The Half a Million March

I happened to be at St Pancras yesterday, beneath its beautiful roof, heading out as the trains carrying protestors moved in. It is my favourite railway station in this hemisphere, as I like Grand Central and Union station more, and the Gare du Nord and Venezia only slightly less. The atmosphere was far less angry than people had a right to be, given how comprehensively shafted the country is; I saw families, fathers and children, and people of all ages, heading towards central London.

I suppose that this is the point where one normally slips some mealy-mouthed condemnation of anarchists and troublemakers and the mob into the mix. This I find curious. On the one hand, people who think of themselves as radicals and democrats seem to believe that any movement at any time which resulted in change in the common law countries was peaceful and nothing to do with the 'thugs'. On the other, those who eagerly embrace police violence and who have fevered fantasies of shooting union members, blacks, homosexuals, or public servants at the first sign of trouble, never seem to want to be exchanged in that coin.

The truth is that most forms of secular freedom have been won through violence or war, in contrast to the gains when people sacrifice themselves for law, or when Christ gave himself up to secular power for our spiritual salvation. Governments routinely ignore people who cannot blow things up, smash things, break things, or run up police overtime bills, unless they ask for things that do not matter.

The vote was won on the back of martyrs, the right to strike in bitter labour disputes, and independence from Empires on the back of directed violence. I admire Gandhi and Martin Luther King, but without Jinnah, Nehru, the threat of Chandra Bose or Malcolm X and Bull Connor, the argument for tea and sympathy and bugger all else would have been overwhelming.

I wish that things were different. They are not, however. The interesting thing to me is how very few people seem to be connecting with what must surely be the main elements of the present situation. Bankers set up ephemeral products backed by real money, academic prostitution and greed. The media then instructed politicians to drive a frightened and malleable populace, drunk on credit and the illusion of housing, into the condemnation of anyone who dissented on the left or right. The firm places upon which people could stand--social trust, faith, and proper education--were liquidated. Mutualism was undermined.

We are now saddled with states which are machines for war, the privatisation of profit and the socialisation of debt and regular, peculiar iterations of satanism, aided and abetted by people who have more or less sold themselves at every level.

Neuroses arise when people avoid something which causes them trauma, but fixate on something that reminds them of it. That's why immigration, and the exaggerated fear of Islamism, and the EU seem to gain an edge--not that those things don't have real consequences in themselves, they do. However, if you fear that you and your country is no longer sovereign, that you cannot connect to others, and that those elsewhere who are more disciplined and patient than you are doing better, what are you to do but fixate? I'd prefer that notion to the idea that peoples' moods have something to do with sunspots.

Britain at the moment, and the West in general, gives out every signal of being in a stage of dissolution which could be epic in its consequences. We have abandoned ethics, proper parenting, reason and faith in very large part, and particularly amongst those who consider themselves clever, or who have property and therefore social position, or those who run the place. The new Middle Ages--a sort of bastard medievalism in which overlapping powers and organisations knock people from side to side and demean their moral integrity as persons--have hit this place particularly hard.

When I heard those groups coming into London yesterday, I thought more of the start of the dark ages than the end. It wasn't them it was the situation, though of course I am from time to time the sort of Irish Catholic who can't be doing with all this 'limited protest' stuff anyway. All or nothing really.

Yet there are more sensible ways out, and they are not so subtle or so obscure as to be invisible--far from it. Nor do they require much in the way of lower living standards than we are going to get. We need a new mutualism, which recognises that credit unions and building societies are better than big banks. We need housing for people, and not investments. We need lots of coal and nuclear power. We need lower, flatter taxes and far less intrusive and ambitious governments. We need regular, practised democracy, with a break-up of the political and media classes. We need proper education. We need multi-speed supranational institutions. We need to systematically reform intelligence agencies and the arms industry. We probably need realistic health insurance rather than state provision, and private or local universities and schools that offer vocational or academic places but not both. We need cooperatives in the place of oligopolies. We need family-friendly and person-centred politics. We need to stop using machines to kill people so easily whilst preening on the death--whether because of abortion, euthanasia or war. But above all, we need ethics and faith, in ourselves and in whatever you want to call God.

The question is becoming simpler and simpler. If we do not change, in the face of peak oil, the elite rule of supranationalism as it is constituted, and food crisis, then we will be trapped in a sort of hellish recurrence. The same things happen over and over again while the world for our fellow citizens spirals down and down.

Practically, we have been living in a fool's paradise for a long time, and now, people cannot pay the bills, cannot afford their transport, cannot afford to eat in many cases, and are constantly made to fear things that add to their real fears. We are lied to because we lie to ourselves, and we embrace corruption at the drop of a hat. Yesterday, united under the banner of an alternative no one articulated, we saw a little of the shape of things to come.

I think that we as a people, as humanity, have a longer way down before we wake up. I wish that we would just face up to what we really have to do and do it. When is too late?


Martin...great post. PAtrick
Martin Meenagh said…
Thanks, Patrick. Hope all is well
gurnygob said…
Some good points there Martin, I would like to add that I believe there is a serious lack of ethical leadership and if those at the top have no ethics to speak of then those at the bottom (common man) will have none.

Thanks to supranationalism there is very little national pride or love of country, even among our politicians let alone Joe-public. There is no real identity with each other. It would have been good to see half a million people calling in one voice for the arrest of greedy bankers and politicians or an end to EU supranationalism structure.

Martin Meenagh said…
Thanks Gurnygob. I agree with you about the ethics, but a lack of self-repression is the other side of an ethic of extreme self-expression. We've now had several generations who very rarely experience any limitations whatsoever when young, or real challenge.

I wonder if that Rodgers' book--'The Age of Fracture' --isn't on to something. Maybe, by focussing on very small things and on civic participation and precise policies, we are growing politicians who can't think in the sort of big terms that bring in bigger people to politics. Then again, maybe this is normal....

Thanks for your comment.

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