New Terms & Conditions, April 2015

Those with asterisks are additions to existing entries (see full list even further below).

ALMOST: A most melancholic word.

BEHAVIOUR*: (4.) Behaviour improvement path. Whereby children under supervision learn to stop asking: Why?

BEST PRACTICE: The way of doing things that suits those who have control over the doing of things, and which can be presented as though it has been selected from a vast array of alternative methods of doing things.

BROKERAGE: London Evening Standard headline: VETERANS ARE GIVEN £250K WINDFALL.

Sub-headline: Charities who help ex-servicemen are boosted by cash…

CONSTRUCTIVE: – Instability. Neocon for unleashing mayhem.

– Engagement. Where the teacher in power makes a gestural show of not being the teacher-in-power.

Criticism. “Don’t take this personally”, said the judge as he reached for the black cap.

Dismissal. Legal term for employers’ embrace of the slogan Demand the impossible. Miracles are set as performance targets and selected non-performers are escorted from the building. This can be contested by any freshly fired worker willing to pay a £1,200 Tribunal fee.

CONTRACT: In/out. Choose which method to be screwed by.

Social. (1.) An antique dusted off when social managers feel they have taken the piss as far as possible for the time being (but don’t wish to cancel your debt).

(2.) An offer you can’t refuse.

Parenting. A ‘voluntary agreement’ which parents of schoolkids absent from class or ‘in trouble with the police’ may be ‘asked to sign’. Declining to do so or signing and later breaching the terms incurs a Parenting Order, which ‘sets out things you and your child must or mustn’t do’ unless you want to become an ex-parent.

Claimant Commitment. Another compulsory voluntary agreement, binding not just for the unemployed but for all those workers who can only afford to work because the state tops up whatever their employers are willing to pay. The Committed Claimant signs up for inverse labour militancy: I promise never to accept fewer working hours if I could work more; if the job pays too little, I will cut the throats of competing Claimants for additional or better-paid work until I am earning as much as can be expected.

Zero hours. An open-ended series of offers you can’t refuse. No binding obligations for the bidder.

Sub-contract. How not to get your hands dirty.

COWARDICE: (1.) Worse than maiming or murder.  The violation of some body is declared ‘a cowardly crime’, as if brave evisceration would have been preferable.  In a recent newspaper story, the rapist of two women declined “in a show of cowardice” to attend his sentencing for killing a third.  The culprit’s cowardice is supposed to magnify the crime: the worst thing is not what was done to the victim, but a character defect in the accused.  Punishment of character is standard practice, as judges’ sentencing statements show.  Did a hardworking, previously blameless defendant plead guilty, or did some drug-crazed recidivist deny everything?  The guilty wo/men who ‘feel the force of the law’ to the fullest come from the same demographic as most (if not the best known) crime victims.

(2.) The second-highest form of heroism in war, after mutiny.

(3.) A court-martial offence resurrected as a marketing problem for a post-firing squad age.  Ian Palmer, the chief UK military psychiatrist, warns that the “myth of widespread trauma” among former soldiers “is putting our country at risk” not just by discouraging recruitment, but “by shaping other nations’ viewing of us”.  An unmanly lack of backbone in ex-bone-breakers “could make the UK look weak to its enemies”, says the patron of the Veterans Aid charity, who was “medically discharged from the army” himself after a bout of “psychotic depression” in Rwanda.

(4.) A slur on the wisely fearful everywhere.

FAMILY VALUE: Bulk cornflakes.

FULFILMENT: In lieu of wages.

GRIMACE: An admission of guilt.  Baroness Hale, deputy president of Britain’s Supreme Court, instructed the London Evening Standard in December 2014 that “women in veils should be compelled to show their faces” while testifying, because their faces must be seen to tell if they are lying.  In fairness to Lady Hale, she shouldn’t be accused of using a mere newspaper interview to overturn the legal principles of sworn testimony and reasonable doubt, because she already treats grimaces as evidence in her day job as a judge.  “The importance of insisting that veils were [sic] removed” was proved, she said, by a case where it was “obvious” that a witness was lying, but “I don’t think it would have been as obvious if I’d only been able to see her eyes”.  Coming soon: the first conviction for perjurous grinning, dishonest diffidence or inappropriate lack of eye contact.

HEALTH & SAFETY: He who does not work, neither shall a hammer fall on his foot.  [Janosch]

INEQUALITY: (1.) If only slaveholders had also been flogged once in a while, slavery wouldn’t have been so bad.

(2.) Capitalism, says a Financial Times reader’s letter, has shown in the past 150 years how it has been efficient in providing cheaper goods and services to populations all over the world, and this has been done despite, or thanks to, inequalities in gender, race and salaries. The correspondent flails her way to the nail here and blindly hits it on the head. The whole problem with ‘inequality’ as a word for structural social disaster lies in the difference between despite and thanks to. Does capital really provide plenty for ‘populations all over the world’ despite technical problems of ‘gender, race and salaries’ that deprive a few people of their fair share? If so, ‘inequality’ will do as a name for the remaining misery. Or are ‘goods and services’ cheap for those who can afford them thanks to the price paid by millions of producers? ‘Inequality’ implies a common denominator, a substance that’s simply there (the Scarcity Pie of high school economics) to be shared out fairly or unfairly. But there are two kinds of thing involved here: services and servitude, goods and work. One kind exists by bleeding the other; ‘gender, race and salaries’ are words describing who does what.

(3.) Social- Unacceptable and unavoidable.

LIFE: The commandment is to ‘get one’. Those who fail will get help to ‘reboot’ theirs. Planned obsolescence is not just for inanimate objects.

PREPARATION: Jobless single parents should begin preparing for work when their youngest child reaches the age of one. They will be expected to ‘stay in touch’ with the jobs market, and along with other claimants must undergo attitude tests to assess whether they have a psychological resistance to work. Assessors will also profile claimants’ backgrounds. Those deemed mentally unprepared for life at work will undergo intensive coaching at the job centre.

‘Attitudes’ detected by the tests include:

Bewildered. Semi-innocent for the time being. Crying out for Help.

Despondent. Semi-guilty.

Apprehensive. A despondency symptom. Buck your ideas up!

Reticent. More than semi-guilty. Reluctant to answer lethally loaded questions.

Disengaged. Guilty.

Eager. Approved attitude of pro-slaughter lambs.

REVENGE PORN: (1.) The UK government admits collecting ‘explicit’ video evidence of sexual ‘behaviour’ from asylum applicants fleeing the punishment of homosexuality by torture, prison and death.   Manchester Movement For Justice founder and former Yarl’s Wood detainee Aderonke Apata was asked “to record what you do with your partner in privacy, and send it to the Home Office as evidence for your sexuality”. Meanwhile her actual partner of 20 years was “killed brutally in Nigeria by vigilantes who found out she was a lesbian”. The wrong kind of information for the British Border Force, which wants proof of personal ‘orientation’, not of persecution. Apata was refused asylum because she has children. “You can’t be a heterosexual one day and a lesbian the next day”, said the Home Office lawyer, “just as you can’t change your race”.

(2.) De Sade, William Burroughs and Angela Carter imagined captives compelled to perform pornographically for administrative enjoyment. These fictions are ‘fantastic’ only in their understatement of how routine the compulsion can be.

(3.) The accused bears the burden of proof as usual, but this time with a few new twists or choke-holds. Official willingness to believe that the threat of lynching is real depends not on whether the claimant is likely to be lynched, but on her own behaviour. The sexual authenticity test clarifies at least one thing: if the claimant was threatened with death because of a mistaken belief about her sexual habits, the threat wouldn’t count. After deportation – assuming she survived it – she could just explain the mix-up to her Countrymen and everything would be ok. In fact the deportation might be doing her a favour: who would dare harm the holder of Her Majesty’s Certificate of Straightness?

(4.) A new layer of racism added to the border inquisitors’ regular racist procedure. What they find hardest to believe is not that backward Africans might lynch sexual deviants, but that the African making the asylum claim really did those sexual things.

(5.) Really did means really does. Right now, please: Video On Demand. The inspectors want the sex life on trial re-enacted because they’re inspecting identity, not things that happened from “one day” to “the next”. Like the lynch mob itself, they suspect that homosexual acts are against the actor’s nature. If she would only stop impersonating that sort of person, she wouldn’t be in danger back where she came from. Or no more so than she would be in a case of mistaken identity. You can’t change ‘your sexuality’ or ‘your race’, but other people can do it for you.

SALARIES: What the salaried say when they mean ‘wages’. Depending on a less than ironclad income is apparently hard to imagine if you’ve never had to do it.

SELF-HARM: The attempt to live from wages alone, neglecting the basic Life Skill of asset ownership.

SHORT LIST: A possibly permanent place for the aspirant.

WORKERS*: Parasites. The 45% of US adults who only pay payroll taxes rip off responsible rentiers by ‘refusing to care for themselves’, said serial private equity/political gambler Mitt Romney a few years back. Meanwhile British State Capitalism stays internationally competitive by topping up sub-subsistence wages (i.e. subsidising employers) with negative taxation and other ‘in-work benefits’. So that holding down two or three jobs is no longer any reason not to be called a Welfare Queen.

WORK-READINESS*: Do you have a mobile phone? Can you use a washing machine? If so you’re fit for whatever work you’re given. If not, you’re neglecting Communication and Presentation skills and are unfit for state support.