'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Friday, September 03, 2010

A Journey: The Twitter Version (Part 2) 

More from Chris Brooke (again, best read from the bottom up):

Blair, p. 653: I met a very bouncy Sarkozy at the start of his Presidential campaign and told him that he sounded like Napoleon.

Blair, p. 645: And on social exclusion, you shd concentrate on dysfunctional families, not on poor people or young people in general.

Blair, p.644: in these speeches I gave lessons to my successors, eg that to deal with the criminal underclass you need draconian powers.

Blair, p. 634: Twice I thanked God for the independence of the British judiciary, over cash for honours and the Hutton inquiry.

Blair, p. 607: Putting campaign donors in the Lords is a murky business, but it is the system as it has operated for a long, long time.

Blair, p. 602: But it wasn't that I didn't get public opinion on Lebanon, nor that I cdn't have articulated it... I didn't agree with it.

Blair, p.600: If I condemned Israel, it wd be more than dishonest; it wd have undermined the worldview I had come to hold passionately.

Blair, p. 598: In Sept 2006 I visited Beirut... Unsurprisingly, I was not popular with many Lebanese people.

Blair, p.597: The occupation of Palestinian land may be an injustice, depending on yr viewpt, but this is a region w plenty of injustices.

Blair, p. 596: Israel is a government with a well-armed & well-trained army & air force. They do not target civilians.

Blair, p. 594, on the Israel / Lebanon war in 2006: That event, & my reaction to it, prob. did me more damage than anything since Iraq.

Blair throws around stupid metaphors, p. 592: the bazooka of outrage, the blowpipe of ridicule.

Blair, p. 591: Politicians shag around bc of the supreme self-control you have to exercise to be at the top.

Blair, p.585, thinks abt pensions, wanting a framework that over time wd...tilt the responsibility for provision from state to individual.

Blair, p. 577: Academies were great, because they were freed from extraordinarily debilitating & often politically correct interference.

After wading through these tweets, I have a number of observations. First, Blair's reflexive support for Israel, and, by extension, state violence generally, as expressed in similar remarks about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, is remarkable. One gets the sense that there is no act of state violence that he would condemn, including the use of nuclear weapons. Although he apparently does not address it, Blair's perspective on the wars in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan suggest he believes that the US use of nuclear weapons at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was appropriate, and would probably support their use again, such as, for example, in an attempt to destroy Iran's nuclear research and power program.

Second, Blair reveals himself to be an autocratic figure in the tradition of late 19th Century and early 20th Century progressives as it relates to the working class and lower income people. He believes that workers should pay their own pensions with no state assistance, placing him squarely among those in the US who want to reduce Social Security and Medicare benefits, and consistently describes the lives of many low income people in pathological terms. Recall his comment, posted here yesterday: The right-wing phrase, underclass, was ugly, but it was accurate. People at the bottom had dysfunctional lives, full stop. Today, we get more elaboration: to deal with the criminal underclass you need draconian powers.

In this, Blair brings to mind the perpetual urban renewal efforts of the last century, most prominent in the 1930s and 1960s. Such efforts were usually justified by reference to the purported urgency of eliminating blight, an antiseptic term that identified lower middle income and low income communities as disease infested, crime ridden areas that must be destroyed so that they could be replaced by modern middle class neighborhoods. As a result, many vibrant lower middle income and lower income communities were forever lost, with their residents cast to the winds. Most recently, as noted by Yusef, the same sad transformation has taken place in post-Katrina New Orleans.

But Blair is more aggressive in his approach as he approved the installation of public surveillance equipment, greater police power and increased criminal penalties. In this, he again acted upon his adoration of the US, which has pioneered such measures as a solution to social disorder. Hence, he perceives the state as beset by threats from within and without, an international Islamic insurgency that will take decades to overcome, and an internal class of lumpenproletarians that invariably threaten to disrupt the lives of its citizens if not strictly controlled. While not explicit, he seems to perceive immigration as something that intensifies both threats, as he elsewhere states that the post-Holocaust asylum policy was no longer tenable. In effect, Blair possesses an extreme vision of a utopian, middle class consumer society, perhaps even more extreme than the one promoted by Thatcher and Reagan, as Blair lacks the residue of libertarian values, however slight, that motivated them. Of course, it can only be implemented by recourse to coercion and violence, which he readily embraces.

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