bit smaller than I expected (seves me right for expecting!), but
wonderful in a dark, random, melancholy, chaotic kind of way -- "The
Assembly of the Dead" / "The Mosque of Nothing", as
the name translates after all. Within sight (i.e. 500 m) of the
massive Koutoubia minaret, on a site that was a place of execution
apparently well into the 19th century -- a pagan, almost lawless
place. Part cheap-thrill carnival, part nuthouse, part music
festival, part anit-Islam release-valve, part gay cruise, part
pickpocket paradise, part tourist trap, part country fair. And more.
I found it mildly predictable after 10 minutes, slightly sad, kind of
inspiring, a bit frightening, strangely instructive, otherworldly,
and tiring. But Ill be back there tomorrow night."
If tomorrow the
government for some reason disappeared and we were all left without a
system of state would it in fact be such a bad thing?
people across the planet (and especially in the USA) who say that
anarchy or virtually no government involvement in our lives is the
best situation for the individual.
What they don't recognise is that
without important services for the public, run by the
public sector all that is left is the whims of a small number of the
richest to decide what the rest of us get and how much it will cost.
Since the collapse of
communism as an economic alternative to capitalism in the 1990's and
mainstream acceptance of market forces as the single dominant
principle following the Thatcher/Reagan era, it has been fashionable
to see the public sector as the biggest problem to deal with.
recent example proves exactly the opposite. The financial disaster
that has swept across Europe since 2008 has shown us that terrible
errors made in the banking sector demanded huge amounts of taxpayer's
money to prop-up and compensate for excessive risk-taking by finance
The ideologues who argued against
government regulation and oversight are the very same people who have
put out their hands for government bailouts for their shaky financial
What this continuing disaster clearly shows is
that those making decisions in the private sector are at least as
likely to stuff up as those in the public sector.
And they are in
fact even more likely to make judgements that are in their own
self-interest rather than any notion of the common good because that
is the nature of business.
To survive they must make profits. In
smaller operations the overriding concern is to keep the books
balanced and not go into the red too often or for too long. In larger
companies with shareholders their main job is to make sure that these
shareholders get significant dividends - good returns on their
investments. All other matters are minor when compared to the
financial bottom line.
Yes, there are some corporations and some
bosses who are ethical and treat their employees well but especially
in multinational companies those in ultimate control (ie. owners and
shareholders) often do not even live in the same cities or even the
same countries as the workers who create the revenue for them. Their
greatest prioritiy is to produce more wealth for the already wealthy.
On the other hand, there
is the public sector. Governments routinely fail the people they are
supposed to be accountable to - not shareholders, but instead
citizens, or at least voters.
We should not confuse the incompetence
or corruption in governments of every kind with incompetence or
corruption in the private sector because there are some crucial
In theory, every few years electors in democratic
countries have the opportunity to remove governments that let them
down, and in fact we often do this.
When the political system itself
fails its citizens, such as in the two-party system that has caused
many of us to question democracy itself (including in Spain, the UK
and the USA) an alternative should arise before too long, provided
that the populace takes a strong enough interest in how well it is
governed. In Spain, Podemos is one example of this.
The 20th century had one fundamental battle of ideas
that ran through it and that was the battle over how much government
we would have in our lives and why.
One extreme end of the spectrum
held that complete state control of the economy was ideal but across
China, Russia and Eastern Europe this has proved to be too much to
So-called free-marketeers countered that this proved that
government "interference" in the supply and demand of goods
and services (including the supply of labour) was mistaken - that it
is somehow counter to human nature.
In this column next month I will
be arguing why it is they who are in fact mistaken.