Brits are forgetting the evils of big government at their peril

uk

Big government is back in fashion, at least according to the findings of the latest British Social Attitudes survey, which revealed that 48% of Brits support the policy of “tax more, spend more”, referring of course to Keynesian-style economic policy. Considering the rise of Jeremy Corbyn, this is a very worrying trend. We are already wallowing under the weight of a government that is already too big, and yet we may be on the path of potentially electing a totalitarian to power in five years’ time, partly due to not just the incompetence of Theresa May’s campaign, but also because public attitudes are shifting in favour of government intervention.

To be fair, the free market case hasn’t been doing very well, and I blame the apathy of economic conservatives in Britain, particularly those within the Tory party. They thought that 1989 really was the end of history, and that they had won the argument against socialism so definitively that they didn’t need to argue for free market liberalism anymore. How terribly naive they were, for the war of ideas is never-ending. When Tony Blair won the general election in 1997, this heralded the slow return of big government, and of paternalistic socialism, but instead of arguing against it, the Tories began slipping back into their one-nation ways, to the point where we now have a party whose leader may as well be the leader of Blue Labour.

Of course I can’t entirely blame people for supporting big government. Since the great recession they’ve been taught the lie that free market capitalism is the root of all their problems by socialists who have been waiting impatiently for precisely such a time to occur. I also think it’s the byproduct of inevitable apathy. We had the pleasure of living in a free market society for long enough that we had forgotten what it means to live under big government. We also have a generation that was born after Margaret Thatcher came to power, and thereby having never grown up under post-war consensus policy, meaning they have never experienced what big government looks like, or at least they’ve lived such comfortable lives that they’ve never had to deal with it.

It has once been said that the death of liberty does not happen from outside, but rather it dies slowly, poisoned by apathy and indifference. Though this may sound hyperbolic I assure you that we may well be on that path if something isn’t done. When a government gets too big, it inevitably craves for more power, and that’s when you start seeing your civil liberties stripped away one by one, and they can count on the public not to fight for their liberties because they will be too apathetic to bother, or worse, actively support it because they may feel that it’s “fair and just”.

The sad reality is that there is nothing just about big government. When they raise taxes to make the rich “pay their fair share”, they reduce tax revenue because less people will be able to pay said taxes. Also, half the money raised from corporate tax (which leftists want to raise) is taken out of workers’ wages, so when you raise corporate tax just because it feels good, you’re actually doing good. But hey, you trust big government to look after so what’s the problem? Speaking of that, people also trust the government to provide free health care, but the NHS (which I will talk about in more detail some other time) is currently facing a rapidly increasing financial black hole, and is plagued by poor service and long waiting times. Without privatisation, the NHS is sure collapse, but we can’t even bring up the idea because the NHS has become a sacred cow in British politics. Just goes to show how much we love big government socialism in this country.

I hope that we Brits seriously consider the ramifications of big government. We should be working towards making government smaller if we want to see any positive change in society, because big government is the problem. Today’s economic and social woes can be directly tied to excessive interference from the state in our lives. When it creates more costly regulations aimed at large corporations, it always hurts small business owners the most. When they ban certain drugs for ancillary moralistic reasons, it forces those substances into the black market, which then grows and enriches criminal entities who take advantage of drug-users. Whenever they pass new crime and surveillance laws with the stated intent of protecting the innocent from terrorism, it instead creates fear in the hearts of law-abiding citizens, who in the end will be the biggest victims of such laws.

Big government isn’t your friend. It should be our sworn enemy, and yet a surprising number of Brits are in favour of big government spending, to the point that 40% of them would vote for a Marxist. If big government is back in fashion, then we will have dark times ahead of us, doomed to repeat history because our memory is short.

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The red flowers of war

poppies

To most, this means remembrance of the war dead, but for people like me, it represents something much darker at hand.

One of the most depressing things about being a British citizen is that I’m constantly reminded of how little our culture values the individual, and for me, one of the worst examples of this is Remembrance Day. Every time I do anything on November 11th (which always seems to fall on a day when I’m in college nowadays), it’s always interrupted by the obligatory two minutes of silence, in which we all stop like drones on command, and that’s not even the worst part. In the days leading up to then, we have the poppy appeal, where public figures don poppies on their lapels in order to win public approval, and anyone not wearing the poppy is shamed by the common folk as soon as they find out.

This is a trend that Channel 4’s news anchor Jon Snow described as “poppy fascism”, the practice of compelling people to wear poppies because they supposedly ought to and shaming those who don’t, and this trend has been getting much worse this year than ever before. Newsreaders, politicians, celebrities, and even football managers could be seen wearing poppies as early as possible out of fear of being branded as disrespectful traitors by a zealous British public infected with sentimentalism. Whenever public figures fall foul of the poppy tradition, we act as though they’re supposed to be role models, and by not wearing a poppy they have supposedly failed. Why? Why is it impossible for public figures to make their own choices without swathes of morons kicking up a fuss about it on Twitter? Better yet, why do people care about what celebrities wear in tacky chat shows?

However poppy fascism manifests itself, we justify it by proclaiming that wearing the poppy is a sign of respect for the war dead. That’s fine, except for the fact that when we focus on the soldiers who died fighting for their country, we end up glossing over the reality of war. At the risk of sounding cold, I should point out that those who choose to fight in a war, past or present, have pretty much signed up for job in which they could get killed. Of course, one could argue that this is the sacrifice of the soldier, but one must one oneself what the soldiers are even fighting for. All modern wars are fought for startlingly ignoble reasons. For example, the current situation in the Middle East was mainly caused by America’s constant interloping in places such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, and our soldiers are only involved because our government wants to be involved in anything America does. It’s not as though past wars fare much better.

Nowadays, war is only ever fought because it profits some higher powers, be they politicians or big corporations. Now that I think about, it’s no wonder the government loves Poppy Day, because it gives them the opportunity to make war sound romantic and glamorous. Of course, we aren’t as stupid as the government thinks we are. We should all know by now that there’s nothing glamorous about people killing each other, whatever the reason may be. Personally, I have a very big problem with the whole “poppy mania” because outside Remembrance Day, the general consensus of the public is that war is bad, but when it’s November, suddenly we’re all mindlessly chanting support for those who fight in wars. As someone who is firmly opposed to war, I find it disgusting that we in British society push what is ostensibly a symbol of the romantic view of war down our throats every year, and shame those who don’t.

selling poppies

It’s surprisingly easy for them to pluck people’s heartstrings.

All the more jarring is that the poppy-pushing trend is going on as the government is rallying for a new war in Syria, as though the previous war in Afghanistan never happened. We all know how the war in Afghanistan happened, and that it was ultimately pointless for Britain to get involved, but the fact that we hide behind the poppies and the sentimental waltz they inspire guarantees that the government can feel free to pursue future wars knowing that the British public will always support it. After all, to ensure unquestioning support of the military and warfare is the only goal of the poppy drive.

It’s perhaps because of this that the idea of Rememberance Day is losing all meaning. When we observed Remembrance Day a century ago, in the bleak, war-ravaged landscapes of the day, we wanted never again to experience the horrors of war. Those people witnessed the tragedy of a hideously futile war in full bloom. The very idea of glamorizing the Great War might have sounded abominable to those who actually survived the war (though sadly they are no longer with us), and yet that’s what we’re doing every November. I highly doubt that the soldiers of the Great War died so that we could continue to indulge in mindless bloodlust in the name of nationalism and industry, and that is what I feel the red poppy has come to represent, and I am not alone. There are many activists, war veterans, and even a few celebrities who oppose war, and detest the glamorization of war. In the dominant atmosphere of conformity, guilt and propaganda, they appear to be the only voices of reason that actually get heard when the poppy salesmen come around.

The Stepford age

Today, we live in a world where the lingering shadow of censorship is just around the corner. Today’s society doesn’t seem to want freedom, favouring comfort and conformity. Enforcing this new wave of conformist hostility towards freedom are the social justice warriors who lurk in the internet, and the Stepford students in universities who work to silence debate. And then there are politicians who want to censor anything that offends the norm (fetish porn, politically incorrect thoughts, swear words, etc.), and whatever they can’t censor, they’ll decide that they may as well just ban. All the while, the media continues to fog our minds with an ever-increasing volley of distractions, and social media websites like Facebook and Twitter allow for a vicious atmosphere of conformity to thrive.

stepford

Think of Stepford as a metaphor for what’s going on here.

Personally, I think we’re living in what I call a “Stepford age”, where society now has more power to make us conform than ever. However, the key difference between this and a real life version of Stepford is the values. In days gone by, we were all being made to accept conservative Christian dogma, along with the patriarchal concept of the nuclear family. Today’s fashion, however, seems to be a venomous combination of left-wing social justice, materialistic secularism, and guilt-based political correctness, with some remnants of conventional morality.

Another key thing to remember is that sex is still a major bogeyman for most people, but it’s gotten to a point that for boys to even have lustful thoughts is a social sin. Advertisers can rarely show the female body without provoking a wave of feminist tongue lashings. It’s as though the body has now become a source of shame being pincered in a two-pronged issue. On the one hand, the media is trying to force an ideal body onto the minds of impressionable young girls, but on other hand, silencing them means curtailing freedom of speech, and so the social justice warriors are wrong as well. Speaking of advertisements, censorship has gotten so paranoid that advertisements can be pulled if only thirteen people complain about them. Advertising is so heavily policed that every ad we get to see is extremely bland and boring.

It’s not just advertising that has taken on a fear-based self-censorship. In this country, you can get arrested just because something you said on Facebook or Twitter got taken out of context. Thus, people tend to censor themselves more online even with online anonymity. The long arm of the law isn’t the only fear facing today’s online Brits. There’s also the army of vindictive social justice warriors keen on striking lady liberty with their censorious daggers as they spend their energies punishing people just for speaking their minds. In universities, various student unions have silenced opinions that don’t match theirs, and banned anything that the majority of students find offensive.

For me, the greatest damage to liberty is a climate where we are engaged in relentless self-censorship. I should know this because, for a while, it happened with me. During my mid-late teens, I found myself having to watch my mouth until I arrived in college (thankfully I’m safe, because much of the self-censorship happens in English universities). I find it rather horrifying that much of the Tumblr generation’s students have turned their backs on the free-spirited open-mindedness that defines youth.

As we in Britain are becoming ever more inclined towards fear-based political correctness and self-censorship, what is to become of liberty? If we cannot say, do, or even think as we feel, then we can only pretend to be a modern, liberal society. In actuality, if things don’t change, we’ll be living in a Stepford nightmare – a nanny state run by a shadowy men’s association hell bent on making us into subservient drones for their convenience. We can either have that, or we can choose in favour of liberty, and overthrow the culture of fear that currently pollutes the air of a once-open forum. I think it’s time the people really thought about what they would rather have. Do we want liberty, and an environment where we can say what we really want, or do we want to continue living in a poisonous cage as we wallow in fear-based political correctness?

Living in Wales

Ever since I my time in America ended, I’ve felt firmly attached to American culture, which is why when I settled back into the UK, I never fully integrated with British culture. Living in Wales, it was always hard to integrate with Welsh culture, so I never really bothered trying. Ever since my school days, I didn’t want much of anything to do with Welsh culture because I saw it as something everyone else was a part of.

wales

I don’t resent living in Wales, but I never really got attached to Welsh culture. Then again, back when I was a kid, all I wanted to do was create. I didn’t want anything to do with nationality, the Welsh language, national pride, and all the other political crap that I had no idea even mattered to people back then. Today, it’s largely the same situation, except now I do know about all the political crap, but I get very sick of it.

One issue that has constantly pervaded my life in Wales in the Welsh language. The local government in Wales wants to bolster the language all they can, and in Wales, learning the local language in school has been compulsory since the time I was in school. However, due to varying circumstances revolving around my autism, I never learned Welsh. Of course, when I was a kid, that didn’t bother me one bit. However, I eventually heard of cases where people who didn’t know the Welsh language had less of a chance of being employed than people who were fluent in Welsh.

I have no idea if anything about that has changed since 2012, but I still didn’t like that at all. Ever since then, I became ever more cynical about living in Wales until, after one of several depressingly introspective moments I’ve encountered in my new course, I ultimately concluded that, even in childhood, I never intended to live in Wales permanently anyway.

In conclusion, living in Wales, for me, has been quite patience-trying, due both to my longing to come back to America, and because I never identified with Welsh culture at all. I don’t really have much resentment. After all, I can’t really resent a nation with a variety of outstanding castles and landscapes that could potentially inspire an artist like myself. However, in many ways, I feel so apart from Welsh culture that it’s almost as though I’m an outsider in my own home country. To put it simply, the sooner I get back to America, the better.

Policing obesity in the UK

The obesity stigma in the UK has reached a new low, after a couple in Norfolk was arrested on “suspicion of child cruelty”, after they got wind of the fact that their 11-year-old son weighs 15 stone (roughly 210 lbs). What kind of country do we live in if childhood obesity is now being blamed on the parents.

According to the story, doctors at the Queen Elizabeth hospital in King’s Lynn had notified the police after treating the boy twice, and the parents were later visited by social workers. The parents were eventually threatened with legal action if they don’t keep their son at a “healthy weight”, which they said they had been trying to do.

The sensationalized obesity crisis has created a stigmatizing climate against people defined as “fat” or “obese”. How long will it be before every obese kid’s parents get arrested on “suspicion of child cruelty” just so every family can eat healthy?

For me, this is the result of people not taking responsibility for their health problems, seeking instead to scapegoat others. In this case, childhood obesity is being blamed entirely on the parents, when it’s possible that part of it is the kids’ fault.

childhood obseity

Clearly the kid’s fault.

We can’t keep policing the things we ought to be taking responsibility for. If we keep denying responsibility for our obesity problem, then we’ll never learn anything, and the obesity problem will never go away.

Besides, the sooner we admit that the obesity crisis is largely our fault, the closer we get to solving it, while still having the freedom to eat what we want without being judged for it.

The city versus the community

A few days ago, my Mom told me the difference between a city and a community. In a community, by which I mean a rural area, people know about each other. Everyone know’s how everyone is, and if someone died, people would know, maybe even care. In a city, nobody seems to talk to each other unless they’re part of they’re clique. At least that’s what I’ve heard.

city

Looks can be very deceptive in a land where time is money.

I’m not entirely sure about it, but I think my Mom knows what she’s talking about. Back in the 1980’s, she was a police officer who worked all the way in England. Of course, everyone knows that the England of 30 years ago was quite a different place to the England of today. We had an economic crisis, a miner’s strike, a war against the Falklands, and an iron lady whose arrogant convictions doomed the land.

In the old days, people in both cities and communities would have eggs and milk delivered to their doorsteps. If the milkman passed by a house where the milk wasn’t taken in from the doorstep, he would look to see why. If an old man died, the milkman would know. Nowadays, in a city, the only way people would know is if the window had been surrounded by flies, because people in cities generally keep to themselves, and anyone they know.

The government seems to be slanted against the small communities, and I say this because the government doesn’t appear to care anymore. At one point, they even considered cutting funds from local government.

My Mom also believes that without the smaller communities, you don’t have society as we know it. If that’s true, let me ask one question: what would the government have to gain from dismantling the small community as we know it? Is it to do with modernity? Are they trying to make their jobs more cost-effective?

I think I speak for everyone when I say that there’s nothing wrong with the small community. Sure, many of us have simpler values, but the important thing is we actually care about what goes on around us. Besides, city life isn’t for everyone, and there simply isn’t enough land for every settlement to be a city, and there never will be.

My central argument is this: why devalue something that has been here since time immemorial? If you ask me, I’d much rather live in a town than a big city, because in the end, what are all pleasures of the city even worth compared to your roots?

The ugliness of what British music has become

On Wednesday night, I actually watched the Mercury Prize, and sadly, James Blake won. Why? It’s sad that James Blake won, as opposed to David Bowie, who’s had decades of experience, and genuine talent.

Sadly, the presenters didn’t even care. Nick Grimshaw (who basically killed the whole experience) only seemed to focus on new acts like Laura Mvula and The Foals. Even when David Bowie showed off part of the music video for his newer song “Love is Lost”, the presenters appeared not to care, even though David Bowie was a favourite to win.

After watching this, I learned how ugly and shallow British music culture has become, and realized that this same shallowness is what the Mercury Prize embodies most.

Nowadays, we’ve ignored all the real talent, and only focus on what’s new and trendy. That’s not how you appreciate art. I love music, so I hate that British music has become what it is.

To be completely fair, the Mercury Prize has a history of “surprise wins”, where the judges pick anyone other than the favourites to win. This has always been very annoying, especially for fans of David Bowie, myself included, who were hoping that Bowie would win, at long last proving that the music industry still cares about classic rockers and real artists.

Nowadays, British music is almost entirely electronic, be it EDM, pop, techno or dubstep, and anything outside that norm is cruelly ignored by ignorant radio stations, and the undifferentiated ego mass that is the Radio 1 audience. Where did we go so wrong?

Yes, I’m still a bit sore about the fact that David Bowie didn’t win, but I was p*ssed off for the right reasons, because James Blake won for the wrong reason. Besides, I’m at least ready admit that, unlike Biffy Clyro, who were mad that they didn’t even get shortlisted, but just won’t admit that they’re mad.

Overall, if music culture today revolves around the same old dubstep, EDM, techno, Radio 1 and Nick Grimshaw, then something is horribly amiss.