We live in a strange, inexplicable world. Take this blog, for instance. Before the internet and the PC, those of us who sought to express something about our daily lives would have kept a diary. In that little book the seasons would roll and turn, our fortunes go up and down, and no-one else would read about it all perhaps until after our death. Now, with a blog, we are exposing ourselves to the wider world. With a few people we may be making ourselves popular; “Oh, that Roy, have you seen what he’s written now?” But as this self-exposure becomes addictive, we can also fuel hatred and misunderstanding. Blogging is the cyber equivalent of the mad bloke on the bus, sitting on the seat no-one else wants to sit on, ranting away in a loud voice. For a writer like myself, of course, blogging is a semantic gymnasium, somewhere we go every few days to exercise our keyboard skills. And unless we delete these pages for all time, they will remain in cyberspace as a shadow of who we were for eternity. Inevitably, this is all pointless, but it keeps us occupied, and that’s the whole idea. Why talk to people or write letters with pens on paper when you can sit here in stony, silent isolation.
Watching Adam Curtis’s epic documentary Hypernormalisation on Sunday night on BBC I-Player was both a depressing yet enlightening experience. We’re all victims of a creepy system which dupes us into distracted inactivity. I have always maintained that organisations such as the Occupy Movement were well-meaning yet directionless. The fact that you wave a placard and erect a tent on Wall Street or outside St. Paul’s cathedral may well signify to a wider world that some of us are unhappy with the greed and inequality of the system, but what happens when you all pack up and go home? The answer is nothing, because there is no cohesive plan to follow once the chanting and the marching’s over.I’ve done a fair bit of ranting and marching in my 73 years, and were it not for my arthritic knees I’d probably still give it a try. But at least back then we were more than angry; there was a plan, a manifesto, and parts of it were actually realised. I sign most on-line petitions run by organisations such as 38 Degrees and others because of the rare occasions (and they are rare) that they actually have any effect. I support the work of Amnesty International because they make me realise that I am privileged in my still existing British freedom to sit here by this screen without a death squad r some political thug police arriving at my door to put me in shackles. But as for the greater social injustice of this current corrupt and proto-fascist UK government, one has to wonder if the on-line bleating of us angry ‘oiks’ is ever noticed, except for being logged ready for that big round-up in the future. Since the abject failure of the Stop the War protest prior to the criminal Bush/Blair war on Iraq, all that’s happened is that Westminster veers further and further to the right. I’ve mentioned him before, but the spirit of Reich Propaganda Minister Goebbels stalks the corridors of media and political power with a renewed vengeance. We live in the Age of Lies.
So perhaps the only distant light at the end of this long dark tunnel is Jeremy Corbyn and the Momentum movement, yet even then I’m clutching at straws. The bulk of the Labour Party and the whole media circus are determined to bring him down, and most of the time they succeed. If a tree falls in a forest and no-one hears it, it’ll be reported as Jermy Corbyn’s fault. Socialism is a very dirty word indeed. It might never pass through the lips of the massed rear guard of Blairites, as they consider the Parliamentary Labour Party to be their own fiefdom. It has nothing to do with the electorate who put them there. After all, if you’re a member of such an exclusive club, you don’t want to invite the car park attendant or the janitor in for a drink. The only time you need to speak with them is during an election.
All a disgruntled old lefty can do is imagine. Imagine if Corybyn’s main policies became the battering ram to drive a wedge through the nasty, xenophobic right wing greed and lies on the opposite benches. Imagine if the re-nationalisation of the railways and the taking back of Royal Mail, the restoration of the NHS and other such ideas suddenly saw the PLP rallying behind such policies, ideas which Keir Hardie, Bevan and Atlee would have recognised as fair and just. Imagine all those self-centred carping harpies who sit behind the Labour Leader suddenly decided to actually fight the Tories rather than ape them. But it’ll never happen. The only way forward is for the grass roots new Labour membership which grew so dramatically during the leadership election campaign to find a common voice, get out on the streets, cause a ruckus. That groundswell needs to break through the dead air between elections. Meanwhile, everyone’s back to staring at their I-Phones, tuning in to see the execrable Ed Balls on Strictly Come Prancing, and worrying about what’s happening to Bake-Off.
Right now, in various locations in the world, people who have written much lighter polemics than this are festering in dark cells, awaiting their next round of torture. The people of Aleppo are being cruelly bombed to a bloody pulp, and thousands of displaced refugees are either drowning or rotting in makeshift camps wondering what happened to dreams of a better life. And I’m sitting here with my apparent crocodile tears in comfort.
So Adam Curtis is right; we are living in a sinisterly constructed capitalist cyber world, where protest is simply a visual vehicle, something to be either denigrated or, should it become too dangerous, manipulated, as we’ve seen with the huge success of Vladimir Putin’s political alchemist, Sarkov. Another drone strike, another suicide bomb, another beheading. As long as it’s loud and colourful, it’ll make for good TV. Then we can get back to Gogglebox and our Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Elderly fogeys like me are simply little specks of crumbling rock poking through the sea of sewage. We’re deemed to be out of touch, our old ideas representations of failure. Post Brexit, in the era of Trump, the ultimate spectre of capitalism can reach an unashamed new peak as the new fascism. Close the borders. Shut down the state. Abandon welfare. Let them drown, let them starve. Kill off compassion. Pull up the drawbridge. Dump the disabled. The only thing which matters now is more and more money; not for us at the bottom of the festering heap, but those at the top, cajoled and massaged by their parliamentary lapdogs whose salaries are just pocket money, taxi fares to get them to their other occupations in banking, business, PR and the law.
People are angry, but they are not collectively angry. This individualist rage simply flickers on and off like mayflies in the summer grass. We need our anger to be like a swarm of locusts to strip the heavy-laden trees of the arrogant, greedy rich bare. But never mind; that’s just colourful imagery - it would make a good movie.