Saturday, January 09, 2016

Who is Shaun Connell? And the end of liberty

A friend reposts this picture on Facebook:

Plain common sense, isn't it?

Isn't it?

No. Unemployment is not a simple issue with simple answers. And there are systemic global issues of the kind the late Jimmy Goldsmith did his best to publicise at the time of the GATT talks in 1994.

The "Capitalism Institute" was set up by Shaun Connell, who describes himself on the Seeking Alpha investor website as "a 26-year-old retiree, enjoying some time to pursue passion projects after hustling with 18-20 hour workdays for years." He says a bit more about himself on his blog, "Stand Strong Finance."

One tries to find a little more on this paragon, e.g. on Vebidoo - snapshot here:

- but the first three links lead to "page not found" or similar.

Well, by his own account he worked hard for years (how many? Not as many as Jimmy Goldsmith, for sure) - though I wonder whether anyone actually works 20 hours in a day.

Fair play to him if it's true, though he's not the only person who works hard.

And he probably underestimates the degree to which good luck came his way. Or understates it - remember Josiah Bounderby in Dickens' "Hard Times"?

I have a theory that's been taking shape in my mind recently, about the historic end of Romanticism and popular democracy. It seems to me that we're headed backwards into the eighteenth century, a time when slave traders tried to claim insurance on heavily overloaded ships that sank and have the human cargo treated as goods for which compensation should be claimed. Indeed it surprised me - I am so naive - that English involvement in slavery ended not out of Christian compassion and conscience (though that was certainly the motivation of many activists including Wilberforce) - but because a Parliamentary deal was struck whereby the British State would buy out the plantation owners. The fortunes established by this deal continue to have beneficiaries to this day, including our present Prime Minister David Cameron.

The modern American right wing seems to include many who, dressed appropriately, would fit comfortably among the rhino-skinned plutocrats of 18th-century London clubland (why does Bilderberger Ken Clarke spring to mind?) And they look for propagandists like Connell, who argue for even softer tax and regulatory treatment of the super-rich and moralise at the ordinary people on whom they prey.

Liberty and a fair chance in life are not natural or inevitable. War and national insolvencies were what led to the French and American revolutions, otherwise Rousseau, Tom Paine, Robespierre and others would have been merely obscure footnotes in history.

We read much these days about inequality and how it will break the system. Nonsense. Injustice is eminently sustainable. As John Masters* commented from his 1941 visit to Iran:

"For centuries Persia has consisted of a small number of immensely rich and ruthless men and a large number on the edge of starvation. We were invaders, but the huge majority of the people only wished we would stay, and overturn the country's whole polity, so that they could breathe."

The great fortunes are being re-made; the aristocracy is re-forming (and co-opting such members of the currently-democratic political class and Fourth Estate as are willing to wear their livery); the gyre is turning again. The rough beasts are slouching towards Brussels and Washington for their rebirth.


*The Road Past Mandalay, Michael Joseph, 1961


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