Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Silly old man


There are people who never grow up — they have no right to do things. Actions have consequences — and children have no business with consequences.
John Galsworthy - A Man Of Devon (1901)

While on holiday I missed the Corbyn train story and even now I’m not sure how to take it. Jeremy is close to my age so I feel entitled to see him as a silly old man who should have acquired more political maturity than he seems to possess. Or want.

Yet that may not be the whole story as unseen international wheels grind out our future. It may be that it no longer matters who gets to rule the roost in national parliaments because national parliaments no longer matter. Perhaps Jeremy and his lost tribe are able to tilt at windmills because power has become too global, too diverse and too subtle for the political classes to understand, let alone control. They can't do much harm to to the real rulers so they are able play local politics and give local journalists something to write about.

In which case it may not matter if Jeremy wants to shift the Labour party to the far left because political ideals are merely factors in bigger calculations, bigger than political parties, bigger than most governments. Like points on a defunct railway line, the levers of power are no longer connected to anything important. They are there for show, for the puppets to squabble over. Jeremy’s undignified stunt is one of the squabbles.


Sam Vega said...

"Like points on a defunct railway line, the levers of power are no longer connected to anything important."

I have been intermittently reading through Jonathan Powell's The New Macchiavelli, which is about the Blair years. Interestingly, Powell (the first Downing St. "Chief of Staff") often says he was frustrated by not knowing which levers to pull, or whether they were actually connected to anything. It is a frequent analogy. I wondered whether this was because his post was new, or whether Blair tried to govern in a new way. But I think you are right, and that something deeper is going on. It might be that the Blair governments were the last that actually tried to be seriously reforming.

In this context, the kerfuffle over Brexit is particularly interesting. We can't exit because nobody in government knows how to actually do it any more.

Demetrius said...

Lenin, whose favourite seat I have sat in at the old Round Room Library at the British Museum, was a prematurely ageing, all that effort, man stuck in Switzerland writing and ranting when the Tsarist Russia went to war. When the Tsarist regime collapsed the Germans put Lenin on a train to St. Petersburg. Beware of old men in trains with odd ideas of ultimate power.

Anonymous said...

Looking at the world news it seems to me the Western politics and more importantly economics is a mess. Capitalism is following its natural course, wealth is being cornered and the poor and not so poor are being left behind. Historically this spelled trouble but I think the old rules no longer apply. There will be no mass uprisings or Jarrow Marches or mass strikes, those in power will know the plans long ahead.

But the masses can be exploited - Mr Trump and (as minnows) the Daily Mail and DT have shown us how. This is I think the way of the future. The economy will be re-scaled to avoid such tiresome matters as housing and education for all but the elite. Enjoy, because the outlook for the masses is not too good. As for Corbyn - who cares - he has a tiny window on the horrible reality I describe but no hope of changing it.

A K Haart said...

Sam - yes, it is all very interesting and seems to go right down into the lower reaches of modern organisations. Many people appear to be afraid of using their common sense even in situations where they could because they are not sure how the system will react.

Demetrius - good comparison!

Roger - we may see cities full of ever smaller apartments while only the wealthy live outside.