'In the real world', four little words that have long been the comfort of the powerful in the protection of their established corruptions and vested interests.
It's 19 February 2014. Leaving the train a headline from a discarded copy of today's Daily Telegraph caught my eye. 'Benefit Cuts Give People Hope'. I was surprised; even by neo-liberal standards of double-speak this took some nerve. Glancing at the top of the article I noted that Cameron, irritated by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols's denunciation of his Government's policies, claimed he had a moral duty to end the cycle of dependency, whatever that is. Well, I thought, the man has no shame, but we knew that.
In passing one might observe that Archbishop Nichols's words represent another example of the mainstream Church effectively taking on the mantle of opposition, a role abjectly abandoned by the heirs of New Labour.
But it's grimly ironic that Cameron should bring up the spectre of dependency because there is indeed a growing dependency culture, one being nurtured by this Government.
The Coalition - let's remember the Lib Dems, including that old hypocrite Vince Cable, are implicated up to their yellow necks in this - are creating the real culture of dependency. A culture of insecurity, short-term contracts, increasing costs, falling wages and even slave labour. A grotesque culture in which we, the people, are increasingly reduced to dependence on the whims and competence of the capitalist class, a class including the bankers, the corporate multi-nationals, the spivs, the dodgy oligarchs, the friends of Cabinet ministers, and, of course, the current and former multimillionaire Cabinet ministers themselves.
A capitalist class who share a vested interest in reducing the wages, the rights and the job security of those who work for them. A capitalist class that has a vested interest in creating private monopolies and the destruction of small business. A capitalist class that has a vested interest in seeing social security slashed to create a pool of vulnerable and dependent workers who know that any sign of independence will see them returned to the scrap-heap until they have learnt servility.
And the State, represented by the Coalition, not only fails to protect the people, it not only acquiesces in the degradation of working people, but actually carries out its business in order to further the interests of the capitalist class. It actually collaborates in increasing our dependency on these parasites.
The State is not an alien entity to be destroyed. It is us organising to improve our lives. The State should be us choosing from among ourselves people to administer our collective interests. It should be us employing some to undertake the essential, useful and enriching tasks that improve life for all. The State should be us ensuring no-one has to live in poverty or in fear. It should be us protecting the vulnerable. It should be us paying for all this according to our ability.
The Coalition are working to end this idea of the State. Despite their neo-liberal rhetoric of liberty, the Coalition vision is not one of a free and independent people living in a flourishing democracy within the rule of law. The freedom they offer, stripped of the hysterical populism, is of a free-for-all in which the rich prosper at our expense. Their State is an authoritarian oligarchy in which working people know their place and are kept in it.
So, for the past decades we've been told the private sector has the answers. That public provision of services is wasteful and inefficient. And it's taken sustained flooding to nail this lie with the smug Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail reading so and sos. If you cut expenditure on providing social services, bad things happen. Not just to the poor, the disabled, the vulnerable, who they don't give a toss about, but to them.
Revolution or Reform? Should we aim to win through to a new society by reforms? Is revolution the only way to rid ourselves of capitalism, or is this implausible nonsense at best and a betrayal of the working class at worst?
The longevity of the battle, and the acrimony with which it is sometimes conducted, is astonishing. The same arguments trundled out. The same counter-arguments deployed. Neither side convinces the other and the status quo remains.
At least Left Unity is trying - again - to get the Left to overcome this temptation to fight each other rather than capitalism.
It all springs from the notion of Revolution as a means instead of an end.
Though they are much to blame, Marx and Engels did not (always) believe the Proletarian Revolution was a single moment in history when the world would be turned upside down. They realised reforms were part of the process, the change from capitalism being achieved in part through changes in the tax system.
'Of any economic system we must ask: Does it enhance human dignity? Does it create self respect? Does it encourage creativity? Does it allow everyone to participate in the material blessings of this created world? Does it sustain a climate of equal regard - for employees as well as employers, the poor no less than the rich? Does it protect the vulnerable and help those in need to escape the trap of need? Does it ensure that no one lacks the means for a dignified existence? Do those who succeed share their blessings with those who have less? Does the economic system strengthen the bonds of human solidarity? And does it know its own limits - does it recognize that its values are not the only values, that there is more to life than a perpetual striving after wealth, that the market is not the only mechanism of distribution, and that an economic system is a means not an end?'
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks
Cameron's announcement that he wants to scrap 'green' regulations in order to mitigate the rise in energy bills is a perfect illustration of the elevation of short-term expediency that characterises pure Capitalism. It makes the argument for central planning of key parts of the economy (as well as that for returning utilities to democratic ownership) better than any socialist theorising.
'Socialism postulates that an altogether different economic system will in due course come to replace capitalism, and that this economic system will be based on the principle that no person should work for the private enrichment of another and under conditions of enforced subordination; and wage labour … will be taken to be as morally repugnant as slavery or serfdom are now viewed as being'. (Ralph Miliband, Socialism for a Sceptical age, 1994, p.29)dit
In the Times today, there's more on the Miliband reshuffle replacing Blairites with Blairites. Labour remains desperate not to be thought Left wing. Yet if the Daily Mail episode has taught the Labour party anything, it should be that it is pointless trying to appease rags like the Mail, Sun and, yes, the Times.
Inside, 70 leading social welfare charities call on the coalition to stop maligning and stigmatizing those depending on welfare.
Miliband was forceful and angry in defence of his father. Would that he would show the same spirit in defence of ordinary people.
We learn that overstretched care-workers are being paid less than minimum wage even though they are working at the edge of society, with difficult and vulnerable cases.
Yet proof that this is a wealthy country, not a poor one, but that the wealth is increasingly unequally distributed is provided by the story that private tutors, at up to £100 a session, outnumber school teachers.
And we learn that the Milgram 'we're all concentration camp guards really' experiments were effectively faked. An aspect of neo-liberal mythology is that humans are unpleasant and out for what they can get. (Though in practice dependant on the philanthropy of those in ragged trousers - such as care workers). This shows that humans have a much higher degree of decency and it takes a lot to get most people to behave like b*stards.
The UK's largest prison, HMP Oakwood, privately run by G4S, has failed every test of how a prison should operate. Imagine if this had been a state-run institution, the Times might have given it rather more than a paragraph.
At its 2013 Conference Labour party delegates voted unanimously, unanimously!, to bring the railways back into public ownership and renationalize the Royal Mail if and when it is sold. The Labour leadership took no notice. So much for those who argue people on the Left should stay in the Labour party and fight their corner there. It just ain't gonna happen! With Blair Labour has crossed a line from the Left to the Right and while Ed Miliband isn't keen on dragging Labour any further to the Right, he seems quite happy where he is.
Power corrupts, we know, but it's not often a question of straightforward embezzlement or preferential treatment of friends.
No, it's rare for the powerful to feel corrupted. They will be sure what they are doing is unfortunate but necessary, or perhaps even necessary and good, but nevertheless, they have lowered their ethical standards to enjoy the thrill, the buzz of exercising power.
So we turn to President Obama and Syria. Surely his advisers have told him that Syria is not Libya (or Iraq), Assad is not Gaddafi (or Saddam Hussein).
Or perhaps not. The circles in which he moves have changed.
Nevertheless, it is a pretty obvious example. And as the rhetoric is ratcheted higher and higher, the gap between his former ideals and the realities of holding power become ever more exposed.
And, for those who dismiss such sentimental nonsense, the fact is US action without clear, explicit UN backing, apart from worsening the Syrian civil war, will not be in the long-term interests of the USA. It will persuade China, and remind Russia, that to counter the US's ability to act without or even in the face of UN approval needs more than soft power. It needs a big stick.