Tuesday, 11 October 2016
Why Brexiteers are silent about the slide in Sterling
Brexiteers are silent about the slide in Sterling. Why? Well, the simple answer is that we don't care. In volatile markets things can slide and keep sliding on the basis of deeply spurious reasoning. All it takes is a rumour or a scare for the scribblers to panic and then the ForEx computer algorithms kick in.
Much of this is being deliberately massaged by those who would like the markets to think a hard Brexit is on the cards. Things go up, things go down - but nobody makes any money if things stay the same. Somebody always profits from market volatility. Sooner or later it will become apparent that "hard Brexit" isn't true and the markets will self correct. Either way it doesn't matter. What it might suggest in the longer run is that the pound has been overvalued for a long time.
What it does mean though is a change. Some sectors lose, some sectors win. At some point a natural equilibrium will be reached where the value will bounce back to where it should be. On the other side we will see what things look like and build the new settlement on that.
All of this though is financial blather. As far as the average voter is concerned it makes sod all difference. We lived through what was supposedly the biggest financial crisis since forever in 2008 and various wild fluctuations ever since. For most of us, it makes no difference. All we know is that the UK economy has been stagnating for some time. The numbers on somebody's spreadsheet might say different but insofar as it makes a difference to our lives, it's all irrelevant. We want change.
My friend Jackart on Twitter says it best. "Democracy can cope with war, disaster, pestilence, and rival ideologies. What it cannot cope with is the ennui of an acceptable present". A theme explored on this very blog. Humanity thrives on renewal and reinvention.
The thing about centrist politics and a social democratic consensus is that it lends itself to managerialism that exudes politics in favour of technocracy. And that's ok for the most part in that managerial streamlining and homogenisation of trade does make us materially better off, but Mr Jackart chooses the right word. Ennui. Brexit is an expression of spiritual ennui. Affluenza if you like.
And that's where the illustration above comes into play. This hyper-regulated culture we have built leads to a broader apathy and spiritual atrophy which is not really noticeable until contrasted with immigrants from Eastern Europe. It's a dynamic I instantly recognise. We are raised no in the tradition of regulatory conformity and obedience to the point of uselessness.
It has actually gotten so bad that some of the more famous nightclubs of London have door searches and breathalysers - and punters queue up like cattle to be violated by a quasi-militia. We've even got to the point where people look for no smoking signs when lighting up outdoors, and office workers ring up facilities management for permission to open a window.
In this you have to ask how we could have ended up this way? The answer is that for all the petty regulatory intrusions on our lives there is a vast state which can afford to enforce it. I'm now pretty sure I break a regulation or by-law every time I leave the house simply by existing.
And this underpins our relationship with the state. Look at every sign in public spaces. Everything carries either a threat of imprisonment or a fine. Virtually everything that comes through my letterbox comes with rudely worded demands and threats. This ought to be intolerable yet we accept it.
What we have is a UK which is steadily becoming wealthier on paper but the benefits are not evenly distributed. London gets richer thus local authorities have more to spend - but the people themselves are not better off by their own estimations. And they are the best people to judge.
Having the state dictate who can be paid what and on what terms prevents people from organising their own affairs - from casual labour to childcare. For all the remainer reactionary ranting about losing our liberalism, the one thing that might make us more free to live our lives as we choose - and culturally reinvent - might actually be a period of government austerity.
That to my mind is what will ultimately secure Britain's future. Britain is globally renowned for its cultural exports from the Beatles to the rave revolution. Every single music revolution we have had has been central to a political reinvention. And that is pivotal to the UKs spiritual and cultural well-being.
In this I invite readers to watch this short sketch from Doug Stanhope, describing how the modern generation of youth is unbelievably conformist and sad. We are well overdue a cultural revolution that has parents worried once more about radical and uncontrollable youth. We need bored and skint kids creating things and fucking like rabbits. Spare us from the tedium of economic growth and prosperity!
This blog makes the case for an orderly transition out of the EU because I think that will be enough. But a big nihilistic part of me doesn't care either way just so long as we leave the EU. I really don't care about the freedom of some tosspot jet-setting stockbroker if it comes at the expense of a cultural and political reinvention. If austerity is what it takes then bring it on.
On the other side of this, however long it takes, we'll have a better, more liberal Britain and if we do it right we'll have put our ever more intrusive state back in its box. In the end, the only real way to do that is to starve it of money.
As to the economics of it all, I take the view that global trade has stagnated for a very long time. We have little in terms of material to export but one thing we do have is ideas and cultural exports - and so that reinvention is ultimately very necessary to our economic future.
I take the view that if you are not in control of your own trade policy then you are not in control of your economy. Now that we are leaving the EU the entire political apparatus is talking about trade for the first time in two generations. It is that which will drag us out of the doldrums, not some monolithic centralising authority that even remainers hate if they're honest about it. If Brexit means taking one step backwards to got two steps forward then it gets my vote.
In the end, Brexit was always a longer term punt. Just listening to James O'Brien demolish a rather vague Brexit voter on LBC tells us that Brits may not have understood the implications of Brexit but they did know it would mean a period of uncertainty and economic stress. They took the gamble anyway. They were rolling the dice on the basis that we can only gain from change. And that is the leap of faith I also make.
So go ahead. Have your mass panic about a currency slide, but for most of us it makes no tangible difference to our lives. We can and will adapt and in the end our quality of life will be better for it. The wealth of the nation is just numbers on a screen. The spiritual and cultural health of the nation is equally important and without periodic revolution we cannot count on maintaining our influence as a cultural centre of the world.
If the slow decline into managerialism under the watchful eye of CCTV everywhere you go is the wealth you dream of then you were right to vote to remain. I thank the lord that that the majority of people think otherwise. The next few years will be interesting and fun. Our lives will change and we will be better because we rise to new challenges. Every improvement in my life was when circumstances have shifted me out of my comfort zone. Imagine what might happen if it happens to everybody all at once?