Reading a recent article by Gerry Hassan, where he asked how a nation can reconnect with a lost generation; the answer appeared blatantly obvious. It can’t.
Deep scrutiny of the article also explains why any Scot voting NO in the upcoming referendum is likely to be derided worldwide in the years to come for squandering an opportunity absolutely unique among the family of nations.
Reconnecting with the “Lost Generation” can’t be done when Mr. Hassan’s “nation” under discussion is the unitary state presently referred to as the United Kingdom.
It quite simply can’t be fixed because Holyrood is tied to Westminster, as Westminster is tied to Washington. The ties must be broken, and the easiest tie to sever for Scots is the Holyrood/Westminster connection.
Backtracking slightly, the first question that must be asked is this. Why is there a perceived “Lost Generation” requiring re-connection to mainstream society? In his article Mr. Hassan points to youth unemployment rising around 2004 and leading us thereafter to the present debacle of what’s described by him as a “Lost Generation”.
When the facts are examined, it is fundamentally obvious that there is no lost generation; what we have now is approaching a lost society. At least it is in England and possibly in Scotland, as austerity truly bites.
The problem didn’t happen in 2004 and accelerate since that time, the problem began in 1939. Although, no one realized it then. There were slightly more immediate pressures that year.
The Big Event in 1939 was of course the advent of World War 2, possibly the only just war of the last three centuries in which Scotland has had a part.
This was the war that brought an end to US isolationism and woke her up to the fact that there was a whole new, relatively untapped market for her industrial goods.
Following WW2 there was a period of social upheaval from which many good public policy issues were brought kicking and screaming into UK public life. The welfare state and the NHS being two excellent examples of governmental policies remaining with us today.
This period also brought post war austerity, as the UK had to make payments primarily to the USA, on the massive war debts accumulated. Rationing in the UK didn’t end until almost ten years after hostilities ceased, i.e. almost a decade after it ended in the USA.
Effectively in the decades after WW2 the UK was paying substantial funds to the US which its government and companies utilized to “invest” directly back into Europe. The “Marshall Plan” was very good for US business and certainly had a part in engineering the US post war boom years.
Boom in the USA while rationing remained in the UK. That rationing officially ended on the 4th July 1954, and was indeed indicative of that “special relationship”.
By fifteen years after WW2 things were apparently improving; there had begun to be a steady and incremental upswing in living standards, coupled to better rich-poor differentials. The 1960’s were the decade that also saw the first real incursions of foreign industry into the UK, again primarily from the US in the form of corporations as vast and varied as IBM and Yale Locks.
Then in the early 1970’s, Nixon was pressured to ignore US human rights policy and negotiate free trade deals with China, accessing that vast cheap labour market and spelling doom not only for US internal manufacturing but much of UK manufacturing as well.
American companies first trickled, and then flooded into China; the high paying manufacturing jobs in the UK and the US were quite rapidly lost to the Far East even as global production and demand increased.
If we require an example we need only look to television manufacturing. Appropriately, a device invented by Scot, John Logie Baird.
The last domestic mass production of television took place in the UK in 2009, although it was by then a sole stubborn survivor of a once great industry. This was about the same time that self same industry saw its demise in the USA.
Those great manufacturing names of the past such as Baird, Echo, Fergusson, English Electric, Hayes, Invicta, Phelco, Pye and Westminster are snuggling together in history’s bin. Their workforces are gone together with their ability, and society’s ability to train and engage future productive generations.
No modern televisions are mass made in either the UK or US, both states are suffering a cataclysmic shortage of viable employment, both having pursued the same fundamental policies. This, like shipbuilding and others are not industries that died; they simply migrated because government policy encouraged them to. Both the US and UK economies are now primarily service based.
These manufacturing industries are still in existence and exceptionally vibrant in Developing Nations, in large part because both countries preferred to simply “encourage financial services”.
The problem with financial services is that they are only enablers. They produce nothing and drain much from any economy. Financial services can only hold power when an individual or a nation is indebted, or prepares to become so. Debtors must agree to the debt holders demands both at the outset of the agreement and again should they ever be unable to meet the terms of their original obligation.
The alternative is to play a form of Russian roulette with the banks, i.e. refuse to pay unless renegotiations are on your terms. Let’s see who blinks first.
It is relatively simple to predict who will win, or who’ll blink first. If the nation concerned is in the black or alternatively, has no predictable future hope of repayment at the time of the agreement, it will win. As the bank simply can’t get what doesn’t exist, or realises there is no future need for its services.
If that country is continuing to run a “sustainable” deficit it will lose, for the bankers and bondholders know it still requires more of their money – the nation needs them. The main grounds for banks to refuse funding or become embroiled in negotiating favourable terms with a borrower, is when they categorically see no hope of recovery.
As a consequence of perpetually operating in the red, Westminster is compelled to have a revolving door to the City of London. It is this perpetual need that has created the fiscal elite. It is this requirement that has installed a virtual “red telephone” for emergencies between the money men of “The City” and the political select few of Westminster.
This situation is a direct consequence of the exportation of manufacturing jobs.
This ongoing red ink on the balance sheet was the main reason Labour bailed out the banks and thereby destroyed the concept of private industry, capitalism, free markets and risk within the financial sector.
For the time being, banking is fundamentally an industry guaranteed not to fail.
Both in the UK and across much of the developed world, a banking system has been created that has a virtual guarantee of success. The cost of underwriting this guarantee is the high probability of individual and societal penury.
Disturbingly, this can only last so long before the illusory wealth upon which it is built, i.e. “electronic money” evaporates, causing that house of cards to crash to the ground.
In the real world, where the Bank of England recently issued another “electronic” £75b of quantitative easing, the markets promptly reduced Sterling’s exchange rate against the dollar from about $1.65 to about $1.55. Production of “Electronic” money led to a direct devaluation of “real money” as the total “money” was still backed by the same total assets, which never changed.
This is where we find ourselves today, not with simply a “lost generation”, but a generation that has no apparent future, and where riots are the tip of a shimmering iceberg of discontent.
We are beginning to live in a society where the political elite, rather than representing the electorate, begin to live in fear of them. A society where it’s permissible to not only contemplate but propose pan-European ALEO’s that are above the law of any nation and answerable to no electorate.
We are fast approaching a nexus, evident by the increased usage of words like “obfuscation” or “spin” in news or reporting circles. Couple this with a need for “official secrets” in peacetime, and we have testimony to a mentality where the political elite live in fear of the unadulterated truth reaching the populace.
This combination of de-industrialisation and debt policy organisation has created our fiscal system, one that has required us being informed Capital is “too big to fail”. The consequences would be disastrous we’re told, and yet previously, society put in place laws, policies and procedures to prevent this happening; organizations such as the Monopolies Commission.
It was subversion of these social protections by the likes of Gordon Brown that have brought us to our current position.
In a vain attempt to make good on these debts encumbered upon us by Westminster, the entire UK is facing post WW2 austerity once again.
This austerity is yet again the result of a war, no less real, no less fraught with casualties, but for the most part absent of bullets. Power brokers want power, they will utelise bullets or ballots, claymores or cash, the end justifying the means.
The present conflict is quite simply between big capitalism and big society. Society is presently losing. Society in the industrialised world is definitely on the ropes.
David Cameron’s actions are at cross purposes to his words, he is very much for big capitalism; as is Ed Miliband in refusing to support those protesting further erosion of big society.
Big society is one where we all pay in a little bit, we all share in the burdens of our fellows and we all have an opportunity to enjoy life to the best extent possible. It is a society where we care for our elderly and sick, our distressed and disabled, and it is a society where opportunity exists at all levels.
The proposals for pension’s reform, welfare reform, retirement age increases, extra taxation and NHS privatisation are all designed to bleed resources from those who can least afford it.
It is these policies that are creating our lost society.
It began with de-industrialisation. It is the dismantling of “big society”. Since without the wealth that primarily manufacturing generates, nothing else can be paid for.
In America, every winter they collect the frozen corpses from the underpasses and alleys; society’s detritus eking its meager existence. They’re often only a stone’s throw from the parties and bright lights, music and dancing of the wealthy celebrating the festive season. I have witnessed this, it is a lost society. Furthermore, I have witnessed the pensioner on oxygen working at Wal-Mart so she can afford her medication. This is a lost society. It is the society of big capital in its purest form.
It is coming to a city near you.
England has no choice; for Westminster has backed England into an untenable position. There can be no “UK” without Scotland. As the understanding of their position clarifies, then Wales and N. Ireland may reconsider their situation. Cornwall might even follow.
The future for England is therefore rather bleak without a rapid and substantial re-industrialisation to create true wealth generation. This is a fundamental driver behind Westminster’s unending negativity towards Scotland and her bright future.
In Scotland we have a referendum coming up.
In this referendum the only sensible, the only intelligent vote is a YES vote.
It has nothing to do with history; it has nothing to do with patriotism. It has nothing to do with political parties or affiliations.
It has everything to do with our culture, the preservation and ongoing resurrection of our society. It is the only way to the development of a future Scots nation in which our children will have far better opportunities to excel.
It has everything to do with the realisation that to preserve our society and way of life, we’re in a “war” that is as dire as any that Bruce or Wallace ever fought, the outcome of which will have the same profound influence for Scotland’s future generations.
A YES vote has only one aim in the upcoming referendum, it is to prevent Scotland becoming yet another lost society, another England, America, Greece, Italy or Spain.
The one thing that makes a YES vote paramount in this referendum is a single SNP pledge, re-industrialisation.
Re-industrialisation, especially in a green economy is a world class masterstroke from what will be a world leading nation with a society envied across the globe.
The green part of the re-industrialisation process can’t be exported elsewhere, except as a finished product. The technology and expertise united with pro-active political leadership will be increasingly Scots based. University funding and research will likewise increase.
In the lottery of life we can make certain future generations of Scots hit the jackpot simply by the accident of their birth being here.
We can do this because Scotland already operates in the black, ensuring the ball is at our feet, not the bankers or “The City”. We will not blink as we put our nation on the path to prosperity.
We will not hesitate to engage with all our generations.
Re-industrialisation is the only viable hope for our future, for our presently “lost generation” and for our soon to be otherwise, lost society.
Green and conventional re-industrialization isn’t possible within the Treaty of Union, Westminster’s fundamental fear of Scots confidence and her own loss of dominion ensure that.
Re-industrialisation and societal salvage are the reasons why there must be a YES vote; why there can only be a YES vote from any thinking Scot at the referendum.