Brockley v The G20

RICH -They are very tasteful drawings, Stu, and I'd ask you this question: Who is the real sick man in this so-called society?
Is it the ordinary, normal man who gets some harmless pleasure from stalking five innocent young women, and then possibly sending them drawings - that he's done himself...

STEW -You are sick!
RICH - Let me finish, Stu!
...of his winkie, depicted as a dragon. They're very tasteful, like a Marillion sleeve.

STEW -You are sick!
RICH -Is he the sick one in this society? Or... is it the businessman in his suit and tie - drawing up his expense account?
STEW -Well... it's the first one, Rich. It's the dragon-stalking-winkie bloke. That one, he's the sick one. The businessman has done nothing wrong.
RICH -Well, in that case, yeah. That wasn't a very good example.
STEW -You chose it!
RICH -Well, I didn't think it through!

- Richard Herring, Stewart Lee

While some in Brockley concern themselves with dog-poo stencils, traffic-calming measures and tree-planting, others will settle for nothing less than the overthrow of capitalism and an end to globalisation.

BC reader Graeme spotted this report (latest report, 09.45) on last night's BBC London News.

"If you were just passing by, you'd never guess that this rather grand house on this rather leafy street in Brockley was in fact the headquarters for the four horsemen of the apocalypse."

With that opening, the journalist strides in to a conservation area pile that Hugh has probably been circling for some time, but which seems to serve as the base of operations for a campaign led by Professor Chris Knight of the Radical Anthropology Group, who has been a fairly regular fixture on the news in recent days, as the "Capitalism isn't working" campaigners threaten to disrupt the build-up to the G20 summit in London (well, Watford).

We were pleased to note that the house did not appear to have a satellite dish or any uPVC window frames.

133 comments:

Bea said...

Shame - can't seem to find the article / video clip?

Westsider said...

Bea, just click on the top left box - latest stories.

Paddyom said...

I cant find it either - any one know what your meant to click into or is it removed?

Bea said...

Thanks - found it now.

"Bash a banker week!" there's a few sitting round me right now I'd me quite happy to "bash" but want my redundancy money too so will refrain!

Bea said...

Paddydom

Watch the video clip entitled "BBC London - See the latest programme in full." in the top left and move the bar to c. 09:36 mins and the clip on Brockley starts there.

Tressillian James said...

Ha it's Chris Knight who gave a speech at the last but one Broc Soc meeting. He was requesting that all lights in Brockley are shut off once a month, supposedly so we can view the stars. Nice idea. Then he said we could also switch off our fridge-freezers for the evening, and alarm bells started to ring....

Tressillian James said...

btw isn't it nice for the news to report on Brockley's leafiness and grand houses - rather than try and protray it as inner-city grimness.

Armpit Vale said...

Saying it in a south London accent doesn't make it true

Headhunter said...

Can't see the article. So is this the "reality show" that was taking place in Brockley?

Graeme said...

BankerHunter - Click "Watch the latest article in full" /"Latest article" and go in about 9 mins

The thing I find hilarious is that it's bang on for the stereotype of SE4 that many SE londoners have of us.

Anonymous said...

So the G20 will be safe from anti capitalists as long as they carry on discussions in the dark -presume candles are ok with the prof! Best be careful what we say as if the powers that be are monitoring facebook, I am sure the BC will be under surveillance

Tywhitt Michael said...

Looking at the size of his house Capitalism seems to be working quite nicely for him.

Or is it a commune he is living in?

Anonymous said...

Indeed - typical rich boy mung eater paradox.

Anonymous said...

How curious that a user named "Brockley" has done the vast amount of his Wikipedia entries

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Contributions/Brockley

osh said...

should broc soc really be giving a platform to a man who advocates violence? I saw him on Channel 4 news and he was spoiling for a fight with the police.

MichaelF said...

"Looking at the size of his house Capitalism seems to be working quite nicely for him."

He's an academic. What's that got to do with capitalism?

Besides, you do know that it's possible to care about the plight of those less fortunate than you don't you?

Anonymous said...

Ratbag says

Apparently wickham Road is known as 'Millionaires row' if the standard is anything to go by. www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23666748-details/Meet+Mister+Mayhem/article.do This person appears to live a couple of doors down from me. I shall have to keep the cat inside....

Tressillian James said...

I'm sure Broc Soc did not know about his attitudes towards illegal break-in to turn off lights - he gave a speech, as all are free to do, about a local subject - but Broc Soc are not advocating him.

Tressilliana said...

'‘Using the Moon to Synchronise the Global Insurrection’, by Professor Chris Knight, of the University of East London and the Radical Anthropology Group, who spoke about the origins of human culture being found in women’s menstruation and understanding of lunar rhythms.'

Using the moon to synchronise global insurrection - eh?

Also, am I alone in finding the idea of a male anthropologist having menstruation as a key research interest a bit odd? It seems he's written a book about it.

And finally... surely a whole house on Wickham Road would cost more than £1000 a month to rent?

Tressillian James said...

My, he's an angry man though. After reading the below, he may want to be careful that he is keeping to conservation area guidelines - as he is an advocate of direct action against property...


"Knight “strongly suggests bankers should stay away from the City next week. If you're thinking of coming in, my advice is don't'. People are incandescent about your bonuses and the way you've destroyed their lives. We plan to lay siege to the financiers who have brought us into this recession and who continue to pursue policies that are destroying our planet”.

As for the police, “if they want ­violence, they'll get it”, adds Knight, a former member of Labour's extreme Left-wing Militant Tendency who now calls himself a revolutionary communist. “We intend to be peaceful but if they press their nuclear button, I'll press mine. It's called mutually assured destruction'. If Gordon Brown deploys his riot police, or sends in his agents provocateurs to start trouble as an excuse to attack us, all hell will break loose.”

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23666748-details/Meet+Mister+Mayhem/article.do

Anonymous said...

You're allowed to smash up property in the Conservation Zone as long as you use a soft wood bat or a plain brushed steel crowbar.

Tressillian James said...

...purchased at John Lewis or on-line with Boden

Graeme said...

"..about the origins of human culture being found in women’s menstruation and understanding of lunar rhythms."

Jung would have been proud of him.

Anonymous said...

Isn't that bringing the University of East London into disrepute??

Academic freedom is about freedom of enquiry, not a licence to rabble rouse and incite violence!

Anonymous said...

millionaire's row? Most of the houses are cut into flats owned or rented by middle rank people in finance, journalists or academics. There IS NO MONEY round here. We are mortgaged up to the eyeballs.

So please get it right.

Anonymous said...

Isn't he that guy off Eastenders? Anyway he doesn't look like too much bother. I reckon my 4 year old could take him down.

Anonymous said...

Right all this seems explain the van that is parked on the street for the past few days. Oh dear.

drakefell debaser said...

I doubt we will see much of the professor and his nuclear button when the batons come out. Besides, if I were a banker and I saw someone holding a placard saying “Eat Bankers” and effigies of dead bankers I would be pretty pissed off.

What I do find strange though is how his cohort, Marina Pepper seemed to have no problem with capitalism when she got her tits out for playboy in the 80s to make a tidy sum for herself.

Fist of Fun said...

Ahhh! Consider the lily. Ahhh!

(Hat tip to nick for quoting lee and herring)

Bea said...

Although I work for a bank his salary at £35k is still higher than my basic one but bet he doesn't work 48 hours a week!

And re the lights ... they are nearly all on sensor switches which go off after no movement for about 15 minutes. If you look carefully at the investment banks in the City and the Docklands it’s usually the top floors that still have the lights on at night and that is because before the “financial crisis” the M&A / Corporate Finance guys would work all night and weekends on deals. They need light to work! Bet they aren’t on as frequently now though!

The bottom floors are the trading floors and they are usually pitchblack as the markets are closed at about 4.30 pm.

Brockley Nick said...

It's well documented that public institutions are among the very worst offenders in terms of leaving lights on all the time, so I don't see the connection between anti-capitalism and turning off the lights.

Turning off unnecessary lights is surely a sensible, money-saving step that anyone can support whether they be capitalist or nihilist.

max said...

Yes, but turning off the lights in an anarchic gesture synchronized by menstrual blood and moon cycle is another level.

Tressillian James said...

LOL @ Max

I'm also unsure about Prof (no less) Knight expecting the cleaners and janitors to let them in the building. That'll be their minimum wage job gone then - seems like he is asking the workers to make a much greater sacrifice than himself.

Graeme said...

I think they have to keep the upper floors lit to stop planes flying into them too.

(I used to work on a US derivatives desk, and could often be found dealing/trading/covering up for my cock-ups up until the final whistle at 9.30pm and beyond; at which time, the lights were ostensibly on, but there was plainly nobody at home)

Brockley Nick said...

And both Citi and HSBC substantially reduced their illuminated signs (free advertising across London) on the top of their towers some years ago precisely because they didn't want to be seen to be wasting electricity.

Anonymous said...

I am surprised that there aren't more people protesting. Think about about MPs on the take with they allowances, from Derek Conway. The gold plated public sector pensions for people like Sharon Shoesmith, pre the sacking.

Footballers and their extravagant wages, Russian oligarch hoovering up prime real estate in central london with money for assets that belong to the Russian people.

I guess capitalist values are so internalised within us that we are incapable of challenging them.

Brockley Nick said...

But Max, who is the real sick man in this so-called society? Is it the man who devotes his life to anarchic gesture synchronized by menstrual blood and moon cycle.

Or is it the business man, in his suit-and-tie?!

Anonymous said...

The Cat Man - Brockley's own Curious Orange

Brockley Nick said...

"I am surprised that there aren't more people protesting. Think about about MPs on the take with they allowances, from Derek Conway. The gold plated public sector pensions for people like Sharon Shoesmith, pre the sacking.

Footballers and their extravagant wages, Russian oligarch hoovering up prime real estate in central london with money for assets that belong to the Russian people.

I guess capitalist values are so internalised within us that we are incapable of challenging them."

MPs expenses and public sector pensions have nothing to do with globalisation or capitalism.

The Oligarchs are more a reflection of corrupt statism than market capitalism.

I have no problem with footballers being able to charge a market rate for their talents, any more than I do musicians or film stars. In fact, there are arguably few careers more meritricious than football - footballers usually start with nothing and work their way up on the basis of their talent and commitment alone. A very few of the world's best footballers (out of the hundreds of millions who dream of making it) earn very large salaries because fans are prepared to pay to see them play for their team. So what?

Brockley Nick said...

And none of it has anything to do with whether people leave lights on or off!

Bea said...

If our draconian expenses policy is anything to go by, they will definitely be turning off any unnecessary lighting.

Even heard that at RBS they have to share staplers now as they are not refilling the stationary cupboards!

So you can bet the lights that are on are only those that have to remain on for health and safety reasons!

welcome to 2009 said...

has anyone else noticed that this is a bone fide discussion about capitalism / anti-capitalism and "fred vest" has not said a word? And nobbly has gone quiet.

phew.

Fred Singlet said...

I think Eugenics is the answer

or an AIDS epedemic

or the proper apocalypse

If only I knew the question

Headhunter said...

I'm torn here, I am very much in favour of turning lights off in offices to reduce waste, and i do believe that the capitalist system has its flaws, however I have to counter this point from Nick:

"I have no problem with footballers being able to charge a market rate for their talents, any more than I do musicians or film stars. In fact, there are arguably few careers more meritricious than football - footballers usually start with nothing and work their way up on the basis of their talent and commitment alone. A very few of the world's best footballers (out of the hundreds of millions who dream of making it) earn very large salaries because fans are prepared to pay to see them play for their team. So what?"

Do you not think that bankers charge market rate for their services? As a headhunter in banking I am fully aware of what many bankers make in revenues and their salaries.

If you're a trader making an annual P&L of anything between USD10-100m (which is what "good" traders make), and you're getting paid GBP100k basic salary + bonus of anything from GBP500k and upwards, usually not more than GBP1m-ish, you're still only paid a small fraction of the revenue you took in for the bank.

I think the problem with this "all bankers are bad" attitude is that we're throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Currently many top Citigroup bankers are on the verge of leaving at the suggestion that Obama is going to introduce the 90% tax on top earners at banks which took money from the state. Apparently if you add in New York City Tax, this effectively means they will be paying 102% tax on anything above a certain level.

This will lead to all the bankers/traders of any worth leaving Citigroup/being hoovered up by other banks and hedge funds (believe me, there is still hiring going on for the best talent!) which will then have no hope of ever paying the US taxpayer back, as they will be left with players from the lower leagues (to use a football metaphor).

I'm afraid not all bankers do the same thing and not all banker have lost money. If you introduce draconian measures, banks like RBS in the UK will never leave state control and will remain a burden to the taxpayer.

Brockley Nick said...

HH - when did I say I have a problem with bankers' salaries? I don't per se. I do have a problem with bankers being paid bonuses when their bank has had to be nationalised to save it from collapse.

I also question whether banking reward structures properly reward sensible decisions and genuine talent (as opposed to dangerous risk taking and blind luck).

But these criticisms aren't a principled attack on bankers based on questions of fairness, they are technocratic criticisms based on the fact that the risk / reward system was clearly unbalanced.

You can say the thing about some football clubs, like Newcastle, who reportedly have no wage reductions written in to their contracts in the event of relegation - an issue which could cripple the club. But to highlight such a problem is not to attack footballers for getting paid a lot. I am perfectly comfortable with the idea that Wayne Rooney gets paid a lot of money, for being one of the best players in the world's most popular sport.

Finally, I suggest that a company like Casenove's, which famously favours the blue-blooded is considerably less meritricious an employer than Manchester United.

Tressilliana said...

'In fact, there are arguably few careers more meritricious than football'

Indeed not!

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/meretricious

Brockley Nick said...

Haha! Well I walked in to that one.

I meant meritocratic.

But I suppose either works.

Thanks for correcting me :)

Anonymous said...

It's a case of...If I hadn't seen such riches I could live with being poor.

I don't resent Wayne Rooney earning money for being a performer. I do resent that people who make things, help others, nurses get so little.

I think that we're at pivotal point in our society where the flaws of capitalism, it's inequalities, it's designed to benefit the few- the 'winners' and the rest of us have to struggle on.

You get capitalist and it's supporters berating countries like Sweden, with it's high tax rates. But look at it's standard of living, life expectancy figures.
Whereas we with our wonderful capitalism have such a divided society, town v country, social housing v rented, and it reflects in the life expectancy differences.

Headhunter said...

"I do have a problem with bankers being paid bonuses when their bank has had to be nationalised to save it from collapse."

I agree with you here, however there's still a risk that largely state run banks will lose its top earners if all bankers at these firms are tarred with the same brush and despite strong earnings, from some traders, they are not paid.

For example, RBS has/had one of the most noted and respected structured FX traders in the market. He earned millions for the bank through 06, 07, 08. However since the state took over has pretty much left and gone off to pursue his own interests. Basically, to quote a cliche, it ain't worth him getting out of bed for less than 7 figures. That and other defections is going to dent RBS earnings.

"But these criticisms aren't a principled attack on bankers based on questions of fairness, they are technocratic criticisms based on the fact that the risk / reward system was clearly unbalanced."

I think the problem is that bankers were/are rewarded on annual targets, so perhaps even though they can see potential problems in pursuing a certain line of trade, as long as it makes them a buck in this year's P&L, they don't care. In the US banking model which dominates now, you're almost only as good as your last trade.

Longer term risk reward structures need to be worked out to force bankers to look beyond the horizon of this financial year.

"Finally, I suggest that a company like Casenove's, which famously favours the blue-blooded is considerably less meritricious an employer than Manchester United."

Cazenove has been owned by the Yanks for a few years now (JP Morgan) so not exactly blue blooded these days!

Also I'm not sure that footy clubs are as open to market forces as you think! Clubs have very loyal fan bases which are not necessarily going to switch clubs like they switch toilet paper brand, so football clubs can continue to charge the extortionate fees they do for match entry and for club shirts etc. Clubs like Manu U almost operate a monopoly on their fans.

Brockley Nick said...

Sweden is a capitalist country. So the argument isn't with capitalism it's a question of how much we should redistribute, to whom and for what purposes.

Personally, I'd reduce income tax for lower earners and increase taxes on wealth and consumption, so as to be revenue neutral.

jon s said...

HH,

One thing you overlook is that bankers don't create wealth, merely facilitate the transition of capital between wealth creators.

It is the companies invested in and their board who create wealth by offering products or services. Successful products or services make society more efficient and our lives better.

Furthermore, it is in the interest of bankers and fund managers to increase the number of transactions either by schmoozing people for their money or derivative based lending. More transactions and derivative based lending artificially increase demand which makes the prices of almost anything rise.

Brockley Nick said...

HH - I have a friend who works for Cazenove and I can assure you that being owned by JP Morgan has changed very little.

"Shoes have laces, trousers have braces..." etc

As for football clubs, having "captive" fanbases (and I would hotly dispute the idea that most fans are helpless slaves to their clubs) is a different issue from which players get paid how much.

Footballers got rich because the game got popular and the salary caps that players used to have were removed. Clubs generate most of their money from income not directly related to the stereotype of the fan who sticks by their club regardless of how they are treated. They get their money from centrally negotiated TV contracts, sponsorship, licensed merchandising and corporate hospitality - which is, respectively, centrally negotiated, unrelated to how much a fan is prepared to pay to watch their club, entirely discretionary (no one HAS to buy their club's shirt every year) and B2B.

Bea said...

HH – it’s my understanding that a number of banks will now increase basic salaries by 70% - 100%, which traditionally has been the smallest part of a banker’s annual income.

In addition, there are proposals to change bonuses from a 12 month performance period to, say, a 3 year period – thereby avoiding risk taking and at the same time retaining staff who will want to hang around for their payout.

Not sure how happy the top traders will be with this but the banks are very aware that their current remuneration structure needs to change whilst at the same time wanting to hang on to the best talent.

Headhunter said...

"One thing you overlook is that bankers don't create wealth, merely facilitate the transition of capital between wealth creators."

I suppose so, yet they earn their employers millions for doing this and banks make up such an integral part of the capitalist system that the state has to bail them out for fear that if they collapse, so potentially, will the society they support.

"It is the companies invested in and their board who create wealth by offering products or services. Successful products or services make society more efficient and our lives better."

And then the companies market their product to make consumers believe they can't manage without it and bankers "schmooze" the companies to lend them more and more to encourage them to make more and more so we buy more and more and so goes the spiral of consumption...

Bankers facilitate business but facilitation of something is what business is about in the tertiary sector, rather than actual production of anything tangible. Most people commenting here probably work for a company which facilitates something rather than produces an end product I'd guess. As Nick quoted from Peep Show the other week, we don't make things from pig iron in the UK any more.

"HH - I have a friend who works for Cazenove and I can assure you that being owned by JP Morgan has changed very little."

Ok, well I'll have to take your word on that and the football thing. I don't have a lot of interest in football TBH, but from what I've heard they seem to charge unbelievable amounts of money for their "services", which by the sounds of it, they don't need to if they make most of their revenue from other means. I still think they have a captive audience to some extent.

Headhunter said...

Bea - "HH – it’s my understanding that a number of banks will now increase basic salaries by 70% - 100%, which traditionally has been the smallest part of a banker’s annual income. "

I heard that and I can't believe that banks are increasing their bottom line costs in an environment like this! Bonuses can be slashed when things get bad, but fixed salary costs can't (unless you sack everyone I suppose)

Bea said...

HH - "unless you sack everyone I suppose", which is exactly what the bank I work for is doing.

Moira said...

Just seen Prof Knight walking up Wickham Road wheeling a suitcase. Do you think he might be leaving or carrying incendary devices?

Bea said...

Probably carrying capitalist heads he has hunted during the night!

MI5 said...

We're watching you Brockley Central, the war against the evil doers never ceases.

(The foxy blonde spy from Spooks)

max said...

The case contains his gyno-lunar-aligner, the instrument that he uses to synchronize the moon with all his other theories.

Hugh said...

A few quick comments although I haven't yet read the whole thread:

1. Nick, 'meretricious' doesn't mean based on merit. Far from it.

2. You didn't hear many ordinary people complaining about capitalism until Lehman failed. Are they now saying we should ditch it? No, they're saying they don't enjoy the downside.

3. I'm going to work on 1 April in suit and tie. Anyone has a go, I put him down.

Headhunter said...

But Hugh, as a cyclist, you've already got 1 foot in the revolutionary camp.... Who was it who said something like - there will be no revolution without bicycles?

Hugh said...

HH, my bike isn't part of anyone's 'revolution'. It's my own world.

But 1 April sounds too good to miss. See you at the station.

Armpit Vale said...

I've uploaded Brockley on BBC London News video if anyone's interested...

As people have said, it's about 9 minutes in.

http://www.sendspace.com/file/mn2iul

Headhunter said...

Aha, Hugh, a true Thatcherite cyclist! I'll be cycling as usual on 1st April. The anarchists won't come as far as Chancery Lane anyway, they'll be too busy in the City and Canary Wharf. Chancery Lane is kind of a no mans land. Did you see that they are intending to pedestrianise it?

Hugh said...

HH, I hadn't heard. Isn't Chancery Lane turning into a sort of legal Madame Tussaud's?

And as any true roadie knows, cycling is about being alone.

Hugh said...

Armpit, thanks for the upload. Does that profesor have a harem of Goldsmiths birds renting at his gaff? Must have some great parties.

Headhunter said...

I prefer to be out on my bike in a gang with Dulwich Paragon but the occasional solitary ride is OK

Re the girls, perhaps you need to befriend the good Professor to gain access to the young, revolutionary totty?

Hugh said...

HH, got the bike back from Evans, with a free frame upgrade into the bargain! Beautiful to look at, to match the inhumanly swift elegance with which I ride.

Headhunter said...

You were lucky with that! So when do I get to see this bike and your inhuman elegance? Do you ever head out with Dulwich? Did a 65 miler last Sun - out to Box Hill. Bumped into some of the London Dynamo peeps...

Hugh said...

I don't ride with clubs although I've nothing more against them than any other collection of overpaid, overweight and underathletic City professionals.

Box Hill is best if you take the train and get the miles in on the back roads once there, I think.

Will pop up when least expected when the weather's fine. Not interested in riding through rain. Let me know if you fancy a spin down into Kent. Some fun routes on bikely.com, including the Hell of Ashdown, which became a staple last summer.

The Cat Man said...

I had my first puncture yesterday :o(

Very frsutrating, got all kitted out ready for the ride home and ended up taking it to a cycle shop to mend it.

For future reference, do people normally fix their own punctures if the bike is at work? I mean, where do you find a bowl of water etc...

I use the shop opposite Hays Galleria, can't remember the name but theres some fit male totty in there....

Anonymous said...

I suspect Catman that the "fit male totty" at the bike shop aren't looking to give you the sort of "puncture" you're looking for.

A little bit of an old school suggestion, but as punctures are normally quite minor why not just clip a small pump to your bike. You can usually pump it up enough to get home as they tend to lose pressure only when left to stand. Then sort it out when you get home.

The Cat Man said...

Yeah, I thought about that. But the wheel was completely flat - no air at all so I left it.

I felt abit of a cop out to go to a shop to get it fixed though :o(

the bike doctor said...

carry a spare inner tube with you

Tom said...

Gotta love this thread's diversions.

I used to know a lot of anti-capitalist radicals but eventually tired of their hypocrisy. Most were bought houses by their parents during the property boom.

The majority of radicals adopt their political positions as a pose when young, and carry forward these attitudes through their lives, even when utterly reliant - and dependent - on 'the man'.

I now generally see such 'radicals' as reactionary fools whose beliefs act as a kind of stupidity tax on themselves.

drakefell debaser said...

I would be interested to know how many of these protestors are graduates unable to get the job in finance they planned for in the first place.

Hugh said...

You puncture? You fix it, and go home.

Hugh said...

If it falls to me to start a fight to cut out the cancer of bent and twisted anti-capitalism in our country with the simple sword of self-interest and the trusty shield of British fair takings, so be it.

max said...

Yes DD, I think I get your point. The best way to demolish capitalism is indeed from the inside, get a job in finance, bankrupt your employer and loot what's left before leaving, just like Fred Goodwin.
One man like that is like a billion demonstrators.

Anonymous said...

Accusations of hypocrisy are all well and good. But how can anyone try and change capitalism from outside the system. Capitalism is all pervasive, you can't opt out even if you wanted to. You have to be part of it to try and change it.

Hugh said...

Capitalism is ace. Let's leave it alone, yeah?

Tom said...

funny you should say that max - I'd always got the impression the protesters I knew were trying to bring down their own movements from within, through their self-righteousness, ignorance and general lack of organisation.

maybe the truth is that stupid people are everywhere ... giving them an ism to honour their ignorance is just being kind.

Anonymous said...

Is it that great. It's 21st century and you ride to work on a bicycle. Where's the progress? You'll say it's 'my choice, fitness etc" but could you really stomach using public transport.

Bea said...

Today's Daily Mail states:

"Chris Knight, professor of anthropology at the University of East London, is organising protests under the banner G20 Meltdown.

He said: 'We are going to be hanging a lot of people like Fred the Shred from lampposts and I can only say let's hope they are just effigies. If he winds us up any more I'm afraid there will be real bankers hanging from lampposts.' "

What a hideous man! Make sure you cross to the other side of the road when walking past his house - you might end up lynched if you wind him up!

Surely they can arrest him for inciting violence – any lawyers / coppers out there who can clarify?

Hugh said...

Anonymous said...
Is it that great. It's 21st century and you ride to work on a bicycle. Where's the progress? You'll say it's 'my choice, fitness etc" but could you really stomach using public transport.

In which other centuries apart from the one just gone did people get to bicycle to work?

Hugh said...

Chris Knight might do more to put Brox on the map than the ELL. Perhaps that's worth a few Fred Shreds.

max said...

Tom, I agree with you to a point.

Some movements are focused on specific achievable objective and pursue a strategy, they know what they want but need to make some noise because it's against part of the prevailing political agenda.

Their problem is that of not getting confused with other protests that are indeed silly.

Anyway in my opinion anti-capitalism is hampered by the fact that we're not actually living in a Capitalistic system but in a Social Democracy and the move out of pure Capitalism started over a century ago, one reform at a time thanks to those movements that are indeed focused on some progress.

It seems to me that now Capitalism and society live side by side and feed into each other and without Capitalism you wouldn't have a productive system that creates the wealth that sustains all the other needs of society and that in turns brings over a social stability that allows Capitalism to operate.

JJBS said...

The great irony is that, regardless of the highly questionable relationship between salary/value to society, those earning significantly more money than others are barely benefiting themselves.

The recent book "The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better" by Richard Wilkinson perfectly demonstrates how it's not absolute levels of poverty that create social problems, but the differentials in income between rich and poor - it's not just the deprived underclass that loses out in an unequal society, but everyone.

While the wealthy (which I suspect statistically counts almost all of us blogging here) decry the poor standards of education, of crime, of council services, we fail to see that much of the root cause of these problems is largely the increasing lack of equality in our society.

In 2000, a typical FTSE-100 chief executive was paid 39 times the national average salary - already ridiculous. By 2007 that figure had risen to 109 times.

This is not a problem with 'capitalism' (history shows us that there is little alternative) per se, but does show that there are significant problems with its administration.

Over the past 30 years we have 'progressed' from being a society that actually produced things (from pig iron maybe!), with institutions which supported the functioning of society, to being a 'knowledge economy' (with the lack of security that confers) and a society set up to support institutions (see the recent bank bail-outs).

We need to see the decision-makers in our society make the politically brave decision to challenge the orthodoxy of unfettered 'free-market solutions'. To acknowledge that we need to harness the harsh reality of human self-interest to create a society which more equally distributes resources. To point out that, on our present course, everyone loses.

Instead of protesting tomorrow it would make a lot more difference if people would partake in the political process, and convince the political elite that they should pursue enlightened policies which look beyond tabloid headlines, and prioritise wealth redistribution that 'creation'.

...go on, shoot me down...

Headhunter said...

Right. Back from the gym.

Hugh - It's not all overweight, City professionals at clubs. The Sunday run to Box Hill was led by 2 Columbians who train at altitude. 1 had done some of the major pro level events. It was a pretty fast run - out from Crystal Palace to Box Hill and back with a break of about 20-30 mins at Box Hill in 3.5 hours. What you up to this weekend? Fancy a spin through Kent?

Cat Man - You puncture, you stop, change tubes, pump and get back on the road. Takes about 10-15 mins. Fix the old tube when you get to your destination.

Re capitalism - ironic that someone like Fred the Shred and other bankers have actually done more to destroy capitalism and the banking structure than any unwashed, 30 year old, ex student with dreads living in Brixton could ever hope for.... Chris Knight should welcome Fred to his bosom, best revolutionary out there.

Headhunter said...

So JJBS, you're advocating a Scandinavian type system with more government intervention in the market but not full blown state control? I have to say, those Scandis do seem to have a good balance.

Hugh said...

The idea that capitalism is dead is laughable. Everyone wants it to survive.

Headhunter said...

Not everyone, these protesters seem to want it dead, however none of them seems to have a viable alternative. At least in the early 20th century people like Lenin, Marx and Trotsky had brave new ideas.

The great unwashed that will be protesting on 1st April have no better idea than to smash up a few buildings and "string up Fred the Shred". If the government actually sat them down and said - OK you run the country, they'd be stuffed.

Danja said...

The great bicycle of capitalism has a puncture, man.

JJBS said...

Headhunter - yes, effectively I am. How we get there is another matter however - sadly I fear it requires a considerably more enlightened electorate/political process (proportional representation anyone?) than we curently have...

drakefell debaser said...

Max, I was referring to the double standard of say the son of a banker from Surrey who might have the gall to protest against capitalism next week yet it has given him all he has and, despite this protest he had actually hoped to follow in his father’s footsteps. He is only prevented from doing so because banks and financial institutions aren’t hiring that many graduates and in 5 or so year’s time perhaps he will also be suited and booted coming out Liverpool St station, conveniently forgetting the time he scaled a lamp post to hang an effigy of a banker.

Of course, there might be none of these individuals but I don’t really understand the blend of protests being waged nor the motivation behind someone happy to hang a sign around his or her neck calling for bankers to be eaten that at the same time seems to have a climate change bone to pick with those that work in the city.

Goodwin is an idiot but the recession and global warming are not his fault alone.

jon s said...

Ah, the intellectual roots of anti capatilism every time we enter a recession/depression.

1. Marxism - good at attacking capitalism's weaknesses for harnessing greed but neglects that greed leads to free riding in socialism, although I expect that is why Marx invented it - justifying him never working.

2. Malthusianism - We're all doomed as resources are running out!! Funnily enough, capitalism encourages someone to increase the resources available for profit, e.g. Norman Borlaug's dwarf wheat or substitution of crude replacing whale oil.

Nothing wrong with regulated capitalism per se; all we need is decent regulation (self regulation never works), a safety net that encourages mobility and some of the best and brightest moving into industry, not the city.

max said...

DD I agree, the phenomenon of rich kids doing a bit of weekend reenactment of class war only to fall into line when it's their time to sit on a board is a pitiful thing.

And Goodwin could have done that too in his time, in fact it's quite possible that your guess that he's an idiot is quite right. And like him an army of idiots has worked hard for years to destroy the world economy. They did it all together because they were allowed to do so. "De-regulate us, we'll create wealth" they said. The fact that that wealth was all only on paper was not a concern of politicians that were happy to be lied by auditors because that was enough for them to claim that the economy was expanding, when it was all a lie.
Now Capitalism is doing its course, writing off the false figures that have been accumulating on the books and showing the false capitalists for the impostors that they are.

Anonymous said...

The book The Spirit Level was co-authored by Kate Pickett. If you are going to reference a book, please do it accurately.

Headhunter said...

It's hardly new though. Lenin and Marx didn't rise from the working classes as far as I remember, I think they were from solid upper middle class stock. Social activists like William Morris were also from the wealthy classes with slightly rose tinted views of bucolic rural existences....

drakefell debaser said...

Max, yes, if we are going to protest we should be protesting at the authorities who allowed this to happen not the naughty boys who got away with it but, Brown likes the anger going to the city rather than there be too much focus placed on what he did in the decade he spent treating the treasury like the Titanic.

Better regulation is needed but so far the FSA, specifically set up to regulate the banks, has just sort of said that the old “Principles” based regulation didn’t work because some people don’t have principles so we are going to move to an “Outcome” based regulation. Well, in my opinion the outcome is still the same if you don’t do your job properly and whilst Hector Sants calls for the industry to fear the FSA what he doesn’t realise is that most of it does but for the wrong reasons.

JJBS said...

I don't think that the wild deregulation of financial services over the past 25 years can solely be blamed on Gordon Brown! A new consensus politics developed from the early/mid 80s onwards that if the guys in braces were encouraged to enrich themselves with minimal state interference, the benefit would trickle down to those in less lucrative professions. The current government has only been guilty of perpetuating the policy - ignoring the staggering amount of evidence that it simply creates a less cohesive society.

To anon 16.22, slapped wrist accepted.

Tom said...

just a point to say that London is - and remains - the world's financial capital. as such, it generates an enormous amount of real wealth, prestige and jobs for hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people in the capital.
it might not have been fair, and it certainly is flawed, but the capital is much better (multicultural, modern, tolerant, interesting, vibrant, well-connected, confident, redeveloped etc etc) place now than it was when I was growing up in the late 1980s/early 1990s.
until I hear someone suggest something we should do better, rather than childish, petulant whinges about the shape of our city's success then I'll stick with this view.

max said...

Well, a lot of people will be living their last years on a fraction of the pension they thought they had earned a right to.
Those were the money that allowed all those in the financial sector to call themselves capitalists in the first place. Other people's money, their pension funds.
Another lot are losing their homes and their savings.
That's also some legacy of the recent work of the City.

But the City cannot be blamed for the neglect that all the other sectors of the economy suffered.
Now that the City is down there's little else left to compensate.
The fact that we benefited for a period from a financial bubble only leaves us exposed, we may have great connections but if nobody can afford the train then the day will soon come that it will stop running.

jon s said...

Erm Tom, how does the city generate wealth? It merely creams off a percentage of wealth created globally.

The city isn't a bad thing. Lack of regulation and other sectors remaining underdeveloped are what is bad.

Tom said...

Jon S - lawyers, receptionists, administrators, builders, journalists, headhunters (hello!), public relations (hello!), accountants, auditors (hello!), IT people, data specialists, construction workers, surveyors, printers, editors etc etc etc all provide services for the financial industry, and they all receive real money from clients all over the world.

It doesn't feel real, but then such claims are usually lack substance. Could you please define real?

Also, this idea that the entire finance industry is somehow fake because of a couple of years of bubble markets is simply untrue. It may be painful recovering from it, but it wasn't just the City that pushed prices higher and higher.

I remember one of the first arguments I had here, late 2007, with someone who vehemently argued that house prices would continue rising endlessly. Many home owners found their wealth ever-increasing as the banks lent more and more, and so had no interest in puncturing the bubble. Now they blame the banks! The only people who end up screwed were those of us that were priced out of the market.

So, yeah, Mr I'm So Radical Chris Knight self-righteously pronouncing his nonsense from the biggest house in the world irritates me slightly. Have a feeling that passionate support of property laws might suddenly emerge if other people took it on themselves to take his house from him.

Bea said...

Heard this morning on the BBC that the Prof has been suspended by the University of East London.

drakefell debaser said...

On the BBC this morning: The professor has been suspended from his job and is pending an investigation by the police.

He might have to sell his HD telly to pay the rent now.

Hugh said...

Don't mean to be rude but there's a lot of flabby nonsense being talked here.

One instance: the idea that people with pensions invested in the stock market have been robbed.

We could do with a bit more honesty and a bit less hand waving and foot stamping. It's all very well being annoyed when the world leaves you poorer but it's a bit silly blaming bankers and their ilk.

As I said at the very beginning of this crunch, in the end the regulators will need to defend themselves. But even that aside, people were quite happy to invest in houses and shares while the going was good - or am I imagining the umpteen million people who kept shows like Location Location Location going and who were quietly loving it as their pensions and ISAs went through the roof on the back of sustained FTSE gains?

The reply might come that such people wouldn't have dipped a toe in if they'd known how rotten the system was. But that would be disingenuous since most normal folk didn't (and still don't) lift a finger to find out how the 'system' works.

Forgive the Zen brilliance of such a stance, but I'm quite enjoying the crunch. It's my World War II and means I don't have to listen to those who lived and worked through the early 90s recession anymore - this one trumps it. If I get made redundant then I'll live carefully on my savings while looking for a new job and in the meantime pursue interests that generally taken second place to the office. If instead I stay in work, I'll do my best to understand and enjoy the spectacle and, horror of horrors, perhaps even profit from it.

Problem wid dat?

Brockley Nick said...

Hugh, where was this blitz spirit when you were bleating about how we were all doomed, 6 months ago? ;)

Hugh said...

That 'bleating', Nick, was Zen bleating. I'm happy whatever the ending.

Look into the cosmos and embrace the spirit of infinity.

jon s said...

Tom,

The financial industry has two purposes:

1. To provide capital to households and firms allowing them to undertake strategic investment.
2. To allow households and firms to hedge against future risk through insurance and fixing prices of resources.

Unfortunately the city (and the global financial system) has gone way beyond this, artificially increasing transactions through derviatives of derivatives (essentially printing money) hence creating a mountain of debt and pretend profits which employs too many people. It all works until someone calls in the IOUs, the story of every boom.

Wealth is created by products or services that make life better and includes everything from heavy manufacturing to professional services (that make a firm more efficient) to personal entertainment (film, music, etc).

Headhunter said...

However, what Tom says about associated firms generating wealth is surely true. Only 1 of our clients is a UK bank, the others are Japanese and US and some of the work we do is for Asia-based positions paid from accounts outside Europe so a lot of the fees we earn bring money into the UK.

jon s said...

Follow the money.

How many associated firms make households better or firms more efficient giving them a sustainable competitive advantage and how many owe their jobs to a growing mountain of debt?

jon s said...

And being a stuffy economist for a second...

Any firm or sector with above maket basket salaries (based on education, experience and competence) or 7.5% profit is considered supernormal and vulnerable to "creative destruction" replacement by a cheaper more efficient version, particularly during a recession.

As long as enough creative destruction is in the UK (and not in a single sector) and the government is smart, we will be OK.

Headhunter said...

I understand what you're saying that banks have pushed debt beyond managable levels, but banks lend, it's what they do. If banks didn't lend, they wouldn't be banks, so with your argument all banks and associated firms have always and always will be reliant on debt.

I for one, can say that banking/investment banking has most definitely improved my household, in fact I wouldn't have a household if it weren't for banking as I wouldn't have been able to afford to live as I have done. And the firm I work for doesn't rely on debt and borrowing to survive. At least not yet...

jon s said...

The point I'm making is that the banking sector and associated supporting industries grew too large (and inefficient) during the debt fueled boom and in the UK we are over reliant on this. This benefited some households and supporting industries immensley for a while.

btw. I benefitted as much as you as a strategy consultant. Companies don't want many consultants any more, instead they want competent c level executives. A tranche of my former colleagues have just been made redundant and are stuffed.

Tom said...

A simple example: if I help arrange capital for you to make money, and I charge a fee for my help, is that fee not "real", ie not "wealth"?

Your definition of wealth is not the same as that of the world we live in.

Brockley Nick said...

I think we can all agree that the only true wealth creators are the brave public relations professionals, tweeting, blogging and speaking to people sometimes upwards of eight hours a day to build a brighter, happier, more informed Britain.

jon s said...

Wealth for the facilitator's household from comission, but ultimately much of it is from a giant pyramid scheme of pretend money hence not much of an increase in total wealth. (Unless we have a much smaller and better regulated banking sector.)

This is getting pointless and verging too close to personal attacks, so time to check out...

Anonymous said...

" * Brockley's nutty professor suspended on the basis that he's a fraudulent, nasty, self-aggrandising thug. about 2 hours ago"

Just seen this at the side of the page. Nick is this really a fair comment? You may not like what the chap has to say, but is he a thug? and fraudulent?

Hugh said...

Calling yourself a professor if you teach at the University of East London (whatever that is) seems to stretch the English language a bit.

Where did you all go to 'yooni'?

Headhunter said...

I'm not verging on personal attack! I only get like that when I see satellite dishes and UPVC windows in the conservation area...

Headhunter said...

What's with the constant italics Hugh?

liz said...

That's a comment on the twitter feed not on this site.

Tom said...

One or two years of downturn after 16 years of growth.

It's not a ponzi or a pyramid scheme it is a difficult lesson, which we all were not willing to learn the easy way - stopping asset-price rises back in 2004/05, which the government and regulators should have done (though there would have been howls of protest in the ignorant press).

There were those of us warning about this - within the industry (and I have online proof) - in 2003 and 2004, as investors switched from tech stocks to property, funded by interest rate cuts, but everyone else's self interest was too strong.

Now, many of those that profited from the boom now declare that it was all a fraud, while those of us in the industry wish only to keep our jobs, and focus on what we do well, and generate large amounts of export income to boot.

Tom said...

Talking of bubbles ... Chris Knight:

"The message to police is 'if you press your nuclear button, I'll press mine'. It sounds like a threat? Well, yeah - don't do it. If you want violence, you'll get it.

"I know I'm in my own bubble. But in my bubble I'm predicting we'll have a velvet revolution in the next week or so ...The police, backed up by the army, will try to hold the ExCel centre. While they hold that, they will lose London. Then I think Gordon Brown will go.

"It's a perfect storm for our enemies," he added. "I cannot believe my luck. It's happening 800 yards from my campus ... The media are doing all our work for us."

If there's a revolution, I'm going to occupy Wickham Road. Sorry Hugh.

Anonymous said...

The premier road in the conservation area is Manor Avenue to revolt over there thanks.

Anonymous said...

*so

Spoof said...

doing the rounds

Anonymous said...

Has anyone checked if the prof switches off his lights at night.

Maybe the a counter revolution could take place in Wickham Road, assuming there's a lunar eclipse.

Maybe someone caould install some art outside the house, possibly an effigy of a professor hanging from a lampost.

Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to see the prof's reaction if a protest to his actions came to his door.

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