Scared of my Own Thoughts 335

In Doha last week I watched on TV an utterly contemptible speech by Theresa May in which she grasped for ideas to shore up the increasingly eroded Establishment control of the political zeitgeist. Yet more pressure would be put on the social media companies to curtail the circulation of unauthorised truths as “fake news”. Disrespectful questioning of the political class will be a new crime of “intimidation of candidates”. The government would look for new ways to boost the unwanted and failing purveyors of the official line by some potential aid to newspapers and their paid liars.

In short I did not merely disagree with what she was saying, I found it an extraordinary example of Orwellian doublespeak in which she even referenced John Stuart Mill and her commitment to freedom of speech as she outlined plans to restrict it further. I found myself viewing this dull, plodding agent of repression as representing a political philosophy which is completely alien to me.

I had a similar epiphany the week before watching the gathering at Davos. I have often been sceptical of the philosophy and motivation of the neo-liberal elite, but I have never before looked at them and seen them as the enemy. Yet after the super wealthy were rewarded for the financial collapse of 2008, by the largest diversion of ordinary people’s money to the rich in human history, as bailouts and QE, the steady but unspectacular economic growth of the ensuing decade has resulted in no significant real wage increases for the working person across the entire developed world, while the wealth of the 1% has more than doubled. There has been a curious but matching phenomenon whereby even the “third sector” representatives at Davos – the heads of universities and charities or the senior presenters from the BBC, for example – are themselves on over £300,000 a year and completely divorced from the lifestyle of working people, due to the abandonment of their institutions to corporate philosophy.

In short, as with Theresa May, I found myself looking at the inhabitants of Davos with utter contempt, as people whose philosophy and lifestyle I detest.

Then a couple of days ago I watched an uncritical BBC report of alleged chemical weapons attacks in Syria based entirely on film provided by the White Helmets, which plainly had zero evidential value. Given that the origins and motivations of the White Helmets are today known to anyone with an internet connection, the continued retailing of this repetitive propaganda is extraordinary. I felt contempt for the BBC journalists who were retailing it. In the last 24 hours Israel has carried out large scale bombing attacks on Syria which are undeniably illegal, and for once has acknowledged them brazenly. There has been very little media reporting of this. In a two sentence report on BBC News as I type, the second sentence was that the attack followed the downing of an Israel fighter, without mentioning that plane was itself illegally attacking Syria. The Israeli statement was given verbatim and no balancing view from Syria was given.

I am not comfortable with thoughts of contempt, disgust or hatred towards anyone. I have always held the view that people are entitled to their political views, and having different views to mine in no way makes you a bad person. I have been known to suggest that anyone who has all the same views as me must be in dubious mental health. I have tried to acknowledge common ground with people where it exists – for example I have always admired David Davis’ commitment to civil liberties. It is not the case that some of my best friends are Tories, but I do have Tory friends.

I was for most of my working life a fully paid up member of the Establishment, and reasonably comfortable with that. Even bad governments do some good. I was a Liberal and fairly well on board with the prescriptions of the party in the time of Charlie Kennedy. I am, I hope, a naturally friendly person and have always considered myself gentle and kind. It is certainly true my political views are driven more by empathy with the suffering than by rigid systems of thought.

I therefore am not comfortable being so stridently opposed to everything that is happening in the UK political mainstream. I am scared by the prospect of being the extremist nutter who mutters on about a worldview entirely at odds with the accepted narrative.

Yet I look at the world with disbelief. I see an economy that gives little opportunity for secure and fulfilling lives to millions of young people. I see the obscene lifestyle of the super rich. And I perceive that, contrary to neo-liberal propaganda, that is not the natural order of things but a direct result of the operation of institutions created by government and their use to channel the flow of wealth to a tiny minority.I marvel at the continuing Ponzi scheme of the UK property market. I see Africa plundered for its commodities and deliberately kept poor.

The panic-inducing correction in the world’s stock markets this week was triggered by news that unemployment was falling rapidly in the USA. That was “bad news” for the markets because it might result in workers getting better pay. There could not be a better illustration of the madness of the system. The world is suffering from a failure of imagination. Corporate ownership structure has developed in certain ways because of social conditions prevailing in the UK and Europe from the 16th century onwards. The development consists of the overlaid accretions of accumulated accidents of history. There is nothing natural or inevitable about current stock market models. The rational alternative – worker ownership of enterprises – is, however, not on any mainstream accepted political agenda.

Jeremy Corbyn and John MacDonnell are doing their best within the awful constraints of the Labour Party they inherited, but their economic proposals are nowhere near the radical change required. In Scotland, the SNP have put in place some commendable but very modest social democratic measures to increase taxes on the wealthy. But the SNP appears to have been seized by crippling timidity on the subject of Independence. There are worrying signs that Sturgeon’s evident lack of serious intent to push for Independence, is finally damping down grassroots activism, including on social media. Meanwhile virtually the entire political class of Europe has united behind the vicious suppression of Catalonia, with peaceful campaigners facing lengthy years as political prisoners. Those events, more than any, crystallise my understanding that a “liberal” political Establishment no longer exists.

In conclusion, either I am barking mad or the world is becoming a much darker place. As the position of the vast majority of people as helots to the super wealthy is further consolidated, the manufacturing of consent by the control of information becomes ever more crucial to the elite. I have never desired to stand outside society barking unheeded warnings. You have probably gathered that the last few months I have been inclined to succumb to the fact that my own life would be more comfortable if I stopped barking. But I shall continue – please feel free to warn me when I get over-bitter.

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335 thoughts on “Scared of my Own Thoughts

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  • Pat Lowe

    Mr Murray, I believe you have spoken for many people who have been feeling as you do, but who don’t have the detailed knowledge you do. Thank you.
    It is so difficult to keep motivated to fight in a small way as an unqualified layperson.
    Please carry on?

  • Jutta

    If only people understood who the real enemy is. Alas, they are too busy with their day-to-day lives, digesting the propaganda of TV and tabloids. They are disinterested, apathetic, apolitical and what is worse, they aspire to the riches that are out of their reach and the vast majority would act no differently if ever they joined the 1%. It is very sad that this is what it is to be human. A sorry species.

  • Margaret mulholland

    Good to hear barking! Otherwise the silence of passive acceptance gets scary. A good book challenging the accepted narrative is
    Reclaiming the state by
    Mitchell and
    Fazi. Pluto press.

  • Jayne Venables

    There was truth and there was untruth. And if you clung to the truth, even against the whole world, you were not mad.

  • Graeme

    Having spent much of my 3 score years and 10 watching the political changes in the world I have reached the same conclusion. The world is becoming a darker place and the masses are walking blindly into it. Newspapers no longer print news but are heavy on comment and opinion masquerading as news. Keep up the good work Craig. One day perhaps we’ll all stop sleepwalking.

  • Ken Mathieson

    You’re not shouting into the dark on your own. There are plenty of other like-minded people equally frustrated and dismayed by the way the world, its economy, its politics and the damage being done to our environment are developing. For interesting and well-informed debates on all manner of topics where politics, law, the economy, taxation, social conditions etc interface I recommend Prof Richard Murphy’s blog at If you don’t already know about it, I’m sure you’ll find it interesting and informative, and, with your diplomatic background, I’m sure your insights would add weight to the daily debates.

  • Neil Youngson

    Being in opposition to the establishment view is indeed uncomfortable, I completely understand how you feel. But those of us with a moral conscience cannot stand by and keep quiet. The elites are getting desperate as they see a growing opposition to, and awareness of, their methods and lies, and we are witnessing their desperate attempts to control the narrative. The attacks on alternative media as fake news will only intensify.

    There is a growing number of people, like yourself, who see through the fog of propaganda. And you are not the only former British ambassador speaking out about the crimes of the US/UK regime. Just last week Peter Ford, former British ambassador to Syria, spoke at the Imperialism on Trial conference.

    Keep speaking out. The fact you were a member of the establishment gives your words far more credibility than us ordinary member of the public. Thank you for what you do.

  • jonathan

    “Progress is made by two flames, which have always been burning in the human heart: the flame of anger against injustice, and the flame of hope you can build a better world…” Tony Benn. Keep stoking Craig.

  • Mark Bevis

    “In conclusion, either I am barking mad or the world is becoming a much darker place.”

    The latter unfortunately. Your article shows you are catching up to where I have been for months, if not a couple of years. Neo-liberalism is a fundamentalist movement, I consider it the Isis of the economic world, and they should all hang.

    Have a read of this article. It won’t make you feel better but you will realise you are not alone.

    I had a mental blowout the day before I saw that article. I was planting trees with the local community centre, and despite the intermitent snow and hail, it was a joy to do, it felt authentic. Even though I wasn’t getting paid for it.
    Then I came home to a £100 energy bill I couldn’t pay. Even though I do art and writing for my work, so it is work I love doing, which makes me luckier than most, I still have to do it for money. I lost all creativity that day! In a random fit of demoralisation I just wanted to go and bury myself in the nearest secluded forest and be useful compost.

    And it made me think.

    That the entire idea of economy, not just capitalism, or rampant neo-liberal capitalism, but all -isms, are insanity. The concept of working for a living is, looked at objectively, just stupid. No other species does anything remotely like it.
    Who are you, or anybody else, to deny me, or any other of 7.4 billion people, the right to a minor unequal share (never mind an equal share) of the worlds’ resources just because I/we don’t have the right amount of electrons in a computer nor lumps of metal and paper in our pockets? It’s insane, and has to go.

    • glenn_nl

      The concept of working for a living is stupid? You mean someone should go and provide the energy you use for free, unpaid, and there should then be no bill for you to pay. The place you live in and the clothes you wear should be provided by someone else, free of charge to you?

      Who are you to deny me a 4-bedroom house with a Bentley on the driveway, eh? Every one of the billions of people living on Earth should be entitled to one. And Someone Else should pay for it, because nobody ought to do any work. Have I got this straight?

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