Saturday, 22 April 2017
Have you seen the little piggies?
“Now, class, remember...” The learning facilitator turns to indicate two display boards at the nominal front of the young people’s learning collective. The various sub-committees of pupils, of mixed age, ability and gender identity, disengaged from their collaborations to gaze at the images. Bordered by a brave, caring, red glow, the party display showed moving images of happy, diverse communities engaged in thrilling cooperative ventures, assisting the halt and lame, collecting for charity and building a better world to the stirring music approved by the school board. They all bore the same fixed smiles that now played on the shining faces of the Junior Learners as they watched, wide-eyed and alert.
“And now...” The warm glow faded as the facilitator switched on the second display. A harsh, cold, deathly light illuminated static, monochrome scenes of an ancient and unlovely world. A world where miserable, old white people trudged through mud, pushing carts laden with broken human bodies. A world of torture and pain, of poverty and cruel injustice. A world of child labour, lives of drudge and early demise from back-breaking work and lack of medicines. The watching learners began to sob and hug each other, feeling the pain of their forebears in that lost world, filling with overwhelming empathy for the wronged and the dead.
St Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, supposedly said “Give me a child until he is seven and I will show you the man.” Whether he did or not, the principle is sound enough. What children experience in their early years can become a cross they bear forever. Catholic guilt, islamic submission... white self-loathing. A more enlightened view is that children should not be exposed to simplistic indoctrination and especially not by those charged with their education. Which brings us to that Labour party political broadcast.
Nobody is suggesting that primary school teachers bring their red, red politics into the classroom but then, how could they not? Few of us are capable of completely concealing our political allegiances – only career politicians can manage to do that – but teachers are in a unique position to influence future generations. This ridiculous broadcast suggests that Labour sees nothing wrong in doing exactly that. They also want the voting age to be lowered to sixteen or seventeen; can you see the connection, children?
Meanwhile, the real leader of the Labour Party, Len McCluskey, has been celebrating his re-election to master of the party purse strings by partying at a popular venue where champagne at £50 a bottle flowed pretty freely. George Orwell believed in democratic socialism and was profoundly concerned about social justice, but he was not uncritical of left-wing movements and his two best-known works challenged the very direction of travel of the current-day Labour Party. Animal Farm concludes: “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.” Some things never change.