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richardderus

Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud

London's Overthrow - China Miéville Rating: 5* of fiveThe Book Report: An essay on economic justice, on political reality, and on a leftist's fears for a world slowly being strangled and dismembered by corporate efforts to change the game to phase out all control over and opposition to their eternal pursuit of more more more more more more more. Illustrated with Mr. M's own photos of London at night, the essay makes for some damned good and grim reading, though as always with His Chinaness, the sonority and especially the ubiety of his word choices and similes and metaphors makes the experience of reading the essay much like paying a visit to London yourownself.My Review: There is a major sea-change happening in the world today. The corporate interests are making it ever more difficult for ordinary people to survive, still less make their own worlds better. There is some backlash from the tiny remnants of the left. What there is not is any assurance that the outcome will favor the majority. Read this:London, buffeted by economic catastrophe, vastly reconfigured by a sporting jamboree of militarised corporate banality, jostling with social unrest, still reeling from riots. Apocalypse is less a cliché than a truism. This place is pre-something.The Olympics are slated to cost taxpayers £9.3bn. In this time of ‘austerity’, youth clubs and libraries are expendable fripperies; this expenditure, though, is not negotiable. The uprisen young of London, participants in extraordinary riots that shook the country last summer, do the maths. ‘[B]ecause you want to host the Olympics, yeah,’ one participant told researchers, ‘so your country can look better and be there, we should suffer’.Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will celebrate her 60th year on the throne this year, and the Conservative government is making sure that the world she leaves for William to reign over (does anyone believe Charles will say yes to being king if his wife can't be queen?) is vastly worse for the average Briton than it was when Her Majesty ascended the throne:The pay gap between the highest and lowest paid in the UK has grown faster than in any other developed country, spiking since 2005. In 2008, average income of the top 10 percent was 12 times that of the lowest. Their riches grow. We others are told to tighten belts. Tax rates for the wealthiest have dropped, even as the gap between the merely rich and the utterly wealthy has grown.One of capitalism’s defences is the outrage-fatigue it engenders.We’re approaching Victorian levels of inequality, and London’s more unequal than anywhere else in the country. Here, the richest 10 percent hold two thirds of all wealth, the poorest half, one 20th. It isn't that there are no alternatives, it isn't that no one has another idea, it isn't that there are no voices crying shenanigans out there in the public sphere. Far from it. What there is most decidedly not is any ear turned even slightly away from the more more more more more me me me me me greed that finances government officials' elections and their cushy retirements:We slump under sado-monetarism. There are other ways. For years Alan Freeman was an economist with the Greater London Authority, working with both mayors. He leans forward in his chair, explaining what’s wrong with London’s still-massive economy, and how to fix it. He bullet points. ‘Build two million homes ... Edufare in the place of workfare ... Invest in innovation. Quintuple government funding of R&D, extend R&D to the arts. ... Put growth back and (it’s easy to show) the tax coffers will overflow.’ But perish forbid that the tax coffers overflow, because then the Scum of the Earth might think they should get some of the swag. Can't have that! Those saggy-pantsed loud-music-listenin' dark skinned creeps better not get the idea that they're as good as old white men:In 1998, Tony Blair ushered into being ASBOs, Antisocial Behaviour Orders. Sharp laws, the better for society, like Cronus, like a traumatised hamster, to eat its children. These startling civil orders criminalise legalbehaviour, individually, tailor-making offences. A 17-year-old is banned from swearing. Another told he could go to jail if he drops his trousers. A 19-year-old barred by law from playing football in the street. Catastrophe generates the beasts it needs. In London, in the UK, the term ’feral youth’ is absolutely routine. Media and politicians deploy it without much controversy. As if such a spiteful, shocking, bestialising phrase does not disgrace every mouth from which it spills. Its utterance is not a diagnosis, but a symptom.And this is how it is in London. It's worse in New York. As for the real America, the mind boggles and the spirit quails upon considering how clueless, how apathetic, and how pusillanimous the typical American is; he sees no need to protest, because 1) won't do any good, 2) things're fine like they are, we have enough to eat, still have the house, leave me in peace, and 3) goddam commie pinko fags from Jew York who needs them tellin' decent folks how to live.This last is a quote. A quote, mind you. Someone I once thought of as a friendly acquaintance said this to me. She is not alone in her thoughts, though I'd hope others are less thoughtless in expressing them.Then I watched Fox News, and that hope died. I wonder if my country's ideals will too.