Saturday, September 06, 2014

Some of the "people of England" are as mad as hell, and they're not going to take it any more

What do the following have in common?

Supporters of UKIP
British Asians, born and bred in England, supporting India or Pakistan in cricket
British jihadists 
The half or more of Scots wanting independence
The anti-Capitalist "Occupy" movement
The Wikileaks organisers 

... and many more. The answer is that the establishment alienates them and they want to challenge it. 

One of the positions of UKIP is that "LibLabCon" has failed us. The political establishment is, in this analysis, too much the same. Too much accepting of the liberal imperative, of multiculturalism, of the European project and too remote from Chesterton's "people of England who haven't spoken yet". UKIP speaks for these people, or believes it does.

The born and bred here young British Asians who wave Indian or Pakistani flags at cricket matches are not in the main showing their allegiances for these countries. Many of these fans will never have even visited the countries from which their families once emigrated. What they are demonstrating is that they relate more to the cricketers from India or Pakistan than they do to the overwhelmingly white, middle class team from England and its exclusively establishment coaches and officials. If you're an Indian heritage boy from Bradford you relate more to MS Dhoni than to Alastair Cook. And if you are a Hindu or a Muslim you are not going to sing "Jerusalem", a Christian hymn, to support an England team you find it hard to relate to, despite your British passport.

The terrifying phenomenum of  young British Asian citizens becoming terrorists or jihadists is a malignant variant of the alienated cricket fan. Here the alienation is driven by religion. An extreme version of Islam, we are told, but Islam nevertheless. Britain is a pluralist, modern largely secular society with freedoms which the Muslim fanatic wishes to suppress. Our nation's symbols are Christian symbols and our lifestyle with its encouragement of provocative female dress, the consumption of alcohol and other hedonisms offends against Islam - or so these fanatics believe. Only the application of Sharia, or the creation of a Caliphate can establish Allah's laws. 

The growing strength of the "Yes" campaign in Scotland is also  a response to feelings of alienation from the establishment. This is also, in part, a rejection of "LibLabCon" but with the overlay of Westminster. The perception is that the Scots could do a better job of governing themselves than the current London political elite. It is not mainly anti English but more anti the English-based establishment. If you are a young struggling young person from a deprived part of Glasgow you have more in common with Alex Salmond than you have with David Cameron, or Alastair Darling.

It is natural to look for those who cause our troubles and attack them. The "establishments" are remote, uncaring, and self-interested and they are that cause  - or so goes one response to alienation. Some activists perceive capitalism as the guilty party and that has led to the existence of the anti-Capitalist movements like "Occupy". The rich capitalist has always been a target and in an era of hugely over-rewarded bankers, industrialists and the rest it is hardly surprising that capitalism is blamed. Employees, in the private sector at least, work longer hours for poorer wages, inadequate pensions and with nobody to stand up for them now that Union power has largely disappeared. 

The establishments protect themselves in a self-interested way covering up failures and withholding the truth - or so say those behind "Wikileaks" and others who dig for facts and publish them say. A common factor in many scandals - Hillsborough, Rotherham, Northern Rock, child abuse, dodgy dossiers and the rest is cover-up. The establishment alienates itself from the rest of us by distorting the truth or burying it. So to reveal these truths, which we have a right to know, we have to find a way of digging them out - and if that way is illegal then so be it. The ends justifies the means.

At its most benign alienation from the establishments can lead to a decision not to participate - a feeling that nothing will make a difference so why bother. This is why turnouts in elections fall. "They are all the same - why should I vote?". But it can also lead, as we have seen, to activism and protest, sometimes extreme. There is a famous scene in the movie "Network" when the Peter Finch character cries from an open window "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!" That is the cry of the alienated, the dispossessed, the ignored - the forgotten people. They are the "people of England" (and Scotland!) and some of them are flexing their muscles and speaking out.

It should not be only those who are a real and present danger to our lives and our security who should be listened to. If our democratic processes (the first past the post voting system which effectively disenfranchises many, for example) and our societal norms (of privilege and secrecy especially) are failing many then we should change them so that they no longer do.


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