A couple of days ago I gave a talk initially entitled ‘Sleepwalking into Authoritarianism’ in the surreal setting of a sleepy Greek village. As is my wont I had made heavy weather of putting together the presentation. Even the day before the event the floor around my desk was laden with discarded attempts to write something worth hearing.
Amongst the many considerations influencing my weary way – I still handwrite and forever return to my varied beginnings to start afresh – were two in particular.
- I felt overwhelmed with information. I didn’t view this mass of opinion as misinformed, disinformed or whatever. It was simply stuff I had to scrutinise to the best of my ability and in the full knowledge of my own ideological disposition. Somehow I had to pull something together that reflected my sense of what’s happening in society without boring folk to tears.
- And the folk in question, so it proved, were a motley bunch with no shared background, expertise or experience. Even if a majority were retired immigrants from the UK, others present were younger, alongside those for whom English was a second language.
In the event, it seemed to go well. I was forgiven for my age-old habit of preparing flip chart prompts, only to overlook them completely. There was exquisitely timed melodrama. As I uttered the exclamation, ‘all hell was let loose’ a plastic chair, not for the first or last time on Crete, collapsed under poor Ralph sitting in the front row. He went down with quite a wallop, his coffee flying in all directions. As ever in such circumstances hilarity mixed with concern. However, Ralph quickly regained his composure, aided by the provision of two chairs in one. In accord with the adage, the show went on regardless. I hardly had time to take a breath.
In truth, if I dare use such an abused phrase, this lively moment was probably a blessed relief, given the doom-laden content of much of my offering. Nonetheless, a number of people responded positively to the idea of a monthly discussion group, to the opportunity of meeting regularly to converse critically about what’s going on in the world.
Thus I will write up my notes under the changed title, ‘Authoritarianism: Chains Loosened, Shackles Tightened’. and incorporate some of the telling points made in the Q&A end to the morning. Hopefully, I’ll sort this out in the next fortnight. All being well we will meet in the week beginning Sunday, March 19th. Further details will be circulated soon.
Thanks to all who came, to the committee of the Kalamitsi village for the use of the Old School and to Phil and Fran [Kalamitsi Arts Group] for the arrangements.