Scared of my Own Thoughts 351

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.

351 thoughts on “Scared of my Own Thoughts

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  • Sal Newton

    Not bitter at all Craig. You are voicing what many of us feel when obscene wealth and pay are flaunted daily in the faces of people kept needlessly poor by the grasping, controlling rich.

  • Christopher Dale Rogers


    Nice to see you posting after an extended absence, although, other Blogs are doing a fine job is questioning current economic orthodoxies, whilst pushing radical change – a radical change not yet voiced by Corbyn & McDonnell, but one I’m confident they’ll embrace if they ever get a chance. i can only suggest to McDonnell that he include Stephanie Kelton in his team of economic advisors and get a few ecosocialists onboard too.

    As for feelings of ‘HATE’ towards the ruling elite, this is normal & to be encouraged, its to be encouraged as our actual enemies have utter contempt for the average Joe, one we must exhibit ourselves. As such I can nearly recommend a John Michael Greer essay on ‘HATE’ penned a few months ago, which clearly indicates such feelings are quite normal:

  • mogabee

    Pretty much agree with your ‘over-bitter’ thoughts!

    But don’t think that activists are sleeping or have given up in any shape or form. We are watching, waiting and organising because there is so much to do and put in place. The FM has to govern for the ones who voted no or BRexit as well as those of us confidant in the ability of our fellow residents to build a country.

    Groups are forming/have formed/have never gone away! I realise you want ‘radical’ change, but I’m afraid to say that Scotland has always been conservative in it’s recent history and this means that the FM and SNP have to caw canny, take more with rather than scare those not quite ready to leave their comfort blanket.

    You are getting anxious and certainly it’s an anxious time, but she promised us a say when it’s obvious how bad leaving the EU is going to be, and that has not changed/deviated one iota. People will engage, as happened in first indyref, closer to the decision time.
    That time is getting close…

      • mogabee

        I’m currently watching as eejits in Westminster are taking the uk down a path that Scotland did not vote for. When we are an independent country we can have this debate. Why would staying with a country determined to destroy our industries and cut us off from a club which we can join or leave voluntarily without giving our elected government a say in negotiations be a wise thing to do?

        Westminster don’t give flying fuck. That is obvious.

        • Christopher Dale Rogers

          I see, so, you don’t dispute the EU is anathema to anyone opposed to neoliberalism, neoconservative overseas actions and eternal austerity, but deflect by stating the UK elite – namely, Westminster & its environs bubbleheads also mirror the EU, which is obviously true – however, the EEC began its own neoliberal trajectory circa 1983, which was during the Thatcher/Reagan era.

          Please tell me where I actually don’t concur, apart from the fact I think its daft for small nations like Wales or Scotland to abandon one neoliberal club in order to be part of another. I aspire for the UK to be a neoliberal/neoconservative Free Zone, be this via the break up of the UK, or the election of those opposed to the present prevailing socioeconomic model to Parliament, which is a tough job given how much the Labour Party elite detests their own membership, never mind most of their core electorate.

          • mogabee

            You seem to read things that I didn’t say! Scotland is hardly a small country. Looking at our neeburs in europe, we are a medium sized country, a third of the mass of Britain with a social democratic government, a country of small c conservatists with much resources and highly skilled people.
            When we regain our independence that will give succour to ruk to get changing imho

    • Douglas

      Take heart Craig, activists are not sleeping. They are concerned that an independence referendum is being left too long. It’s hard to campaign without a definite target.

      For most, the metaphorical claymores are hidden in the thatch ready for the right moment.

      It has to be soon.

  • Christine Smith

    Well said Craig….I thought it was just me! I grow increasingly worried at the way the world is. I used to naively believe that Britain was fairly good and decent, that we were the good guys! I no longer bother with mainstream news and worry that the blogs and information that is available on the Internet is going to be curtailed. We need to fight against any attempt to censor it!

    • Christopher Dale Rogers


      Many have forgotten how we used to do matters in the pre-Google, pre-Facebook & pre-Twitter days, namely, do Bookmark every site you find interesting, from there, most sites have links to other ‘critical’ websites/Blogs – we are in no doubt the Elite are censoring, but, unless ISPs actively block certain websites, which can be bypassed via VPN’s anyway, we have the upper hand. But if your rely on the big Search & social media websites, forget it. Get smart and Bookmark and share your Bookmarks.

  • Sandra

    Craig, I was so relieved when the case against you was dropped as I feared it would silence one of the few voices of reason I could rely on. Please don’t stop barking, you do more good than you probably know.

  • Elizabeth

    Keep barking Craig. Yours is the voice of reason in the wilderness of this mad world we live in.

  • Chris Airey

    You write exactly my own thoughts on what is happening and I too fear for where we are headed. We had such hope back in the sixties that we were on the verge of a better world, how naive was that! The future of our children is being stolen and if history tells us anything it is that such situations are rarely ended peacefully.

  • iain taylor

    You’re not alone on any of that.
    I think I understand the SNP’s hesitation. While the Brexit deal (if any) remains so unclear, an independence campaign lacks the clear target to aim at which is it’s basic justification. In addition, the awful truth about Brexit becoming clear to all, coupled with the risk of Scotland going for independance on the back of it, might force a u-turn from May on Brexit.
    Another factor is “Catalunya”. If the SNP go for a referendum which isn’t sanctioned by London, May dissolves Holyrood and puts the SNP leaders in jail. The rest of the world would yawn and move on.
    Then there is an anti EU wing to the SNP (and independence voters) too. How many Scottish Remain voters would vote for independence now who didn’t in 2014?

    • reel guid

      If a Westminster government ever autocratically dissolved Holyrood then I don’t think the people of Scotland would yawn and move on.

  • Leon Crossfield

    Well said. Very well said. I feel it necessary to mention 9/11. I know your views on the matter. I think that if you gave the alternative hypothesis the slightest possibility of being correct you may see the establishment as more than merely the enemy. Yes, difficult for a traditionally mainstream mindset but difficult to see as anything other than a deep state event to govern the new century! Apologies in advance.

    • SA

      I am not really sure why this would change anything. Whoever did 911 the facts are clear that there has been a plan set to exploit the rest of the world. The very fact that neoliberalism exists in the form that it has, the very fact that we all know the known lies that have been manufactured like the WMD story and the humanitarian bombing of Libya and so on, has not changed the trajectory.
      Neoliberalism is a new form of slavery and piracy, sanctioned by the powers that be, in that sense all it needs is might not reasoning. If you want to continue to reason and argue about 911 then you misunderstand the basic problem.

  • SA

    Bravo Craig for writing down your thoughts which reflect what a lot of us think. You have seen the system from inside and have been an agent of the system but now have become ’radicalised’. Reading ‘Murder in Samarkand’ I couldn’t help feel how although you were driven by the desire to help people you were acting within a system that can only oppress them.
    Neoliberalism and globalisation are ruining the world, either every one conforms or they become outsiders. The beneficiaries are the multinationals and our revolving door politicians. Unless the system is destroyed, possibly only from inside by implosions because of the obscene uncontrolled greed, I cannot see an answer.
    Sadly the Labour Party is being very cautious. The Corbyn camp are trying not to upset the Blairites and that is why they cannot openly say that a lot of the current rot, including the Ponzi banks, are a result of Blair’s continuation of Thatcherism. Unless labour come out openly and exorcise thier past they will not gain credibility to be elected.
    I am reading an excellent book which I would wholeheartedly commend: Jack Shenker ‘The Egyptians, a radical story’. The importance of this book is not only that Shenker, a guardian correspondent , not only reported from Egypt before and during the Revolution, but also lived amongst the Egyptians ( to be continued)

  • James Lenoël

    Your thoughts reflect my own. I also feel maybe by not barking I would be ‘happier’. However to do so would be irresponsible to those following on behind.

    I am very glad that you are now suggesting that of all the political options we have im the UK the direction offered by the Corbyn-led Labour Party is the least worst option.

    I only wish our media would help hasten the collapse of this current crony government.

  • SA

    Continued from above. Shenker’s brilliance is not just that he went native , but that his analysis is razor sharp. He analyses how the revolution had long roots and how it had so far appeared to fail because the handing of power from Mubarak to Morsi to Sisi did not in any way act in favour of the ordinary people but just changed the beneficiaries amongst the elite. This is not just s problem in Egypt or the wider Middle East but inherent in the exploitative neoliberal world order which works against the common people and for the international investors who symphonic all the resources of countries and change them all to a faceless international enterprise sites.

  • LeeJ

    There has been a class war going on since forever. The only thing is the working class still doesn’t know it.

  • Ian Dononvan

    No Craig. You are not mad at all. There needs to be a revolution and the conditions for one are maturing.

    Not only that but the neo liberal elite you are talking about are quite capable of slaughtering many millions of ordinary people to defend their incredible privileges.

    We, the ordinary working people of the world, have to liquidate them to stop them doing that. Expropriate, disarm and maybe the guillotine. Its just a fact. This idea needs to be propagated relentlessly by a new communist movement that must go all the way.

    Scottish independence is a sideshow in all this. Its a problem that affects all the advanced countries and won’t be resolved by hiving off a corner and trying to escape. We have to destroy the elite in its redoubts.

    • reel guid

      Depends on personal perspective. Scottish independence isn’t a sideshow in Scotland old chap.

      • SA

        reel guid
        I know that Scotland is very important to you but in terms of the global nature of the problem, indypendance is totally irrelevant within this system. All you will do is change your masters. This is s fact, in the globalised neoliberal world an independent Scotland is a mere minnow to be swallowed by the huge sharks.

          • SA

            Sorry reel good, not my style to take the piss. I really do respect your very strong feelings about it but recognise the futility given what we are up against s. It was a typo.

          • reel guid

            Sorry SA. I reckoned it was a typo and was just winding you up.

            I share your dismay about the state of things. But isn’t it a more realistic strategy to score victories for democracy locally and not wait for some millennial global triumph?

  • Lillipuff

    I’m sad to say you have nailed my feelings exactly. I feel like I’m shouting at the wind and don’t understand why more people aren’t horrified and angered at the dark turn the world has taken but with an MSM that omits and suppresses the truth instead of shining a light on it, questioning and challenging the establishment’s lies and self-serving crimes against humanity, most people are in the dark and seem to be choosing to live that way. We have darker days to come before the push back comes and in the meantime the Establishment are lining up their pieces on the board whilst the masses bumble blindly on in the dark. None so blind…and all that.
    P.S. What do I tell my children?

  • Tom Turner

    So you, like the rest of us, are waking up. It’s as though everything we thought was true, or reliable, needs to be re-evaluated. I hate to mention this after what you said recently on the subject, but the same is true of the century’s most cataclysmic event so far. You know the one don’t you? It was one of the key trigger events for what is happening around us right now. The BBC ran a story on it last month, telling us why people believe it was an inside job. The article contained no evidence, didn’t cover a fraction of the myriad contentious anomalies in the official narrative, it didn’t examine verifiable eyewitness accounts and expert testimonies, or try to follow the money and ask who benefited most. It even failed to identify the most basic details concerning physics and reason that usually leads people down the path of seeking ‘truth’. It was basically saying “nothing to see here folks.” When you read pieces like this, they have a familiar tone or pattern. For a start, they have zero journalistic integrity. But you have to keep asking yourself one question. Why, oh why, do they keep running fluff pieces like this if there’s nothing to question? If you’re honest, you know the answer. Orwell told us all about it.

  • Jane Cobbald

    Dear Craig

    Can I propose a distinction between the acts and the individuals who perpetrate them. I can stand against the act and not hate the perpetrator. I don’t want to be a person who hates. However, there are some acts that I do not want to be associated with, or am ashamed that they have happened in my name.

    Second point. The most powerful instrument I have is my attention, my time. Therefore I will give my time and attention to the things I want to see live and flourish. Understanding, humanity, decency.

    Throughout the human story individuals have done things they were subsequently ashamed of, but which they thought was ‘the right thing to do’ at the time. We all make mistakes. Even the ultra-rich and the upholders of the neoliberal consensus.

    • SA

      That’s right, it is the system and not the individuals. We are all co-opted into the system because we somehow benefit from it because there is a heirarchy of beneficiaries, and the neoliberal system makes us feel better than those far removed from us, who are the unseen exploited at the bottom of the heap.

      • Jane Cobbald

        Thank you for that, SA.

        From Craig’s posting, it seems that the contradictions and insanities of our current system are becoming ever more evident.

        One danger and one reason for hope that I see:

        The danger is that we compromise. We look for new leaders in the hope that they might be better than the last ones. In the system we all play our part by subscribing to it. The system itself creates winners and losers and is more powerful than any poor sod who sticks their head above the parapet. Our unspoken expectations on ‘the management’, be it of a school, a business or a country, perpetuate the very system whose injustices we rail against. For the management they must at times feel like that Brazilian footballer who missed an open goal in the world cup final: the expectations on him must have been intolerable.

        The reason for hope is that events have a habit of overtaking us. For example, who would have thought that a newspaper report last October about the misdemeanours of a Hollywood film producer would have led to such a thorough examination of gender relations? Behaviour that was taken for granted is now being questioned. I never expected to see the day.

  • X_Sticks

    You are neither barking mad or alone Craig. The 1% are out to dominate by any means possible. I think we are seeing this more clearly in the UK because of our entrenched hierarchical british establishment. It’s part time the whole edifice was torn down and the only way I can see that this can happen is through Scottish independence.

    We all need to keep barking.

  • Stephen

    When i read your posts i appreciate how you shed light on things that I otherwise would not have linked together. It is hard to know how we can change the problems you describe. I read each of your posts. Please keep posting.

  • conjunction

    I don’t think there’s much wrong with your thoughts, indeed airing them in this way is a benefit to tall.

    However I am not sure that worker’s control – as such – is the answer.

    What is needed is

    1) that the government stops trying to control education, and

    2) that the government starts trying to control the rapology of business. Not take it over but simply lay down some rules which protect the rights of its citizens.

    • SA

      You surely must by now realise that this degree of roteness of the system cannot be fixed by minor tinkering.

  • Amanda Darling

    I find myself agreeing with every word you have written. Am I mad? At times recently I have felt fear- raw unadulterated fear for the future. I no longer have any faith the government is working for the betterment of the country, whether by an ideology I don’t agree with or not. The system is totally corrupt and I am scared. I am scared for the future and my children’s future. What can be done?

  • Carol

    Hi Craig – another thought provoking if rather depressing article.
    I disagree about the grass roots losing heart – we are still here and quietly and determinedly organising ourselves in the background.
    The grassroots are a bit perplexed by the position of the SNP at the moment and some are very anxious that we will go down with the sinking Brexit ship if we don’t win our independence.
    Perhaps social media isn’t giving that impression but please be reassured that the grass roots are not lying dormant but are once again growing. Groups who have not been active recently are being reformed, we are deciding on what and how to move forward with campaigns.
    I’ve no doubt you will be called to speak again.
    Have a look at the IndyApp – there are over 120 grassroots groups registered there.
    #bridgesforindy and #KeepScotlandTheBrand are just two of our newer initiatives/campaigns.

  • reel guid

    Craig says that virtually the entire political class of Europe has united behind the vicious suppression of Catalonia.

    Well I would qualify that. It’s governments across Europe that have failed to protest. MEPs and parliamentarians from most European countries have been vocal against the Francoists.

    Plaid Cymru and the SNP have protested. Labour has tacitly approved the actions of the Francoists. Corbyn and Thornberry have shown themselves to be autocratically inclined.

  • John Spencer-Davis

    I am really happy to see so many people contributing here who haven’t written before, or seldom write. It’s very encouraging.

    No doubt most are regular readers. Great to hear from fresh people.

    I would like to welcome the new contributors and urge them to keep giving the blog their thoughts.

    Best, John

  • Greenland

    Craig, Strangely, your article made me feel more positive. It’s good to know that others feel exactly the same as I do – it gives me some hope that sense and fairness will eventually win over corporate greed and destruction……

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