I still hate football

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I have hair, which I sometimes get cut. And this week, that meant talking about football.

I hate football. I hate all sport, in fact – at least in its big, jingoistic, corporate-capitalist permutation. But for the first time in my life, I now actually know something about it.

That’s because I’ve ludicrously ended up in the work Fantasy Football league (for the uninitiated, it’s a game where you build an imaginary team using players from around the world, and score points based on how your picks perform in real-world matches).

Knowing I’m about as sporty as a Gregg’s steak bake, a colleague sarcastically asked if I wanted to join in. I said yes just to annoy him. With a squad full of players from Panama and Iran, I was already on -8 points by the end of day one. I’m aiming to do as badly as possible. Continue reading “I still hate football”

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This won’t be a democratic election, because we don’t live in a democracy

We’re governed by a anti-democratic elite that governs in the interest of big business and the super-rich

theresa may election speech

Last week Theresa May called a snap – i.e. sudden, triggered-when-she-knows-she’s-virtually-guaranteed-to-win-it – general election.

Melodramatic pundits will talk about it like it’s some grand exercise in democracy, but it won’t be. Britain isn’t a democracy and never has been.

The fact we’re even having an election under these circumstances is laughably undemocratic. Theresa May is an unelected Prime Minister. She just inherited the job from David Cameron when he resigned after losing the Brexit referendum.

She knew she would have to face a proper public vote eventually – so she’s rigged the process in her favour. She’s waited until she’s massively ahead in the polls, then sprung a last-minute election – having repeatedly said she wasn’t going to do so.

Labour and the other parties now have seven weeks to get their act together. She and the Tories have probably been secretly preparing for months. It’s like a school choosing the date of its own OFSTED inspection. Continue reading “This won’t be a democratic election, because we don’t live in a democracy”

We’re probably all doomed – but that doesn’t mean give up and go home

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If we don’t get rid of it, capitalism is going to destroy society.

It’s a system geared around delivering ever-increasing profits to big business, and enriching the sociopathic corporate elite that runs the economy.

To do that, it needs constant economic growth. To fuel that growth, it needs fossil fuels and never-ending consumerism – and in one mad, 150-year binge after 200,000 years of relative human sobriety, it’s brought the ecosystem that supports us to the brink of catastrophic breakdown.

But we’re not doing anything about it. That’s despite melting icecaps, acidifying oceans, soaring temperatures, the loss of half the planet’s wildlife in the past forty years, and the loss of a third of its farmable land in the last thirty. Continue reading “We’re probably all doomed – but that doesn’t mean give up and go home”

Why Trump won (and why Farage won, and why people like them will keep winning)

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A million hacks are taking to a million laptops to write about Trump – but the take-away message is simple.

Trump won by tapping into the broiling, misguided but ultimately understandable anger felt by poor white America. In a sense, it’s the same story that brought about Brexit.

Neoliberalism rigs society in favour of the wealthiest. Inequality balloons. Industry dies, and life gets hard for working-class people.

They get angry. They look for someone or something to blame. Poorly educated, and with worldviews shaped by the scandalously impartial corporate press, they don’t blame those most responsible: the banks, the media, the Right, and the captains of corporate capitalism.

Instead, they blame the most vulnerable people in society – women, black people, Muslims, gay and transgender people, disabled people, all of whom have suffered under centuries of structural injustice – and the liberal end of a managerial, stage-managed political elite. Continue reading “Why Trump won (and why Farage won, and why people like them will keep winning)”

Let’s not repair parliament

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The Palace of Westminster needs £4bn in repairs, and will probably get them. It’s another reminder of the thoroughgoing rubbishness of the case for austerity.

For years, the message beamed down from Whitehall has been that past governments spent too much. The country was in too much debt, and, as a result, there had to be massive cuts in public spending.

In fact, austerity has always been about the neoliberal power elite restructuring society in its own interest. The cuts overwhelmingly fell on services ordinary people depended on – and that rich people could make a lot of money out of if they were privatised.

The much-banged-on-about ‘deficit’, the gap between what government spends and what it brings in in taxes, is about £69bn. That sounds like a lot of money. But between 2009 and 2015, the wealth of the richest thousand families in Britain rose by 112% to £547bn. ONS figures from 2014 put the UK’s total private wealth at £11.1trn – and estimated the richest 10% of households owned about half of that. The same year, Bank of England economists estimated UK corporations were sitting on £500bn that they were refusing to invest. Continue reading “Let’s not repair parliament”

Neck-ache nation: what elite sport, elite politics, and elite worship says about us

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If you like substance and things that matter, it’s not been a very good few months to be alive. Feudal-revivalist royal birthday celebrations. The eye-bulging jingoism of Euro 2016. An abyssal new low for establishment post-truth politics with the EU referendum. False-start leadership elections, grubby will-they-won’t-they political coups. And then the Olympics, where grotesque, mind-mangling amounts of money and resources get blown on a hyper-nationalist willy-waving competition.

But at very least, in its abundance of rubbishness, the summer has left us with some fairly big clues as to what’s gone wrong. We are, after all, hurtling towards a point-of-no-return ecological tipping point, having done more environmental damage in 150 years than any other species has managed in three billion – all to build a civilisation where the richest 10% own half the wealth, use 60% of the resources, and 20,000 people starve to death every day.

Why is the world so cataclysmically shit? I think the summer we’re having points towards one big contributing factor. In fact, all the recent events listed above, the Queen, the football, and so on, are arguably symptomatic of the same underlying phenomenon – a giant, normalised, and, as such, near-universally ignored problem afflicting civilisation as-is. Continue reading “Neck-ache nation: what elite sport, elite politics, and elite worship says about us”

How the Beeb marked May Day

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Theresa May is now Prime Minister, and the coverage was predictably nauseating. Bereft of internet a few days into life at new digs, I sat and watched it on News 24.

Neutrality means offering as broad a range of viewpoints as possible, and not favouring any of them. The BBC always claims it’s neutral, but that’s not what it does at all. Instead, for decades, it’s consistently done something very different: portray anyone or anything conforming to the neoliberal-authoritarian post-Thatcherite consensus in a favourable light (being mildly critical at very best, fawningly biased at worst), and relentlessly undermine anyone who deviates from it. Being pro-establishment and anti-dissident, after all, is basically the default setting of British public life. Continue reading “How the Beeb marked May Day”