UK

United Kingdom, currently of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

insanity level: clockwork orange and up

Itʼs getting past the point.  Really.  For quite a while itʼs been cheaper, often, to buy things from Germany or the Netherlands, even France, and sometimes Spain, than from most businesses in the South of Scotland or England; and why?  Because of the increasingly insane deregulated UK postage and courier ‘industry’.  (Donʼt you loathe it when services get called ‘industries’ to make them sound like theyʼre real jobs?)

Itʼs also been increasingly an issue that eBay in particular now allows sellers to easily exclude areas without thinking about why – which almost always means everywhere North of Perth, West of ooooh Alexandria maybe, sometimes Galloway or Dundee but not Aberdeen, sometimes Paisley but not Greenock; and always means anywhere you need to get on a ferry, a plane, or cross a saltwater bridge to get to.

You kind of expect this from English sellers; and yes I know it includes English Islands too – Isle of Wight notably.  But thatʼs what I mean – England gives the impression of being so hugely divided you expect them to behave in an exclusionary manner towards each other.

But this time, I looked for one specific product on eBay, and itʼs a seller, in fact multiple sellers apparently (but I have reservations) in GLASGOW who a) wonʼt post to the Highlands and Islands, or any ‘offshore’ (whose shore?) part of the UK or associated territories – but, b) will post to the rest of the world, including specifically, Iceland.

The Wrong Anxieties

scottish and hypothetical ewnicish flags

I see David Cameron is getting round to supporting his supposed cause of unionism.  Or Brand Britain at least.  This is basically whatʼs wrong with the United Kingdom.  Itʼs not about a nation, in the sense of a group of people with something shared – however illusory.  Not according to the Tories and their ilk.  Itʼs a marketing opportunity.  A brand.  A way to allow shareholders to turn a profit.  That non-shareholders, and even the small scale shareholders, arenʼt now, nor will regularly in future, be getting anything worthwhile out of this is of no relevance.  Itʼs not even relevant that the large shareholders arenʼt from any particular part of Great Britain or its associated islands.  International capitalism requires successful brands, be it under Saʼudi, Chinese or British ownership, and the beneficiaries of the branding exercise are few and from around the world.

Well enough of it.  I had started out a couple of years ago assuming that the arguments for separation were mixed, which they are.  What has taken me by surprise is how abysmal the arguments for remaining in the UK are.  A reheated serving of romantic nationalism about a Britain that never was, but which has been getting increasingly ladled out by UK media for the last decade.  British sports, British baking, British monarchy, British reality TV, British I-donʼt-know-what-any-more.  You can tell that an identity is in trouble when it has to be so massively hyped, and that was before the referendum came over the horizon.  And underneath it, what?  More opportunities for the rich to become richer at the expense of everyone else.  I used to be amusedly tolerant of it, at least, so far as it wasnʼt the kind of malevolent Britishness of Ulster Unionism or British Imperialism and Nationalism.  After the last few years of brand exposure, Iʼm seriously sick of it.  Can has some clear headspace please?

politics in a cardboard cutout sense

Having spent most of my life alternately bored stiff of or driven to despair by the one-dimensionality of conventional descriptions of political thinking, I am interested to find a website based on an explicitly two-dimensional rather than one-dimensional analysis: The Political Compass.  Their two dimensions and many interesting graphs are stretched between poles of “social authoritarianism/libertarianism” and “economic left/right (or communism/neoliberalism)”.  So, from uselessly simplistic to descriptively two dimensional.  Not much of an improvement, given the hugely polydimensional nature of politics and the underlying factors that produce it, but an improvement nonetheless.

(Though there is a curious echo here of The Thatcher Lie about the initial divisibility of economics and society.  I donʼt wholly reject these graphs, but I think it important to understand that social policies have economic implications, economic policies have social implications, and both have wider ecological implications.  These things arise mutually.)

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