The Fuehrer Principle in Britain

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Over in the UK, our Neo-Con pin-up Prime Minister has taken a moment or two off from trying to re-order the world, in favour of imposing his will more closely on the hapless members of Britain’s elective dictatorship.

Indeed, RobespiBlaire’s latest brainwave carries yet more worrying overtones of the 1930s, for, as the Observer reports, the First Citizen — indulging once more his penchant for u2018Fuehrerprinzip’ — has u2018instructed’ the rest of the Committee for Public Safety to prepare an ambitious u2018interventionist’ fitness strategy linked to London’s bid to host that apotheosis of state-worship, the Olympic u2018Games’.

Starting with the waste of 1 million of our money on publicity to show how gardening, walking to work and even housework can help make us fit (DOH!), Number 10 will again push the most recent of its long, Collectivist list of arbitrary, numerical u2018targets’, this the one of making 70% of people u2018physically active’ by 2020.

Cynics would argue that the way Britain’s transport and energy infrastructure are crumbling, the way our finances are deteriorating, and the rapidity with which our industrial plant is being mothballed, we’ll be a deal more u2018physically active’ by then regardless, if only because we are again marching on Parliament from Jarrow in protest!

In a letter, written to a colleague in July, Our Leader states: u2018We need an ambitious delivery strategy, using the Olympic bid as a catalyst, to develop more innovative and interventionist policies across the public, private and voluntary sectors in both health and sport if that target is to be achieved.’

RobespiBlaire is further quoted in the correspondence as saying: u2018We need a more energetic and proactive government leadership if our ambitions to drive up participation in physical activity and sport are to be more than just words.’

Thus encouraged, ministers and civil servants have formed an u2018Activity Co-ordination Team’ linking nine government departments, to come up with ideas (shudder!). Transport Secretary Alistair Darling is looking at how to u2018encourage’ (read: u2018force’) people out of their cars and on to pavements or cycles, while the Environment Minister is examining ways of opening up more countryside footpaths (i.e., of violating private property rights).

Tax subsidies to gymnasia, interference with doctors’ prescriptions, u2018rewards’ to education authorities who make kids walk to school, and a whole host of other inefficiencies and petty tyrannies have already been mooted by our Jacobin rulers in their latest attempt to force us — though presumably not them, personally — onto the path of virtue.

Does all this sound a touch familiar, conjuring up, as it does, images of Kim-Jong Il’s faceless masses engaged in choreographed calisthenics, or of Stalin’s drug-riddled teenage acrobats swooping through the air in gravity- (and Nature-) defying fashion?

Actually, the parallels go further back still — to the Kraft durch Freude (u2018Strength through Joy’) movement in 1930s Germany, which was aimed at providing the Aryan labour force with u2018relaxation for the collection of strength for more work’.

This may be bad for the value of second hand Jaguars since, one assumes, the less-than-lithe Deputy PM John Prescott will henceforth set an example by taking his mountain bike to work, rather than calling on his infamously overpopulated car-pool.

What, you don’t think so?

Facetiousness aside, given this mindset, how long will it be before this Gang triggers memories of another three-word totalitarian euphemism relating u2018work’ and u2018freedom’ — though perhaps we should wait to consider this issue until after the proposed introduction of compulsory personal identity cards sometime next year?

Sean Corrigan [send him mail] writes from London on the financial markets, and edits the daily Capital Letter and the Website Capital Insight. He is co-manager of the Bermuda-based Edelweiss Fund.

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