A Letter to Jacob

Inside the strange minds created by wealth and privilege

Note: This post is written as if it were a letter to Jacob Rees-Mogg, a peculiar product of the British class system and the kind of over education you get if you've never had to struggle for anything in your life. This is not a personal attack, although such a thing would be relatively easy, but an attempt to share my understanding of the peculiar minds that run the country I live in, and why there isn't any reasoning with them.

Dear Jacob

The silly boy and his love of money

I'm sure you remember the often quoted Give me the child until he is seven and I will give you the man - I do not know if you were taught by Jesuits, but I am sure that the silly boy in the film from 1982 who loves money is the same as the man we see before us now. In that film your twelve year old self demonstrates conclusively that he has no connection whatsoever with the rest of the populace and has an irrational love of money.

People often misquote the Bible, saying that money is the root of all evil, but as we both know the actual words are the love of money is the root of all evil. Money itself is just a tool for managing resources needed to do things. Given your professed faith I find myself wondering what that says about you, and your relationship with your beliefs, but you would doubtless say that was a private matter.

Regulation bad?

You have recently been making a lot of noise about repealing various laws that are inconvenient when your friends want to make money relatively easily. Health, labour protection, food safety, all sorts of things the rest of us might need. These laws came from years of struggle between my class and yours. You had to concede them to us because we made you afraid of us. Now, the forces that did this have been put to sleep in a process started by your idol Margaret Thatcher, but that doesn't mean the actions of your class aren't going to awaken them again, the nationwide strikes we’ve seen are testament to this. The essence of your conservatism is holding on to an imaginary past, where you can have the world ordered as you wish. This means the rest of us must lose. You view human society as what theorists call a zero sum game; if there are winners there must be losers. Great wealth is built on disgusting poverty. Unless you can do what the idiot Truss claimed and grow pies.

I'm sure that someone of such complete erudition as yourself has had occasion to take a short break from the excitement of reading the lives of obscure medieval saints and read Marx's Das Kapital? There is a lot of discussion in volume one about how the state was forced to intervene to prevent capitalism in its raw form from simply using up the worker class. The creation of laws to regulate the length and conditions of working day, and attempt to enforce some kind of education for children wasn't done for charitable reasons, but instead to stop the short term untrammelled desire to maximise exploitation from destroying the one resource it needed to extract profit, that is human labour. It also has the useful byproduct of making it so competition is on what might be called a level playing field, which ironically encourages innovation instead of putting human beings in some kind of profit making mincer until there are none left.

Here's the rub; if the regulations create something like a moral and just system then the opportunities for high levels of exploitation are relatively limited. You either have to use labour from countries that have laxer regulations, flout the regulations, or get them removed. This is where questions of morals and empathy become meaningless. In a given industry or service, if one company finds a way past the regulations by lobbying or simply flouting them, suddenly all similar companies are forced to behave in the same way or die. This is why you can't appeal to the moral or empathetic qualities of a the capitalist as an individual. As a class their behaviour is determined by the worst amongst them, and the best must join in or lose what they have. Without regulation there is the mincer. This is why owners of capital constitute a class, their behaviour is forced by their position in how the system is organised.

Sovereign individuals

You live in a world that appears to be made just for you, where you get everything you need because of your money and power. I think the child's love of money was part of this. Fundamentally you're afraid of not being in control. You live in a world where there is only you, the idea that others might exist and be kind and helpful, where we could work collectively to make a decent world where we look after each other, which means we don't need money, or power, or any of the other things you feel you have to surround yourself with in order to feel complete. If everyone is king then no-one is, and we can't have that, can we?

Making sure that everyone is looked after and their needs met so no-one is left out is a completely alien concept to you. In such a situation there are no winners or losers. As far as I can make out unnecessary suffering caused by poverty, which is largely down to having relatively unlucky ancestors or bad luck more recently, is seen by you and your fellow travellers as somehow a moral failing that can't be fixed. Of course, this justifies your self-service and apparent greed. It's a very short step from this to the idiot Johnson saying inequality is necessary - well he would say that, wouldn't he? Given that both he, and you, are demonstrations of what happens when all you have of any real worth is privilege itself.

Because you are so strongly tied to the idea of the individual you don't understand how feeling and acting upon solidarity with others can protect everyone from the vicissitudes of life. Instead safety must be paid for, and love is a transactional relationship at best, and empathy probably turns into some feeble attempts at charity. This is despite the research showing that making sure people have enough to live on is a major factor in their health and longevity. Of course, other people don't matter.

Your father wrote a book called The Sovereign Individual which puts forward the idea of an individual becoming free of the state, and its pesky attempts to tax or regulate. Marxists know that the state is a capitalist state, interfering with the affairs of the wealthy only happens when forced by worker class people organising pressure to make it happen. So, this sovereign individual would have to be wealthy too, the rest of us will be still paying taxes, paying too much for under-resourced essential services and suffering from the cop's boot if we complain, because that's how it works. Those taxes are now channelled into income streams for people like you. This is essentially what the post-Thatcher years have all been about, turning things into money streams for the already obscenely rich while pretending it's everybody else's fault the world is turning to a storm blasted hell hole. All the rhetoric about freedom comes apart once you realise the question is freedom for whom, and from what?

Genius or vacuous pretention?

Claiming that concentration camps weren't as bad as people think they were, which was later debunked anyway, isn't the intellectual tour de force you seem to think it is. You appeared to defend both the forced incarceration and death as well as the deaths from poverty in Glasgow at the time. It makes me think you must subscribe to some form of utilitarian philosophy. This view is much beloved by silicon valley types who want to make sure that their charitable contributions will do the most good and starts down a very brutal road, attempting to minimise things that make people unhappy while not addressing the underlying causes, the vicious inequalities ossified by capitalism. Again we hit the problem with conservatism and individualism, and and inability to act with solidarity and compassion.

I was very amused when you resigned from Sunak's government. Apparently you were too pretentious to just put a date on the letter and had to put St Crispin's Day on it. This is all part of your faux erudition, for example when Theresa May was in power you once made a comment about the word shambles, after it was used to describe some nonsense your party was involved in, and of course your intervention was incorrect as usual. Like most of the disconnected, over educated fools you run around with you can't stop on the nitpicking and outright silliness that comes from your cultured inability to understand of what most of us would call the real world. The everyday use of the word is well understood anyway, but it allowed you to trivialise and dissemble, avoiding straight answers to straight questions.

You aren't as bright as you would like to pretend. Half remembered facts from childhood years ago allow you to create an illusion of erudition but close examination of what you say usually demonstrates your grasp was flimsy at best, and self-serving nonsense at worst. It's not surprising. Erudition takes work and study, usually interaction with others to test your ideas. When not in Parliament you appear to spend your days defending your money and making your wife pregnant, calling child number six Sixtus being an absolute mark of some kind of genius. There isn't much to you as a human being, no depth at all. On a human level I find you a pitiable object, a brutal emptiness in a top hat, a vacuum.

There's also the bizarre idea that your very polite persona somehow lets you off the hook. It's funny how your politesse does not hide your utter disregard for the humanity of others. This of course is related to the individualism that comes from your conservatism. If others only exist as a back drop for your perfect life they need not have their needs catered for. Your needs are far more important than others', and are the only ones that matter, and the grasp of money and power means other people's needs don't exist for you. Those armed with money and power don't have to listen. Again, we have this pushing away of the world. If you believe the meek shall inherit the earth you have strange way of showing it.

The skull beneath the skin

Wealth is built on violence, the blunt expropriation of labour or resources of one kind or another. Capitalism is a closed fist. We now live in times where the flow of wealth has been made extremely abstract. The ordinary person earning a salary can't see how money flows around, but you and your friends are experts at making and taking these flows into your own pockets. Money is essentially tokens that can be used to buy assets, things that everyone may need. As more of the things that make up the world end up as the possessions of people like you, there is less and less for the rest of us.

This is where your real erudition lies. I am convinced you know how to use your great wealth to funnel resources where you want, and then grow it even more, without anyone having to tell you. Using tools like financialisation and loading companies bought with debt to avoid tax while making sure the profits are squirrelled away as interest payments for your later use. Playing games that direct the surplus into your own pocket, or rather a pocket you control based in a tax haven. This is how the financial game works now, and it's very difficult for the ordinary individual to see it, and for governments to tax it, which of course is the point. This assumes the governments would even attempt to levy tax, which given your class controls them is a moot point at best.

Financialisation means that the services like banks that originally gave loans to the parts of the economy that actually do and make useful things in order to keep running smoothly now take the lion's share of the money flows as interest and fees. It also means that for everyday people they now pay small but consistent fees for everything they do or need when they didn't used to. These fees aggregate up into huge sums when you look at the large banks or transport, water and power monopolies. Games are played with this money, in essence gambling, and money moves around the markets. Of course, if you know what the government is going to do next to move the markets you wouldn't be betting, would you? Nothing dubious has been proved and probably never will be.

Your father wrote another tome entitled Blood on the streets where he talks about how to use social unrest to make money. When people are afraid it is the best time to buy assets because they will be panicking and selling cheaply. The writer Naomi Klein wrote a book some time ago, The Shock Doctrine, that explains how disaster capitalists think. Any kind of disruption that means regulators or people living through a crisis might be more concerned with their immediate survival gives the unscrupulous opportunity to change things so they can line their pockets and the deed is then done before anyone can prevent it. For example, after New Orleans was devastated by hurricane Katrina, people suddenly discovered the education for their children had been tied up in vouchers that were worth less than the original funding and it was too late. Your Brexit was a fine example of this. While we were all arguing about irrelevant nonsense and pushing back against the Johnson government's latest lies our rights were quietly put on a bonfire and years of work over climate change quietly shelved or undone.

What next?

I don't believe you are silly enough not to know that there is an Ecocide coming. Despite the things you have said otherwise there is far too much evidence. You are pro fossil fuel and I suspect your investment portfolio reflects this. As long as there is a penny to be made, in no matter how dubious, stupid or amoral a fashion, someone will be there to grab it. This competitive dynamic was explained earlier here. It is perfectly logical if your only goal is capital accumulation, and having any other goal means you lose. This is why many of us are beginning to realise the systems must change and the existing system must be taken down. We say the choice before humanity is ecosocialism or barbarism, and you have nothing to offer that isn't some form of barbarism. Truly, this time, there is no alternative.

If not, once the sea gets too acidic to support the creatures that release oxygen into the air, once the rivers are so full of sewage there are no fish to eat, once the pollution in the air makes it unbreathable even if there is enough oxygen, once over farming finally ruins the soil, etm. what then?

Many wealthy people started buying places in New Zealand, which is believed to be somewhere that might survive, but the government there have stopped this. I'm sure there are other places. Do you imagine when you and your kith and kin all jump into a fleet of cars and head for a boat or plane to take you to somewhere you have bought as an escape, do you imagine the rest of us will allow it? Do you imagine the people that live there will welcome some English pretender and his entourage when things are looking bad everywhere else? Heaven forbid, you might find yourself suffering and dying with the rest of us.

Mars? Be serious.

Or maybe you plan to hide in some castle you have acquired in Southern England? How long do you think it will take for the crowds with pitch forks to arrive when things get really bad? What happens when the rivers burst their banks, flood the place, and ruin what crops you've managed to coerce the peasants into planting?

What then, dear Jacob, what then?