Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine
"These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman."

Friday, 18 March 2011

Rule Britannia?



Isn't it time we stopped singing this song as it is so embarrassingly out of date? If it must be sung, at least let's change the words so that it fits with today's circumstances. I suggest:

Rule Britannia? Britannia no longer rules the waves. Britons are already mostly slaves.

Few, if any, will claim we rule the waves as it is clearly untrue and the previous government's decision to order aircraft carriers for which we have no planes to land on, turned the impressive naval tradition of Nelson and others into a naval joke.

Although, apart from our politicians, most would acknowledge that we are no longer a major naval or military power most would not see themselves as slaves. Perhaps slaves is something of an overstatement, but with the growth in the reach of the giant corporations, both global and national, the opportunities for individuals to be 'freemen' has steadily reduced. However, to choose to live more meagerly to provide more time for other activities apart from making money is not an unreasonable choice to make.

As Napoleon observed 'England is a nation of shopkeepers', however, as shopkeepers they were freemen to conduct business on the terms which they chose. Some may have been poor at their chosen business and lived meagerly, others excelled and presumably went on to found today's chains of supermarkets. Today, because of their size and ability to bulk buy, those who have developed out-of-town shopping centers have devastated our town high streets which has often reduced them to virtual ghost towns and left with few opportunities for 'freemen'.

As these multinationals and national corporations have spread their reach into the provision of virtually all goods and services, the opportunity to become a freeman by being 'self employed' has fallen alarmingly. Alarmingly, because if you cannot be a freeman you must be a servant of these corporations, which means you cannot choose when you will work - you are obliged, as the servant of the corporation, to agree to work at certain times and a certain length of time. If you fail to satisfy this agreement, you lose all of your work - not just, perhaps, one customer as you would as a 'self employed' freeman.

So as you travel to your out of town supermarket or even use those which remain 'in town' reflect that in doing so you are hastening the day when there will be few, if any, opportunities left for freemen and you and your family and friends will have no choice but to be servants of these ever growing, coldly ruthless, monsters who have no feelings whatsoever towards their employees. This contrasts to small businesses, where the numbers employed allow personal relationships to develop between all of those involved and a degree of consideration beyond cold profit is not only possible but actual.

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