The ruling class, the elite, the powerful [call them, what you will] wish to render us perpetually anxious. In the last few years energised by the ‘pandemic’, their propaganda has sought to leave us in a suspended state of fear. The next existential crisis, the latest emergency is always imminent, staring us in our oft-masked faces or lying suspiciously in wait just around the next corner. We are witnessing disaster capitalism in full flight from the consequence of its wilful, almost mindless exploitation of humanity and the earth.
Aided by their behavioural lackeys and the supine mainstream media, they use the time-honoured and still profoundly effective tactic of ‘divide and rule’. To this end, politicians, bureaucrats, psychologists and journalists [or rather stenographers] lie and deceive. In particular the unvaccinated were identified, chastised and depicted as a death-inducing threat to young and old, whilst children were told they could kill their grandparents. Medical practitioners, great and small, questioning the absurdity of governments’ claim to be following the Science had their reputations and prospects trashed.
As for ourselves how do we explain our embrace of or our resistance to this calculated conspiracy of contempt? On what I suppose is my side of the fence many took to Mattias Desmet’s theory of mass formation psychosis, in which a majority of society is said to have been captured and mesmerised by the dominant narrative. I am not so taken. Such a generalised view of human practice offends my decades-long, faltering attempt to comprehend the unique, yet always social individual. For my part I prefer to call on the idea of ‘uneven consciousness’ to express the differing degrees of consistency and contradiction in our thought and practice. I am loathe to accept that people are hypnotised into compliance with authoritarianism. I am loathe to see those, who have disobeyed the orders from above, as enlightenment incarnate. In the main, we are neither sinners nor saints.
Tellingly none of the draconian restrictions upon our existence suffered during the ‘pandemic’ were even subject to the illusions of representative democracy. Parliaments were utterly ignored. The demos was conspicuous by its absence. For now, the constraints have been largely lifted but continue to be available as the powerful see fit.
It seems to me, to borrow Malcolm Ball’s favourite opening caveat, that the dehumanising grip of technocratic authoritarianism can only be loosened by the emergence of diverse forms of direct democracy at local regional, national and international levels. To imagine such a revolutionary development demands humility on all fronts. It will demand being in critical dialogue across ideologies and faiths, which have seen themselves as in opposition to one another. It will require listening to one another, setting aside prejudices, refusing to jump to immediate judgements. It will necessitate cooperating in the service of a shared sense of purpose despite significant disagreements. For what it’s worth, back in the 1980s I was mortified by the refusal of feminists, whom I knew well, to support the 84/85 Strike on the grounds of the miners’ sexism. Yet, across ensuing years we worked together across a range of political issues. Today, given the emphasis on identity politics. is it possible to envisage relating to someone, who joins the public service picket lines, is involved in ‘Kick Racism Out ‘ yet continues to believe that biological sex matters? Is this person to be excluded from the oppositional alliances we need to create? We need beware the imposition within our own ranks of correct lines, which cannot be criticised, lest excommunication follows.
Who you are is what you do
The politics of identity which led individuals to use an innate aspect (their gender, colour etc) as ipso facto a right from which to judge others, could itself become a way of setting up a hierarchy of oppressions. Siva criticised all forms of identity politics which did not reach out to try to transform society, for, not just the self, but for all. The transformation of the individual would take place in the process of a larger collective struggle but a politics based in the self would not open out in that way. Identity would not be confirmed in isolation. ‘Who you are is what you do’ [A. Sivanandan writing in the 1980s]
To paraphrase something I wrote long before I came across the idea of intersectionality. ‘My point is no more and no less than that the political struggle for individual and social autonomy, against technocratic authoritarian capitalism, must have a rounded and interrelated understanding of the oppressive and exploitative relations of class, gender, race, sexuality, disability and faith. None of them makes emancipatory sense without constant reference to each other’.
Time to take a breath I set off scribbling without knowing where I was going. Obviously, this erratic ensemble of assertions begs more questions than it answers. If only for my own sanity I’ll pursue these in future posts in 2023. We will see.
A Day in the Life of…….
Of course these perhaps pretentious and pompous pronouncements are the backdrop to ordinary folk getting on with their ordinary, sometimes weary, sometimes invigorating lives. On the ground, my somewhat pessimistic outlook is countered by people simply getting on with things. As for ourselves on the morning of New Year’s Eve, I walked our Glyka, disobeying my music teacher’s instructions not to warble a particular song because in doing so I compounded my mistaken entry – the piece being John Ireland’s setting of ‘Sally Gardens’. If this sounds stuffy I also tried ‘Georgia on my mind’.
After carefully cooked bowls of porridge dripping with honey poured over our very own oranges, managed expertly with cats on her knee, Marilyn fled the house, cash in hand, eager to exchange greetings in our local shops, where everyone knows everyone. Essentials purchased, word had it that some new horses and donkeys had appeared in a nearby village so Marilyn went off in search. To her joy she found them. To her frustration she couldn’t get near enough to inhale their seductive smell. Next time?
In the afternoon we joined hands, electric saw and axe at the ready, in cutting and chopping wood for our two stoves, our primary source of heating – a fall from environmental grace to be rectified, cost allowing, who knows when? After which Marilyn started a new water-colour and I amused as ever the blokes seated outside the village kafeneio by my ageing effort to race walk. To be fair their generous shouts of ‘Bravo’ spurred me on. As dusk fell I accompanied a sciatica-stricken friend’s dogs, Filos and Toula on their evening traipse. I’ve grown to love dogs and there’s something about the three of us having a roadside piss together that cheers me up no end.
Back home preparations for the evening were in full swing. As is only proper Marilyn was making a Hot-Pot with a suet crust, decorated with homemade red cabbage. It was beltin’. There being no real ale available it was washed down with a mix of sparkling plonk and the local village red. Thus fortified we watched an old black and white Agatha Christie film with Charles Laughton and Marlene Dietrich, compellingly all dialogue and no action. Not a car chase in sight. Fortunately, perchance the alcohol, we’d both forgotten the last-minute twist in the courtroom drama wherein Marlene executes her faithless lover. He had it coming. Thence to the highlight of any New Year’s Eve, at least in Germany, the comedy sketch, ‘Dinner for One’, featuring the wonderful Freddie Frinton as the drunken butler, a role he had honed on stage in Britain’s music halls. Evidently, first shown in 1962 on German television, it has acquired cult status in the country.
By this time midnight was still two hours away and the writing was on the wall. Not for the first time, we wouldn’t be welcoming in the New Year. After all nobody was likely to turn up as the first foot through the door with a piece of coal in hand. Hence Marilyn, head buried in her latest book, was in bed by 10ish with a cup of hot chocolate and the ever-faithful, Glyka. She was fast asleep by 11. Basking in the glow of the dying embers I watched a bit of football before putting on some soothing Satie. I was so soothed I fell asleep and wasn’t disturbed even by the rattle of gunfire and blast of explosions echoing across our valley. I crept to bed in the New Year to dream of revolution and the overthrow of capitalism. It’s getting to be something of a tradition.
Time’s running out for me but the fight continues on the streets of Iran, in the fields of Holland and India, on picket lines across the globe and in a plethora of places out of sight, out of mind as far as our ‘betters and experts’ are concerned.
Here’s to a New Year, in which we stop bickering amongst ourselves and renew our shared sense of solidarity in the face of a would-be tyranny, within which our existence will be increasingly policed ‘for our own good’.