Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The Devil has all the best tunes


This blog is a little over year old.

I can dimly remember my reasons for starting it and they were not primarily political. If they were I would have chosen a different format, eased off on the swearing a little, focused on specific issues and included fewer links to Japanese porn star sites.

Yet now, a year on, my thoughts, and therefore my blog, are increasingly preoccupied with political issues and not that distractive bullshit presented to people along party political lines. Party politics has become almost totally meaningless. Voters are presented with false choices, or no choices at all. The notion of Left and Right wing politics has become a joke. Made doubly funnier by the fact that so many people have not noticed yet.

but I digress

I have always been one of those people who believed themselves to be hyper rational and hyper realistic when it came to politics. Popular protest never changes anything, the world has always been run by crooks and politicians are all the same. You can either go with the flow, accept that reality and carve out a life for yourself or become a fucking tree hugger and waste your time chasing moonbeams.

And events seem to supported that point of view. I have seen a succession of idealists and idealistic causes either crash and burn or, worse still, rot from within and become what they set out to oppose. The grass roots protests and strikes of the 1980s and early 1990s, the Labour movement, even ecological activism have all been neutered and subverted in one way or another.

As a general principle, when you find yourself agreeing with oil companies that the days of ‘cheap’ energy are over or sharing a stage with the richest man in the world as part of a global anti poverty campaign you’re probably doing something wrong.

The Devil has all the best tunes and I can understand why people serve him. The pay is good and the thought that you are playing for the team that is pulling all the strings must be delicious.

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So, there I was standing on the margins of the carol service outside the Houses of Parliament a couple of weeks ago. A carol service intended to taunt our government’s latest security legislation. I was there because I fancied a walk, because I wanted to photograph something and because there was an outside chance that there might be some trouble. As it turned out, there was no trouble and the police kept well clear of the event, except for a couple of plain-clothes officers (credit where credit is due, plain-clothes police are a lot more convincing than they used to be but many coppers still look like coppers even when they slip into a pair of chinos).

Anyway, I came away from the carol service unsettled by my own attitude to whole business. The cause was just, the people present were decent and well-intentioned, yet my underlying sense that they were a bunch of ineffective lettuce crunchers was a strong as it has always been at similar events I have observed, rather than participated in, throughout my adult life.

I have to work on that. I really do.

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I spent part of yesterday in the Imperial War Museum with some friends on a day trip to London. The IWM now houses a rather large Holocaust exhibit. I have mixed thoughts about that exhibit but I came out of the other end brooding on one old quote in particualr

First they came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Communist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up, because I was a Protestant.

Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up for me.

Now, the thing is I would be the first to admit that arresting someone for undertaking an unauthorised protest in Westminster is hardly comparable with a Nazi police state.

However, I cannot shrug off the feeling that even the Nazis had to start somewhere. And the question I am turning over in my mind is how far does a government have to go before it is reasonable for citizens to start to start bandying words like Fascism or Police State around?

And so on, and so on.

I could go on all night couldn’t I?


(category: political stuff)

3 comments:

Robert said...

“Never underestimate the ability of a small group of committed individuals to change the world. In fact, that’s the only thing that ever has.” - Margaret Mead

Clive Power said...

And a couple more, maybe

1) Keeping DNA details, your fingerprints and your photo on file if you are arrested for most alleged 'crimes' (or maybe now all - did they just not abolish the recordable/not recordable offence distinction?). Even if you are not charged or convicted!

2) Oyster cards. If you pay cash in London on public transport you pay a large premium e.g. on the bus a flat fare of 80p via Oystercard v £1.50 by cash.

Cash handling costs more, coins are slightly slower and you are not obliged to register your Oystercard unless a season ticket (although many will)

But is the huge differential also there to encourage people to have all their public transport trips recorded and logged?

Apprentice said...

Happy birthday blog!

Yes, you do have to work on that. Robert is right. All worthwhile change in this country has come about by protest.