...a blog by Richard Flowers

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Day 3828: The Deadly Sin of Sloth


We wake at the tellingly-lazy hour of half-past-eleven to hear the Weak (sic) In Westminster debating the House of Lords Club and NEVER have we heard such a smug, selfish, self-interested, inward-looking, ignorant proof that the place needs totally abolishing down to the ground!

Last weekend, we were with our families for Daddies Day, and – as can happen – one of our relatives went off on a bit of a "right-wing rant". "The trouble with this country is lack of leadership!" was the thesis. This, of course, is total HONK; the REAL problem of this country is CONTENTMENT.

The "strong leadership" canard itself implies lack of fault in the PEOPLE. I mean even if we didn't all know that "strong leadership" is a shortcut to poor by which I mean insane policy choices – Iraq, Poll Tax, World War Part II and we're straight into Godwin's Law – the implication is that the fault is in the LEADERS not providing answers rather than the PEOPLE for not getting off their fluffy bottoms to CHANGE things!

And people DON'T want, can't be BOTHERED to want CHANGE.

And I don't even mean Great Britain; I mean England. Because if you look at Scotland, whether you agree with independence or oppose it, there is a real yearning for change and a seizing of their own destiny, while England is content just to sink into our own apathy.

With basically only TWO political arguments – "time for change!" and "don't rock the boat" – you can make a case that the recent LOSS of the AV referendum, and certainly the insultingly low turnout, are a sign that people are complacently content as they are. Enough people are pretty much enough satisfied that things are "okay enough as they are". There is no… OOMPH for getting behind something new.

That same lack of drive may even explain the poor recovery from recession. The case made is "oh, people are just struggling to carry on in the face of austerity". No, people are wrapping the blankets around them and trying to IGNORE it; they're not going out there and starting new enterprises FIGHTING it!

The terrible thought strikes me that the one success of Thatcherism was not its economic insight (which was non-existent) nor its populism (which mostly came about by accident) but that it made SO MANY people MISERABLE that it meant they had to DO something, to FIGHT FOR something. The misery lead to STRUGGLE and the struggle led to on the one fluffy foot an EXPLOSION of creative arts from the oppression and injustice and yet on the other fluffy foot an explosion of entrepreneurialism and invention from the wideboys and chancers who took their opportunity. They may have been "nouvs" and absolutely ghastly, but they created new wealth and dynamism in a way that the settled establishment didn't.

The contented establishment have used the decades since to SMOTHER that. THAT is why Alan Sugar is now a LORD, and comfortably PARASITISING the creative insanity of his "Apprentices".

It is all too telling that the only things that will get our UNIONS out on the streets nowadays are a threat to make their PILLOWS slightly less PLUMPTIOUS!

(At least the students were rioting for the right to DO something!)

And the House of Lords is TOTALLY symbolic of all of that: a warm and cosy retirement palace, you don't even have to turn up, where you can be coddled while you congratulate yourself on your own wisdom.

So we woke up hearing the voices of Mr Fraser Half-Nelson guests Dame Joan Bakewell Tart and Mr Michael "FU" Dobbs telling us how SILLY it was of Captain Clegg to consider replacing the House of Lords with something THAT WORKS.

"There are so many people who want to get in, even though there is no pay."

Oh, well have you considered the possibility of having some sort of DECISION about who gets in and who stays in? If people WANT it so badly then they can stand up and prove they deserve it. Oh no, they don't want to go to the trouble of obtaining a MANDATE. They want it handed to them on a plate. Together with a cat-trim bed-blanket to prove they're part of the CLUB.

Yes, you'll only end up with "elected politicians"… as opposed to the UNELECTED politicians that we've got there now!

What could be WORSE in your governing political class than this exceeding smug self-assurance that they're not "politicians" they're "wise people" just because they don't have to face an electorate?

The House of Lords is ENTIRELY composed of "the ESTABLISHMENT", talking to themselves and most ABOUT themselves. Frankly, the House of COMMONS is ALMOST AS BAD, but at least elections mean there is a REMOTE CHANCE that someone INTERESTING can CRASH THE PARTY.

"You couldn't have people of 20 in the House of Lords…" says Joan Bakewell, JOAN BAKEWELL!, "…or it would turn this place into a bear pit!"

Well of course how shocking, we'd best not threaten to interrupt the gentle snoring of our self-appointed gerontocracy with anything that might approach REPRESENTATION for people less than a quarter of your age. It might disturb the horses.

"There are more important things to deal with."

You know, there really ARE. But Parliament doesn't debate them.

The problems that our Parliament chooses to trouble itself with are TRIVIAL, quite literally they are reduced to arguing over how to manage our pensions. This country that once RULED the WORLD, our greatest aspiration now amounts to RETIREMENT.

THIS is why SLOTH is DEADLY. It is killing us.


This week Daddy Richard read a really DEPRESSING piece of analysis about the Space Race to the Moon. I'm not saying it was WRONG; it's well-argued and well-written (and I recommend the "TARDIS rude-room" blog as a whole!) but it was depressing.

Not depressing because it claims that the Moon landing was basically a WILLY-WAVING exercise by the military-industrial complex as a proxy for fighting a nuclear war. (And let's face it a Saturn V rocket is a pretty IN YOUR FACE statement of "my Freudian rocket is bigger than your Freudian rocket"!).

No, this piece was depressing because of the suggestion that space is OVER. We've done that and we're BORED now. Exploration is for geeks and weirdoes; there are "more important" things to deal with here on Earth.


There are only two possibilities: life exists in great abundance everywhere in the Universe; or life is vanishingly rare and may be unique to this Earth.

To the very best of our knowledge, from all we have leaned so far, there is NO evidence for the former.

That makes the life on Earth the most VITAL and PRECIOUS thing that there is anywhere. And our most pressing duty must be to take life to the stars.

Chinese philosophy tells us there are two competing impulses, two "directions": "inwards" and "outwards". "Outwards" is chaotic, aggressive, creative, exploratory, inventive. "Inwards" is peaceful, calm, settled, content.

The "West", and that basically meant the British Empire and later the Americans, used to be synonymous with "outward" and the "East", namely China, with "inward". And we PITIED China for it: for being so INDOLENT, so fat and lazy and OLD.

And look at us now.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I saw this post as I was putting together a reaction to the utterly terrifying report in the Guardian yesterday which told how women who had taken drugs and consequently lost their babies were being charged with murder in some US states and were facing life in prison.

Also one woman who fell down the stairs and lost her baby was threatened with prosecution. She'd told the nurse in the hospital that she had considered terminating the pregnancy but decided against it and before she knew it she was arrested and interrogated. A horrible experience for someone already suffering from one of the worst traumas you could go through.

When people complain about human rights legislation, this is the sort of thing they should be aware of. If there isn't a strong liberal voice in a polity, religious dogma and intolerance can rise unchecked.

Most people haven't had that sort of direct threat to their liberty so these issues don't register in their consciousness. In fact, they may even express irritation and antipathy to the likes of us who value freedom.

How do we change that?