Wednesday, April 01, 2009

2009 Is Really Nothing Like The 80s

People keep pointing out the similarities between what's happening now, and the recession of the 80s.

They're right in one sense. It does look the same: all those abandoned shops, people crowded outside of Job Centres.

But in any substantial way it's completely different. Back then people were politicised, if they didn't have their snouts in Thatcher's trough.Every second person in the dole queue knew who had put them there and was intellectually engaged in how to change things. I know. I was in the dole queues with them. And the lucky ones who had jobs but weren't seduced by Thatcher's call to the baser side of their nature looked on with repugnance.

And the bands supported the people in the dole queues and in all the other places that the Hand of Greed was smashing culture and tradition. They showed leadership. They talked politics to NME hacks. Some even toured political shows to galvanise the anti-Thatcher vote.

There were vegetarian whole food shops run by anarchist students in every town. The Communists took caravans of people out to tie white doves on the fences at American air force bases.

Now the people on the street talk racism. Hate foreigners. Crowd in black trackies and stupid white baseball caps like Primark versions of the thugs in "Clockwork Orange" and swear and spit at anyone who looks different. Wish jail on the few who have the courage and intelligence to know what's really going on and want to protest against it.

Now football is the only thing the average kid gives a fuck about. Which is fine: I like football too. But unless my memory is failing me it seems like there used to be so much more.

The 80s were awful. The triumph of everything monstrous in human nature, and, I might add, the progenitor of the collapse we're living through now. But everybody who hadn't been bought off knew that and refused to take the side of the racist homophobic book-burning swine who ran the country.

These days it seems like almost everybody takes their side.

I am sure it won't be too long before the Government takes away our right to engage in political protest.

And when they do it the majority of people whose freedom is being destroyed won't even notice its passing.They'll be too busy reading TV gossip in gutter press Tory newspapers and thinking that the world's going to hell.

On that, if very little else, I can agree with them.


Holly said...

I think this recession is really no different from the last. I'm better prepared. I mean, I know how to be frugal and I know how to budget, thanks to the lessons of the last one. It's not the end of the world, really.

Why are people being racist Fred? Are they like, saying foreigners are taking up their jobs etc? They are starting to be that way here, people I mean. They bitch and complain someone who looks "unAustralian" (despite the fact we're all foreigners at some point in the past) who takes on a job. But it's those that complain that don't apply for these jobs, like in fast-food or cleaning or whatever, they are just too darn picky. So called "foreigners" are actually willing to work, the whingers are the ones who spend more time whinging and bitching than actually going out there and getting work.

All This Trouble... said...

Same here in the States. "Mexicans get all the jobs!" Well, they work and they work hard. If we did the same, maybe we could change some things.

These entries are like history lessons for me. Keep it up, Fred!

Fred Abbey said...

Exactly right. There's a big Polish community in England right now--I presume because the Polish economy is in a hole--and the level of bad feeling towards them (and towards Italians to a certain extent) is extraordinary. But they are working frequently below minimum wage in horrendous conditions to provide for their fanmilies. People--including our esteemed Prime Minister, Gordon Brown (who has almost persuaded even me to vote against Labour)--say "British jobs for British people", but who is going to work in a sweatshop for two or three pounds a day when they could get state benefits instead?

This of course is difficult territory because I don't think anybody SHOULD be working for less than the minimum wage, which itself is derisory. And I don't think contracts should be given to Italian firms who are prepared to work outside of local collective agreements with British workers and bring in workers from Italy to do the same job for much less money. But Thatcher broke the power of the British unions a long time ago precisely so such things could happen. And Labour since it's been in power has done nothing to give back to the unions the strength that the Iron Witch took away. So whose fault is it that British workers can't get jobs but Italian workers can? The Italians? (Maybe they should let their families starve, eh?) Or is it the fault of Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and everyone else who has slavishly followed the principles (or lack of principles) behind fuck-your-neighbour capitalism since the 1980s?

I think the answer is clear...