UK: We Want Our Empire Back!

Rule Britannia-never mind,you had a good run…

I like to watch British shows and its interesting how CLASS is still such a big deal. If it’s a crime show, they report on the class of the criminal and are “Oh, so shocked” if an upper class person does something nasty. They haven’t gotten over the idea that blueblood=goodness, as if gentry weren’t lying, cheating, stealing from and killing each other… forever. I wonder if that’s where Marx, who lived in England, got the conviction that history is just one big class struggle?

They also seem to long for the good ole’ days, when Britannia ruled the waves, men’s whiskers doubled as soup strainers and women’s corsets pushed their liver up to their collar bone.

The Brit Adam Curtis makes cool and quirky documentaries, one of which is a history of recent economics in four parts, called The Mayfair Set. It starts with an old time announcer asking if Britain’s power and influence, which had been declining since WWII, can be regained?  Short answer, no, all empires end-suck it up.

In the 1970s, a creative type accountant named Jim Slater looked around and saw that the “best” families who owned factories, did not really own them! They were publicly traded companies and stock was for sale. But they were still fawned over because their ancestors HAD owned them. So he figured he could buy up the stock, throw out Lord Snoutentrough, strip the assets, pay off the loan from buying the stocks and get rich! And he did. Thus was born what we called hostile takeovers. For some time, this was promoted as a way to increase the efficiency of the factory. Why keep all those expensive workers around? It didn’t fix England’s economy, of course, it savaged it, but the takeover guys got rich. And Slater woke up the power of the stock market, which would eventually gobble him up and take over the nation (and the world?) itself.

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