Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Separated at birth? Sajid Javid and the Ferengi

In the wake of Culture Secretary Maria Miller's graceless resignation, she was replaced by Sajid Javid, an immensely rich financial speculator and plutocrat with zero (seriously, I looked long and hard) interest or experience of culture. The best the newspapers could manage was that he likes the film It's A Wonderful Life and Star Trek films.

It's A Wonderful Life is a poor and ironic choice for Javid to claim affection for. It's the story of George Bailey a small-town building society operator whose care for his neighbours leads to bankruptcy at the hands of Henry Potter, a thieving mega-bank operator. As he contemplates suicide, an angel shows him what a poor and broken place his town would have been without him. Persuaded, he rallies round and is repaid with the faith of his neighbours.

Sajid Javid became a vice-president of Chase Manhattan at the age of 25, and soon moved to Deutsche Bank as a director, then managing director and soon Global Head (appropriately, given his appearance) of Emerging Markets Structuring, before moving to Singapore to run the credit trading, equity convertibles, commodities and Asian private equity markets.

In short, Sajid Javid is no George Bailey. If you wanted a poster child for the global economic crash, for mass unemployment, privatisation, the erosion of the state in economic planning and the destruction of all the things George stands for (community, compassion, empathy, sensible economics), Sajid is your man. He's the living embodiment of the tensions at the heart of Conservatism: while they promote small-town values at home, their economic strategies tear down communities ruthlessly.

Turning to Star Trek, I'm also confused. In most of the ST worlds, money has been abolished as the cause of strife and inefficiency. The Earth of Star Trek appears to have abandoned money at the same time it abolished war. Only unenlightened and vulgar species pursue riches instead of knowledge, progress and harmony. I can only think that Sajid is rooting for the Ferengi, a species from the rather poor Deep Space Nine franchise.

"They're greedy, misogynistic, untrustworthy little trolls, and I wouldn't turn my back on one of them for a second."
"Neither would I. But once you accept that, you'll find they can be a lot of fun."
- Kira Nerys and Jadzia Dax, on Ferengi
As Quark once put it, "there is nothing beyond greed. Greed is the purest, most noble of emotions." Finally, the 10th Rule of Acquisition states that "greed is eternal."
The Ferengi are ruthless in their pursuit of Latinum. They despise sentiment, culture and community, happy only when they're selling their grandmothers for cold hard cash. Often the objects of narratorial satire, we're not meant to be rooting for them.

Coincidentally, they look very like Sajid Javid.

Sajid Javid, Minister for Culture

Quark, a ruthless Ferengi speculator


Jake said...

What does the Ministry of Culture actually do, anyway? Other than provide a suitable dumping ground for anyone too incompetent for anything important but too well-connected to simply sack, of course.

The Plashing Vole said...

What a cynical and accurate view. I'd like a fully functioning Min of Culture, but as it exists, it's just a waste.

Alex said...

I agree with you on so much Mr Mole, but DS9 is not a poor series.