Hello John, got a new brazier?

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I have a question.

Last year, epically self-assured and bombastic libertarian blogger John Demetriou stated quite plainly that he is a member of the PCS union and works in the public sector. Indeed, I lightly took him to task in the comments at the time.

Last week, we discovered that:

Up to 270,000 civil servants [PCS members] are to stage a 48-hour strike on 8 and 9 March in a dispute over cuts to public sector redundancy terms.

So, my question is, as you might expect, is John Demetriou coming out on strike?

I asked him in comments on his blog the other day, but he ducked the question.

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I won’t be so bold as to say ‘I think we should be told’, but I’d very much like to know.

AJ

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About Al Jahom
Anti-social malcontent, misanthrope and miserable git.

12 Responses to Hello John, got a new brazier?

  1. Why so interested, Al? You ask as if you’re a fellow member. Don’t you mean to ask ‘are you going out on strike’, rather than ‘are you coming out on strike’?

    I’m unsure of the relevance of the question and why readers will be interested or entitled to know. If you think my union membership is incongruent with libertarianism and libertarian values, why not just say as much?

    As to the question, I politely decline to answer. I don’t tell my closest colleagues of my intentions and as it’s a work related matter and I don’t talk about such things on my site as a rule, I’d rather keep the matter private. If it’s all the same to you.

  2. Al Jahom says:

    JD,

    I ask because I am interested. I ask because as your employer, I have a duty of care. :o)

    I’m not a fellow member. I can’t imagine the circumstances under which I would become a member of any union.

    I used ‘coming out’ as opposed to ‘going out’ because I see state apparatus as an armoured nucleus in the midst of our nation. Exiting this nucleus, albeit temporarily, would be ‘coming out’ being as I am an outsider to the world of gravy.

    The relevance of the question is not so much your libertarianism, though I had hoped you could show how you’d frame such a decision, were you to make it, in libertarian terms.

    The relevance is your political compass placement, which is profoundly at odds with the sort of trade union activity we see in this country – not least supporting the Labour party and worse. So membership is, as it was when I originally needled you about this, the first relevant factor.

    The second relevant factor is that, were it to be the case that you take part in any industrial action, well, how can I put this? Ah yes. I pay your wages. Did I mention that already?

    You’re a good guy and you’re clever. WTF are you doing in the public sector, less still peopling a union that’s a fucking bedfellow of the Socialist Workers Party?

    So are you coming out on strike or are you a scab? ;o)

    AJ

  3. Constantly says:

    If you think my union membership is incongruent with libertarianism and libertarian values, why not just say as much?

    Well, JD, I think your union membership is incongruent with libertarianism and libertarian values.

    But then, I think that a lot of what you say on your blog is ‘incongruent’ with what you’d like to think are your ‘values’.

  4. AJ,

    I recall discussing these issues in articles on mine in the not too distant past. But to re-cap over a few points…

    Firstly, I have grave misgivings about PCS and I am irked about the fact my membership money goes to a far left wing outfit, dominated by SWP hijackers and extremist socialists. I complain about it every now and then, and I kick off about it in various forums. I vote against the ruling group in union elections. I have my say where possible. However, the main reason for my continued membership is that the union provides a sort of personal insurance or protection scheme for me, in the event that I am bullied, harassed, victimised or treated unfairly in the workplace. They have many benefits, as well as the downsides.

    Secondly, I take no real part of Union activity and I don’t support their overall political aims.

    Thirdly, PCS covers a huge range of public sector bodies. Whitehall bodies, Quangos and so on. Some wings of the civil service are more militant than others. DWP makes up by far the biggest chunk of the Union in terms of member numbers and they are also the most militant. Take DWP away, and PCS wouldn’t be anywhere near as left wing as it is. I am not DWP and I don’t, in this instance, support the strike. I think it ridiculous and inappropriate in the current climate to strike over such things as changes to redundancy compensation packages, when you consider the sheer size of the national debt combined with the massively inflated size of the public sector wage bill. Let’s get realistic. In times like this (caused by Labour, no less) there’s no room for luxury and there’s no cash to piss away. Harsh, but what do we want more? Better compo packages for civil servants, or a triple A credit rating and the flexibility of not calling the IMF in for bail outs?

    Fourthly, yes, you and everyone who pays taxes pays my salary. Obviously. But then, that said, we need to have a quick look at a big issue: should there be a state, and if so, how big should it be and what should it include?

    I don’t talk about my job, it’s not part of my blogging thing. But I strongly believe that what I do is necessary and important, and would be considered such in libertarian terms.

    You can mock and chide me all you like for being a public servant paid for out of taxes, but unless you’re an out and out anarchist, I think it a bit harsh and presumptuous.

    • Al Jahom says:

      I appreciate you stating your position on the strike and agree with your reasoning there.

      I’m not an anarchist, but in working out where we need to be, I start with no state and add what’s required, rather than peeling the existing onion.

      Apparently, though, I need to take your word that your function is not only a valuable function, but one that can’t be delivered in the private sector.

      I have a couple of ideas what it is you do, but I’ll not probe that any further right now.

      Suffice it to say, the list isn’t what we cut, it’s what we keep.

  5. JuliaM says:

    “You can mock and chide me all you like for being a public servant paid for out of taxes, but unless you’re an out and out anarchist, I think it a bit harsh and presumptuous.”

    I didn’t realise one had to be an anarchist to realise that the state is massively overgrown, meddling in areas that should be none of its business and (so far) insulated from the effects of the recession?

    Oh, well, I had better practice throwing molotovs at police cordons, I guess… ;)

  6. Longrider says:

    However, the main reason for my continued membership is that the union provides a sort of personal insurance or protection scheme for me, in the event that I am bullied, harassed, victimised or treated unfairly in the workplace. They have many benefits, as well as the downsides.

    This is a valid point. While employed by Railtrack and subsequently Network Rail I was a paid up member of the RMT. Not because I supported their political agenda (which I didn’t), but for the very reasons mentioned above. On one occasion I had cause to call on that support and am thankful for it.

    Membership of a union is not incongruous with libertarian ideals as they are voluntary collectives. The behaviour of the unions can be – which is another matter. An individual can use their vote in such circumstances.

    That said, I would still advise any new starter in the rail industry to join for the insurance aspect, despite my fractious relationship with the RMT in latter years.

  7. “I didn’t realise one had to be an anarchist to realise that the state is massively overgrown, meddling in areas that should be none of its business and (so far) insulated from the effects of the recession?”

    What a massive misrepresentation of what I actually said and what my views actually are. I suggest paying closer attention to what I write about unions, the public sector and the role of the state. Starting with my comment post above.

    I do agree the state is ‘massively overgrown’ and meddles in ‘areas that should be none of its business’.

    My contention with AJ was over the implied assumption that no state should exist. If we accept that some form of state is necessary, then the debate has begun. What should it include and why? Which would then facilitate my argument that, on the basis that a limited state is indeed necessary (i.e. we reject complete anarchism) then we need some public bodies and therefore public servants.

    If we accept we need public servants and bodies, then we can begin to get reasonable about it all and cease with attacks on civil servants for taking public money.

    It doesn’t have to be all back and white. Libertarianism needn’t be a purist’s ideology.

  8. Pingback: Longrider » What Others Are Saying

  9. JuliaM says:

    “I suggest paying closer attention to what I write…”

    Wow! Wouldn’t it have been quicker to simply write: ‘Behold my massive ego!’

    You know, i don’t think I will take up the offer to read more of your drivel, thanks very much. Not while I’ve still got bathroom tiles to grout…

    “My contention with AJ was over the implied assumption that no state should exist.”

    And where did he say that? Oh, right, nowhere. It’s an ‘implied assumption’, by which you mean ‘I just pulled this remark out of my ass and god, I hope no-one notices’…

    “If we accept we need public servants and bodies, then we can begin to get reasonable about it all and cease with attacks on civil servants for taking public money.”

    While those civil servants are biting the hand that feeds them (i.e. me and all the productive members of society) while all the other civil service unions have sensibly seen which way the wind is blowing, I’ll feel free to criticise them as much as I want.

  10. Julia M seems to think I have a massive ego, because I had the temerity to insist that she doesn’t libel or misrepresent me. What a curious attitude to debate she has.

    No, Julia, this isn’t about big headed, it’s about getting facts straight. Facts that are evident by simply reading what your interlocutor has to say, as opposed to what you might like to think he said or what you fantasised he said.

    Your rude posting is actually quite in keeping with the sorts of drivel I read across the libertarian commentsphere. You think you have all the answers, and all of one lot of people are wrong and all those who agree with you are right. No grey area, no in-between.

    And you say I have a massive ego.

    Check yo’ own decks, love.

  11. JuliaM says:

    “Julia M seems to think I have a massive ego, because I had the temerity to insist that she doesn’t libel or misrepresent me. “

    No, you clearly can’t read. I think you have a massive ego because you suggested I need to pay closer attention to your writings. Now who is misrepresenting whom?

    “Your rude posting is actually quite in keeping with the sorts of drivel I read across the libertarian commentsphere.”

    Across the what..!?

    I’m not a libertarian. At least, I don’t class myself as such. If you have problems with libertarians, I’d suggest you DON’T start seeing them under every bush and blog comment, it simply makes you look like a one-trick pony.

    And I’m quite well aware that I don’t have all the answers, but by god, I certainly understand the questions, which is a hell of a lot more than you appear to do judging from your replies here…

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