Posts Tagged ‘Solon’

Boris Criticised by Own Party for Cynical Decision to Join ‘Out’ Campaign

February 23, 2016

Mike over at Vox Political also has a very interesting piece about Boris Johnson’s decision to join the ‘Out’ campaign. Mike points out that until a couple of weeks ago, BoJo appeared to be in favour of Britain remaining in Europe. He was certainly in favour of Turkey joining it. Now apparently he’s decided to put all that behind him. Mike writes

Soon after Boris Johnson declared that he would campaign for the UK to leave the European Union, we were all reminded that he had campaigned for Turkey to become a member, so he was already guilty of double-standards (why want them in, and us out?) but more was to follow.

We have since learned that Mr Johnson has been hoping an ‘Out’ vote might lead to further renegotiation with the other EU countries, leading to a settlement for the UK that would make him happier.

(Or – as most of us surmised – he thought joining the ‘Out’ brigade might endear him to Tory backbenchers, or at least enough of them to ease him into Number 10 after Cameron slings his hook.)

This has earned Britain’s own tousle-haired buffoon (I wonder – are he and Donald Trump clones from the same genetic laboratory?) a swift rejoinder from Dave Cameron, who has told him that it’s going to be a straight case of Britain either being in Europe or leaving. There is no plan for renegotiation.

See: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/02/22/tory-infighting-leads-to-a-very-public-takedown-for-boris-johnson/.

This debacle shows BoJo for what he is: a demagogue. If he genuinely wishes that a vote to leave Europe would result in a second referendum, and further negotiations to revise the conditions of Britain’s membership so that we remain in, then he’s simply supporting the ‘Out’ campaign as a kind of political utilitarianism. He’s really in favour of membership, and always has been, but he hopes he can use it to frighten the EU into granting concessions. It’s a dangerous game to play. The danger is that by that time, the EU could be so sick and tired of us, that they can’t be bothered to indulge us, and will just simply say, ‘Well, be like that. Go away then!’

And I think Mike’s right. This is all about trying to enhance BoJo’s standing within the party, as the ‘man of the people’, and the populist candidate against Cameron. It really does look like he’s angling for backbench Tory support. In a Classical simile that Boris should appreciate, he’s rather like the Greek philosopher Carneades. Carneades went on an embassy to Rome. There he decided to give a talk on ‘virtue’. In the morning he argued for it, and in the afternoon, he argued against it. It was part of the attitude of the Sceptic school that knowledge could never be absolute and information was always provisional. And Carneades was also a bit of a wiseacre, who liked to show off how clever he was by arguing contradictory positions. Boris is basically doing the same thing here. It’s nasty, and shows that one thing Boris is not and will never be, is a statesman of the mould of Solon or Pericles.

Cameron Brings Back Ancient Greek Metic System for Migrant Workers

June 22, 2015

I caught on the news this morning that Cameron has just announced legislation limiting the length of time foreign citizens can stay in the UK to six years. Except, of course, for those earning over £35,000, who aren’t bound by such restrictions. Once again, it shows their xenophobia and their hatred of the poor. The rich can stay for as long as they like, never mind the social cleansing they bring with them as working class districts are gentrified and their original occupants pushed out, both traditional British and those of more settled migrant communities.

Worse, the legislation has been backdated to 2011, which means that hardworking migrants, who’ve been over here for four or five years already, are suddenly faced with the problem of having to prepare to leave the UK. This is even when many of them may have already effectively settled down, got married, had children and put money down for property here.

A friend of mine told me how one of his relatives organised protests against similar legislation when it was brought in under John Major. The government then wanted to do exactly what Cameron and co are trying to do now, and the effects on the NHS were exactly as feared by some of the spokespeople for the nurses now. Various representatives for the nurses were shown on the news, voicing their fears that this would devastate the number of nurses actually working in the Health Service. This is precisely what threatened to happen way back in the 1990s. A number of the nurses at the hospital, where my friend’s relative worked, were foreign nationals. These women and men had worked hard, and put down roots in the UK through marriage and purchasing their own homes. They were then faced with being forcibly uprooted from their jobs, families and homes. And so his relative took part in organising a series of protests on their behalf.

Cameron’s new regulations limiting the amount of time poor migrant workers can spend in the UK is basically just a revival of the metic system from ancient Greece. The metics were foreign citizens resident in the ancient Greek city states, usually merchants and traders. They were allowed to remain in the cities for six years. On the seventh year, they had to return to their countries of origin. And so with the modern metics Cameron has effectively created with this legislation. And as with most of the Tories’ policies, it’s very likely a product of their public school education. The education of the aristocracy has always been based solidly on the Classics, to the point where there was a joke about it in the satirical BBC comedies, Yes, Minister, and Yes, Prime Minister. At one point the new prime minister, Jim Hacker, formerly the Minister for Administrative Affairs, is faced with a severe financial crisis. Looking around to find anyone in the government or upper levels of the Civil Service, who might have the necessary expertise to solve the crisis, Hacker is aghast to find that none of them are economists. In exasperation he asks Sir Humphrey if, surely, the head of the Treasury studied economics at Uni. Certainly not, replies Sir Humphrey indignantly, he studied Classics. Cameron, Osborne and the rest of the Toffs now running the country into the ground may have studied more relevant subjects at Uni, but behind this there is the shadow of the British public school education system and its emphasis on the Classics.

Its also pretty much of a piece with the other bits of legislation Cameron and his cronies have introduced. They’ve effectively reintroduced the debt slavery that Solon attempted to legislate against, and with the massive expansion of workfare are effectively reducing the poor and the young to Helots. These were state slaves at the very bottom of Spartan society. And on one day each year, it was legal for the Spartan elite to rob, beat and kill them if they so wished, just to teach them their place. It hasn’t got that bad yet, but you have to wonder if it will, given Cameron and co’s membership of the Bullingdon Club, who I think got their kicks smashing up bars.

Of course, Cameron and his cronies admire ancient Greece as the source of western culture, and the inventors of democracy. But the democracy the ancient Greeks pioneered was very limited. Only citizens, which meant property owners, who did not have to work or run businesses, but lived off their rents, had the vote. This is the concept of democracy that Aristotle celebrates and promotes in his Politics, where he recommends that such citizens have their own, separate forum to that of the rest of the populace, so they don’t have to mix with slaves, artisans, traders and similar riff-raff. And as Cameron has followed the Americans in trying to restrict the franchise to rich property-owners under the guise of rooting out electoral fraud, we can probably look forward to that coming back as well.