not this result strikes you as valid probably depends upon your faith in the supposedly democratic system of the United Kingdom - democracy in this instance referring to something which answers to people rather than to the market.

From what I can see, the leave campaign has been heavily reliant upon a fear of immigration stoked up by the mainstream media, particularly newspapers such as The Sun, and a stroll through the darker regions of facebook and related social media will yield a wealth of memes along the lines of, perhaps not quite send them all back, but certainly Britain is full up, which is really just a nicer way of saying exactly the same thing so as to avoid seeming racist. Probably the most unpleasant and stupid one I've seen depicted women of obviously Islamic heritage poorly photoshopped so as to show them greedily lusting after a quaint village high street of half-timbered buildings and Cotswold stone tea shoppes. Not on my watch, the slogan promises, or something along those lines, because who wants to see a thousand years of Great British culture turned to shit by an incursion of darkies? Some may claim not to have encountered rabble rousing xenophobia of this sort, in which case they're either lying, or they mistook it for a well-reasoned argument accounting for all the relevant factors. Some have claimed that rabble rousing xenophobia had no influence on their decision to vote leave, which is hopefully true given that the United Kingdom withdrawing from the European Union has no bearing on the matter of immigration, so far as I understand it. Nevertheless, the leave campaign seems to have dabbled with that one as a sort of sympathetic magic, invoking the demon of interference or incursion by outsiders so as to achieve the desired result, and I'm pretty sure I haven't simply been imagining that the leave campaign has been significantly reliant upon arguments against immigration.

Those defending the leave campaign in my small corner of the internet have emphasised their distrust of EU bureaucracy exerting a malign and authoritarian influence over what happens in the United Kingdom, but I'll come to that later. Of those to whom I've spoken in person during the course of my infrequent transatlantic phone calls, two out of three specific individuals have spent the time banging on about foreigners ruining the country, which I wouldn't mind but for the fact that I tend to phone friends and family so as to keep in touch rather than just to have them read out Daily Mail headlines; and I have a faint suspicion that these persons probably voted leave. The third individual is the other half of a friendship which became difficult to sustain when he stood for election on behalf of UKIP - the right-wing independence party, a person of my own generation still living in the house in which he grew up and with limited experience of anything much that you could really describe as the world beyond. He expressed frustration at the frequent characterisation of UKIP as a racist party, and didn't even seem to understand why that might be. He even suggested that UKIP's racist credentials were to be blamed entirely on fake websites set up by those who hate UKIP in order to discredit the party, although from where I stood it never really seemed like they needed help on that score. His views on Islam - as stated in an ancient facebook comment I can't be bothered to hunt down - were, for example, something like some of the Muslim community have made me feel very unwelcome but others were quite friendly, suggesting a world view operating at about the same level as a boy scout meeting in which only certain kids will let you have some of their sweets. I'm pretty sure he will also have voted leave, drawing upon his great wealth of worldly experience so as to reach an informed decision.

I've read up on the immigration statistics and what they mean to a limited extent, and my understanding is that it's all bollocks and fear-mongering perpetrated in the name of securing either votes, newspaper sales, or viewing figures. It's the school bully pointing at funny-looking strangers and warning you that they're after your sweets so as to distract from the fact of his own mighty fist rooting around inside your school blazer. I don't really get how this isn't obvious, given that most of the testimony in support of funny-looking strangers after your sweets seems to amount to someone overheard speaking a language other than English on the bus. Maybe I'm wrong, but if you care enough to get angry about it, then maybe it's up to you to do the research, and by research I mean checking out sources other than those with a cock-obvious vested interest in having you shit yourself every time you hear a reference to Romania on the national news. There's a possibility that what you've been told by The Sun, the Daily Mail or whoever might just not be all of the story, don't you think?

My own experience of immigrants in the United Kingdom, or at least the ones referred to in hysterical newspaper headlines, comes from delivering mail to a London based center providing temporary accommodation for those seeking asylum, and from the testimony of my own mother working many years at an advice center specialising in claims made and legal issues affecting those arriving here from other countries and barely able to speak the language. It's not like I became buddies with anyone, but I can see that those people are not having an easy time of it. They don't have flat screen tellies given to them by the British government and paid for by money that would have gone to pensioners. They are trying to stay alive, and their continued use as a vote-grabbing, paper-selling scapegoat is not only fucking disgusting, but is exactly the sort of thing over which Britain fought a war between 1939 and 1945. Anyone who regards immigration as an easy option really needs to try it some time. I speak from experience.

But apparently it was never about that. It was about the bureaucracy and shopkeepers being forbidden to sell bananas of a certain curvature; and yet no-one has been able to give me a single example of this terrible EU bureaucracy imposed on the United Kingdom by unelected representatives from afar, instead focusing on the allegedly unelected status of these mysterious Eurolluminati. I've tried to understand this aspect but I can't, so either I haven't found the right source or I'm just a bit fucking thick. I wouldn't like to rule out the latter possibility, although at the same time it has struck me as significant that the leave argument looks a lot like it's suggesting that the Eurolluminati have become a major obstacle to the democratic process in the United Kingdom, which itself presupposes that there is a democratic process in the United Kingdom as opposed to fat cats doing what the fuck they want in the name of the almighty market, setting up tax breaks for their rich pals whilst using the media to encourage voters in the other direction so that we somehow end up believing it was our idea all along.

Some years ago, Royal Mail had a strike. I was working for them at the time and had voted against the strike believing there to be a much more effective means of encouraging management to see our point. I went on strike nevertheless, because you have to support your union, and the industrial action resulted in an inevitably massive backlog of undelivered mail. It was piled up everywhere in the sorting office causing such obstruction to normal operation that we were unable to cope with it under ordinary working conditions, and the amount of fresh mail coming in each day was more than we were able to deliver on a daily basis. Because Royal Mail management resented having to pay out overtime as a result of industrial action, ordinarily they wouldn't have bothered, and so we would simply be expected to process an excessive quantity of mail in the course of a normal eight-hour day. This generally meant people coming into work before their time and working through their breaks, which is illegal, but the management seemed happy to turn a blind eye. However, following this particular strike, even this practice was inadequate, and so overtime was grudgingly granted. Overtime is of course optional. You cannot legally be forced to take overtime, but because the workload was threatening to turn into a sort of junk mail volcano, we were told we were taking the overtime or else we would be disciplined for delaying the mail. The union didn't seem to have much to say about this, their view being that we should at least be glad the fuckers were paying out at last - because apparently everyone loves overtime. So I worked a ten-hour day from Monday to Thursday, slogging on through my break because forty minutes respite would have set me back even further. I was starting work at six in the morning, although sometimes getting in earlier, then working non-stop carrying heavy bags of mail until four in the afternoon because I didn't want to be disciplined for delaying the mail. It came to Friday and I found to my delight that there was no more unofficial mandatory overtime because I could not be obliged to work more than eight additional hours a week against my will. I still don't quite get how I'd been forced to work until four in the afternoon in the first place, but the eight-hour limit had been set by European Union employment laws; so that example has sort of stayed with me. That week was hell, and I suppose the term EU bureaucracy might also refer to just this sort of thing, amongst other stuff.

So I gather British business will no longer have to worry quite so much about workers' rights of this kind, and will be better able to get their money's worth out of their disposable work units; and even if I'm wrong, do you see why I might think that?

So what are we looking at here?

Workers' rights will be protected out of either the warmth and generosity of their bosses' overpaid hearts, or because the British people are now free to rise up as one and democratically make those vast multinational corporations behave themselves. As of at least five years ago, business practice seemed increasingly to be moving towards the use of non-unionised temporary workers who can be hired and fired as the market demands, and paid as little as anyone can get away with paying them.

Immigration will continue, because those people can't afford to be so fussy about their rights. Maybe we can stick them all in camps of some sort - you know, somewhere to live and sleep when they're not sweeping a road or twisting a spigot on an assembly line. They're used to living ten to a room as well, so they probably won't mind that, leaving more storage space for their fellow worker ants. I suppose such facilities will inevitably suffer the occasional firebomb, what with the extreme-right presently having experienced such a major boost to its self-esteem; but no-one's going to shed a tear over a few sand monkeys, and prison labour details can take up the slack so as to maintain productivity - plus you don't even have to pay them. Thinking about it, we can probably stick all the dole scroungers and related useless carbon blobs in there too, get them working again, get those unemployment figures down. The public should respond well to that, even if it means there won't be a new series of Benefits Street.

Doubtless there will still be a few lefties and weirdos and faggots rocking the boat as they do, and it will of course be their democratic choice as to whether or not they get with the programme.

I really hope I'm wrong about all of this, but I find it difficult to ignore the pattern. They're going after our people, and they've been going after us for a while - both the lone nutcases and the tentacular forces of the Society of the Spectacle, united in having the same enemy within their crosshairs. They don't like anything which is different, or which thinks itself too fancy, because variance devalues the pattern, and your value is relative to your economic potential as either a generator of product or a consumer of the same - product being anything, physical or otherwise, which fortifies the system.

Still, like I say, I might be wrong.

Fingers crossed.

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