His bleak interregnum
By Richard Marshall.
A New Kind of Bleak: Journeys Through Urban Britain, Owen Hatherley, Verso 2012
Verso have this: ‘In A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain, Owen Hatherley skewered New Labour’s architectural legacy in all its witless swagger. Now, in the year of the Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics, he sets out to describe what the coalition’s altogether different approach to economic mismanagement and civic irresponsibility is doing to the places where the British live.
In a journey that begins and ends in the capital, Hatherley takes us from Plymouth and Brighton to Belfast and Aberdeen, by way of the eerie urbanism of the Welsh valleys and the much-mocked splendour of modernist Coventry. Everywhere outside the unreal Southeast, the building has stopped in towns and cities, which languish as they wait for the next bout of self-defeating austerity.
Hatherley writes with unrivalled aggression about the disarray of modern Britain, and yet this remains a book about possibilities remembered, about unlikely successes in the midst of seemingly inexorable failure. For as well as trash, ancient and modern, Hatherley finds signs of the hopeful country Britain once was and hints of what it might become.’
The contrast between ruins and bleak is important. Ruins rot away, and there are attempts to understand their luminescences, memories and purposes. Nabakov talked about the uncanny life of debris. In his previous book Hatherley argued with the ideas and execution of the architectural visions of UK cities. The immodesty of the plans and the modest, in some cases disastrous, consequences generated the mood of the last book. He was disappointed and angry. The silence that hung over the whole performance was a silence of withering disapproval and contempt. It felt like a report from the garrisoned school ma’am we always liked and feared – the one who cared, who wanted us to do better and we always let down.
The new book has a different sort of mood. Something unshapely has crossed a tipping point. A kind of loathing dread inhabits the places we’re asked to look at. To make a thread that runs through its whole we grasp just a thick borderline of commuted, scummy substances, along which we walk, stalking the phenomenological whole and the scientific incision, bemused and lost, struggling to find a signpost. Hatherley is engaged with understanding the scenes. His point is simple. There is now neither conscience nor even consciousness in what the new administration is doing. Austerity is just a way of saying, ‘Fuck off, I can’t be bothered with you.’
In Tarkovsky’s Zone Stalkers guide pilgrims to the room where their deepest desires are met. The Zone is dangerous and alive. Stalker guidance consists in a symbiotic relationship between the Zone mind and the Stalker mind. A Stalker throws pebbles in white handkerchiefs and receives the invisible guidance of the place. But were the Zone to go insane, then there would be no guidance, and pilgrims would be tormented by their own longings forever. We now have entered this unhinged desert. Whereas before we stumbled around trusting oblique signs, now there is only something much less. Now, no one is doing more than remembering the early civility, mercifully preserving their bones and trying not to piss on ashes.
The insanity of the Zone forms a deforming, wretched Hydriotaphia. The Olympic torch shifts like a dim urn of abstract fire. It is brought into Luton by Lewis Hamilton. He left the country in order to not pay taxes. Although he refused to pay for the Olympics he feels no shame in being given a lead role in it. This is strange and nasty. Hatherley’s book shows how the new Tory/Whig alliance is just a cracked actor to whom the UK is beyond. Outside its sanatorium it has no interest in what happens. Hamilton’s offense is just a visible sign.
Hamilton lives in Switzerland. In Davos there are 70 billionaires. They are way out of his league, but as a paltry and corrupt tax dodger he belongs with them. 36,000 people own 1/3 of the UK. Austerity measures are imposed by the Tory/Whig alliance on a large population who own little. The top 1000 people in the UK are worth £414 billion (excluding cash they might have). This is more than a third of the national debt. There are 77 billionaires in that list. The NHS ran a debt of about £7billion in 2010. This is less than the amount owned by a single family at the top end of the rich list. The NHS needs £106 billion a year. A thousand families (out of a population of over 60 million) are worth four times the amount the NHS needs a year.
Lakshmi Mittal has shares in QPR. His family is worth £12.7 billion. Alisher Usmanov owns 27% of Arsenal FC. He is worth £12.3 billion. Roman Abromovich owns Chelsea. He is worth £9.5 billion. Sri and Gopi Hinduja are worth £8.6 billion. Optare, the bus company they own, is based in Leeds. The solicitors for the company are also in Leeds. They are DLA Piper UK LLP and are based in Princes Exchange, Princes Square. Its registered office is in Lower Philips Road, Whitebirk Industrial Estate, Blackburn. The Tory/Whig alliance announced further rounds of ‘green bus funding’ from which the company will vastly profit. ‘Green’ agendas are never what they seem with the Tory/Whig alliance. Virtue may sleep in this terra damnata were petty magic to spring it. Bones, hairs, nails, and teeth of the dead are the treasures of old sorcerers. Were their practices to be revived, avoiding the folly of forefathers, then this place may be completed. Optare has no such plans.
You can buy a two bedroom semi-detatched bungalow with a fitted kitchen, a wet room/wc, front and back garden, driveway and gas central heating in Blackburn for £30,000.
The government asks non-doms to pay £50,000 a year for the right to be domiciled here. The top thousand non-doms have at least £430 million. £50,000 is less than they pay for flower arrangements a week. London has one of the largest concentrations of non-dom plutocrats in the world. It is a result of deliberate government policy. The policy allows people to live here but not pay taxes on overseas income so long as you keep that income overseas or in tax havens. Only Monaco and Switzerland have anything vaguely resembling UK tax laws. Tyler Cowen of the blog Marginal Revolution calls the UK a ‘residential tax haven.’ Of the top twelve families and individuals in the rich list only two are citizens of the UK.
These plutocrats pay $240,000 for a sable coat, $319,000 for a yearling horse, $14.8 million for a Sikorsky helicopter. They pay $98,000 a week just for flowers arranged in six rooms. A week at the Golden Door Spa in California is $6,750. Shrinks cost $325 for 45 minutes. The UK government does not line up with the rest of the world with its tax arrangements for the non-doms. The non-doms come from places where they don’t have to pay taxes on what they spend here. Americans are not non-doms in London because they would still be taxed. London also has super-rich property owners who don’t live here. They buy property as hedge investments. Hence London property prices are insulated from the financial crisis and the slump in property prices everywhere else in the UK.
Sterling has declined in value. It had lost at one point recently 30% of value against both the Euro and the dollar. In the 1960’s, a devaluation of a paltry 14% was used to destroy Labour’s reputation for financial management. If you are buying without using sterling, property in London is a good investment. It only looks cripplingly expensive from a sterling perspective. London property is a bargain if you’re paying in Euros. Greeks first, then Arabs, Asians and Russians have used London property to hedge against problems that might occur back home. London property prices rose more than New York, Paris or Hong Kong last year.
These are not the 1%. Nor are they the 0.1%. They are the 0.01%. It costs over $56,000 a year to get tutored at Harvard. Education is a luxury good according to the Forbes list. We can smell the ordure when we consider Saif-Islam-Gaddafi, who David Runciman describes (before his father’s destruction) as ‘ … that emblematic figure of our times, with his doctorate from the LSE (‘The Role Of Civil Society in the Democratisation of Global Governance Institutions’), his charitable foundations, his extensive property portfolio, his playboylifestyle, his motley collection of friends (Peter Mandelson, Nat Rothschild, Prince Andrew), his ready access to Libya’s sovereign wealth fund, and his recently professed willingness to eliminate the enemies of his father’s regime one bullet at a time.’ He has been hosted at Buckingham Palace and Windsor castle. He claims Tony Blair was a personal friend.
When Cameron took his Tory/Whig alliance to war in Libya, it was a piece of PR. As a consequence, mercenary fighters for Gaddafi have subsequently left Libya and are currently taking down Mali. The Tory/Whig alliance is happy that no one is making this a story. The defeat of a dictator is the story they like us to like.
David Cameron asked taxpayers to pay over £21,000 for a second constituency home after taking out a taxpayer funded £350,000 mortgage in Oxfordshire whilst paying off the full £75,000 mortgage on his £1.5 million spread in North Kensington. This millionaire Prime Minister and leader of the Tory/Whig alliance comes from a very rich family and inherited his wealth. He supplemented his fortune by marrying a millionaire. Was he cheating when he asked people poorer than him for £21,000? A mystic says: ‘to burn the bones of the King of Edom for lime seems no irrational ferity, but to drink of the ashes of dead relatives seems a primative wrong.’ It is a salvo requiring the analysis of fire rather than the compounding of sun. This is written as a subsidence in fire’s coal, calx and ash.
Emile Levita was his great great grandfather, a director of the Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China with offices in Threadneedle Street in the City. He owned a grouse moor in Wales. His other great great grandfather was Sir Ewen Cameron, who worked for the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking (HSBC) cooperation. He helped Rothschilds sell war bonds during the Russio-Japanese war. Both Cameron’s grandfathers and his father were stockbrokers. His father Ian Cameron worked for Panmure Gordon.
David Cameron’s father was very wealthy. David Cameron thinks that his father was hard done by but heroically non-complaining. He is quoted as saying, ‘My father always used to say that nothing in life is fair, but he was of the view that you had to muck in and get on with things and deal with the difficult stuff that comes your way.’ Ian Cameron owned racehorses. His best horse was Hello trained by John Dunlop which won the Criterion Stakes in Milan. The median price of a racehorse today is just under £15,000. The average price to keep a horse in training per year is about £16,000. But a winner yearling costs more like £300,000. Ian and David Cameron talking about themselves ‘mucking in’ is comparable to Helena Bonham-Carter discussing the hardships of being a pretty, upper middle class white actress. When she did that Kathy Burke told Bonham-Carter: ‘shut up you stupid cunt’. That seems good advice for the leader of the Tory/Whig alliance too. It seems good advice for everyone in the alliance.
Ian Cameron married the daughter of Sir William Mount of Wasing Place. Sir William Mount was a lieutenant-colonel in the British Army, High Sheriff of Berkshire, educated at Eton and Oxford and was a director of the Miles Aircraft Company based in Woodley near Reading initially but which moved to Newtownards after the war in 1946. He stood trial in 1950 charged with making false and reckless statements in connection with the 1946 Miles share prospectus. The charges were thrown out before a defence was reached after 17 days, but it remains the case that the prospectus did claim the company was projected to make a profit of £75,000 when it actually was about to make huge losses.
The Wasing Estate was purchased by the London nautical publisher John Mount who built his mansion there in 1770. David Cameron’s second cousin Harry Mount is a journalist and advisor to Margaret Thatcher who wrote a book, A Lust For Windowsills, a guide to popular architecture. This year he published How English made the English – from Hedgerows to Heathrow which is about the English character and landscape. Kathy Burke should have a word with him too.
Ian Cameron established an offshore fund in the tax haven of Panama called Blairmore Holdings in 1982. It is worth £25million today. Ian Cameron set it up ‘to provide investors with steady long-term capital growth over and above the global rate of inflation… The affairs of the fund should be managed and conducted so that it does not become resident in the United kingdom for UK tax purposes.’ Ian Cameron was involved in several operations like this: Blairmore Asset management in Geneva, Close International in Jersey alongside Blairmore Holdings.
David Cameron’s wife is an Astor. Her stepfather Viscount Astor is worth £130 million. Her mother is Annabel Lucy Veronica Astor, the CEO of OKA Direct. Before that she was owner and designer of a business called Annabel Jones, a jewellery business. Her grandfather was chairman of Reuters. Her grandmother was the novelist who wrote National Velvet which was made into a film starring Elizabeth Taylor and The Chalk Garden starring Deborah Kerr and Hayley Mills. She lived in a house in Rottingdean which had once been owned by Edward Burne-Jones whose paintings were charged with the ethereal beauty and strangeness of dreams shorn of a dream’s incoherence. The grandmother was a lover of Frank Harris who was played by Robert Morley in a play about Oscar Wilde, by Jack Lemmon in the film Cowboy, Leonard Rossitor in a BBC play of the week, John Bennett in an Episode of The Edwardians and is a character in Tom Stoppard’s The Invention Of Love.
This grandmother attended Walter Sickert’s art school in Islington. This used to be in a building opposite the Highbury and Islington underground station and is marked by a green plaque. The Astors were the family that set up Clivedon as the centre of the pro-Nazi, pro-appeasement wing of the Tory party. George VI and the Queen Mother were part of this set, contrary to the lies of the King’s Speech film. Clivedon has a water tower completed by Henry Clutton. The sculpture on this is a version of the Spirit of Liberty of the Place de la Bastille in Paris. The Astors moved in five years after this was completed. The Profumo scandal started here when John Profumo met Christine Keeler. It is now a luxury hotel. Bed and breakfast rates are: club room £385.00, Classic Room £465.00, Deluxe Double room £565.00, Junior Suite £725.00, Deluxe Suite £920.00, Parterre Deluxe Suite £1,285.00 and Spring Cottage at £1,720.00 per night. On top of this a £10.10 National Trust admission fee is added to bills.
Carlos Slim is the richest man in the world. He owns $69billion. Bill Gates owns $61. Warren Buffett owns $44 billion. The richest woman is Christy Walton who has $25.3 billion. Liliane Bettencourt has $22 billion. Mark Zuckerberg is the thirty-fifth richest person in the world, owning $17.7 billion. Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft is worth $14.2 billion and the 48th. Aliko Dangote is the richest black guy at $11.2 billion. Paul Allen’s yacht is called Octopus. It is currently docked in Canary Wharf for the Olympics. It has a submarine. Roman Abromovich’s yacht is called Eclipse and is 557 ft long, has two swimming pools, two helipads, a cinema, a disco hall, 30 cabins, it also has a mini-submarine and its own missile defence system. Abramovich’s suite is armour plated, has bullet proof windows and a laser designed to dazzle long-lens photographers. Frank Lowy’s yacht is called Ilona. It is moored in the South Dock at Canary Wharf. The Harle is a charter yacht that is for hire at £143,000 a week, also docked at Canary Wharf. The superyacht Seanna is £294,000 a week. UK taxes pay for the massive security operation protecting the billionaires.
Mitt Romney, the American Republican Party presidential candidate, is throwing a Party during the Olympics at a secret venue in London. His wife has a horse, Rafaica, competing in the Olympics dressage. Republicans are currently organising in order to eliminate policies designed to help poor people. Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin advocates removing medicare. This will harm millions of poor people in the USA.
The USA is the place where it’s richest 400 families own as much as the bottom 150 million. One family alone, the six heirs of the Wall-Mart family, own more than the bottom 90 million people. This is approximately the bottom 30% of the entire population of the USA. The top 1% of the population of the USA own 40% of the total wealth in the USA. The bottom 60% of the USA own less than 2% of the total wealth. In the year 2009-2010, 93% of all new income created in the USA went to the top 1%.
The Koch brothers own 50 billion dollars and have spent $400 million to defeat Obama because they think Medicare is a free handout and that is socialism. The Federal Reserve has spent 17 trillion dollars on free hand-outs to the major financial institutions and banks all over the world but the Koch Brothers don’t think this is socialism. They don’t say why not. Kathy Burke should have a word with these two also. The Libor scandal is about the way these institutions have been illegally cheating for decades. The Tory/Whig alliance says it is hard on benefit cheats. There are few cheats bigger than those involved in Libor. Newspapers like the Mail, the Telegraph, the Sun, the Times suppport the Tory/Whig alliance, although they’d prefer the Whigs to go. They stir up issues to detract us from the plutocrats.
Forbes thinks that to count as rich requires a minimum personal wealth of a £100million. Prime Minister Cameron and his fellow Tory/Alliance cabinet members, and Tory Mayor Johnson, are well below this threshold. They work hard to be friends with people in the £100 million plus bracket. The New Statesman thinks £150,000 is the threshold of being rich. Prime Minister Cameron and his fellow Tory/Alliance members, and Mayor Johnson are well above this threshold. The average pay for men in the UK is £30,722 and £24,192 for women. The average salary for someone who has been working for 20 or more years is £39,050. The average salary for a waiter/waitress is £5,660. Secondary teaching professionals average at £35,166. The average director/chief executive of a major organisation averages £112,157. The London Mayor earns over £1.2 million a year. The New Statesmen threshold seems to ignore the 1%, the 0.1%; and the 0.01%. The public debate follows this willful blindness. The public debate mistakes the number of people factored into its figures with the amount of money this covers. Austerity makes sense when we leave the 1% alone. Yet the NHS was set up when the UK was in massive debt to the USA after WW2.
A show of night across the earth and every animal lies down, row upon row, an endless graveyard for a humanity struck by falling sickness. Saturn is connected to bile, a source of melancholia, depression, and this is part of W.G. Sebald’s world of The Rings of Saturn. In that book, the author wrote out of an inexplicable sense of loss. He asked – why am I unattached, why do I feel like this? His sense of living in the aftermath of a catastrophe is transferred. We inherit it. This sense is Hatherley’s ‘bleak’. The Tory/Whig alliance is the catastrophe, a fugue of lies and last days, where there is no sense and no purpose beyond a preoccupation to protect rich masters. They are like trained dogs.
There is no conscience in this. There is no conscience and no consciousness either. There is a loathsome sense of being abandoned, of there being nothing but an anarchic chaos outside of a ringfenced, protected zone where wealthy families hide out, insane in seething bubbles of vanitas. This loathing grows insidious and becomes a universal secret presence. The wealthy proclaim their right to freedom from the state so that they might do and have whatever they want. The Tory/Whig alliance protects them. Aptly, it is a science fiction writer who captures this. Kim Stanley Robinson writes of the plutocratic libertarians as ‘anarchists who want the police to protect them from their slaves.’ This captures our hallucinatory moment.
The dog days of miltarised London, walking out through the city and then further out still, Hatherley shows us there are worse things than bad plans. It’s worse when there are no plans at all. Instead of the unrealized and mediocre dreams of New Labour, the Tory/Whig alliance has released itself from the business of having to care at all. The Tory/Whig alliance has ‘… not created a specifically new space: nothing has been built in the new Enterprise Zones, few Free Schools have been planned, no Localist housing schemes are on the drawing board.’ Carefree, the Tory/Whig alliance has narrowed its concerns to those of its rich clients and funders. They promise the use of lethal force against disobedience. There are more British soldiers patrolling the London Olympics than there are in Afghanistan. The Major of London sees the use of soldiers on the streets of London as adding ‘tone’.
Life expectancy rates reflect the rich and the poor. Though all die, some die first. Roots of quinch wreath bones lain in ossuaries before graves or flames don’t decipher this. Life expectancy is highest in Kensington and Chelsea and lowest in Glasgow City. The gap between the local areas with the highest and lowest life expectancies increased between 2004–06 and 2008–10. The social class of an individual has been shown to have an effect on life expectancy. In a recent study it was shown that the greatest growth in male life expectancy at birth between 1982–86 and 2002–06 was experienced by those in the lower managerial and professional class (such as school teachers and social workers) at 5.3 years. The least growth was experienced by those in the two least advantaged classes (semi-routine and routine occupations), at 3.8 and 3.9 years respectively. At age 65 the gap in life expectancy between men in higher managerial and professional occupations (18.8 years) and those in routine occupations (15.3 years) was 3.5 years in 2002–06. Similar results were found for females. Yet the highest paid median salary for any group in the UK is that of mining and quarry workers.
Places in England and Wales where life expectancy for men is less than 77 years are: Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Merthyr Tydfil, Rhondda Cyon, Bridgend, Neath Port Talbot, Thanet, Greenwich, Tower Hamlets, Newham, Lewisham, Islington , Wolverhampton, Walsall, Sandwell, Birmingham, Stoke on Trent, Ashfield, Corby, Chesterfield, Nottingham UA, Leicester, Bradford, Doncaster, Barnsley, North East Lincolnshire, Kingstone Upon Hull, St Helens, Liverpool, Knowley, Rossendale, Preston, Hynburn, Burnely, Wigan, Tameside, Salford, Rochdale, Oldham, Manchester, Bolton, Halton, Blackpool and Blackburn with Darwen. Their ancient frugality is severe: these deaths are judged by wood. Tried by fire, they reveal bone and ivory. Their hardness and yellow hue resembles box, which were in old expressions nothing less than epithets of eternity.
Places in the England and Wales where life expectancy for men is 80+ years are: Eden, Craven, Hamleton, Ryedale, Rutland, Derbyshire Dales, Harborough, Melton, South Northamptonshire, Rushcliffe, Stratford on Aven, Solihull, Wychavon, East Cambridgeshire, Huntingdonshire, South Cambridgeshire, Brentwood, Castle Point, Chelmsford, Rochford, Uttlesford, Broxbourne, Dacorum, East Hertfordshire, St Albans, Three Rivers, Breckland, Broadland, South Norfolk, Babergh, Mid Suffolk, St Edmundsbury, Suffolk Coastal, Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster, Barnet, Bromley, Harrow, Kingston-on-Thames, Merton, Richmond-on-Thames, West Berkshire, Wokingham, all Buckinghamshire, Lewes, Wealdon, all eleven of Hampshire (except Gosport, Havant, Rushmore) , Ashford, Sevenoaks, Tonbridge and Malling, Tunbridge Wells, South Oxfordshire, Vale of White Horse, West Oxfordshire, all eleven of Surrey except Woking, Chichester, Crawley, Horsham, Mid Sussex, Bath and North East Somerset, South Gloucester, East Devon, Mid Devon, South Hams, Teignbridge, Torridge, Christchurch, East Dorset, North Dorset, Purbeck, Cheltenham, Cotswold, Mendip, Ceredigion and Monmouthshire. The cypress of the ark of Noah is the great vegetable. But these places omit the moor logs and fir trees found underground elsewhere. Undated ruins of winds, floods and earthquakes shame these, and generally lie as a symbolic rule in a northeast position, where coals might be found, the foundation of a great Ephesian temple.
Nowhere in N. Ireland is life expectancy for men 80 or above. In Armagh, Belfast, Cookstown, Derry, Larne, Limavady and Newry and Mourne life expectancy is below 77. Belfast is barely above 73. There they might fairly expect against the practices of Democritus to be buried up in honey, fearing the embezzlement of their great commodity which, in Europe, is a country. Hatherley would report this as a foreign correspondence.
Nowhere in Scotland is life expectancy for men 80 or above. Aberdeen City, Clackmannanshire, Dumfries and Galloway, Dundee City, East Ayrshire, Eileen Siar, Falkirk, Fife, Glasgow City, Highland, Inverclyde, Midlothian, Moray, North Ayrshire, North Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire, West Dunbartonshire and West Lothian all have life expectancy figures below 77 years. Sepulchral grounds for these are set at no higher rate than the mean salary of Judas Iscariot.
Women in all these places live longer than men. But as where the ashes of Domitian were mixed with those of Julia, Achilles with Patroclus, there are few single ashes. Without confusion affection compounds interred bones and the ashes of nearby friends are received. Collateral memories lie about them. Jugglers used to show tricks with skeletons.
Hatherley’s book presents an objective correlative of these bleak figures. I sometimes take issue with him. The ‘Building Schools for the Future’ initiative achieved more than it should have given that there was not enough money. Islington, for example, was given a paltry £144 million or so to rebuild ten secondary schools (not Academies, as Hatherley suggests – that was a different initiative). Many of the best schools built by the BSF initiative all cost over £50+ million. To have achieved those levels of success in Islington alone would have required £500+ million. Nor is Hatherley fair on consultants. Schools gained from consulting experts. The research of Becta, for example, gave invaluable guidance about how ICT might be best implemented in education.
The dismantling of Becta was the first sign that the Tory/Whig alliance had given up caring. Their children attend private schools like their parents. They hold thoughts too lightly about the mortality of those outside their charmed circle. Their children are cordoned off from those beyond. They refuse to know the hinting imagery of cypress, palms and olive, the mystical figures of peacocks, doves and cocks. Rather, they buy them up and do not even draw provocative mirth from anatomies, skulls and sepulchral lamps. They live in gated communities and schools and holiday abroad. These are strange cells with no more than sweetners all through but a land, nevertheless, of moles and pismires.
Last summer there were riots in the UK. There have been Occupy movements. Hatherley notes this. There are young people who rioted who have been sentenced to eighteen years imprisonment. One was imprisoned for stealing a bottle of water. The riots took place in zones far away from where the 1%, the 0.1%, the 0.01% live. There were young men with knives and some had guns. Unlike Abramovich on his yacht, however, none of them had missile systems.
The Tory/Whig alliance has imposed austerity measures on the 99% in the interest of the 1%. By diverting attention away from the 1%, political discussion is warped. Cheer leaders for this bleak aganda write of Cameron as middle class. Katie Middleton, who married into the Windsor Royal family, was described as a commoner. Pre-marriage, the Middletons lived in a £1million house in Berkshire and the three children went to expensive private schools costing about £250,000 each. The flat the Middletons bought their daughter in Chelsea is worth between £750,000 to £1million and there is no mortgage. They were nowhere near to being Forbes rich. They were above being New Statesman rich.
In Laertius and Plutarch memorable persons are given to dying more than once, making the tragical ends of nobles more favourably resented. The compassionate reader finds relief in these elected differences. Homer had an obscure grave. Euripides thought his tomb in Africa, his sepulture in Macedonia. Severus had his sepulchre in Rome, but an empty grave in Gallia. No one is wronged where no one is possessor.
The issue is not about whether rich people are good people or not. The issue is why the Tory/Whig alliance is not looking after the 99%. Why isn’t the US government? Why is political discussion not focused on this?
The speeches of politicians cause harm to the majority when they defend policies for the 1%. It is a species of hate speech. Hate speech is illegal. In his recent book, Jeremy Waldron writes that hate speech is speech that creates harm. The philosopher Brian Leiter worries that his analysis lacks a systematic theoretical framework but nevertheless believes it is a watershed.
In his review Leiter quotes Marcuse. Marcuse in ‘Repressive Tolerance’ wrote: ‘tolerance cannot be indiscriminate and equal with respect to the contents of expression, neither in word nor in deed; it cannot protect false words and wrong deeds which demonstrate that they contradict and counteract the possibilities of liberation. Such indiscriminate tolerance is justified in harmless debates, in conversation, in academic discussion; it is indispensable in the scientific enterprise, in private religion. But society cannot be indiscriminate where the pacification of existence, where freedom and happiness themselves are at stake: here, certain things cannot be said, certain ideas cannot be expressed, certain policies cannot be proposed, certain behavior cannot be permitted without making tolerance an instrument of the continuation of servitude.’
Hatherley has written a subtle, oblique anti-hate speech novel disguised as a J.B. Priestley extended essay. Laura Oldfield Ford illustrates it as a fellow Savage Messiah. His book is a guide to the great falling sickness of our present days. The architecture he examines is a sign of the continuation of servitude. It creates a landscape of almost unimaginable cynical depth. Hatherley has a thick-skinned hope, that this bleakness is ‘an interregnum, a time in which the new has not yet been born.’
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Richard Marshall is still biding his time.
First published in 3:AM Magazine: Wednesday, July 25th, 2012.