Tuesday, 27 December 2016
A Good Year to Die
As 2016 draws to a close, many are focused on the past, on the people who died. I do beg your pardon, I believe I have to say the people we ‘lost’, as if they were personal possessions. While undoubtedly the achievements of the famous have inspired us all, to be in the thrall of those we have no intimate connection with strikes me as a human frailty; maybe it is this propensity which, to paraphrase Voltaire, suggests that humans have a need to invent gods. If not gods, at least sub-divine objects of worship, although there will no doubt be challenges over that divinity status.
It happens all the time, of course, as icons topple over the edge of the conveyor belt, some to be forgotten instantly – Arnold Palmer, Andrew Sachs, Caroline Aherne – I mean no disrespect and I single out nobody based on animus, but you can only have so many David Bowies and Muhammad Alis and even their memories will fade for the majority quite soon. A few candles will be kept burning; given that there is still a shrine to Marc Bolan in Gipsy Lane I expect Bowie to live on among the faithful, but most will flicker and die.
There is only so much hurt to go around and much of it has been used up by two far greater and far more significant losses of the year. In June the British establishment and its foot soldiers lost the referendum vote. And in November the American establishment lost its own battle against the people. Among the chattering classes the rhetoric has been raised a notch, spreading fear and pessimism and demanding a return to how it was, like an infant begging for nanny, but it’s time to grow up and get on with it. The left-wing commentariat talk of ‘pushing back against the far right’ without once considering that what they are seeing is a pushing back against the left.
No plan for Brexit, they shout. Trump has no record in politics, they complain, but isn’t that just the point? We saw your plans for more globalisation, more diversity, more, more, more degradation of national identities and we rejected it. On paper the happy-clappy, world-in-harmony vision has a certain, sugary merit. In practice it only appears to result in division and unrest. It may be expedient for the same old leadership to ignore the atrocities happening across Europe especially, because they don’t have a clue how to counter it, but the people directly affected by it don’t have the luxury of armed protection and ivory towers. This is not a new rise of Nazism, but an objection to something worse.
European civilisation has taken centuries to drag itself out of the gutter, to develop and grow, to learn how to live in uneasy peace. But all that is at risk by the actions of an elite who are, literally, above all that. If you only ever recognise people who agree with you and live similarly gilded lives how can you possibly understand why you are losing to the people you despise as an under-educated, uninformed and bigoted rabble? The social experiment is being stopped by the very subjects it was being imposed on. It’s time to draw your conclusions.
Somebody else you already forgot who died in 2016
Whatever you think is right, Merkel, Juncker, Verhofstadt, Blair, Farron, Clegg and Co. the people you seek to control by diktat disagree. This is not a rising up, so much as an awakening; not so much a revolution as a revelation. The powerful are not omnipotent. And they are scared of the resurgence of popular democracy, a thing they thought they had under control. If 2016 is going to be marked for any death, let it be the death of indifference.