Forget about the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, that’s way too dignified for the petty bourgeois grievances that manifested themselves in the Big Tantrum of 09 on the streets of the City of London this past week. The Three Stooges of the Apocalypse is a more apt moniker to describe those lost souls gathered outside the halls of the G20 proceedings, as opposed to their equally confused counterparts who had the pleasure of experiencing the event from within. The Three Stooges of the Apocalypse beautifully sums up the equal measures of banality and doom-mongering that fuelled this middle class tantrum, and as luck would have it, Newsnight assembled three guests on the evening of that most insignificant of demonstrations, each representing one wing of the White Middle Class Anger and Doom-Mongering apparatus. For the duration of their chat with Jeremy Paxman, they faithfully re-enacted the antics of the original Three Stooges, although too much less humorous results. Like a bird with three wings, this is a freak of nature that didn’t fly far.
Our Three Stooges of the Apocalypse for the night were Barbara Stocking, the Director of Oxfam, or White Woman Knows What is Best for Africa, Mark King, from the Camp for Climate Action , or White Man Knows What is Best for the Planet, and the comedian Mark Thomas, or White Man Knows What is Best. (In some circles he is known as the least funny comedian in the universe, perhaps he should be investigated by the Trading Standards Agency).
Paxo was atypically restrained, focusing most of his characteristic ire on the International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander, the boy-wonder of New Labour, and gently sheltering his fellow members in The White Middle Class Liberal Club. Paxo gently prodded The Three Stooges, what’s their wish list for G20 decisions? Barbara Stocking: Financial Stimulus for poorer nations, presumably to be distributed through Oxfam and like-minded Neo-colonialists so that they can prepare poor African farmers for the challenges of goat-herding in the 21st century and shelter them from the nasty syndromes of development that the west is suffering from, such as clean drinking water and functioning public transport systems. Mark Thomas: Get rid of tax havens! For a self-described radical, Thomas is certainly tame, managing to agree with Angela Merkel and Nicola Sarkozy, perhaps the most conservative politicians in Europe today, and the two who have absolutely no clue about what to do except to appear to be challenging the US and the UK without actually doing so. Thomas thought that tax havens, where most hedge funds are based, are what caused the crisis. Forget about the de-industrialisation of the West and the lack of productivity in paper economies that produce very little but consume more than anyone else, and let’s demonise the faceless hedge funds. Mark King (ponytail? Seriously, dude?): Climate Change! (Surprise, Surprise!) He even came prepared with a sound byte, the climate doesn’t do bailouts! The greens are definitely getting better script writers these days, but you have to agree with Obama, put lipstick on a pig… (or even a ponytail).
Mark King doesn’t like the dinosaur that is high-carbon industry. But he and his fellow greens don’t like low-carbon industry either. They hate industry full stop. Why are they focusing on aviation, which is one of the smallest producers of carbon emissions? The Greens have consistently opposed any technological solutions for Climate Change preferring to reduce consumption and smother demand, and solve the problem at is root. Kill aspiration and progress, but save the planet. How do they square the circle between their demands for caps on CO2 emissions which would lead to more economic problems by reducing productivity, God only knows. Or Gaia.
Yet, it was entertaining to see The Three Stooges do their act and expose how little they know, and how little they understand the world we live in, and the real reasons for the economic slump. (I think the sound of the recession happening sounds somewhat like slummmmp.) The solution is more industry, in the West and the Rest, more productivity, more investment in real infra-structure as opposed to meaningless subsidies for inefficient energy technologies such as solar panels on flats in London. And while we’re at it, let’s not politicise the energy question, and release from the confines of the climate change discussion. The real energy question is how we can get more energy, way more energy, cheaper, cleaner and more available, everywhere. So that we can fly more, produce more, and have more. So that one, every family in Africa can have a large house, two cars, and take a holiday in Europe every year. (They can go somewhere else if they want, it’s merely a suggestion).
To The Stooges of The Apocalypse, the world is passing you by, you are holding centre-stage now, but you are irrelevant. The media’s obsession with your every little action or utterance does not mean anything in the real world, and your mates from Cambridge or Oxford will not dictate the course of events in the long run. One day, the workers in this country will wake up, and then your antics will be over. Think of your next show.
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Karl reMarks is a blog about Middle East politics and culture with a healthy dose of satire.
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