Thursday, 6 December 2012


It isn’t easy to string together those myriad concerns which beset anyone with the slightest unease over current trends in political affairs.

Situated as we are, within the trend, we do not have the inestimable benefit of hindsight. We do not have alternative words and phrases suited to numerous situations where the mainstream narrative is merely propaganda. Sometimes there is no mainstream narrative, it flows round important issues like a rock in a stream.

“Not something we discuss actually."
"What about that royal baby though.”
"Did you catch the football last night - see that goal?"
Or an uneasy silence followed by a change of subject.

If you are reading this, you’ve been there.

Because of course good names, good words and phrases have to be commonly accepted, part of an established narrative through which ideas are compared, adjusted and tested. The trend itself disallows opposing narratives, usually without wholly prohibiting them.

Persuasion is hopeless – these matters are seen as socially unsafe.

All this is natural enough of course – natural in the sense of something to be expected. The trend has its own narrative and is intolerant of alternatives because that is what it is to be a trend. So we are left with existing language and modes of discourse which don’t fit the bill, and we know they don’t which doesn’t help.

We have an unrepresentative political system, where collusion, fraud, lying and self-serving issue-mongers are astoundingly commonplace. Astounding that is, in our more detached moments, those where we stand back and gaze on these demeaning matters with an impassive eye. Not a jaundiced eye though, because that implies engagement, upsetting the delicate eye of detachment which as always is worth preserving.

As for the trend itself, it’s almost a trend towards nouveau feudalism – robber barons, aristocrats and peasants all over again. Feudal we might call it, except that it isn’t feudal because this time we peasants have full bellies, warm shelter and entertainment.

So feudal won’t do in spite of the parallels. In any event, it’s an old word with too much baggage. Not merely the romantic baggage of castles and knights in shining armour, but unromantic disease, ignorance and an early grave. These things set us apart from feudal times when what we look for is engagement.

Yet - collusion, fraud and self-serving dishonesty – how did it come to this? How do we say again what is already being said to no effect? Do we keep our anxieties in the background and get on with things?

What about the silliness?

There is lots of silliness about too – it’s part of the trend. Gushing headlines, gallons of printer’s ink spilled over the dull occurrence of a royal pregnancy. It’s no fault of the young couple themselves, but their ordinariness is so glaring, the certitude that they shall never say or do anything to upset the status quo. They will never give us good cause to sit up and take notice.

The sheer silliness of treating these royal persons as something special – it does seem to harmonise with feudal-lite as a handle on what we are going through socially and politically.

Feudal-lite? No it isn’t quite right, but it’s a tiny stone tossed into the swamp.


Macheath said...

It's an interesting idea, that the optimism of the new Elizabethan age ushered in with the 1950s should have ultimately led us into a new feudalism instead.

We also have the Benefit of the Clergy masquerading in its new guise of parliamentary privilege, as we found out when the question of expenses came again recently.

Anonymous said...

Just as Winter has put Nature to sleep for a bit, so economics has put government to sleep - nothing useful to say, nothing useful to be done. Diversions are welcomed, bring on Christmas.

The economic ground is frosted and hard as iron. As in days of yore the peasants will go hungry until things warm up a bit. But in the castles and manor houses all is snug and warm - more or less as it always was. April is but 115 days away, the Economic Springtime looks a lot further out. Time for some pruning and then ditch-clearing.

Been reading Abbe Sieyes, he had some good ideas but did not work as intended. Sorry don't do French accents.

A K Haart said...

Mac - good point about Benefit of the Clergy. Things don't change much do they?

Roger - "nothing useful to say, nothing useful to be done" that's about it - yet they still say and do.

Abbe Sieyes sounds interesting but at the moment doesn't seem to be very Kindle-friendly.