- Category: Editor's blog
- Created: Tuesday, 03 January 2012 12:56
- Published: Tuesday, 03 January 2012 12:56
- Written by Colin Sumner
Happy new year to all our readers as the world continues with its convulsions into 2012! Do read Yasmin Alibhai-Brown's piece, Honours that show the old order reasserting itself, linked in our Press Cuttings today, because it's not often that I 'agree' with her. I use the word agree loosely because, while I think she is right to argue that the old order has never gone away and has recently reasserted itself, I do see our planet as in the middle of a profound challenge to that old political order. Yasmin quotes the success of Downton Abbey as indicating that the plebs see the toffs as the class to steer the ship throughy difficult financial waters, whereas I would point out that Downton contains within its conservative writer's narrative a deep awareness of the possibility and likelihood of dramatic change in the old order. The writer, Julian Fellowes, now a Tory peer, is not blind to the demise of the British aristocracy as a wealthy, unregulated and ruling class.
I believe the conflicts, collisions and crimes of the day are often best understood as the severe convulsions in areas of society or the globe where populations, groups and individuals are backed into a corner and refuse to continue to accept it, rather than as some vague generic decline indicating the collapse of capitalism or the failure of religion or some such apocalyptic vision. Complacent and comfortable groups and populations will not be revolting this year, nor troubling the scorers too much on the crime and immorality front either, bearing in mind that they tend to either be the scorers or control them. Indeed, the scorers themselves live well off the fat of the land and will not be in any hurry to inflate their stats. Who needs to raise the bar when it only creates more work? Of course, reality rumbles ever onwards so do expect to see more convulsions in the old political order in 2012.
When I first launched CrimeTalk, at the risk of being dismissed as a loony but remembering that it was ever thus anyway, as a leftist intellectual in a philistine country, I wrote, In March 2010, that the sum of the astrological science for major social trends strongly suggested a series of serious earthquakes within all established orders and within the forms of power and authority. This was generally contrary to the vast wisdom of political sociology, a much newer but less predictive science which, like economics, tends to be dismal by failing to see beyond the sheer weight and vastness of established reality. More specifically, on my reading of the astrology, I wrote that the transit of Pluto through Capricorn between 2008 and 2023 means a "sustained and profound" challenge to the "structure of authorities". I added that Pluto also governs the use and misuse of power so we can expect enormous changes to be fought for in the area of criminal procedure, bureaucracy and governance generally.
One American astrological website noted that the last time Pluto was in Capricorn was 1762 -1779 and hinted that we might see an equally big shift in the political status and form of the USA as that of 1776 - I suggest possibly by trying rule by lunatic having tried rule by idiot, but we could equally imagine that there might be a huge change forthcoming in the political reach of the UK. Of course, the UK might be a much smaller part of Europe by 2023, or even out of it altogether, and the USA will no longer be the major imperial and economic power, and there is always room for instinct and interpretation within astrology, unlike the so-called hard sciences where facts are supposed to speak for themselves, but the extent of the challenge to established plutocracies in 2011 has been nothing short of stunning. No one could deny that, from the Arab spring onwards to Gadaffi's death. Here in the UK, we went from the MPs expenses scandal through a number of revelations in the operation of power to the point where the way that politics is funded here is now subject to a fundamental rethink and serious reform for the first time for a very long time. The UK Honours racket itself is always questioned, especially at New Year, but this year it looks more ridiculous and corrupt than ever.
Bankers will threaten to sue for their bonuses and the old order will continue to reassert itself in a variety of ways - but it will all be in vain, I believe, as ultimately it is very hard to turn the clock back or alter the laws of social nature. The clock is ticking and societies move on. The old order has been given a chance to clean up its act over the last few years, in many countries and many situations, but generally it hasn't, and indeed, FIFA please note, has actually more often than not just dug itself into a deeper hole of corruption and venality.
In the field of criminal justice, a field of course Capricornian in nature, my crystal ball tells me to expect fundamental challenges to traditional forms in the next decade. Ceratinly, the policing is already changing dramatically - has anyone seen a policeman recently? Other than on television and in relation to their friends in the press? Do we now have policing by media in this country yet? Or are they just practising? We in the UK have finally got a Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor who can see the illogic and injustice of mass imprisonment, if only because it costs so much, so we could see further moves away from the traditional forms of punishment and an increased willingness to try alternative, community-based, systems, if only because they cost less and involve passing the buck back to the people. Or they might just hand over the whole thing to television executives and game-show hosts to kill two birds with one stone? Journalists, comedians and pundits to become the new police and the old police to become the new pundits of crime? Naming and shaming to be taken to a new level of effectiveness, with loss of employment chances being the main punishment? News International will not be in the running for that contract though, I venture to suggest.
By a similar combination of fiscal and political logic, we can expect a sharp need to find a solution to the legal aid problem, probably by reducing the possibility of contesting cases altogether and perhaps by 'discovering' the wisdom and cheapness of community or restorative justice systems, and 'rough justice' generally. This might mean the random allocation of criminal offences by computer or it could mean the abandonment of the plea of innocence or by some kind of mass-voting system on television with conviction dependent on fashion crimes or just age...... The state is failing at many things and one response everywhere will be to take things away from the state and farm them out. The lunatics may be in charge of the asylum, Yasmin, but they are not inclined to pay for its upkeep.....stately homes got rented out as movie sets....keep an eye who is renting the state machine this year! They've managed to get French and German companies to run key energy companies, and the football's long gone to American and Russian plutocrats, so maybe they will sell the courts to the Americans and the prisons to the Chinese? And the universities to Apple and Nokia? And what would India pay to run Parliament?
More conventionally, I enjoyed the comment in the Independent by one justejudexultionis on Alibhai-Brown's article and will reproduce it here to stoke up a little revolutionary fervour - I particularly liked the phrase "vacuous pile" - change is a-coming:
"Mrs. Alibhai-Brown is entirely right to draw our attention to the nepotistic feudal system which even now continues to act as a brake on meaningful reform. Most of the 'democratic' concessions made by the elite over the last 150 years represent what Weber calls 'defensive modernisation' i.e. the instigation of superficially democratic change designed to give the illusion of fundamental reform, thereby allowing the real centres of privilege and power to maintain a monopoly of force unchallenged.
This is a country which sneers at true religion, idealism, integrity, egalitarianism and liberty, stuffed to the gills with indolent bourgeois, and underpinned by an anaesthetised hedonist underclass. The corrupt monarchy sits at the head of this vacuous pile, doling out hollow imperialist prizes ('honours') which do no more than highlight the self-parodying hypocrisy of the virtue-less governing class smugly congratulating itself on its undeserved and unearned status.
The real crime, though, is that you guys do nothing. Salus populi suprema lex esto."