Camden

First of all, am nowhere near a housing expert and all musings that follow should bear that in mind. If you do wish to read the musings of someone who knows stuff, I recommend this post by @nearlylegal. 

This is a more general rant, because Camden are about to temporarily rehouse 4000 people. Anyone who knows even the slightest bit about social housing, the state of local authorities with regard to housing responsibilities, knows that this is an extraordinarily huge task. I have already seen conspiracy theories, and we have a week of fairly irresponsible media behaviour after the events at Grenfell Tower(which am still not able to address in more than an oblique way. I am sure I will in future, but it is too much and we are only beginnig to understand the scale of it).

We saw with Grenfell what happens when risk is sat on, tonight we see the cost of acting. This is where Local Authorities sit. Where harm is done by intervention, and harm is done by not and all crisis are linked to political and legal responsibility. Where intervention is shaped by politics and money and delusions about how we prioritise these things, as well as by laws that protect us from that. All the duties, rights, responsibilities that noone gives a fuck about, are held in Local Authorities. Damned if they do, damned if they don’t. Yes, their response will always be shaped by what political responsibility should be, and that is shaped by media and the electorate, as well as legislation and those who enact it.

Local Authorities are crushed by public consent and demand, and kept invisible by left and right and still they maintain and uphold the balance of these responsibilities, walking the tightrope that means damned if they do and damned if they dont. This weekend Camden have to rehouse 4000 people with the services the public want them to have.

They do this while their institutions are hollowed out, the resources they have to do this with are contracted out, sold off, liquidated, while they maintain these responsbilities. Managerialism reshaping what they do. Responsibilities which cannot be abdicated. These are institutions run on a cover your arse reflex because they are the site of political responsibility for all these tensions that everyone wishes we didnt have, until crisis makes us demand to know why we didn’t do this. This is the grey light in which housing, child protection, mental health and a million other services that our policy makers are no longer taught the existence of, never mind value of, operates. Its why these systems evolve through crisis.

Grenfell is a crisis sat on top of system failure, and like all crisis of this nature we will find that erosion of institutions, cumulative flaws, and institutional indifference repeated at all levels of decision making made the space for tragedy. THis is not new. Nor is it new that this crisis will expose other crisis, as well as educating us in our how these systems are linked. The nature of these crisis is that we will be brought face to face with the fact that this was done by consent over a long period. And consent is something we all want to hide from and so we run to the Labour left for absolution and to hide the consensus on this.

Tomorrow that will be played out by a media culture who have no knowkedge of these institutions, demanding scalps rather than answers and giving no fucks that some poor bastard at Camden Council had to make a decision to relocate 4000 people and now has to carry that out. Get them temporary accomodation, make sure it is all on a legal basis, get them in there, get those buildings sorted, and get them back into their homes. They will be doing this with institutions and resources eroded and kicked to death, that never evolved to do what we needed them to do in the first place. Those journalists will demand scalps and answers that could much more easily be found in the political narratives they sell. The left will be demanding Tory scalps, so we dont notice trade union functioning has been impeded by elite social closure, and posh kids get to use the trade unuons that should represent these workers. Or that that is the only voice outside these structures and political oversight these workers have. Abusing and intimidating to erase discussion of consensus. There will be conspiracy theories where ballsups that are guaranteed when eroded services go beyond their logistic capacity, in times of stress, are attributed to malign intent. People who rightly fear being cleansed from a city where the poor are erased, in times of duress are vulnerable. Every half witted journalist will be looking for a stick to beat Camden with. All in desperate avoidance of the one thing they could do to help this situation and every other like it.

Grow the fuck up and behave. Use these crisis to learn how these systems fit together, if you are honest you know its foe the first time. Then remember it longer than the news cycle lasts, so when you are demanding the political priorities that mean you never have to think about housing, you know what you are demanding has material consequences. If you really want to address the inequality at the root of all this, you could do that.(I bet you dont)

Calm

So we managed to get a Queens Speech, stripped of manifesto promises, as the Tories try to adjust to a deeply unstable terrain. The day of rage demanded never appeared, as a nation tired looked on in horror. The people at the heart of the Grenfell tragedy have had to ask for grief tourism to stop and am avoiding the news. Calm has descended. Briefly.

This is the level of utter batshittery we are discussing here…

I would strongly urge reading this. These people are fucking insane.. This is what it looks like when elite social closure entirely eats the power of labour, and political parties themselves. Juvenile moronic posh kids who don’t know they are the seal for neo liberalism, even though their elite institutions do not change, using austerity they prevented discussion of, and hoping to sieze power. You see any word in there about the system failure we are also sat on? No. Dipshits.

One reflex to end our inequality crisis

There is only one thing which will end our inequality crisis. One reflex has to end. The one where you lash out and pretend that inequality did not reach these levels by public consent. That reflex where you lash out to find a mystery elite is what keeps this going. The only thing Labour ever had to do was say sorry, we maintained this to. Instead they devour on death, tragedy, suffering, while erasing the consensus that causes it. Feet on the throats of those already dying as they extract maximum political value.

For a brief second underneath the Corbyn chaos it looked like Labour stood for something. They don’t. Parasites and vultures who would do anything and risk anything and anyone, including this entire country, for their own gain.

My whole life from this point: Anyone but Labour.

Missive from chaos

xBrexit talks have begun. David Davies says he is going to get the deal of a lifetime, and it may be true but not in the way he hopes. We’ve been pretending for a year that Brexit isn’t us balkanising ourselves, that a country with a reputation for stability and a function as an Atlantic Bridge isn’t destroying itself in an act of reckless self regard and delusion. When this started, the Brexiteers had the potential for a major alliance with Trump and Le Pen providing us a new role in a world that is now not going to happen. Thank God. There was no mistaking the support for that. The UK is now the source of the Dickhead Spring, which turned out to be premature and flaccid.

There are Ministers and Opposition on the television saying what kind of Brexit they want. Like it even matters at this point. They’ve had a year. We have wandered into divorce negotiations with 27 countries with less prep than I did for my maths Standard Grade. We essentially have no government, and as the DUP and the Conservatives conclude what appear to be unsuccessful talks, and the Queen is waiting to find out what she is to read tomorrow, we are in turmoil. The divorce will conclude quickly andthen we will be told what terms to accept.

Grenfell Tower has been the catalyst for our inequality crisis, and am not sure anyone in power knows we are also sat on system failure in our cash transfer and local authorities, but watching the wheels turn to protect inequality is nauseating. We have communist strategists at the head of the Labour Party, their commentators quoting Gramsci, and a repeat of what they did with Brexit: Exploit instability for own gain. John McDonnell tried to incite a million people to te streets to be dealt with by the same firefighters and police exhausted by London Bridge, and Grenfell, and now the attack at Finsbury Park. Corbyn wants a hard Brexit, and is willing to do what he needs to to get it. Labour MPs are helping, in the belief they can contain him. They can’t.

British muslims have every right to be worried, the hate preachers demanding their abuse are on state funded television and commercial radio, and the day terrorists started using cars as weapons this was guaranteed. Inequality is about power relations and power relations mediated by post war institutional relations have broken down.

We have no government, we have political risk as opposition, we have system failure and we are in the middle of balkanising ourselves. Our only hope is the EU and pragmatism preventing them giving us the spanking we deserve. The biggest barrier to further EU integration s gone, our threat has ensured we must be contained, even if the instability we are generating didn’t mean that.

Undearneath it all realism is creeping in. There is a terrifying sense that Corbyn and his thugs will be able to use system failure, but they are really using the summer to show everyone exactly what they are. I think by the end of the summer, the party system itself has come into question. It may be there is a bright new dawn coming, but this summer is frightening and we have the extreme wings of the Tory and Labour Party trying desperately between them break the country. I don’t think we can be broken but I think it may be a while before we come through this.

I don’t think anyone in any place that matters understands how unstable we are, our political class are still like narcissisus wasting away watching their own reflections through twitter, and watching them devour tragedy and generate instability through twitter, is a sight I don’t think I’ll ever forget.

If we get through the summer, and the Tories hold on we could begin to sanity restored but the risk posed by Murray, McDonnell and Corbyn is very real and they view a nation in crisis as their 1917 moment, and we may not have sufficient institutional resilience to prevent it.

Its not the suffering of the poor that creates political instability. We are ignored. Inequality is by consent, everyone chose this over a long period of time and now they will do anything to avoid recognising that including handing democracy to a bunch of violent Oxbridge thugs. Its notable that as our inequality crisis reached its peak, our biggest source of political risk was demonstrating how completely elite social closure of the power of labour itself and a complete undoing of the enfranchisement of the working class, as  movement to restore hope.

 

It may well be under all this chaos there are good things. The extreme right have burnt out, there is no way to say the British public have not comprehensively rejected them repeatedly. The country is crying out for a new political consensus. BUt we have to get to the end of the summer. We have to make it through as a democracy. We have to move past the Toytown trot thugs, and that’s not going to be easy. It may not be possible. By autumn hard brexit plus austerity will be electoral poison and it may be that the hope comes in what both political parties have to do to make amends for this summer.

A long, hot, summer.

So I can hardly focus on what happened since last time. There have been two terrorist attacks, and an appalling Tory campaign which blew the myth of a British public craving the far right. Labour’s manifesto paid for a tuition fee bribe with welfare cuts, and Corbyn and Co now feel they are on their way to Downing Street. There are alarming signs, there really are, people are tied. System failure is becoming evident to everyone and its difficult to ascertain the extent of it but the system failure I know of covers social care, child protection and our cash transfer system and it is the result of a central belief system shaping institutions it cannot see. Corbyn and Co have continued to demonstrate how austerity would be used to create complete elite social closure of the power of labour, and are now trying to generate enough instability to take the country. Which is bizarre because they will probably win an election if they dont, although they appear to believe they won last weeks.

A summer of Corbynmania means a summer of threats, intimidation and a very serious unstable elite left showing the country what they are made of but this could be the new Trump. Putin is out of options, Trump is being investigated, and Le Pen lost. The dickhead spring has fizzled out and Putin only has one card left with the views required to be a threat to the EU and NATO and that is us. Jezwecan. Its not absolutely clear at this point if the British public are tired from the system failure the labour left prevented us examining, and the Labour Party moderates are happy for a democratic centralist cult who rely on abuse, intimidatoin and gaslighting to be normalised. Journalists like Abi Wilks are pretending to the public they have not seen their friends being terrorised and everyone is being sold cuddly Uncle Jez.

Renfell Tower had not finished burning and Uncle Jez had apparently diagnosed a cause of fire without the fire even being out, and even as people were escaping, injured, beig taken to hospital, dying, he decided to exploit the tragedy by declaring a cause to the fire and using it to gain political points. John McDonnell, who is clear parliament is a tactic and he has been waiting his whole life for this kind of instability has ‘summoned the Unions’ to assist him in bringing a million people to the streets. He has spotted the pond we are all skating on has cracking ice and has started to jump up and down in the hope there will be warm water underneath. The pampered fantasies of a man whose only purpose has to provide an obnoxious and dangerous seal to the Labour Party.

We don’t have a government, although a deal is being done with the DUP who are appalling but not the 1980’s caricature we knew. I find myelf in the very new position of hoping the Tories can pull it together. Silver Linings: Tories have to find solutoins to our social care, and welfare crisis, now. Hard Brexit and the perception we wanted it, is done. While Corbyn and McDonnell try to sabotage them, there are talks going on between the Conservatives and Labour about compromise to achieve stability and a sane Brexit. I have a strange feeling we will end up with a far right, hard left coalition, trying to stymie Brexit and make it hard and threatening to the EU, with Labour offering bribes to middle class students, and the Tories coming over all soft and cuddly and working with other centrist MPs. We are in a major political realignment. Its not like last year or the year before where you knew were in a state of anticipation, air still till the tension broke. Tension broke. Completely. We are now in the serious stages of crisis and because people don’t know or understand how serious this is, they can only see the Tories and the need to get them out. Because journalists like Abi Wilks and Owen Jones have told people Corbyn et al are harmless they do not recognise political risk in him and the Guardian, New Statesman and the MPs abused last summer have bended the knee.

I have been abused all week, and its bizarre to realise that that abuse is not only sanctioned by a political party, its done on their behalf, and everytime Corbyn catches cold a woman has to sneeze. Or be swarmed, abused and threatened. I find myself for the first time praying the Tories hold it together and other parties can work together. The British public dealt with the far right, and this is now our only defence against the hard left.

Power relations are being exposed ad the reality of inequality and its hard to believe the scale of what happened at Grenfell Tower. In years to come this will be an important period to study am sure, but livig through it is terrifying. Truth is dead. Truth is gone. Rule of law has been undermined by government. Selling democracy is a hard thing post austerity. and the same culture I documented here manufacturing a fake anti-cuts movement so they could help sell austerity, are ready to be our biggest risk. I wish I had a window into the future.

I am really lucky, I can usually see long term shifts, often before other people. I cant see past the end of the summer. I dont know what happens now. Crisis upon crisis which expose the inherent contradictions in systems, as well as generating institutional resilience and new goals. This is it. The cold water started, hold your nose. The unraveling is almost done and now we are in the chaos where we must forge a new settlement. And hope the chaos can be stabilised. The world is looking at us, quite rightly, as a source of instability and risk, and we will stabilise or we will be contained.

Chaos reigns?

There are two things that people cannot see. We can’t see power dynamics and we can’t see what maintains stability. You shouldn’t be consciously aware of either of these things, because if you are, it means something is up. Power is diffuse, power relations are expressed in a million subtle ways, in our intimate relationships, our family relationships, institutional relationships…even international relations. We like power relations to be the grease that allows the engine to function and the only time we are aware of those power relations is when they are dysfunctional, usually abusive. MOst abusive reflexes are just extensions of normal relations gone wrong, and when we find ourselves in dysfunctional and abusive situations our understanding of power reconstructs. We can’t do anything to stop it when this happens, it has to play out and we relearn what normal power relations are and accommodate this new information about what harmful relationships are. Same goes for stability. We generally do not pay attention to the things that keep us stable, we take them for granted. If we are consciously aware of what keeps us stable, it is because there is crisis and that stability is no longer something we can take for granted.

 

The UK was a very stable country. We have been stable for a long time, power relations in our society are mediated by a complex set of institutional relationships we dont pay attention to. I once worked with a woman at a jobcentre and she told me my job was to keep doing my job, with the same people, in the same building, using the same equipment, no matter what the political change. She told me that departments would split, rejoin and separate out again and my job was to be stability and to keep working with the same people, the same buildings, the same reasons, and that was the point of being a civil servant. In 2010 we started to use our social policy institutions, the institutions that form part of the Crown estate as the Civil Service, to abuse people. En masse. Welfare policy, local authority cuts, driven by a central belief system blind to the twentieth century, was used to abuse people. And we caused a reconstruction in peoples understanding of power. It has destroyed the Labour Party. Their attempt to be the party that bridged inequality and represented us couldn’t survive this, they unleashed the elite left onto austerity, and now we have no parliamentary opposition because a hard left cult I have detailed endlessly in this blog have taken the party. There is an election in June which they will lose. Badly. It could be as bad as 1931.

We used social policy institutions abusively and now we have no parliamentary opposition. Every internal contradiction in the Labour Party structure has been exposed by them trying to straddle the divide austerity created, and we are seeing the death of the liberal class circa 2017 through their implosion and it is playig out live on twitter. A culture who were reliant on hierarchies to maintain their ignorance now publish on the same platform as those they wish to rule. We have a property bubble, upheld by funny money that saw London as a safe haven then we voted to Leave the EU and we may as well have flushed Canary Wharf like its a toilet(to be fair, it is).

We took the leash off the politics of hate, and the irrational outrage spun by tabloid media, it seemed the perfect way to avoid addressing what the financial crisis was telling us. We applied market orthodoxy to institutions, hollowing them of their primary output and weakening them. We undermined the rule of law with welfare policy shaped by a tiny isolated culture who simultaneously moved onto twitter. Our entire political media and policy making culture moved into a chatroom and exposed the dynamics that shape their world and their disconnection with ours. I never noticed the referendum being announced, it seemed a minor thing. I couldn’t fathom we would leave the EU, and then we did. I have to be honest I was elated at 4am on the morning of the Brexit vote, I had never seen a political punch like it. But now we start to pay for that punch.

We generate crisis efficiently. That’s what people do. We generate crisis. The word efficient is misleading, because what we do is generate crisis which expose the things we need to address.  We have generated a crisis which is going to expose the inherent contradictions at the heart of our central economic orthodoxy, a crisis which is going to expose the weakness in our institutions. Weakness we didn’t notice before, because we were stable. Market orthodoxy hollowing out institutions for thirty years could not go on forever. Financialisation could not bring the working population into the welfare system in ever increasing numbers. Something had to give. We have done what people have done since time began, and we have generated crisis to expose inequality and potential for instability. We have so many potential sources of instability I lose track.

Had the Labour left allowed us to discuss social care, our benefits system, and the austerity that was subject to consensus, we might have had a chance to address what is now about to happen. Instead we have multiple system failure. Social care is collapsing, local authorities are failing, we have a punitive child protection system which cannot co-exist with one which protects children, Universal Credit is evidence of system failure at the DWP, if the last seven years wasn’t enough. We have rape clause, and the cumulative impact of seven years of welfare cuts, as the latest round hit home this is crisis. All these crisis are coming together at once. None of these crisis can be avoided.

We are unprepared for Brexit. Hardly surprising given noone who offered that referendum had a single clue how we would achieve it. Last night the opening shots were fired in the divorce and everyone is shocked that Brussels won’t play clean. While Marie Le Pen threatens Europe and Trump offers the spectre of a cross Atlantic fascist coalition.

If I am correct, each shock we now experience should illustrate a little bit more of how our system is connected, what maintains stability, how power relations are mediated. This multi-faceted crisis should expose internal contradictions in our systems quite efficiently, probably generating institutional resilience at the same time. Efficiently doesn’t mean neat. When I started this blog I was beginning to be aware the post war settlement was unravelling. I wish I had been wrong.

I read Keynes and I read Hayek and I can feel the panic and the fear, I can see through their work how their understanding of power is reconstructing as a response to world events. We misunderstood what they said somewhere along the lines and decided they were both representative of a version of theoretical economics which is ravaging our political economy on behalf of a sealed off culture who don’t know how our institutions work. It would appear we are to be given the crisis which shaped these men’s words, and the opportunity to reexamine them. The opportunity to learn about stability and what maintains it, about inequality and power relations and how to prevent them becoming abusive. We don’t get to learn this and make adjustments to functioning systems, we get to learn this as systems break down and we have to cope. We generate crisis efficiently. Sometimes the most efficient way from a to b is through a wall. We get to learn about instability and inequality but that learning is not going to be pretty.

Am going to appropriate the words of a black women…

”I said, in an interview, that trans women are trans women, that they are people who, having been born male, benefited from the privileges that the world affords men, and that we should not say that the experience of women born female is the same as the experience of trans women.

This upset many people, and I consider their concerns to be valid. I realize that I occupy this strange position of being a ‘voice’ for gender rights and so there is an automatic import to my words.

I think the impulse to say that trans women are women just like women born female are women comes from a need to make trans issues mainstream. Because by making them mainstream, we might reduce the many oppressions they experience.

But it feels disingenuous to me. The intent is a good one but the strategy feels untrue. Diversity does not have to mean division.

Because we can oppose violence against trans women while also acknowledging differences. Because we should be able to acknowledge differences while also being supportive. Because we do not have to insist, in the name of being supportive, that everything is the same. Because we run the risk of reducing gender to a single, essentialist thing.

Perhaps I should have said trans women are trans women and cis women are cis women and all are women. Except that ‘cis’ is not an organic part of my vocabulary. And would probably not be understood by a majority of people. Because saying ‘trans’ and ‘cis’ acknowledges that there is a distinction between women born female and women who transition, without elevating one or the other, which was my point.

I have and will continue to stand up for the rights of transgender people. Not merely because of the violence they experience but because they are equal human beings deserving to be what they are.

I see how my saying that we should not conflate the gender experiences of trans women with that of women born female could appear as if I was suggesting that one experience is more important than the other. Or that the experiences of trans women are less valid than those of women born female. I do not think so at all – I know that trans women can be vulnerable in ways that women born female are not. This, again, is a reason to not deny the differences.

Why does this even matter?

Because at issue is gender.

Gender is a problem not because of how we look or how we identify or how we feel but because of how the world treats us.

Girls are socialized in ways that are harmful to their sense of self – to reduce themselves, to cater to the egos of men, to think of their bodies as repositories of shame. As adult women, many struggle to overcome, to unlearn, much of that social conditioning.

A trans woman is a person born male and a person who, before transitioning, was treated as male by the world. Which means that they experienced the privileges that the world accords men. This does not dismiss the pain of gender confusion or the difficult complexities of how they felt living in bodies not their own.

Because the truth about societal privilege is that it isn’t about how you feel. (Anti-racist white people still benefit from race privilege in the United States). It is about how the world treats you, about the subtle and not so subtle things that you internalize and absorb.

This is not to say that trans women did not undergo difficulties as boys. But they did not undergo those particular difficulties specific to being born female, and this matters because those experiences shape how adult women born female interact with the world.

And because to be human is to be a complex amalgam of your experiences, it is disingenuous to say that their being born male has no effect on their experience of gender as trans women.

Of course there are individual differences. But there are always individual differences. We speak of ‘women’s issues’ knowing that while there are individual differences, the truth of human history is that women as a group have been treated as subordinate to men. And we speak of male privilege acknowledging that individual men differ but that men as a group are nevertheless accorded privileges by the world.
I think of feminism as Feminisms. Race and class shape our experience of gender. Sexuality shapes our experience of gender. And so when I say that I think trans women are trans women, it is not to diminish or exclude trans women but to say that we cannot insist – no matter how good our intentions – that they are the same as women born female.

Nor do I think that we need to insist that both are the same.

To acknowledge different experiences is to start to move towards more fluid – and therefore more honest and true to the real world – conceptions of gender.”

 

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
~CNA