Thursday, 24 March 2011

Simple or simplistic?

I'm often droning on to Mrs QO (the only person who has to stay in the house and listen) and anyone else within earshot that one of the biggest problems facing our society is that too few people keep on top of current events and think about them. Vast numbers of our citizens (here we go, sit back and share the rant) sit in hideous sloth every night in front of some braindead nonsense on TV, read only one newspaper, if they can read at all, with no regard to why its content will be slanted and exercising no critical analysis or independent judgement... they will turn out to vote (if they can get off their lardy arses) and painstakingly pencil in a cross against the party they've always voted for, having read neither that party's manifesto nor any other... given a choice between long-term planning and cheap goodies now, they'll always take and consume with no thought for the next generation...

Why do so many people not think? Why do they not read something that might challenge their prejudices? Why don't they ever ponder whether their old tribal allegiance might be out-dated and harmful? Why cannot they get over 'gut instinct' and use their heads, just for a change?

I think I know why. And I may be feeling a little ashamed of myself for the holier-than-thou diatribe. (Not very ashamed, you understand, just a healthy amount.)

The world is a big place, and lots goes on in it. (Yes, the QO brings you the big insights. You heard it here first.) Only a generation ago, it was a real effort to find out any significant amount about what was going on and what other people thought about it. Nowadays, if you're the sort of person that tries to keep abreast of events and informed thinking about them, there's so much input that you can't possibly process it.

Take, as an obvious example, what's going on in Libya. Part of me is right behind the rebels and therefore applauds the multinational action in supporting them. But equally there's a despondent feeling of 'here we go again... post-imperialism... it's all about the oil... nobody has thought about what happens next'.

Another example: the big march in London on Saturday. I'm torn all sorts of ways here. If I went, which group would I join? I believe the State has got way too big, intervenes far too much in the citizen's private life, has eroded our civil liberties to a truly dangerous extent over the last 20 years and has bought votes with borrowed money that our great-great-grandchildren will be struggling to pay off. Offered and forced dependence on the State has brought about a weakness of character in our people, an inability to stand on our own two feet, an inability to admit that sometimes life isn't fair, but nobody owes you a living, you just plain get on with it. So I'd be happy on one level to be with the Census Rebellion in Trafalgar Square.

Against that, I'm desperately sorry for those thousands upon thousands of public-sector workers who are being thrown out of employment with little prospect of alternative work, I think the economic sins of the past are being addressed too quickly and with too little thought for the consequences, and - to be blunt - the collection of pigs now in power don't seem much different from the bunch of pigs that were snouts-down in the troughs of Whitehall before last May.




It's difficult, isn't it? Too many for me, as Huck Finn would say. What is far easier to process is the warmer, brighter weather, the birdsong, the changing of the year. Those things our evolution has prepared us for and we react instinctively. This is where we can trust gut-instinct, and don't have to worry about being rational. Of course these things are good.

Perhaps our society has got so complex that we can't make any useful choices any more and will always lurch from one crisis to another, driven by the tiny few who are sure they know better than we do how we should all live. I give up.

What I think I do know is that I love the sight of spring blossom. That's going to have to do for the time being.


  1. think your comments may be duff: wrote a huge response to yr last, seems to have died.

  2. Sorry about that - no idea what the problem is. There's nothing in the spam filter, that's usually where missing comments go, but sadly not this time. Frustrating.