......and found wanting
Two writers from very different eras encapsulated what is wrong with our self-serving elite, whether they be politicians, bankers, hedge-fund managers, tax-avoiders or their mates in the media.
A pithy paragraph by Suzanne Moore summed up the current political state of play yesterday. Her article was principally about UKIP and how their 'policie' are not the answer.
“But in order to respect the current political establishment I would have to think the Iraq war was a good idea; that these people are economically literate; that Afghanistan is going great (though producing higher opium yields than ever); that Trident is a fine investment, as are aircraft carriers with no aircraft; that to talk about decriminalisation of drugs is disgusting, even though doing just that has reduced heroin use in Portugal. I must also accept that Cameron recruits the best and the brightest, who just happen to be his schoolmates, and that education should be overhauled by a nostalgic zealot who has never taught and dismisses evidence.
All of this, of course, is propped up by the media establishment and the cliche of the Westminster bubble. I wish it were a bubble as it would take one prick to burst it. It is a pretty solid forcefield. I know there are some good people in politics who really want change. But then we see Tony Blair and his "vocation". He now has to be sneaked into the country, but, hey, he is worth £65m. Farage and his merry men could but dream of such respect.” Suzanne Moore, Guardian 9/5/13
In the same edition online, was a gem from 90 year old Harry Leslie Smith. He had served in the RAF during the Second World War and lost many friends and colleagues in the conflict.
“We were a world at war, and for those of us in Britain the cost was enormous in lost and ruined lives. But it didn't matter because we believed that the cause was just and that, whether we came from humble or refined stock, we were all in this war together. It was that common and shared faith in ourselves and in the notion that everyone's contribution, large or small, was important to the war effort that saw us through those dark hours. It was what kept us buggering on until our fortunes turned and the war against Nazi Germany reached its bloody end in the spring of 1945.....
.....We have somehow broken our solemn bond with those warriors of yesterday and forgotten that when the survivors of the Second World War returned to their homes, they were like a tide that raised all boats. My generation's shared experience of suffering, of witnessing genocide, ethnic cleansing, and enduring unspeakable privations as both soldiers and civilians made us vigilant when it came to demanding our peace dividend. We knew what we deserved and that was a future that didn't resemble our hard-scrabble past. The Green and Pleasant land was for everyone after the war because we had bled for it and died for it. We demanded a truly democratic society where merit was rewarded and no one would be left behind because of poverty, poor health or an inadequate education....
.....Today, however, in a world where our reservoirs of wealth are as deep and enormous as all the mighty rivers of the world combined, our politicians, financial institutions and megalithic industries tell us we can no longer afford these human rights that men sacrificed their lives for: the freedom to live with dignity in a compassionate society. We are told by those in charge that we can no longer live with luxuries like healthcare, proper state funded pensions, decent wages, trade unions and most aspects of our social safety network.
At 90, I am too old to take up the fight, too old to stand in demonstrations with a placard denouncing this madness. All I can do is bear witness to my times and our heroic struggle fought so long ago against Hitler and against men who would wreck the foundations that made civilisation tolerable and decent for its inhabitants.
The problem with society, today, is not lack of money or debt but lack of ideas, lack of commitment by our government to realise that its constituents are the people, not city bankers and hedge fund managers whose loyalty is to their ledger books rather than to the community. I don't know if we will come out of this present darkness. Perhaps humanity will simply retreat into the caves whence our ancestors came because we were cowed by self-serving political parties and dubious leaders of business. I hope not, for the sake of the generations to come, but there is one thing I am certain of: had the politicians and business mandarins of today been in power in 1939, they wouldn't have had the bottle to fight Nazism. There would have been no Dunkirk, no Battle of Britain, no Finest Hour. Our leaders today on either side of the house would have allowed the lights across Europe to grow dim, because after all that would have been the cheapest and most prudent solution to Hitler's tyranny.” ‘Is Cameron’s Britain what we fought for in the war?’