Month: July 2023

Britain x Family (Magazine Excerpt)

In the last magazine, I outlined a Sensible Proposal for reforming the British state. It wasn’t exhaustive, but the meat and potatoes were there. In the proposal, I briefly mentioned the need to do exactly this. I suggested the BBC, if it wants to be spared abolition, should broadcast stuff worth watching – programs that will elevate, rather than demoralise, our great nation.

Specifically, I proposed broadcasting Spy x Family to the masses.

Far from being tongue-in-cheek, I sincerely believe that such a policy – and similar policies – would be excellent reforms for any government to implement.

For the uninformed, Spy x Family is a Japanese manga series created by Tatsuya Endo in 2019. The story follows a spy (Loid Forger, codename: Twilight) who has to “build a family” to execute a top secret mission. Unbeknownst to him, the girl he adopts as his daughter (Anya Forger) is a telepath, and the woman he agrees to be in a marriage with (Yor Forger, née Briar) is a skilled assassin. 

As of March 2023, Spy x Family has over 30 million copies in circulation, making it one of the best-selling manga series in history. On April 9th 2022, the Spy x Family anime was released. Like the manga, its popularity was instantaneous, obtaining around 7 millions views on its inaugural episode – an immense success for a new show.

Appealing across and within various demographics, topping the charts as Japan’s favourite anime of 2022, it has cultivated an eager international fanbase. Consisting of 25 episodes, a second season will premiere this year, as well as an anime film.

That said, whilst the media success of Spy x Family is there for all to see, little is said about its impact on Japanese society. Nine months after the show’s debut, Japan’s fertility rate experienced an uptick after consecutive years of stagnation and decline.

Sure, it was a very small uptick and Japan’s fertility rate remains far below the point of replacement. In all technicality, Japan’s continues to worsen, just at a less severe rate. Nevertheless, in less than a year, Japan has gone from another stereotypically infertile state to the most fertile nation in the Far East.

Coincidence? I think not!

As a matter of fact, one of the most common reasons for remaining childless, often surpassing financial concerns, is the presumption that having children will deplete one’s quality of life.

Considering how bad things are becoming in Britain, one would require a pretty pessimistic idea of what family entails. Indeed, when you realise what people think of when they hear the word “family”, it’s easy to see why.

At the beginning of the last century, positive portrayals of family life were hegemonic; portrayals that contrasted a more nuanced reality: family life was often less-than-picturesque. Consequently, more cynical (or realistic, depending on your exact stance) portrayals of the family became more commonplace.

I invite you to look at literally any TV show made over the past 30 years. Families are almost always portrayed as rowdy prisons, children are portrayed as nasty parasites, and divorce is portrayed as blissful liberation. 

This is an excerpt from “Nuclear”.

To continue reading, visit The Mallard’s Shopify.

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Birth of the Cosmoproletariat (Magazine Excerpt)

When you hear talk of globalisation, the winners and losers have become fairly set categories: the “winners” are the hyper-mobile, global class that are capable of picking up and putting down almost anywhere, whether that is London or LA, Tokyo or Berlin, Moscow or – well, maybe not Moscow, at least not at the moment. 

These winners are the beneficiaries of the most dynamic economy that has ever existed in history before, in such a way that – even if we cannot put a hard date on it – I think it is pretty clear that the modern global economy defines the contemporary era of mankind more than anything else. We are living in the “global age” and there will inevitably be those for whom that age is good.

And then there are those for whom that age is bad. These are the majority of people whose lives are usually spent in one place, from school to work and, if they’re lucky, a few years of retirement. They might be more mobile than their ancestors, for whom life was inevitably spent in the same village, whilst they travel around their county or district but, broadly speaking, never stray too far. 

These are the losers, we are told. They have suffered the effects of globalisation – declining industry, evaporating investment, creaking and groaning infrastructure – but are powerless to do anything about it, as they get caught in a cycle in which power follows money and money flows away. 

So why not go where the money is? Why not travel abroad, where the work is? Part of the reason is that the last thing the “losers” have left is each other. The day before the In/Out Brexit Referendum, news vox-pops of people on the street saying they would vote to Leave, when asked why, gestured and said “look around. What do I have left to lose?” The backdrop of shuttered shops and boarded windows was the answer, and it wasn’t a very compelling one. 

But the answer off-screen was one that the Remain camp had tried to buy into – they had their families, their households, their communities. When David Cameron claimed Brexit would “put a bomb” under the British economy, and George Osborne’s treasury pumped out statistics on the damage it would do to the average household, they were trying to speak to the rational brain that fears material loss. It made sense – it was the same brain they had been speaking to for six years with messages of necessary spending cuts, tax breaks, and increasing job opportunities. 

Except this did not work because that audience was not there. The average person did not have the material loss to be threatened, and at a time when fatherlessness was rising, families were breaking down, and over three million households were single-parent; even that small amount to lose was felt to be lost already. 

The one thing that the losers had left was their community – and by and large, these were communities that had been decimated by the austerity years. So, they stayed, because their families might be thin and disappearing but their community remained fairly strong. 

When Karl Marx decided that the slow transfer of people from the countryside to the cities meant that the “proletariat” would emerge, he was attempting a scientific analysis of what was already happening. As people moved from field to factory, leaving behind their old places in the world and attempting to take up new ones, they forged bonds of solidarity to replace the ones they lost. Human beings are deeply sociable, both from an inherent reality, and an existential need; we can only come into this world as a result of others, but we need to be seen and recognised while we’re here.

So, Britain especially saw the rise of industrial communities – and not just the political conscious-raising efforts of Trade Unions, for politics is tiresome and boring, really. There were also football clubs, local churches, free schools, civic action groups, and so on – in Bristol, there were 400 alone. I’m sure Marx’s miserable mind was able to only imagine the political, but in truth the personal is so much more interesting and enriching than the political. Don’t be fooled that they are the same thing.

This is an excerpt from “Nuclear”.

To continue reading, visit The Mallard’s Shopify.

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The Reset Clause (same time next 25 years)

How did we get here, and where do we go? A lot of modern political questions can be summarised in those two simple questions. Our cultural and political zeitgeist has possibly become the equivalent of going out for a quick pint and realising sixteen hours later we have woken up on a flight to Mexico.

This literal cultural hangover event merely asks up to beg the question of where we go from here, now that everything has happened prior to our sleep walking and into the current awakening.

Legally, we might be more at home in Terry Gilliam’s ‘Brazil’, or One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, in being trapped within a world that both defies logic or order. A world ran by malicious people, albeit far too stupid to be truly Orwellian Big Brother figures.

As noted by Nicolás Gómez Dávila’s book Sucesivos Escolios a un Texto Implícito:

“Dying societies accumulate laws like dying men accumulate remedies.”

If such things are true, then how do we stop the accumulation? Are societies, as they get further complex and interconnected into themselves and the outside world, doomed to merely breakdown under their own weight? Do we end up investing more energy into systems with greater diminishing returns, until the project itself collapses (Joseph Tainter makes this argument in his book ‘The Collapse of Complex Societies’).

Alternatively, is collapse merely something that occurs when a nation or civilisation loses the fire it once had, and the cracks begin to show? Do we physically lose the will to continue with the same drive and passion that our predecessors had, or do we merely just burn out like Wang Huning often pondered?

Where are the get out of jail free cards, the mechanisms to stop the damage, how do we stop this strange death from approaching?

We often see images of political leaders placing their hands on religious texts, and then stating that they will protect the law of the land and uphold the constitution or whatever. This is nearly always a lie when you have people who neither understand nor respect the original foundations which the nation sprung from.

It was Edmund Burke that said society is a contract between the dead, the living and those yet to be born, and civilisation is an intergenerational struggle between the civilised adults and the little barbarians they have given birth too.

You just must domesticate them before the little barbarians become big ones. This social contract and corresponding obligations are not peer pressure from dead people, but an active handing of cultural responsibility in a civilisational relay race of life.

So, how do we remove these laws? The formation of which will only further hinder future generations. One idea is that of a constitutional reset clause being placed into the political framework of a country. A reset clause would allow for directly examining the new laws that have come into place over the course of every generation. This would allow for a new political class of individuals to look at what has occurred and decide what to do with it all.

With a typical generation being between twenty to thirty years, and twenty-five being in the middle (also fits well for being a quarter of a century), this could be a good way to start. We can take an original constitutional document like the United States Constitution. It is simple, codified, and adheres to higher values for what is expected of both citizenry and government.

Instead of feeling like original documents merely get chipped away with the passage of policy and time, such actions will help people to regularly reassess the direction we are going in. We start at a neutral original document point and let people naturally add further to the document, after twenty-five years we look at what has occurred and assess what has happened previously. The reassessment will allow people to critically examine what has happened and what laws we really need and what needs to be let go.

I sometimes fear we slowly walking into a South Africa-like situation, where we find ourselves with a constitutional document that does not benefit anyone; burdened with laws that only create issues for everyone down the line.

As a result, the problem with South Africa is that it eventually started looking like South Africa, we do not want this nor benefit from this if we continue down this path.

Until this happens one thing is certain, the slow progress of not just time but also law will eventually create a multigenerational leviathan that will ultimately have to be stopped, if left unchecked.

We could pick a date as a proverbial year zero, of which the original laws always remained, and you would then let it play out.

Although, the practicality of such ideas will never get off the ground, hypothetically we should be constantly examining the accumulation of laws and the quality of them moving forward.

In conclusion, what this might mean is that we must reform how we think and view law within our countries and the accumulation of it all. Are we slowly walking into a bureaucratic nightmare and if so, how do we escape from such problems, well and truly?

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