Thursday, December 11, 2008

I might have been a bit quiet or preoccupied recently, for various reasons. First of all there’s the general pre-Christmas stress, the grim greyness of the time of year, plus the fact that it simply struck me as too depressing a capitulation to the presidential ego to fulminate yet again at the latest lamentable episode in the remorseless, inescapable self-promotion of that risible cockbag Václav Klaus. As well as that I’ve recently got round to reading some of “Is it Just Me or is Everything Shit?”, which from a personal point of view has raised an uncomfortable question or two. For a start, why did this book immediately appeal to me? The bombastic obviousness of the title, which as an added bonus contains a swear word? Yes. The fact that it’s grumbling about how vapid popular culture is, which not only appeals to the miserable sod and snob in me who considers himself above such trash, but also, as I’ve touched upon before, comforts me that I haven’t missed out on anything of value as a result of my decision to leave the UK? Yes. The book’s earthy, wise-to-your-game humour, it’s suggestion that you can have it all by being a sharp intellectual who disdains plebby consumerism on the one hand whilst still remaining a bit of a geezer on the other? Yeah mate. In the end it just ticked too many boxes, I couldn’t resist buying it. Am I that predictable and shallow? Yes.

And to be perfectly frank, as a light read I find the great majority of it highly enjoyable, for all of the above reasons I find it impossible not to identify with. That, though, is a large part of the problem, since it’s forced me to ask myself what the hell I’m doing here, as in bothering to write anything at all. The answer staring me in the face is that I’m not doing much that’s any different from the authors of the book, except that they got there earlier, did it better, and got published and paid for it – the bastards.

It’s not all doom and gloom though, at least I’ve caught up on a couple of things. I’d previously been unaware, for example, of Real Football Factories, presented by the breathtakingly embarrassing Danny Dyer. The book pretty much said it all on him too, so there’s not much point in me pitching in at this late stage, but I have to concur that he really isn’t very good. However, after I’d checked him out on youtube I was led to contemplate not only the idiot Dyer but also the more sinister figures behind him, and I began to feel that benign, euphoric sensation that perhaps I might find something to rant about after all.

Years ago I actually read The Football Factory. It’s bloody awful, in fact I’d even go so far as to say that it’s considerably worse than the film, despite Dyer’s piss-poor performance in the lead role. Naturally there’s the abysmal prose style, the facile sensationalism, the tedious celebration of yobbishness etc. The violence aside though, there’s also the equally obvious nastiness of the book’s excruciatingly laboured and self-righteous promotion of class hatred. The message rammed home ad nauseam is that salt-of-the-earth working clarse yoof might be a bit tasty and feral, getting their hedonistic kicks whatever way the system lets ’em cause they ain’t too pussy to stand up for themselves in a bit of a row, but it’s the middle class who are the real bullies. Basically it’s insultingly simpleminded, Orwellian “blue collar good, white collar bad”, hatemongering bullshit.

In the goulash of my brain this seemed to link up with another book I read recently, “What’s Left?” by Nick Cohen, which, although it didn’t pack in quite as many laughs per page as “Is it Just Me…”, I also found very readable. Cohen makes a good job of stating, with somewhat less pomposity than Hitchens, what ought to be obvious but nevertheless evidently needs saying, i.e. that fear of being culturally insensitive has prevented some on the Left from criticising non-white fascists. But he mostly skirts round the mother of all liberal hang-ups, which predates the Civil Rights movement and gender politics, let alone the war on terror – that of class guilt. Whilst he’s eager to point out that white people don’t have a monopoly on racism, he stops short of the logical analogy that the higher echelons of society in turn don’t have a monopoly on snobbery.

Though Cohen makes the observation, in reference to the vicious lout Gerry Healy of the preposterous Workers’ Revolutionary Party, that Healy “realised early in his political career that many middle-class people desperately wanted to be abused and humiliated by a self-appointed representative of the proletariat”, later on, whilst quite rightly highlighting the grotesque condescension that exists amongst certain sections of the middle-class Left towards the working class, he quotes the revolting Julie Burchill, who claims that “the English working class is now the only group of people the chattering classes are happy to hear mocked and attacked”. Sorry Nick, but where you start endorsing Burchill is where you and I part company. As always, Burchill is utterly wrong, the group of people most easily and frequently attacked by the “chattering classes” (the working classes, being people of action, presumably don’t chatter) is themselves, and Burchill and John King have made careers as professional token proles pandering to this bourgeois masochism. Essentially they’re no more than performing monkeys, dominatrix whores fulfilling the guilty wank fantasies of Guardian readers.

Going back to these “self-appointed representatives” of the proletariat, common man, Joe six-pack, whatever you want to call them, you come upon an illustrious collection of demagogues of the left and right. Those to have used their (often entirely fictitious) humble background or identification with the lower orders as a get-out-of-jail-free card, whilst persecuting the chattering classes, snooty inhabitants of ivory towers etc., include not only Healy, Burchill and King but also Garry Bushell, Thatcher, Alistair Campbell, Sarah Palin and Pol Pot. Terms such as “middle class” or “student” are used by such people as pejoratives which require no qualification. They could quite easily be substituted with “bloody Jews”. Make no mistake, anyone, whatever their own social background, who vilifies others solely on the basis of their social background, can seriously damage your health.

See, I may be a middle class liberal, but I consider myself to represent the provisional wing of that particular movement. ’Ave it, you MUPPETS!


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