Your Happening World (11)

What’s new for Wednesday:

I knew there was a reason I liked them

When I started following the Premier League seriously last year for no reason whatsoever I started cheering for Middlesbrough, who were promptly relegated to the Championship…. Turns out I was right to support them:

Middlesbrough footballers have given their backing to thousands of steelworkers whose jobs are under threat.

The players wore Save Our Steel T-shirts on Saturday as they warmed up before their home game against Ipswich Town in the Championship.

Workers were welcomed to the ground and invited to march round the pitch 15 minutes before kick-off at the Riverside ground and fellow fans clapped in support from the stands.

Up to 4,000 Teesside-based Corus employees and contractors face redundancy after a consortium pulled out of a 10-year deal to continue producing steel from its Redcar plant, effectively mothballing it.

Corus multiunion committee chairman Geoff Waterfield said how important the club’s support was to the workers.

“It is long recognised that the steel industry is the heart of our community. The foundations of Middlesbrough and Redcar are forged and built on the steel families of this region,” he said.

“Likewise, Middlesbrough Football Club is and has been part and parcel of our community for generations.

In this age of multi-billionaires buying up clubs like so many subuto sets, it’s good to see a club recognise its local roots.

The Shock Doctrine – Naomi Klein

Cover of the Shock Doctrine

The Shock Doctrine
Naomi Klein
558 pages, including index
Published in 2007

Snow Crash was supposed to be a satire, but late in The Shock Doctrine Naomi Klein describes what’s going on in the United States right now that sounds quite a lot like the future Neal Stephenson portrayed in his novel. There’s a hollowed out federal government with all its core functions, especially warfare outsourced, while rich suburbs are seceding from their own cities to become commercialised, privatised towns with security by Blackwater mercenaries to leave the rest of America to rot away as surplus to requirements. The most shocking example that of New Orleans after Katrina, Disneyfied for the rich white tourists, its original, Black population dispersed all over the US, their neighbourhoods bulldozed to make way for more tourist attractions. All this, according to Klein, the logical end result of thirty years of disaster capitalism, pionered in the Latin American dictatorships of the seventies, matured in Eastern Europe in the late eighties/early nineties and reaching its zenith in Iraq in 2003 and New Orleans in 2005.

The Shock Doctrine is Naomi Klein’s second big book about capitalism and globalisation, after No Logo. Both are critical exposes, but The Shock Doctrine is much angrier than No Logo ever was, more brutal, more pessimistic as well. Gone is the fascination and excitement that globalisation still had in the earlier book, when like a lot of anti-globalisation activists Naomi Klein could still admire the energy of it, even if fully aware of the horrendous costs its transformation of the world brought with it. It was the same kind of horrified fascination Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels showed for an earlier phase of globalisation, in the Communist Manifesto. In The Shock Doctrine this fascination has disappeared, replaced by disillusionment and anger.

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But what about Fatty Soames?

Fatty Soames

Yes, we could respond to the Tories scolding the fatties by pointing out that the link between obesity and health is not at all as clearcut as the moral panics make it out to be, that being fat is not just a question of being greedy, but of having access to good, affordable food, not to mention the time and ability to prepare it, that we’re being sold food that’s slowly killing us by one arm of a multinational company like Mars or Unilever while another arm is selling us dieting panaceas, but really all we need to do is point to Nicholas “Fatty” Soames, the Tory posterboy for self-satisfied gluttony, of whom it has been said having sex with him is like having a wardrobe falling on you with the key sticking out. Fat is good as long as it wears a bespoke suit, not tracky bottoms.