The Judge RANTS!
I may get grief over this (if anyone ever reads it, of course), but I don't care; some things have to be said, however much against the grain of the moment they may be.
In fact, it is at such times - when everyone is, or so we are confidently assured, apparently of like mind - that the unpopular position must be taken. Because those who would rule us, those with power over us, those who would control us would like nothing more than for us to be of one accord and opinion, or at least appear to be for fear of breaking the 'consensus'; a 'consensus' manufactured for us by those who would rule us, those with power over us, those who would control us.
And so, as I am past caring about what anyone else thinks of me (a happy position which I attained on the very day of my fortieth birthday, having spent far, far too much of my time and my energy over the preceding four decades constantly and profitlessly worrying about other people's perceptions of me), I will give my definite and sincere opinion.
Which is that - like the similar outbreak of social flatulence we saw during the early stages of the pandemic here in Greater Gammonia - the manufactured commemorative clap for Captain Tom Moore this evening was just that; manufactured, every bit as much as those special coins, plates or (and this wouldn't surprise me in the least) fish-slices produced to mark Great State Occasions™ which one used to see advertised in the pages of the colour supplements in days gone by.
Oh, it was entirely voluntary in the strict sense of the term. But, like with the seemingly unlimited one-, two- and even three-minute silences in which we have been enjoined to participate down the years in response to various tragedies, there is a subliminal coercion at play; no-one, after all, wants to be seen to be 'disrespecting' the supposed object(s) of the tribute.
And yet, the greatest disrespect which could possibly be shown to those to whom we are told we are paying tribute is to utilise the act in order to distract, and that for a nakedly political purpose.
For clearly, if you get the population at large to focus upon one remarkable individual's efforts to help fund our health service, you can by that method effectively stop them from thinking beyond, as it were, the headline. I'm sure that Capt. Moore himself must have wondered why, in one of the richest lands in human history, the resources available to a major national asset needed to be augmented by a nonagenarian toddling around his garden every day.
By such misdirection, people may be dissuaded - or even effectively prevented by an artificially heightened sense of decorum - from asking the important question. In this case, the question is, "Why has our health service been so under-resourced for so long that it needed a gentleman nearing his centenary shuffling around his manor to get essential funding which should have been there anyway? Could it be something to do with a sequence of deliberate policy decisions taken by governments over a period of a decade or more? And aren't those the same politicians who are standing there now, clapping in an emetic display of calculated insincerity?".
But empty gestures like these are designed (or taken over by the political, media and commercial establishment) in order to discourage us from allowing ourselves to look at the wider issues. Anyone who seeks to do so (and who is determined to do so openly) may then be publicly excoriated as being guilty of 'disrespect', and therefore fit only to be howled down, marginalised or ignored with no consequences.
It's an old trick, but it works. It works every time. Which is why it keeps being used.
The doctrine of What Everybody Thinks (where 'everybody' may be defined as 'everybody who agrees with the agenda of what J.B. Priestley called 'Topside'') has a global application of course, and we are seeing two instances of it right now, in the cases of Myanmar and Russia. We are told that we must condemn the arrest and imprisonment of Aung San Suu Kyi and of Alexei Navalny, because the people who have locked them up are classified as 'Official Enemies' (which often simply means, 'refuse to roll over for us'). Any further consideration of the specifics of each case may be drowned in a froth of faux outrage.
So it is that Aung San's part in the massacres and ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya is conveniently forgotten. Similarly, the fact that Navalny is a friend of the types of Russian oligarch who think that Putin isn't sufficiently corrupt, that he (Navalny) represents the sort of Russian exceptionalism which thinks that openly consorting with neo-fascists and overt anti-Semites is perfectly fine, and who is no more a democrat than Vladimir Vladimirovich, is not allowed to enter into the discussion. These People Are Heroes Against Tyranny!.
We have, of course, been here before. Many times. Remember how we were told to venerate Lech Wałęsa for his courage in the face of the reconstituted Stalinism of late-70s Poland? How we were instructed massively to admire Václav Havel the Martyr Saint for his determined dissidence against the same forces in Czechoslovakia? And what happened when those two men gained power over their respective nations? Wałęsa tried to turn his country into a near full-blown Catholic theocracy in the manner approved by his mentor and master Wojtyła; and Havel meekly handed control of his country's economy to rapacious corporations from the US and Germany, impoverishing his compatriots for a generation but (completely coincidentally, I'm sure) massively enriching the western corporations and the governments they controlled de facto if not strictly de jure, and who had been his primary cheerleaders.
Again, as with the grand old lad who will be referred to in tabloidese shorthand as 'Captain Tom' for a generation (or at least until about September), the 'respect' we were required to show to Lech and Václav (and are currently expected to display to Aung San and Alexei) was enjoined upon us by those who would deter us from looking at their real motives in doing so; motives which are unlikely in the light of previous experience to be unsullied by ulterior political and pecuniary considerations.
We should always look beyond the headline. We must constantly seek to examine who or what is behind the curtain. And in doing so, we must not allow ourselves to be afraid of the tutting of the readily gulled or the calumny of the cynically calculating.