Saturday, 14 March 2015


A cup of tea, how very British!

You'll probably have heard the expression "two cheeks of the same arse" to describe the false political dichotomy of two "centrist" parties offering themselves up to the electorate and producing the usual effluence.

This is almost always the case in US elections, and it has certainly been the case in UK elections, where the "centre right" Conservative Party and the "centre left" Labour Party typically contest power. Except that it's not really power, because whichever party gets in, only gets in by twisting itself into whichever awkward shape conforms best to the dimensions of the crucible of power.

This theoretical political space is defined not by the elites or the masses on their own, but by the coalescence of the perceived interests of both. Whether the Red Party or Blue Party, it is this that determines the nature of the political occupant, not the actual wishes of this segment or that segment of the electorate. Nor the elites. After all, their media power has its limitations.

In the period since WWII, this theoretical space has required a governing party subservient to the following list of items, organizations, and goals:
  • NATO
  • Globalism
  • EU
  • Economic Growth
  • Welfare State
These five elements represent the consensus that has defined the crucible of power for almost seven decades, a long period in anybody's book. Despite the occasional rise of opposing tendencies, they retain widespread popularity with both the elites and the masses. In the past those parties that veered away from them tended to lose elections. For example, Labour's flirtation with unilateral nuclear disarmament in the 1980s – a clearly anti-NATO policy – led to splits in that party and the ascendancy of Thatcher; whereas her unsympathetic approach to the welfare state undermined the Conservative Party’s popularity, and prepared the way for the rise of Tony Blair’s New Labour in 1997.

Prominent Labour politician at CND meeting in 1981.
Let us consider each item of the Crucible of Consensus in turn:

NATO: Up until 1990, this was obviously an important organization serving a vital function, namely the prevention of Soviet domination of Europe. After the collapse of the Warsaw Pact and the disintegration of the Soviet Union, it lost its reason for existing.

The organization has no real purpose for a country like the UK, which is surrounded by sea and non-hostile neighbours. However, in recent years, the perception of "international danger" has been bolstered by the rise of militant Islam and the exaggeration of a few terrorist incidents, even though these are more an immigration and policing problem than a rationale for participation in a geopolitical military alliance. Because of this, it perhaps makes more sense to see other factors in the continuing support for NATO, such as subservience to America, the economic interests of the British armaments industry, and displaced feelings of racial unease outsourced to places where Muslims can be lawfully blown to smithereens. This latter point, by the way, is something that Britain's Muslims seem to have an instinctive grasp of.

GLOBALISM: This has a long history in the UK, although in the past it was generally associated with ideas of free trade and exporting British manufactures. Nowadays, ironically, support for globalism is based on Britain’s inability to compete with foreign manufacturing and the attendant importance this gives to Britain’s service economy, in particular the financial services of the City of London. Without this, support for Globalism would be much weaker.

EU: This economic and increasingly political union has been in high standing with the elites and masses because it was seen as an economic corollary to NATO, and also as a way to support the City and Britain's globalism. In recent years, a counter current of thought and feeling has gained strength, but is still a minority position.

There is a widespread belief that, without UK membership, London would lose its place as a global financial hub. This is connected to the more general idea that Britain could be "shut out" of the European economy if it "went it alone." In other words, most British support for the EU is of the negative sort and therefore based on fear.

In past centuries, Britain's main political objective was always to prevent the union of Europe under one strong power. British support for the EU is a modern variant of this policy.

GROWTH: Economic Growth is something that both elites and masses have long agreed on, although the British economy has lost much of the reason for continued growth with the decline of its manufacturing industries.

The situation is identical to a body builder who has stopped exercising still being interested in increasing his body mass – simply not healthy. Elites already have enough, while, for the masses, continuing economic growth simply means working harder at ever ever more meaningless occupations while finding some way to parasitically support this within the wider global economy. Despite this, Britain remains addicted to the notion of continuous economic growth. This is possibly due to the extremely materialistic outlook of its people and culture.

Along with globalism, this is also one of the drivers of mass immigration, and in its epicentre, the ugliness it creates is obvious – giant class carbuncles tear the sky, while in their shadows the native population is reduced to an ever smaller minority in a metropolis whose demographics mirror a death camp.

"The Shard" candidate for architectural monstrosity of eternity.
WELFARE STATE: This is perhaps the most interesting item on this list. The Welfare State has always been extremely popular with the British working classes, but less so with the elites. It was developed and expanded mainly as a sop to the lower classes, in which it has been relatively successful.

One reason Britain rose to economic greatness was because of the far higher productivity of its people in comparison to other populations around the world. As Gregory Clark has pointed out in A Farewell to Alms (2007) the foundation of British economic greatness was the capacity of the British worker to be over exploited more than almost any worker elsewhere. Such over-exploitation created a counter current of belief in charity and welfare for the victims of this process that finally culminated in the creation and expansion of the Welfare State.

In an age of materialism, Britain’s Welfare State has almost become the state religion. The elite have now come to accept the Welfare State because it is seen as the easiest way to pacify the masses and deceive them into thinking that the class war is over.


One important item that is not on the above list is anti-immigration. This policy has always been very popular with the masses, but much less so with the elites, who see it as compromising other aspects of the Crucible of Consensus, especially globalism, the EU, and growth.

Mass immigration has played a significant role in pushing down wages and pushing up property prices, a clear gain for the wealthy elite. The main cost, of course, is increased pressure on welfare, but this was designed as a sop to the lower classes anyway, so this is effectively a cost borne by the masses, not the elites.

Some elements of the elite – Jews, for example, but also Anglo-Scots, Gays, and Labour Party politicians – will have other, more specialized reasons for viewing mass immigration positively.

Another significant characteristic of anti-immigration sentiment is that it is problematic for the dominant secular, egalitarian, and humanistic culture of the UK. This means that it can never be properly discussed on its own terms, which would include assertions of national identity based on race, but must always be talked about in terms of cost-benefit, wider economic impacts, and international self image. Despite its popularity with a great many people it is essentially delegitimised by British political cultural. For this reason, it is also the most displaced element in the British political equation, feeding into other aspects of political expression and assuming other forms, such as anti-EUism.

Counter Currents

The UK election which will be held in less than two months is shaping up to be a particularly interesting one. This is because the old "two cheeks" pattern is suffering severe wobbles – and quite a bit of gas! The latest standings of the parties are as follows:
  • Labour 34%
  • Conservative 33%
  • UKIP 14%
  • Lib Dems 8%
  • Greens 6%
  • Others 6%
The race is also notable for the rise of the Scottish National Party (SNP) in Scotland, which has formerly served as a voting bloc for Labour, with almost 50 Labour MPs to only one Conservative. Recent polls in Scotland suggest the SNP will wipe Labour out north of the border, and this may result in the SNP forming part of a coalition government.

Nigel Farage: saint or sinner?
Another drain on Labour's support is the Greens. UKIP, by contrast, seem to be mainly eating into Conservative support. Any additional gains that Nigel Farage might make will likely come at the cost of Cameron and cost him the election.

While NATO, Globalism, the EU, Growth, and Welfare represent the Crucible of Consensus, there also exist counter currents of varying strengths pushing against those political shibboleths.

This goes a long way to explaining the rise of various "third parties." In the past, the Liberals (later Lib Dems) were the party that best harnessed these counter currents and turned them into votes and a handful of Westminster seats. But while these counter currents have strengthened in recent years, the Lib Dems have not. Partly this is because other they have been compromised by their hunger for political power, and partly because other parties, like the Greens, the SNP, and even UKIP have stolen their thunder. In order of importance the main counter currents are:
  • Anti-EU feeling
  • Anti-NATO feeling
  • Anti-Growth feeling
  • Anti-Globalism feeling
There is no significant counter current against the Welfare State, which is now established as the unofficial secular state religion of the UK.

While UKIP has benefitted from the swell in Anti-EU feeling, the Greens have benefitted from the less important Anti-NATO and Anti-Growth trends. Anti-Immigrant sentiment, because of its delegitimized nature in the political discourse, feeds into all the other counter currents, although part of it also feeds into pro-NATO feeling: a powerful military response to distant and irrelevant "enemies," like ISIS, serves as a substitute for more problematic racial relations at home.

The Shape of Things to Come

What we are watching in the UK is not the free, democratic expression of the people's will or anything so naive and childish. What we are seeing is the gradual and largely blind process of political evolution of a socio-cultural entity in relation to shifting economic, geopolitical, and internal social realities.

How things will develop can perhaps be dimly inferred by considering the actual utility of the existing Crucible of Consensus. For example the usefulness of NATO has declined and is at present defunct. Problems in the Middle East are a mere sock puppet show to persuade us that the grand drama of British security continues.

Britons worshipping socialized medicine.
While the progressive decline of the West and the rise of power in the East may partially revive a need for NATO, Britain's interests would be better served by isolationism or membership of a European-centred military organization. NATO won't be able to remain part of the Crucible of Consensus indefinitely, except as an indice of Britain's colonial status in an American Empire.

Globalism in the UK will continue to derive its strength from the position and status of the City of London as a global financial capital. But technology and long-trends trends will work against this, as will increasing regional resentment against London. For this reason, Globalism will decline in the British political equation, and will eventually lose its place.

Although now it is the most unpopular aspect of the Crucible of Consensus, the EU actually has more potential utility for serving Britain's real interests than either NATO or Globalism, which are essentially just remnants of a former imperial past. A reformed EU could continue to play an important role for Britain, both in an economic and security sense, so, in one form or another, it will continue to feature as part of the Crucible of Consensus.

Growth will continue to remain important in a secular and materialistic culture, but a growing awareness of the ecological and social problems this causes will dampen its appeal. The social divisiveness created by multiculturalism may also lead to an identitarian revival of spiritual values that may work against the naked materialism of homo economicus britannicus.

Despite its faults, the Welfare state will continue to be unchallengeable in the Crucible of Consensus, more so as people lose faith in economic growth as a purpose and indicator of social good.

With the evolution or eclipse of the existing factors in the Crucible of Consensus, there are also likely to be the inclusion of new factors. Anti-Immigration feeling, long a delegitimized and displaced element in the political equation, may be brought in from the cold and in time accepted by the elites.

There are two possible reasons for this. First, anti-immigration feeling is powerful and in its delegitimized and displaced form may cause real damage to the greatrer interests of the UK – for example, by leading to a rupture with the EU. Secondly, the main threat to Britain (or England as it may soon become) is Balkanization along racial and ethnic lines. As long as mass repatriation remains politically problematic, the only way to prevent this will be an anti-immigration policy combined with a culture of mass assimilation.

For these reasons, the future Crucible of Consensus of the British (or English) state may gravitate towards:
  • European Military Pact
  • Reformed EU
  • Anti-Immigration + Assimiliation
  • Economic stability
  • Welfare State (possibly limited)
If true, a party that reads the tea leaves and looks ahead stands to benefit from facilitating this destiny.

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