IS PROTEST NOW POINTLESS?
“Populism, political programe or movement that champions the common person, usually by favourable contrast with an elite. Populism usually combines elements of the left and the right, opposing large business and financial interests but also frequently being hostile to established socialist and labour parties.”
OAF: especially a man or boy, as an oaf, you think that they are impolite, clumsy, or aggressive. Synonyms: lout, brute, yob or yobbo [British , slang] , fool.
Collins English Dictionary
Why do old fogeys like me carry on bleating and railing against the current world? Haven’t us old 70+ lefties learned our lesson yet? People don’t want our ideas, our romantic socialism, ‘to each according to his needs’, all that Marxist crap. As it was in the 1930s, they’re looking for a ‘strong leader’. They don’t want the world for themselves; they want to be placed on a make-believe treadmill of power which leads to a New Order. And that, in a scary nutshell, is why geriatric politics addicts can’t stay silent. Strong leaders are cropping up from Washington to Bratislava, shepherding the electoral sheep into a pen which will have all the potential for becoming a new theme park; ‘Dachau Lite™’
.On a recent US TV satire show, Real Time with Bill Maher, he commented on the way he imagined Trump and the rabid new White House posse would be looking through the window at one of the mass anti-Trump rallies and laughing, saying “Huh. Look at those fuckwits out there …”
As an illustration of the mistaken way we still think of democracy in the west, it was spot on target. That is exactly how the new breed of politician will regard organised mass protest; as a kind of slightly irritating vision of no consequence; simply close the curtains and it’s no longer visible. Since the early 2000s and the illegal Iraq War, the increasing number of marches and demonstrations, even when they do make the news, are generally ignored by the arrogant powers who rule us. Perhaps, because of the peripheral violence which accompanied the Poll Tax riots during Thatcher’s reign, some indication of the country’s mood did seep through the insulated, anti-public walls of parliament, but since then, demos and marches are simply a way for those of us who care enough about a campaign to let off steam and lose our sense of isolation for a day. We feel as if we’re ‘doing something’; we’re venting our anger.
In the past year, Western politics has lost any grip it once had on reality. We have entered the Era of The Oaf. Dialogue and debate have morphed into something new and frightening. The people have been shunted into two new camps; one is fuelled by intolerance, bigotry and irrational hatred, the result of being ignored by politicians (other than at election times) for so long. Much of this toxic human underbelly can now find its voice on social media. The other camp are the objects of that hatred, because this group have naively continued to believe in what they imagined was the status quo; that reason and balanced argument in the form of politely exchanged views were the vehicles of social progress. Such a view is obviously incorrect, and there is no longer any neutral middle ground.
Prior to the UK’s EU referendum in June 2016, those who had absorbed decades of straight bananas and cucumber anti-Europe propaganda in our increasingly scurrilous press had little choice other than muttering into their teacups and tut-tutting about ‘Political correctness/health and safety gone mad’. In many cases they were right. But given the one big chance to turn their
I write this in the week which includes International Women’s Day. Long before TV and radio, back in Russia in 1917 the day was the catalyst for the revolution, which would finally fully explode in October after Lenin and Trotsky’s return from exile. On that March day women left their workplaces and threw snowballs at factory widows where their menfolk were still working. Eventually everyone was out on strike. The difference between a protest like that and the chants and seas of placards today is that back then there was a plan; even behind the perceived spontaneity highly organised leaders existed who had policies and who could channel the mass anger into something progressive. The recent impressive Women’s March on Washington would have no impression on Trump and his cronies whatsoever, but at least the women would feel great about it all.
Those who voted for Brexit and Trump will tell us that ‘the People’s Voice’ has been heard. Has it? Is it being heard in the UK in connection with the theft-by-stealth of our National Health Service? No. Why is this? It would seem, with the exception of The Daily Mirror the only headline-worthy interest shown in the NHS is about the way it is failing and struggling, which is the direct result of gross underfunding. In February, frightened of not toeing the Laura Kuennsberg line,(She’s been dubbed ‘the Voice of Reason’ by The Sun) the BBC ran a devastating series of reports on the NHS over five nights, with hardly a positive word for the struggles caused by the government or for the dedicated, beleagured staff. Health Minister Jeremy Hunt has in the past, as an author, expressed his desire for the NHS to evaporate, to be replaced by a US-style private insurance system. But did the presence of 200,000 angry pro-NHS protestors in London on March 4 persuade the Chancellor to make provisions for the NHS in his Spring budget? Of course not. That was another branch of ‘the People’s Voice’ which fell on deliberately deaf ears.
All the working class (as it was once known) have left is the withdrawal of their labour. Yet today’s Trade Unions are hamstrung by various laws imposed by the Thatcher government which Tony Blair decided to keep on the statute books. But unless we have a general strike across the country the struggles of varous bodies such as railway staff, campaigning not for wage increases but for public safety, will remain ineffective and be assaulted daily by the media. So it would seem, in the face of uncaring, hostile politicians and their tabloid supporters, that protest is dead in the water.
We now live in a time of growing inequality where the only people who matter to the political establishment are the rich. The rich have only one game plan - to become richer, and that plan has been fulfilled over and over again. Wild radicals talk of a revolution. But that’s romantic waffle. Lenin, Castro and Mao didn’t have to face today’s highly organised media propaganda machine, in all its many brazen disingenuous forms. For Britain and America to ever become decent, egalitarian societies bereft of self-serving greed, then the people will have to reach such depths of angry suffering that the only way forward will be to physically lash out in mass organised anger. But this won’t happen in my lifetime. Protest is dead.