Another Zombie Falls off the Roof
by Sean Gabb
It is, I think, a year since I last wrote anything about British politics. This is not because I have been idle. During the past twelve months, I have written or published eight books. Three of these have been substantial novels, and two of the novels are overtly libertarian. This alone might absolve me from my duty, as Director of the Libertarian Alliance, to give a running commentary on the issues of the day. But the real cause is that I am, for the moment, tired of watching how this country is governed. I feel less inclined to denounce than simply to look away.
What catches my attention, though, is the case of Liam Fox. He was, until made to resign a few days ago, the civilian head of our armed forces. Even by the low standards of British politics, he was useless in the job. His strategic choices were all made in Washington. His spending choices followed every shift in the balance of power between multiple and irreconcilable interest groups. Not surprisingly, he continued sending our men off to be shot at in places like Afghanistan – shot at for no reason he understood or dared state, and often shot at with no armour on their bodies and with P45s waiting in their post.
But, if he caught my attention, he also reminds me why I have mostly chosen to look away. He is worse than the run of his colleagues because he has blood on his hands. In himself, he is no worse than any other Minister. They are all stupid or corrupt or both. This is because every single Member of Parliament is stupid or corrupt or both – and is this by design. No one else is allowed in. The scandals that, every so often, end careers and maintain the lie of accountability have only two causes.
The first is that someone has broken the deal. If he obeys, he can have sex with people who would not otherwise look at him. He also gets the chance to puff out an already inflated salary with bribes and fraudulent expense claims. If he fails to obey, his previous corruptions are fed to the newspapers. The second is that many of these people are just like zombies on a rooftop – every so often, one shambles too close to the edge and falls over. I will assume that the second applies to Liam Fox – but, if he looks like a timeserver who would never dream of breaking his deal, I could easily be wrong.
I have no idea what is to be done about this. I have explained at some length why things are so awful, and how a patriotic government could make them better. What I cannot explain is how to get a patriotic government. Except at the margin, elections change nothing. Only vetted and controlled candidates are allowed to win elections. Outsiders are either mad in the first place, or systematically hobbled. Preaching at the powers that be is a waste of time – these people are not, or do not regard themselves as, our fellow citizens. They are already getting too much of what they want to be swayed by considerations of expediency.
Sometimes, I rather like the idea of a military coup. The problem here is that, while, set beside the trash who employ them, they are moral and intellectual giants, I have yet to meet any soldiers who strike me as up to the job of seizing power. Sometimes, I tell myself that the system will eventually become so obviously evil, and so obviously incompetent, that it will rot away by itself, and be replaced by new and voluntary institutions. But I have never believed this longer than half an hour.
For what it may be worth, my present view is that things are not yet bad enough to provoke radical change. Doubtless, anyone brought forward from about 1960, and given time to see past our electronic toys, would be shocked by what has happened. Even so, things are still better here than virtually anywhere else. I think it is the managers of Tesco who claim, on the basis of what they sell, that there are twenty million illegal immigrants in this country. I know from experience that you can sometimes walk for an hour in South East London and not see an English face. But, whatever else may be said about it, the scale of this immigration – and not only from the usual slagheaps – indicates that we have some way yet to go before people think it worth pulling Ministers out of their cars and disembowelling them in the street. By then, I expect that a solution will have suggested itself. Search me, though, what this will be.
But I return to the case of Liam Fox. As said, he has not just squandered oceans of our money. He also has blood on his hands – the blood of our soldiers, and the blood of foreign civilians. This does not incline me to sympathy. He has directed his adult life to getting something that he will now not have. He is rather like one of those male insects who flap and buzz on swarming day, but are not strong enough to reach and impregnate a female. I have no idea what these unfortunates think as they run out of energy and fall back to the ground, where they get their heads snipped off. But I do like to think this man has just enough intelligence to be unhappy.
I agree that gloating is not a positive response to the collapse of civilisation in England. But, until I can think of anything better, I plan to gloat hard and gloat often.