The Burning House

the burning house, capitalism, zero hour contracts

Each generation blames the last. It’s part of the scorched suburbia plan. It has nothing to do with hipsters or emos, goths, grunge kids, new romantics, punks, hippies, teddy boys and beatniks. That is only one part of its delivery into your home, in your psyche, into the way you walk, talk and think. In a way it has everything to do with Freddy Mercury’s ‘Great Pretender’ and your role in it. I use the great pretender analogy to highlight something we have all been doing every day of our lives, our parents did it, and if you’re young enough your post-war grandparents did it. You bought into a lie. You pretended. You’re still pretending that some things matter. A very sophisticated, self-fulfilling lie that makes you look anywhere but where the problem is. The problem is that these problems are so personal, so bad, so financial, so soul destroying that many of us cry alone, yell at the walls we can no longer afford and yell at the one’s we love. It kills many of us, it puts some us in our graves, those who survive find their soul withered, our personality crushed, our self forgotten and it affects so many now, that it has become such a BIG problem, we have to drive it from our minds. Collectively we ignore it. We are a nation that is starving. A million of us and growing, and we share a common problem. Many of us were told the way out of our poverty was education. Up to the late seventies, that was probably right but by the nineties, that game was over. We are one of the cleverest most well informed generations to die of ignorance. It seems the further up the educational ladder we climb the more likely we are to find ourselves unemployed, and told to retrain. It is here, that many blame the unions, the politicians, their parents but the sad fact is your parents have been a victim of this, the unions have been a victim of this and the politicians are definitely victims of this. It is the burning house. It is an economic model that has slowly eradicated our rights as humans. It has made us pretend to be human but without any of the problems of being communal, of caring and of doing something to set things right. The burning house asks only one thing, the material to keep burning. We call it capitalism. There was a time that I would have spelt that with a BIG C, as with any ‘ism’, but that is now as distasteful as embracing the BIG F in fascism. The two models are similar; they both deal in fear, ignorance (both social and personal) and hatred. Hatred in both models is there to create a distraction, as in, look at those immigrants, look at those foreigners, look at them next door, look at that bloody disabled person – all of them scroungers. That’s a word that has flooded the press and social media. It is again, people pretending to care. It is a game of fear. This game has taken over from The Big Society. It is now more like look at THE BIG SCROUNGERS SOCIETY. While you play your role in this, no matter how small, no matter how large, the house keeps burning, you feed it by pretending to do your part but actually not doing a thing. Your silence makes you complicit in the problems we have today. The greatest tool in The Big Society, the thing that has been pushing down the unemployment figures is the zero hours contract. There has never been three words that delight the burning house more. Three words has fed it millions. The burning house is built on the zero hours contract but back at the start it was more honest with how it worded it: surplus labour. Men and women once stood outside factories and dockyards waiting to see if they would get the work, every day, in all seasons and your ancestors fought for the right not to do that, to have dignity, to have unity, to have strength in numbers. It was a good game and we almost stopped pretending, we almost put the fire out after the Second World War. We saw where the burning house would inevitably lead us and we said, ‘No more’. Then we forgot our history once more. Surplus labour became zero hours and this model of employment was justified as cost saving by companies, universities, colleges and schools wanting to make a profit, because the burning house needs something to make it burn brighter. Surplus labour now find themselves waiting for phone calls, emails and letters to tell them if they have work for a month, a semester, a year and they outnumber those in salaried roles in education and business. Just as they did once before but still we are pretending that everything is okay, we are pretending that all our problems, though they hurt will make us stronger, better humans. Never has there been such cruelty done to so many in the name of making people better people. Listen to those people, listen to how they are scared that they can’t pay their bills, that their houses will be repossessed, that they can’t look their children in the eye or their parents because their parents had it better. Their parents can’t quite understand why their children are having it so bad when they worked so hard to give them a better education. We all remain silent. We all pretend that education is the answer. Many people who get an education hated it at some point, ask your parents, ask your grandparents and ask the right question. Ask them who stuck in their memories from school. Ask them for the good, the bad and the ugly. Most of the answers will either fall into two categories (a) rose-tinted, or; (b) cruel. B is the fascinating one, it is often tale of how some hapless boy or hapless girl had something truly awful thing happen to them and wasn’t it funny? In my school it was a boy called Clifford, who was thrown out of the boy’s changing room by the ‘lads’ as the girls passed. He was stark naked. This was made comical by an ad of the period in which a dragon says, ‘Clifford, puff’. It is wrong on so many levels. It will make anyone who was there laugh but not question beyond, ‘I wonder what happened to Clifford?’ The house keeps burning. We keep pretending that education will fulfil our dreams. We do not talk in terms of knowledge, of social security for all, of caring for all, of loving, supporting and allowing everyone to be part of humanity. Instead we dismiss that as a pipe dream, as a terrible economic model, there has to be a hierarchy and education gives us managers, academics, workers, go to people, entrepreneurs and people who are taught how to care. Education equals work, equals buying things, equals a stronger economy, a stronger society bolstered by those in debt. We trade in pain. We have whole markets handed over to the betting of pain. In the house we all burn, and we are all pretending: we work, we get an education, we get a better education or no education, no prospects and then a zero hours contract awaits for us all. Salaried positions are slowly eradicated on an accountant’s spreadsheet, savings are made, profits are boosted and we stop pretending we care. Your common complaint, other than not getting laid, is poor customer service. Calls of, ‘NO ONE CARES ANYMORE’. The burning house never cared, we merely pretending we cared. With no rights in many jobs and those in the unions, those in salaried positions look to those above, with more money, maybe a better education and they aspire to it and then they look down and shake their heads and wonder why people who are educated seem to be having it worse than their parents, their grandparents. They must be lazy? They must be scroungers? They can’t understand. They don’t want to understand that with fear comes cowardice. With cowardice comes ignorance and whole nations are seduced into a collective silence. A silence that leads to evil, a collective cowardice born of being pushed out on a cold winter’s day in front of someone who mattered as our nipples tightened, our penises shrunk and our bravado withered. We have died in the fire, and we will die many times before the end for we have sewn our lips shut. We have poked out our eyes. We have ripped off our ears. We do not question. The fear does not allow that. We do not unite. The house burns too fierce for that. We do not embrace our most simple needs: food, shelter, warmth. We buy them instead. We sell them instead. We make them a commodity not a right and soon we will all wait by the gates for the foreman to give us our jobs and we will all pretend to be grateful. We are all material for the burning house and we will pretend until the bitter end that we are enjoying it for we have been made cowards.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Brett Hackett says:

    Powerful, and essential Andrew. I couldn’t agree more, I hope more people get to read this.

    In my Grandad’s lifetime, he spoke to me about how much the left and social leaning governments did for us and if we look at England now we see the institutions that have made the UK beautiful attempting to be dismantled by the burning house as you eloquently put it. I hope more people make their voices heard before it is too late.

    1. andrewoldhamsboneyard says:

      Thanks, I hope you share it on social media and spread the word.

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