Except this version isn’t funny!
I’m really showing my age and cultural upbringing through the choice of this title to today’s post.
For The Goon Show was an integral part of my ‘education’ during my formative years. Spike Milligan was an outstanding actor in The Goon Show, a comedy legend, along with Peter Sellers and Harry Secombe; not forgetting the narratives from Wallace Greenslade.
The Goon Show ran from 1951 to 1960 (I was born in 1944) broadcast by the BBC Home Service.
What’s this all leading up to?
Simply that a recent speech by George Monbiot reveals such utter madness in the upper echelons of the United Kingdom that only reflecting on The Goon Show offers any meaning to this old Brit. Not that the USA escapes Mr. Monbiot’s analysis.
Here’s how the speech opens:
The Pricing of Everything
Ladies and gentlemen, we are witnessing the death of both the theory and the practice of neoliberal capitalism. This is the doctrine which holds that the market can resolve almost all social, economic and political problems. It holds that people are best served, and their prosperity is best advanced, by the minimum of intervention and spending by the state. It contends that we can maximise the general social interest through the pursuit of self-interest.
To illustrate the spectacular crashing and burning of that doctrine, let me tell you the sad tale of a man called Matt Ridley. He was a columnist on the Daily Telegraph until he became – and I think this tells us something about the meritocratic pretensions of neoliberalism – the hereditary Chair of Northern Rock: a building society that became a bank. His father had been Chair of Northern Rock before him, which appears to have been his sole qualification.
While he was a columnist on the Telegraph he wrote the following:
The government “is a self-seeking flea on the backs of the more productive people of this world. … governments do not run countries, they parasitize them.”(1) He argued that taxes, bail-outs, regulations, subsidies, interventions of any kind are an unwarranted restraint on market freedom. When he became Chairman of Northern Rock, Mr Ridley was able to put some of these ideas into practice. You can see the results today on your bank statements.
In 2007 Matt Ridley had to go cap in hand to the self-seeking flea and beg it for what became £27 billion. This was rapidly followed by the first run on a British bank since 1878. The government had to guarantee all the deposits of the investors in the bank. Eventually it had to nationalise the bank, being the kind of parasitic self-seeking flea that it is, in order to prevent more or less the complete collapse of the banking system. (2)
You can read the full transcript and look up the references over on the George Monbiot website.
However, a real bonus is that his speech (delivered without notes!), his SPERI Annual Lecture, hosted by the Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Sheffield, was recorded on video.
Please set aside a quiet hour (and a tad) to listen to George Monbiot and wonder at the goon show that we are all acting out! In fact, watching his speech and his answers to a number of questions from the audience will give you something that the transcript just can’t convey. Watch it! You will be inspired!
(SPERI Annual Lecture by George Monbiot: “The Pricing of Everything” at the Octagon in Sheffield, UK, on 29th April 2014.)
Back to dear old Spike Milligan and to close with what seems like a very apt quote of his.
“All I ask is the chance to prove that money can’t make me happy.“