Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Hey Uncle Joe, where are you going with that arrest and execution list in your hand?

As a young man, Stalin spent time in jail where he learned to colour code blocks.

Stalin was not an aberration or anomaly of communism, but the natural end result. He was the custom made bastard for a dysfunctional, abnormal system like the Soviet Union. In such a cynical totalitarian void, Old Chuckles was the inevitable and the only type likely to be the ‘last man standing’. ‘Gosh! We forged this Revolution with tactical murder, lies and a profound cynicism, and now Uncle Joe comes along and betrays our kindness by being even better at it! There’s a flaw in there. People to kill. Commo’s inside. It’s tres cool.

How many Left folks and for how many decades, believed wholeheartedly in the old Soviet Onion, no matter how many rotten layers were revealed? Many more still dig the Crazy Cuban scene, but it's usually a long distance love affair. But I digress.

If life is anything it’s probably change and sometimes even progress, and doing anything better at all is almost by definition radical at some point. There is always an endless list of opportunities to say a change has got to come. A permanent statism is suitable only for granite, the dead and Christmas Compilation Albums.

It’s just that many so called radical views and opinions are not radical at all, beyond radically dangerous, but merely often stale, invariably disappointing default positions and non-ideas from an approved list, with a rather narrow ideological focus. You could fill it in over the phone and you just know what will never appear on there.

It’s a feature of leftish posing that it regularly focus’s a self-righteous spleen on the wrong targets or at least of the safe, easy and entirely predictable ‘shooting fish in a barrel’ kind. It’s mostly the people and things they and the rest of us actually have the most in common with. This is so whether we like it or not, and no matter how diligently we obsess over our philosophical opposites, there is paradoxically perhaps much to lose with their passing.

The same Posey Parkers can seem incapable of restraint or perspective when ascribing the most absurd motives to their imagined and fetishised foes. Not everyone is fully trained to come over all warm and morally smug with every fashionable step toward our own cultural atomisation. The path to Hell really is often paved and repaved with ‘good’ intentions.

At some point on the merry journey through radicalism, you always have your turn at being the ‘enemy’, whoever you are you naughty class traitor or infidel, you.

If one can’t find a more worthy target for an often comfortable, fake and misdirected moral outrage than that of often flaccid, naive, culturally confused, auto apologising even when attacked, musical chairs of incompetent Western Governments, then you ain’t really interested in trying. That’s often about as big a challenge as doing Left-wing comedy in the inner-city. Apparently they do some really daring and cutting edge anti-Howard and Bush material at The Esplanade but you have to get in a line.

Why do so much of the Left continually go after various squares and establishment figures and their pals, as part of some imagined Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, when there are plenty of real groups of straight out of a cracker box dangerous weirdos from neo Nazi’s, endless hate groups and Islamist religious nuts across the world?

It’s funny, yes it is, but invariably a Western politician who was once thought of as the Devil Incarnate with a diabolical plan for taking over the soul of the world, or alternatively thought of as an incompetent fool that ‘got us into this mess’, will come to the end of their allotted run of actually very limited influence, simply by losing at the ballot box. Then they are promptly and almost completely forgotten. At least until either re-animated in the strange new light of post sin and post achievement, if at all, while they reappear as an elderly statesman whose every fatuous utterance is often respected by all sides.

See Jimmy Carter, Malcolm Frazer et al. See Clinton run. The second cumming?

If you can only fine tune your paranoid fantasies and compulsions domestically towards democratic representatives, you have no discerning judgement worth a damn and like the typical ‘New Age’ patsy; believe in anything but the facts. The entertaining of broad, stupid rhetoric and the simply not true messy paranoia of conspiracy theories becomes lie an easy auto focus. It can cause blindness so total, that one cannot recognise the international realities of an actual Totalitarian basket case, no matter what they do. ‘Hello! I’m over here! Killing millions! Yoo-hoo!’

‘Facts do not cease to exist because you don’t believe in them’.

Talk of tolerance and diversity can appear hollow and empty when it appears to mean a diversity of world views that are in complete agreement with each other. When I was starting my University days, I wanted to call the Student Union and ask, ‘I’m a new student here and I’d like to know what views I should have’.

It’s like the old joke about country and western music, except it’s ‘We have both kinds of opinions. Mainstream left and radical left’.

Hey, then we can have about as much individuality as a North Korean Chorus Line, but without the charm, romance and sparkle. But then that’s the point, even if it’s not the original or admitted intent, whatever temporary cloak may be in use. Or as Frank Burns once said, ‘Individuality is all very fine as long as we do it together’. Poor Frank, the worlds most overdrawn creep and fall-guy and while he had no chin, he did have Hot lips and was in the only active long-term relationship in camp.

Perhaps the sooner the strange and tedious dominance of the fancy dress of the left/right paralysis of thought fades away the better. ‘Look, it’s the Right! Boo! Hiss! It’s the Left! Hooray! Lookout! He’s behind you!’ Well, the left are the good guys, right? All you need is the assumed good intentions! Err, no.

The right of course are reliable, upright and thorough, like Mum and Dad, ok? Maybe not...It’s more likely that many of todays suits, G-Men and various Authorities are so thoroughly Waspy, bereft, square and oblivious, including of any popular culture that for example, they can’t even see through an obvious and ridiculous caricature during a twenty minute interview with Ali G. This gives me no confidence that some of these people could be relied upon to pick the odd one out, even in a line-up of Larry, Mohammed and Curly.

The facts of life are naturally and relentlessly conservative, as someone once said. If you don’t believe me, see how many groovy modern plans for bringing up my children in a different and new way just crumble into tragedy and comedy as a neurotic and complex theory meets a simple, solid nappy and the will of a two year-old. Most people sit where the audience always have, somewhere in the middle, as you and I in many ways often do, whether we want to or not. Except of course when I’m being the hip, swinging ex-restaurant owner, artist, and musician, writer guy. Well, I believe it.

A left/right dichotomy works like a kind of freeze frame of discussion. If you don’t accept the whole package, you can so laughably and easily be called a Fascist and/or Revolutionary without any sense of hyperbole on the part of the accuser, even if you only run a hotdog stand.

Many times I have watched and listened in horror as allegedly conservative to right or leftish to rad folks have given their best and I start thinking in that pained moment, ‘Oh no, I think you all got at least half to everything horribly wrong. Do you do any research? Editing? Have you tried saying any of this out loud at home, without scaring the pets? Etc, etc, etc’. You don’t know how I suffer.

I have wanted so much to find agreement with someone and for them not say something that’s a boring and appalling drag to even hear, while trying to avoid said drivel staying in my memory that I’ve tried to will its direction by osmosis. A little like when you’re teaching a four-year old to ride a bicycle without training wheels from a distance, by gesticulating like a taxi driver from Naples.

When you wish upon a Movie Star.

A second is now about the time between you disagreeing with a complicated and dated shibboleth or a newly minted one, and being called either right or left or both, usually to the right on my figures, especially as I live in the inner city. Sorry guys and gals but that’s the way it is. This is the ironically ridiculed ‘You’re either with us or against us’, in action. It’s all so deliciously and laughably polarised, I often wish I had my Polaroid with me to capture the moment.

It’s like listening to my parent’s strong views on modern art and any music past 1953, two subjects that they dedicated much effort to knowing nothing about, or to students discussing on public transport how they’re going to ‘The March’, any march, and then they’re going to excitedly smash up a McDonalds. That’s got to work! Where would you begin to respond to such affluent and frivolous nihilism if you bothered at all?

Currently the actual meaning of conservative is so misunderstood, unsophisticated and juvenile, that it’s got all the nuanced range and choice of that between a professional killer and a Nazi. The once often worthy and even respected liberal-left view has suffered a similar, though perhaps mostly self-inflicted degradation. Maybe they just got what they wished for.

What’s left of the once adult liberal-left can be such a naive, fluffy and amorphous nullity that it requires incredible mental gymnastics to either believe in any of it or even attempt to follow so many of it’s illogical to suicidal premises. These convoluted concerns curiously can contain, (or CCCCC) more than an element of jealousy and envy. Hence the inspiration to so much vandalism I guess.

The latest grab bag pet subject is as mere fodder to undisciplined minds to give some meaning and direction to a belief system whose only solid stand on anything at all, seems to be its opposition to things. Then when said wheel barrow or trick pony is found a little wanting, it’s discarded without much comment or accountability.

Thinking skills are immutable. It’s a worthwhile exercise for anyone to learn the twenty or so ‘Logical Fallacies’ and 'False Argument'. Go on, you’ll see. Try the Dialectic as well, just for laughs. Of course, Ad Hominems can be such fun.

Conservative used to be understood as a set of proven, timeless and paradoxically, endlessly adaptable, flexible skills, much like martial art, sport, the classical humanities, engineering and cake baking. Or like the liberal left once was for that matter, well, maybe not timeless and adaptable. Conservatism for some reason looks silly on a pamphlet, like a note from your Mother to wear clean underwear.

Once there was at the front of the public mind and discourse the idea and purpose of the Trivium, or the simultaneously Liberal and Conservative idea of the great value of the Humanities, and say teaching them to delinquents and those with even serious offending problems. There was sending troubled kids to a ranch to learn about real life, independence and interdependence, and there still is.

There's the value of the personal and co-operative responsibilities of freedom, both of the individual and in working together. On a ranch it's partly through relating to animals, horses and dogs through kindness and understanding. This is a surprisingly applicable, important and useful skill for any person. But I dilute. Mistakenly thinking being conservative means dull and reactionary is mistakenly being dull and reactionary. It should be inspiring simply because it’s useable and there is no need to hate your parents, fellow citizens or elected representatives of either side. The Left often perversely loves and lauds almost any ‘tradition’ and 'culture' but their own. Go figure.

The radically true, fresh and inspiring seems to come more often than not from individuals than movements, or at least truly civil societies. Large groups without any quality control, like its inbred cousin the dangerous mob, are more likely to produce merely the truly radical, which is not an achievement at all, but a bad conformity and a capitulation of individuality.

We’ve always needed individuals and healthy smart groups of the civil minded kind and perhaps now more than ever, at least more than the mass atrophy of any mean and mechanical ‘Moveon.org’. Interestingly, I find great individuals often have a comfortable and natural empathy for the majority and mass of people, a prerequisite for tempering excess. But then, that really is radical. An effectiveness matched by its compassion. Be real radical and start with kindness. Without this, the rest may be shite. That’s why you tend to listen to your parents more as you get older unless they really are stupid.

Look closely at your parents. If you have acne, there’s a good chance that Mater and Pater are pretty much conservative however much they still have their subscription to ‘Old and Soft Left Liberal Magazine’. They want to conserve what is of value, importance and of opportunity, especially to them and that includes you.

That’s why you won’t usually catch your folks loitering downtown and aided by your Grandparents, trying to tip over a mini van so Aunty Doris can torch it.

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