Tag Archives: Margaret Thatcher

The Great Brexit Swindle

brexit

The Great Brexit Swindle
By T. J.Coles
Clairview Books – £10.99

Perhaps the best evidence for the truth about Brexit is Nigel Lawson’s article in the Financial Times entitled, ‘Brexit gives us the chance to finish the Thatcher revolution.

Just as Margaret Thatcher was capable of inciting one to spit blood during her incorrigibly vile and in-humane, eleven-year reign at the helm of British politics; the tiniest, sneakiest reminder of said tenure, remains just as equally spiteful and hateful, today, as when she used to regularly spout forth in the eighties.

Brexit notwithstanding, where millions of gullibles were hoodwinked into believing their day of democracy had finally arrived upon a wide-open platter of ‘Up The Junction,’ ‘Up The Arsenal’ and, wait for it,’ God Save The Queen’ last June (2016); the colossal and rather unfortunate irony lies in the fact that almost ALL of those who despised Thatcher, actually voted to Leave.

The three quintessential reasons being that huge swathes of the British (primarily English) populace are insecure, impeccably fick and guess what? Horribly racist – sometimes a caustic combination of all three.

Unfortunate qualities this equally impeccable, brave and brazen book, more than sheds pristine light on.

To be sure, The Great Brexit Swindle – Why the mega-rich and free market fanatics conspired to force Britain from the European Union is the utmost of invaluable and volatile of reads; quite simply because it tells the truth in such a way as it invariably needs to be told.

In the chapter ‘Finishing Thatcher’s Revolution,’ author T. J. Coles writes: ”In this book we have highlighted the genuine grievances of working and unemployed persons who saw their livelihoods and prospects decline and who ultimately voted for Brexit. We have also noted the propensity towards xenophobia. England is where pro-Leave sentiment was strongest, particularly in the deindustrialized north. Instead of educating working and unemployed English people about the common enemy of neoliberalism, the tabloids and television media have given people the impression that migrants are to blame for job insecurity and a general decline in living standards. In addition, the skewed demographic character of the UK gave older people greater voting power. The polls show that older people were more inclined to vote Leave.”

Indeed, older people, along with the mighty myopic, the uneducated and the hateful; in other words, those who subscribe to the ideology of the despicable tabloids.

For a balanced overview of Brexit: READ THIS BOOK.

David Marx

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Orwell’s Faded Lion

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Orwell’s Faded Lion
The Moral Atmosphere of Britain 1945 – 2015
By Anthony James
Imprint Academic £14.95/$29.90

The later consequences of the Bush and Blair invasion of Iraq became clear in June 2014. The extreme group ISIS had conquered and occupied large swathes of Iraq, showing themselves to be considerably more ferocious, murderous and ruthless towards many Iraqis than Saddam Hussein had ever been, as well as a potentially far greater danger to the West. Tony Blair’s own self-justifying comments on this development were puerile and detached from reality. The one thing that Blair could never admit is how much the original American-British invasion had fuelled support for ISIS.

(‘Who Controls The Past Controls The Future’).

Having reviewed a number of books on Tony Blair over the years, I’ve always found myself being inadvertently confined to his way of thinking. To be sure, I’ve always found the tentacles of his varying in depth arguments and interviews inherently far reaching. Not to mention plausible, believable and down-right influential.

No wonder he made for such a superlative politician.

Lest it be said that to certain a degree, the former Prime Minister still knows how to cajole and hold-court; which is just one of the many, many reasons, why I really cannot recommend this book highly enough.

Orwell’s Faded Lion – The Moral Atmosphere of Britain 1945-2015 by Anthony James, is a tough, gritty, honest and at times, bleak overview of Britain’s political morass since the end of the Second World War. Although what accounts for its most readable quality (I couldn’t help but read the entire book in the best part of two sittings), is its clear and concise, rightful apprehension of the truth.

There’s no woolly, flim-flam, thank-you-mam approach to that of it’s political endeavour. Like George Orwell himself, hence the title, these 148 pages pack a super-suave punch, right into the smug and superfluous face of spin and impeccable lies.

For where else in this soulless day and overtly jaded age of social implosion, would you read: ”[..] with adult memories of Britain before 1979, I find it difficult as a parent to convey fully to my daughter […] the depth and scale of the changes in British society, many of which have turned out to be permanent and irreversible […] Britain after Mrs. Thatcher has been radically different and considerably worse and has not shown any sign yet that it can escape from the mould she imposed upon it […]. Her revolution, like all revolutions, was driven by an idea: you run the affairs of a country (it is not appropriate to say ‘society,’ the existence of which she denied) like a business, according to the instincts of businessmen and businesswomen […]. Although Mrs Thatcher lacked any understanding of the Marxism she hated, Karl Marx had given an enduring description of the spirit of her revolution in The Communist Manifesto, almost a century and a half earlier.

[Capitalism] has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous ‘cash payment.’ It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. ‘It has resolved personal worth into exchange value… In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.”

(‘Who Controls The Past Controls The Future’).

Each of this books five chapters are grounded in such unwavering writing(s) as that above, which, regardless of political persuasion, makes for a thunder-bolt of an awakening call.

One of the most compact and satisfying of reads so far this year (I can’t wait for the sequel).

David Marx

Existentialism and Romantic Love

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Existentialism and Romantic Love
By Skye Cleary
Palgrave Macmillan – £63.00

Other people are a fact of life.
                                          David Cooper.

Love is a passion to be chosen and mastered, not sacrificed to.
                                          Skye Cleary.

I’d highly recommend this most excellent of books, just on the strength of its final chapter ‘Simone de Beauvoir and Loving Authentically’ alone. Reason being, there’s so much to be gleaned, so much to be inspired by, so much to go and away and think about.

And perhaps act upon.

It is because Existentialism and Romantic Love traverses the most complex and complicated of emotions we oft refer to as love – in a most self-defining manner, profoundly more reflective than an array of dreadful Hello and Cosmopolitan magazines combined – that fundamentally accounts for its validity. That it does so from an existentialist perspective which is resoundingly thought provoking throughout all of its seven chapters (Introduction and Conclusion included), propels the book in its entirety unto a literary place that is simply more commendable than commendable.

Authoress Skye Cleary already reminds us in the book’s Introduction that: ”not all mirrors can provide accurate reflections.”

Such pronouncement in itself, is enough to trigger colossal bouts of pensive persuasion amid love’s fraternity of analysis and assessment. Be it of the self. Or one’s relationship with another. As more often than not, we instinctively think we know about these things – but in truth, we don’t

In a world where capitalism and its grotesque ugly sister, advertising, have become inherently more instrumental within modern day relationships than that of love itself – which, lest it be said, absolutely isn’t tangible – it’s no surprise that mutual conflict can sometimes supersede the initial kernel of romance.

Or, dare one actually say it, love.

For want of a perhaps more definitive description, said miasmic maze of psychological undoing is coherently addressed in this book’s aforementioned final chapter: ”Beauvoir agreed with Sartre that conflict is a fundamental part of life because we clash with other freedoms. Nevertheless, embracing the conflict is a necessary part of life because transcending (pour-soi) is not easy, and giving it up means giving up existing. Transcendence is necessary to being a sovereign subject, which Beauvoir defines as actively, assertively, ambitiously, creatively, and courageously pushing oneself forward in the world, overcoming oneself, going beyond the given in life to be an agent in one’s life, and engaging in projects that one creates for oneself.”

Suffice to say, it is of vital importance to actually know and comprehend the above to begin with.

But again, due to economic demands and the smokescreen, diversionary importance of having to keep up with the myopic folly of such complete and utter bollocks as that of what other people may be wearing and driving, ”going beyond the given in life to be an agent in one’s life,” isn’t always as easy as it may sound. Reason being, such distraction as that promoted by the ideology of Hello Magazine et al, goes a long way in diluting and perhaps ultimately confusing what is truly important in life: ”Beauvoir did not mean that the need for others should be taken in the Machiavellian sense of using each other as means to ends. Rather, each individual acts in the context of society […]. The important thing for Beauvoir is acknowledging that the world is shared with other people and that one way or another individuals depend on the community for survival, self-definition, and meaning.”

”Each individual” acting ” in the context of society,” is a most potent force to be reckoned with. Perhaps one of the most important. This partially explains why so much of British society, and American society even more so, has been crumbling away in recent years.

After all, both places could all so readily be defined by what former British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, once described as there being ”no such thing as society.”

As such, never has love, existentialist or otherwise, been in such short supply. All the more reason that one should truly investigate this most authentic, fascinating and quintessentially timely of books.

David Marx

1971 – Never A Dull Moment

1971

1971 – Never A Dull Moment
Rock’s Golden Year
By David Hepworth
Bantam Press – £20.00

          It was the best of times because in many respects it seemed to be the first of times.

What an utterly inviting, engaging and rather revelatory read 1971 – Never A Dull Moment has turned out to be.

As a regular reviewer of books, it can become relatively easy to slip into the subliminal slipstream of literary nonchalance, whereby the many inexorable words on the page are no longer punctuated by any form of inspired attraction. Although such is most certainly not the case with regards this glittering testimonial to the year 1971 – the year David Hepworth has described as ”rock’s best year.”

To be honest, it’s hard to disagree.

One need only randomly refer to any of the book’s twelve chapters (one for each month of the year along with a Prologue and an Epilogue) to ascertain just how idiosyncratic, how invigorating, how very, very valuable and important, popular music once was. A time when the music industry, and dare I say it, society at large, wasn’t so (kn)obsessed with a plethora of boy-bands and/or wailing tarts – for whom the parameters of music continues to entail nothing other than a cloying cleavage and all the vocal finesse of Benito Mussolini.

Reason being, 1971 was still a regal time of unquestioned innocence; which Hepworth is (unsurprisingly) keen to already alert us to in the very first chapter ‘January,’ wherein he writes: ”Smokers every where. On tube trains, in pubs, in offices, even in hospitals. No joggers, no health shops, no gyms, no leisurewear, no trainers, no mineral water, no Lycra, no fast food, no obesity. Wiry people […]. The only people with tattoos got them in the services […]. No security industry. No gates on Downing Street, no full body scans, no surveillance cameras, no speed bumps. Football fans pay two bob at the turnstile and then shove […]. no political correctness.”

No political correctness, yet there was still such a thing as society.

There again, Margaret Thatcher and her cabinet of Einsatzgruppen hadn’t yet arrived to evoke such sullen economic mockery amid the myopic naivety of the working class. No wonder rock’n’roll meant precisely that: rock and fucking roll.

Four blokes like The Who, making a great B-I-G colossal noise that actually meant something. That actually endeavoured to at least traverse such opium dullness as that of today’s grey, dull, barren, not to mention seismically redundant excuse of a pathetic music industry.

Indeed, from The Who’s Who’s Next to David Bowie’s Hunky Dory, from Carole King’s Tapestry to Led Zeppelin’s IV, from The Rolling Stones Sticky Fingers to Rod Stewart’s Every Picture Tells A Story, from Pink Floyd’s Relics and Meddle to John Lennon’s Imagine; in 1971, there really wasn’t, as this book’s title more than aptly suggests, a dull moment.

As Hepworth states in the book’s Epilogue: ”The middle of the road was the only place to be. Underground was over ground, anything could be a hit. It was into this moment of panic and opportunity that all these 1971 masterpieces were hurled […]. If my twenty-one year old self could have been transported from 1971 to 2016 he would be struck dumb by the laptops, the phones, the affluence, the foreign tongues on the street, the idea that music could be accessed as if from a tap, the fact that three out of five stories in the news were about the sex lives of famous people and the puzzling realization that he couldn’t just go out on Saturday evening and buy a ticket on the door for any show in town.”

The high-octane realization ought to surely be the fact that there are no shows in town actually worth going to, while those that are, cost somewhere in the region of almost a hundred pounds per ticket…

To be sure, one could conclude that for those of a certain age, 1971 – Never A Dull Moment is a truly terrific book; but to be perfectly honest, for anyone remotely interested in the truth and what the sanctity of music once meant (and perhaps, could once again), this book will and ought to appeal to those of any age.

David Marx

Of God and Man

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Of God and Man
By Zygmunt Bauman & Stanislaw Obirek
Polity – £14.99 (paperback)

               The moment that uncertainty was born was the moment that morality                       was born – together with the moral self, a self aware of walking a                                  tightrope.

Engaging and thoroughly thought-provoking, stimulating and brimming with a theological analysis that is ultimately enticing to say the least, Of God and Man, is many things – predominantly that of a search for clarity and some kind of behavioural understanding.

As the title might suggest, this book is an in-depth, dense investigation into the sort of moral abyss; many of us would sooner bypass for whatever fleeting distraction of folly may happen to come our way. As such, by way of a more than fetching, if not intriguing dialogue between the sociologist and philosopher Zygmut Bauman, and the theologian and cultural historian Stanlisalw Obirek, these seven chapters ecclesiastically erupt unto a place where an assortment of home-truths, silently scream with the sort of candid candour, great swathes of society continues to do its utmost to avoid.

For example, whether it’s the following from the second chapter (‘What about This Religion? On the Threat of Fundamentalism – Not Only the Religious Kind’), where Obirek emphatically states: ”To possess the truth is so all-consuming that the walls built around it can only be stronger, higher, simply unconquerable. Dialogue and interaction become not only unnecessary, but even redundant, interfering with the bliss of the possessed truth. The only thing that remains is conversion, opening the eyes, and in extreme circumstances excluding or even killing the adversary. This is my objection, Zygmut, to the followers of monotheism.” Or the following from the sixth chapter (‘The Disinherited; or, Creating Tradition Anew’), where again, Obirek address Bauman: ”So maybe, together, we are on the road to a greater understanding and increased ability to handle the world, because dialogue allows us to cross the boundaries of our own loneliness? That you are able to read newspapers, react to questions sent from different parts of the world, always reading new texts and finding in them accurate diagnoses of our reality allows me to believe that an alternative exists; that TINA (There Is No Alternative), proclaimed by Margaret Thatcher with such conviction and with such devastating results – not only for British society – is passing into the dustbin of history as one of the twentieth century’s stupidest utterances by a politician. And that is good news.”

It is good news – although a mighty shame it took so long for much of the populace to let it finally pass it ”into the dustbin of history.”

There remains an enlightening and fundamentally quintessential daring throughout these one-hundred and sixteen pages; the sort of which, by the time one has reached the book’s conclusion, one cannot help but feel compelled to read more.

Ask more. Investigate further.

David Marx

Not For Turning – The Life of Margaret Thatcher

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Not For Turning – The Life of Margaret Thatcher
By Robin Harris
Bantam Press – £13.99

”For her, Churchill was the embodiment of British fighting spirit, indeed of all the quintessentially British virtues. The veneration she nurtured as a young girl for the great war leader was nothing remarkable. But what was extraordinary, and sometimes a little embarrassing, was that she never grew out of it. As a young would-be politician she was heard to be referring to him as ‘Winston,’ a habit which she always continued, despite the fact that it opened her up to ridicule. This quasi-familiarity did not reflect any sense that she should be ranked as his political equal – far from it.”

The tonality of Not For Turning – The Life of Margaret Thatcher is such that author Robin Harris will write something, and almost immediately after having written it, invariably apologize for it. Might this be due to the fact that for many years, he was Mrs. Thatcher’s close adviser and speechwriter – not to mention instrumental in the compilation of both volumes of her autobiography?

Indeed, as the whip-lash, spiritual trajectory of the so-called Iron Lady’s indelible influence, inexorably cascades amid the total, non-irony of these 450 pages, it’s easy to both ascertain and understandable as to why the former Prime Minister and Harris worked so closely together. As a mere few chapters into this book, one gets the (total) impression that whenever Mrs. Thatcher might have said or advocated something, it was Harris’s job to present it in such a way that was idiosyncratically acceptable upon the (Thatcherite) alter of both believers and non-believers alike.

Hence, the above opening quote from the chapter, ‘The Impact Of Grantham,’ wherein the author also writes of religiosity and morality; the latter of which, many people might still believe is in stark, questionable contrast, to that of Margaret Thatcher’s nigh resolute absolutism.

But here again, Harris leaps forth to placate any remote propensity towards moral disdain: ”She did not seem to feel any obligation to forgive. In a sense, this was refreshing, because she did not profess to be better than she was. And in practice she did not hold grudges to the extent that many other politicians did. But she would state as a matter of fact that she did not forgive, for example, Michael Heseltine for what he had done to her. The contrast between this attitude and the fact that she was not, by and large, a bitter person, given all the adversaries she faced during her career, suggests that she had really just misunderstood the concept of forgiveness itself, believing that it involved feelings rather than intentions. If so, that indicates how little Christian doctrine she absorbed for one who grew up in such a strikingly devout household.”

That Harris can actually write that Thatcher was ”not, by and large, a bitter person,” is horribly patronizing in the extreme.

Try telling that to the many thousands of miners wives – let alone the miners themselves – the length and breadth of the United Kingdom. Try telling that to the many thousands of pensioners who will probably freeze (to almost death) this coming winter, due to her vile, and myopic economic policies of uber privatization.

Even here, Not For Turning, by way of the author, comes replete with set-in-stone, resolute, ready made answers.

After all: ”given all the adversaries she faced during her career, suggests that she had really just misunderstood the concept of forgiveness itself, believing that it involved feelings rather than intentions.”

And as we all know (especially if we’re honest), the whole conceptial idea of ”feelings,” wasn’t something Margaret Thatcher was particularly adept at. Were this pleasant and well-written, albeit disappointingly warped account of Margaret Thatcher’s life to have even remotely addressed this issue, it would have made for far more accurate, beguiling and honst reading.

As is, it’s a mere traipse through the politically obvious, and socially obnoxious.

David Marx

Class and Contemporary British Culture

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Class and Contemporary British Culture
By Anita Biressi and Heather Nunn
Palgrave Macmillan – £50.00

‘’Overall, class in Britain has become part of the architecture of self-evaluation and social judgement since at least the nineteenth century and shows little promise of entirely crumbling away. Indeed, if anything, the last few years, and especially those following the global financial crisis, have seen social class, in all of its guises, return to the centre of cultural, political and media agendas.’’

So write the authors Anita Biressi and Heather Nunn in the Introduction of this truly exceptional analysis of class in contemporary Britain; words, that if nothing else, substantiate so much of what is currently wrong within British society. Reason being, the entire class structure in Britain has always been fraught with a fascination that, if nothing else, has proved more fractious than it has ever been worth. Its only value has always and without fail, played right into the very hands of those who readily espouse social demarcation with both a vengeance and a capital D.

This explains why the British class system enables the nonces at the so-called top of the pack, to look down on the so-called riff-raff underclass. While it gives voice (as well as increasingly bad accent) to nigh everyone else – that either don’t or unwillingly fail – to fall within the sphere of the so-called gentrified and accepted gentry. Naturally, it’s all bollocks, because even though the twain never fundamentally meet; the (normally) lower-class, uneducated, ignorant, right-wing tossers, will continue to adore the Queen, while their Oxbridge brethren will continue to know better.

Over the last thirty or so years, basically since Margaret Thatcher and the advent of social electronic social networking, the lines of class demarcation have become ever increasingly blurred – a prime facet which this admirably analytical and at times provocative book, Class and Contemporary British Culture makes abundantly clear.

One of my favourite sections of the book (and there are many) is ‘The discovery of Essex Man in the chapter ‘Essex: Class, Aspiration and Social Mobility’ wherein the authors write of one of the all time great, singer/songwriters, Ian Dury: ‘’In the late 1970s, on the cusp of the Thatcher era, the rock/punk singer Ian Dury introduced his comic-strip character Billericay Dickie (1977). In what became his trademark spiv, cockney-punk style he recounted the first-person tale of Dickie […] ‘so you ask Joyce and Vivki/who’s their favourite brickie/I’m not a common thicky/I’m Billericay Dickie/and I’m doing very well […]. As such, Dickie delivered a vaudeville wink at both female sexual availability and middle-class pretensions, as well as bonding with other Essex working lads. But, while Dury played with class stereotypes in his own persona and also sent them up in his cockney-geezer characters […] he also walked the risky line between cheeky in-joke and the reproduction of crude stereotypes […]. He anticipated the crudely drawn but nonetheless culturally rich figures of Essex Man, Loadsamoney and Essex Girl.’’

All the above may well have been on the cusp of the Thatcher era, but have since given questionable rise to numerous Essex-centric, popular factual programming such as Family Confidential: Basildon Boobs (C5 1999), Essex Wives (ITV 2002) and of course, The Only Way Is Essex (ITV 2010-). Not to mention f-a-r too many superfluous/spurious (disposable) Essex Girl personas such as Denise Van Outen, Jessica Wallace, Jade Goody and the deplorable Jodie Marsh. The tiresome accumulation of which/whom, reflect a rather spot-on, yet subliminal representation of Britain today: ‘’Essex, where there’s mobile phones galore and in every dream home a rottweiler, where you find the likes of Norman Tebbit [prominent Thatcherite and an Essex MP] go, where page three girls [tabloid models] buy their mum a bungalow. If you think it’s posh to drink Malibu, if you need a calculator to count to two, if you think the stories in the Sunday Sport are true, then you’re an Essex Man.’’

Following on from the current replica of the above, might it not be said that ‘’you’re not only an Essex Man/Girl,’’ but you’re the living, breathing manifestation of the lower class throughout the entire nation. Be it London or Manchester, Bristol or Liverpool. The one and only difference being that, many young white males now want to talk like Jimmy Cliff: ‘’what has happened is that a substantial section of chavs… have become black.’’

Either which way one looks at it, it was the British who invented the class system, and who are still vehemently promoting it today. Is it any wonder there’s an ever-increasing price to pay, which, in relation to the riots of August 2012, the authors make crystal clear in the following (‘The Revolting Underclass’): ‘’News reports generally presented the riots as a sign of contemporary urban anomie in which getting-without-paying and shopping with violence seemed to be the order of the day. The term underclass was reinvigorated as a sign of spiritual rather than material impoverishment, in which a paucity of individual ambition and a collapse of self-discipline resulted in a newly dangerous violent cycle of expectation on the part of those excluded (or self-excluded) from gainful employment, family and civic responsibility.’’

Class and Contemporary British Culture makes for imperative reading. It’s a superb book, one I’d highly recommend to anyone remotely interested in (what’s horribly wrong with) contemporary Britain.

David Marx