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Narrative narcosis

If there is anyone out there who still harbours doubts about the narcotic power of narrative, then I urge them to critically examine recent British history. This will confirm that such is the hallucinogenic power of narrative (or ‘discourse’ if you prefer) that it can capture an entire society in its analgesic embrace while being, not just divorced from the reality, but the demonstrably diametric opposite of the reality.

Since the late 1990’s everybody outside of us hardy but microscopic band of ideologues (and I do mean ‘everybody’ including his brother, mother, plumber and household pets) has been tub-thumpingly convinced that we have endured “the most right-wing government in history”. Oh my Lord, how right-wing it was! Uber-right-wing, ultra-rightist, extreme-uber-ultra-babyeatingly-sealcubbashingly-right-wing. Lord deliver us! Good people everywhere rolled their eyes heavenward and wondered just what was to become of us all in the new, ultra-neo-liberal, so-called-free-market, wild-west-uber-rampant-capitalist free-for-all.

Not us, of course. We could see the ugly truth that we were actually being sovietised. We told them all too. In fact, we shouted it from the blogtops. But was anybody listening? Were they hell. No, they were far too engaged in the generally agreed business of guffing on interminably about the rampant-wild-west-unregulated-greedy-so-called-laissez-faire-out-of-control-cowboy-shoot-’em-up-neo-liberal-free-for-all-unrestrained capitalist nightmare that was destined to reduce our once great nation to a dissipated radiation burst of lonely, atomised wage slaves chanting ‘greed is good’ as we are flung out to the frozen corners of an uncaring, Thatcherite universe.

So, do you think this incongruent moment of flying-piggery in today’s Times is going to incite a re-think?

PARTS of the United Kingdom have become so heavily dependent on government spending that the private sector is generating less than a third of the regional economy, a new analysis has found.

The study of “Soviet Britain” has found the government’s share of output and expenditure has now surged to more than 60% in some areas of England and over 70% elsewhere….

The state now looms far larger in many parts of Britain than it did in former Soviet satellite states such as Hungary and Slovakia as they emerged from communism in the 1990s, when state spending accounted for about 60% of their economies.

Not a bit of it. By this evening, these stark truths will have disppeared down the memory-hole and, by tomorrow morning, everyone will be getting on with the urgent business of finding a strategy for bringing all this rampant, wild-west, cowboy capitalism back under control.

Does anybody have a truth serum?

14 comments to Narrative narcosis

  • Well said TT!

    “By this evening, these stark truths will have disppeared down the memory-hole and, by tomorrow morning, everyone will be getting on the urgent business of finding a strategy for bringing all this rampant, wild-west, cowboy capitalism back under control.”

    Not if I get my way. I have also blogged on this and it needs to be said. It needs to be repeated everywhere again and again and again.

    Any of you lot with blogs. Read TT’s Times link and stick your spin on the story on your blog.

    It’s outrageous. 77.6% of the Northern Ireland economy is state spending.

    It’s 49% overall. I knew it was bad but… I was shocked. So c’mon folks. Get shocking!

    Because iDave won’t.

  • That this situation could have come about is a measure of the utter pointlessness of the Tory Party.

    Far from bringing this into the narrative, they bend over backwards to assure everyone they will do more of the same, just ever so slightly less than Labour, thus making them ‘responsible’ and a ‘safe pair of hands’.

  • Tim

    The solution in the UK, just as it is here across the pond is to completely overhaul the wet sacks filling the suits of Parliament and Congress respectively — then refilling them with patriated citizens who have absolutely no connection to the “game,” but a sincere desire and willingness to improve things.

    Of course, this is but a pipe dream. The “average Joe” stands as much chance of being elected into office as Madonna has taking the vows, donning a habit, and being cloistered. Why? Because the game requires money, and big money requires playing the game… this perpetuative cycle keeps out the “riff raff.”

  • Nick E

    Just replace the word “British” with “American” and “Kingdom” with “States”, and what you’ve written is the political narrative in the United States. The 2 are utterly, completely identical.

  • jerry

    Nick & Tim are absolutely right.
    Same situation over here and now that the anointed one has ascended to his throne it’s gonna get a LOT worse.

    There are already those ( who bought into the smoke and mirrors dog and pony show ) saying ‘where’s my mortgage payment, where’s my free gasoline, where’s my free medical care ??’
    They thought/think that as soon as the anointed one enters the WH and waves his magic appendage around we are all going to be instantly transported to
    utopia ‘case only the anointed one know the way !!!

    Never in my life have I ever seen someone who could apparently mesmerize large groups of people by saying absolutely nothing.

    ‘yes we can’ ??? Yes we can WHAT ???

    ‘Hope and Change’ ?? Hope for WHAT and change WHAT ?’

    NEVER was he questioned on much of anything except what he had for breakfast and how did he like eggs cooked !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I’m afraid that very shortly the printing presses are going to be started up and we’re going to have inflation as has never been seen in this country
    ( Carter will look like a novice ) because some of these people equate printed money with wealth.

    God help us all.

  • Jerry

    Sorry – in too much of a hurry

    ‘utopia ‘caUse only the anointed one knowS the way !!!’

  • TomC

    At some stage, statists are destined to lose the fight, since the problem is not that they are opposed to liberty, but to reality itself. This moment may come sooner rather than later –

    The study of “Soviet Britain” has found the government’s share of output and expenditure has now surged to more than 60% in some areas of England and over 70% elsewhere….

    Government does not have an output. It produces nothing; zilch; que dalles.

    This means more than the entire output of those who actually create, work and produce is consumed in these areas to subsidise those who don’t, which (quad erat demonstrandum) are working at a loss of 10 or 20%. How long can that go on?

    John Galt has been around for over 50 years now. Why is no one listening?

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Even before the credit crunch, up to 5m or more Britons were on state benefits; half of the new jobs were being taken by immigrants – many of whom were far more diligent, hardworking and employable. Large parts of Scotland, the North, etc, are effectively pauper regions, with all the associated pathologies that go with it.

    And let’s not forget that parts of the media cheerleaders for this state of affairs receive large state funds. The Guardian newspaper’s notorious jobs pages are full of jobs in the public sector.

    The idea that we have lived in a “right wing” era is only true in the loose sense that ours has been an authortarian period, with relentless grinding down of civil liberties; but that again shows that right/left belongs a defunct terminology.

  • Consider this a trackback — “This sounds familiar” at QandO.

  • Luke Warmer


    beg to differ but sincerity is not a good measure. The most deluded fool can still be sincere.

    The problem is that politicians do have “a sincere desire and willingness to improve things”. They just don’t understand unintended consequences, fail to stick to any consistent principles and don’t have an effective grasp of political history. Couple this with some kind of narcisistic personality disorder (they are self-selected to prefer being popular than being right) and the woes continue.

    In relation to this issue, Rand’s term “looters” really comes to mind as TomC alluded to.

    I liked the quote (in the STimes) which said the problem in the NE was not that the public sector was too big but that the private sector was too small. Cue more funding for public sector jobs to try and enlarge the private sector. All of the Regional Development Agencies are pretty quiet now, unlike when they were taking credit for every job created in their patch during better times.

  • Paul Marks

    To be fair to Mrs (now Lady) Thatcher – government spending AS A PERCENTAGE OF THE ECONOMY was slightly lower in 1990 (when the lady was betrayed) than it had been in 1979 (when the lady first came into office).

    The terrible increase in government spending just after 1979 (ignored by the media who, indeed, talked endlessly of “cuts”) did terrible damage – but it was mostly to finance govenment pay deals that had been agreed by the previous government (and to cover other government services spending plans) – of course these deals and plans should have been ripped up. But that would have meant a fight to the death (quite litterally) with all the unions right in May 1979.

    Taxes were not lower overall – that pass had been sold right back in 1979 when Sales Tax was doubled (sorry when “VAT was increased from 8% to 15% – not doubled”). However, the reduction in the top rate of income tax from 83% to 40% had produced more revenue (the idea that sales, and other taxes, went up to “fund tax cuts for the rich” is an old lie – these sales and other taxes went up to, over a period of years, close the budget deficit without cutting government spending).

    On regualtions – there were some extra regulations (especially after the Single European Act of 1986), but some other regulations had been abolished or changed.

    Overall I would say that the regulations of 1990 were less bad than those of 1979.

    However, there was indeed no “Thatcher Revolution” just some changes of policy on the margin (such as marginal tax rates) – the Welfare State carried on much as before, and the nationalized industries had been in decline for decades (no one remembers the railways, coal mines and so on closed before Mrs T. came in to office – closed by previous governments).

    And there was no “consolidation of the revolution” after Mrs T. was backstabbed – the Major, Blair and Brown governments have been one long orgy of statism.

    And with “Ken” Clarke back it is clear that a future Cameron government would mean a continuation of this orgy of statism.

  • Paul Marks

    Someone asked above how Barack Obama managed to convince people to vote for him (and all the statism he represents) by just comming out with a few platitudes – “hope”, “change” and so on.

    Because he had most of the “education system” (the schools and colleges) and the media they produce on his side.

    He was presented as a compassionate man – even though he gave virtually nothing of his (comfortable) income to charity before he ran for President. Using the poor as cannon fodder for his Community Organizer political ambitions instead.

    He was presented as a man from a humble background – whereas, in reality, his father was a government minister in Kenya and his mother got academic grants to wonder round the world whenever she wanted to. And the “typical white person” grandmother (who actually brought up young Barry) sat on the Board of Directors of a bank.

    Then there were the elite schools and colleges – such as the place in Harvard law which he got by the influence of the politician/academic from the Middle East (how many ordinary people have friends like this?).

    Barack Obama was also presented as a moderate – in spite of Marxist and other far left (including both Liberation Theology Christian and Islamic Socialism Muslim) links going back over his whole life. And a far left voting record in both his State and in the U.S. Senate.

    Barack Obama was also presented as brave – whereas in reality he was always a “trainer” for far left thugs, he never went on any jobs himself (let other people do the fighting).

    And he was one of the few candidates surrounded by armed guards from the start – “to stop racists”, back in the Iowa Democratic Caucus events?

    There were men with guns with Obama even then – and the media said nothing.

    And, needless to say, anyone who questioned Barack Obama (such as Joe the Plumber when Barack Obama turned up outside his house – on a meet and greet in Tolado Ohio) was instantly slandered and mocked by the media.

    This was the death of any notion that the media are leftists who try to be fair – they do not try to be fair.

    Like most of the academics who produced them, the establishment media are scumbags.

    They cover up the truth (using any tactic they need to) and attack and try to destroy anyone who tries to bring the truth to light.

    Indeed, as I have just shown above, the media often present the opposite of the truth.

  • Zevilyn

    You can’t run an economy on the financial sector, because it employs hardly anyone.

    But that’s just what we have been doing ever since Thatcher destroyed British manufacturing.

    Brown believed the liars and spivs in the City, and allowed them to screw the British taxpayer.

    Money that should have gone into rebuilding Britain’s manufacturing and engineering was wasted on the City cretins.
    The only thing of note Britsh engineering has made in recent years is the “Tumbler” Batmobile and Batpod.

    The only thing the British are innovative at is fraud. The Germans, the Japanese…they all expose our lazy business leaders.

    The Nintendo Wii is something which no British company would make, because in Britain we only make sh**.

    As Jim Rogers said, Britain, unlike other countries, has nothing to sell.

  • Paul Marks

    I forgot to say that Barack Obama was presented as an honest man and a “reformer”.

    In reality he was a supporter of the corrupt Daley/Durbin Chicago machine for 20 years (even marrying into it) who OPPOSED all efforts to break the machine (even efforts by Democrats to fight the machine).

    As for his “honesty” – for example Barack Obama got a four million Dollar earmark for the University of Chicago hospital – and his wife, who had a nonjob there, got her salary doubled.

    This is worse than anything that Blago has been shown to have done.

    Yet the media presented Barack Obama as an honest man and a reformer – the exact opposite of what he is.