THE BLOG

Boris Johnson's Tech Capital

28/03/2014 13:23 GMT | Updated 27/05/2014 10:59 BST

With a fervour bordering on religious, Boris hammers out his hand gestures for the audience, his falling fist keeping time with the peculiar bridging of stresses at the end of one word and the start of the next, which he carries as a hallmark of his Eton days. "London is the teCH CAPital of the world" he tells us.

You'll require no analysis of mine to convince yourself that with regards to the capital as it is now, the statement is absurd, but Boris and his devotees would have us believe that London - under their ideological tutelage - has the potential to reach this lofty goal. Though the idea of a "tech capital" is in itself a tawdry edifice worthy of dismantlement, I'll save that for another article. In this analysis, I hope it will emerge that Conservatism and the coder's ideal are the antithesis of one another, and that no matter how he pontificates on the matter, how flushed his cheeks become, and how moist his eyes (and whatever else becomes moist when he thinks of his beloved city!) show themselves to be: A capital under Conservatism is a capital that has no business befriending coders.

At the root of the issue is laziness. Idleness, inaction, slacking: call it what you will, what is very clear is that Conservatives have a very particular definition of these concepts. If someone does not devote all their waking hours to the fulfilment of their role as a socially useful agent of work, then they are lazy. It is a systemic mandate of Conservatism that one's every action serve a grand purpose carved out not by the individual, but by corporate power suborned by Conserative government to serve neoliberal aims. This is virtue by default in Boris's eyes, and slackers and scroungers and "cheats" are in those positions because they were negligent in their duty to do as mandated by his objectives. You can debate the merits of this stance until another generation of Tories have left their public school factories of power, done their rounds in the Bullingdon club, and come full circle to reiterate the same, for all I care. What matters to me right now is stating, for the avoidance of doubt and from the perspective of a coder: this idea is ANATHEMA to everything a coder stands for, and a supreme violence against the psyche of the coder's ideal.

Conjure in your mind the image of a coder and you will see that you have no trouble convincing yourself of this. Your average coder is not, first and foremost, the embodiment of that which Mr Johnson values: s/he is no go-getting, bargain-driving sharp-elbowed pursuer of capital and self-advancement, and very rarely are coders the popular children in their youth. Instead, we are outcasts of sorts: discontent with our schooling and natural curiosity lead to the pursuit of other, more challenging interests. Is there any of Mr Johnson's virtue in this position? Answering for myself, I first stumbled upon a form of coding at the age of eight. As a working class child with ambition, no doubt Mr Johnson would rather have had me busying myself with my studies or playing out with the other children, acquiring the skills of "everyday life" that would assist me in the role mapped out for me as a future wage slave. Instead, I shut myself in my room for hours at a time with my computer. Instead, I was, in a word, lazy.

Yet if not for this laziness, this fundamental opposition to the idea that I simply lay down and accept the path mapped out for me (no one could force my hand in this, I hear you object? When every reference to your future by family members is framed in the context of seeking employment, or discussion in some sense of what you are and aren't suitable for in the "working world", it is quite clear that the power structures of Mr Johnson's ideology have taken root in every sphere we once regarded as sacred) it is doubtful that I would ever have stumbled across programming.

A criticism which will no doubt be levelled at this analysis is that the metric by which any market system is assessed is its similarity to the US economy, and there is no question that the US has produced some of the finest coders and technologists in the world. Though I am no fan of capitalism, unlike Britain, the USA manages to engender in its youth the idea that you can be anything you dream of becoming (even if the corporatist policies of the US government stop this from materialising for many people). Johnson appears to have some idea of this concept in his notion "British caution". He seems unwilling to recognise the role of his ideology in this shortfall, however.

To conclude, I will grudgingly conceded that you can still be a capitalist and count yourself a coder, or a friend to the coder's ideal. But a Conservative? Not on my terms.