We Won’t Know Where We’re Going Till We’re There

This is the slightly odd title of one of my Bertie Ramsbottom business poems included in my 1994 anthology ‘The Poetry of Business Life’. It was heavily influenced by the curious behaviours I’d become all-too-familiar with both as a senior manager and – later – analyst of the fast globalising and politically obtrusive corporate world.

The Times they are a-Changing
   But not the old taboos
On asking where they’re going,
   Or what it’s for, and whose?

From “We Won’t Know Where We’re Going Till We’re There”
Bertie Ramsbottom © Ralph Windle 1994

Still, I suppose I was pleased, as well as surprised, to be asked by Mark Tully – long term BBC broadcaster and its India Bureau chief; but, by that time, presenter of its ‘Something Understood’ Radio and World Service series – to include a reading of it in his October 9, 2011 broadcast. Continue Reading »

Mrs May’s Magical Market Devotions
PublishedOctober 24, 2017 CategoryThe Hidden Dissuaders

Mrs May’s Magical Market Devotions

It seems that Virtue has, of late,
Not seven deadly sins but eight
To vanquish and eliminate
   To drink of Heaven’s nectar;
The most pernicious on the list,
Our leaders fervently insist,
Is one most moralists had missed –
   The evil Public Sector!

Yet none, more wickedly than this,
Drags Virtue to the great abyss,
And poisons with its Vampire kiss,
   Our economic vitals;
Nor prompts the Righteous and the Wise
To exorcise the Evil Eyes,
With fervent cries of ‘Privatise’
   To bolster their requitals.

Continue Reading »
Usury: and the Long Road Back to an Ethical Economics

Odd – that we should have, so frequently, to go back in these blogs to the basic meaning of words; though less surprising when we remember how much of the negative and cruel impact of our prevailing and long-standing neo-liberal regimes has been the hijacking of our language and the suppression and distortion of its true meanings. Trumpism is a contemporary, pre-eminent example of this phenomenon – but it has a much longer, more disastrous history (see my July 2016 blog ‘Market- Speak and the Erosion of Truth’). Continue Reading »

Lies, Post-Truths and The Power of Positive Blinking

When three books, all with “Post-Truth” in their titles, reach the market simultaneously, we may well wonder why three publishers in this competitive market place should court the obvious dangers of reader fatigue and subject over-kill.

We should add that two of the three books also boast the words “bull-shit” in their titles; and that all three authors are journalists (Evan Davis – Newsnight; James Ball – Buzzfeed; Matthew d’Ancona – The Guardian; and therefore maybe share an insider’s knowledge of what “bull-shit” is); as well as an awareness of what they term “Post-Truth” – and its familiar synonym “Fake News” – two very ‘in vogue’ buzz-words. Continue Reading »

Paying the Price: The Philanthropy Paradox

Charitable donations to UK universities passed £1 bn a year for the first time in 2015/16 reported Sally Weale, Guardian Educational Correspondent on 3 May 2017. What not to welcome, even if Oxford and Cambridge remain the biggest winners (46% of new funds and 34% of total donors)?. The total is a new high on the CASE (Council for Advancement and Support of Education) 15 year survey and, with Brexit looming, no doubt a source of joy and relief for Vice Chancellors and Conservative governments alike. Continue Reading »

The UK’s Pro-Brexit Asset Sale of the Century: Everything Must Go. People Optional

Unilever’s recent escape from Kraft-Heinz’ (£115 bn) predatory bid inaugurates the Takeover – Leviathan’s latest asset – steeple-chasing season. Unilever’s salivating shareholders are already up-in-arms about a killing missed, and demanding bigger and better others.

Paul Myners, ex City Minister and M&S Chairman at the time it fought off the bid of the egregious Sir Philip Green (of BHS notoriety) has sensed the threat and urged the prime minister to wake up and protect UK prime assets from the depredations of a potential ‘garage sale’. Continue Reading »

“What’s in a Name?” The Rose That Smells Less Sweet

The poet sang he’d never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
Whereat, some less poetic japer
Hacked it down to craft the paper
On which to read – but thus destroy-
This unique fountain of his joy.


From “All Shades of Green
Bertie Ramsbottom 2014

Juliet’s ill-fated admonition to Romeo – (“what’s in a name? that which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet”) has long set the criterion for the intimate language of true love. Continue Reading »

The Brave New World of Dis-Enlightenment
PublishedMarch 16, 2017 CategoryThe Hidden Dissuaders

The Brave New World of Dis-Enlightenment

The more the media expand
The less we seem to understand;
The more the information flow
The less we somehow seem to know;
The more the messages we send,
The less we seem to comprehend.
Communication rules, OK ?
Although there’s nothing much to say.

From ‘The Medium is the Message’
Bertie Ramsbottom, 1985

This far into the Brexit imbroglio, which has put most other issues in our lives into uneasy suspension, we have achieved the deplorable score of multiple questions and zero answers. Continue Reading »

Markets and the Wrath of God
PublishedFebruary 10, 2017 CategoryThe Hidden Dissuaders

Markets and the Wrath of God

“The Business true-believer’s shrine
Is something called The Bottom Line;
All great religions need their Sign,
Some symbol of the Most Divine…”

Bertie Ramsbottom
“The Bottom Line” 1985 *

In the recent momentous weeks, over-shadowed by the Trump inauguration and our more local bumblings-towards-‘Brexit’, we could well ask again the eternal question – when will we ever learn? Since, for better or for worse, each of such happenings entails yet another inescapable period of delusionary self-harm; and – in the long run more important – further diversion from the known priorities of saner, happier societies. Continue Reading »

The Flat-Earthers of Globalisation
PublishedOctober 13, 2016 CategoryThe Hidden Dissuaders

The Flat-Earthers of Globalisation

Last time, in “Whatever Happened to the Good Society?” we warned against the commentators who were already, post the EC Referendum, rushing to write the obituary of neoliberalism – in apparent ignorance of the formidable political and other defences it had built around itself over its many socially divisive years. In Jackson Lear’s chilling words (London Review of Books, July 2015)

“Neoliberalism is everywhere and nowhere; its custodians are largely Invisible.”

There’s much remaining to be done to fully locate and finally eradicate its deeply destructive social consequences; but in the recent, post-brexit, cacophony of comment, there seems little beyond the political posturing to suggest, even now, any deeper penetration of how this system works, has for so long maintained and propagated itself, usurps both the language and institutions of our democracy, and inflates our soul-less inequalities. Continue Reading »