As we in Ireland approach seventy days without a government it is beyond simply disheartening to watch the endless cynicism with which our politicians manipulate election results in order to ensure their own greedy survival into another long period at the Golden Trough.
And most of us find ourselves musing once more on how the little people really do only get as much democracy as our masters think will be good — for them.
And we watch with weariness as deals get made that are not for the good of the country but in order to feed the ever-voracious maw of Big Business and Corporate Ireland – which in turn will take care of those who, like our political enablers, exist not to serve the people but only themselves. Or rather will take care of them until they, too, are no longer useful.
The English writer Michael Moorcock will shortly be celebrating 60 years at his craft. Looking at this introduction – written in 1993 – to his trilogy Count Brass I’ve been thinking about how little changes.
“The 1960s and 70s were terrible years for losing friends, many of them through drug-related accidents and overdoses, but they were characteristically years of optimism and a willingness to take risks, to try new ideas – a spirit which was successfully quashed through the course of the Thatcher Age when our best resources, human and otherwise, were either sold off or ignored so that an illusion of wealth, based on short terms profits, could be created. Not so much a financial policy as a nursery fantasy.
“Bill Butler [Moorcock’s friend and publisher] died just before the beginning of the Thatcher years. I don’t think he would have enjoyed them very much. He was homosexual, associated with the alternative press and with the typical lifestyle of those days. He was familiar with most of the techniques used by repressive and prejudiced authority to keep people silent and without a franchise. He believed that you should judge a society by the way it treats its weaker elements [my emphasis] and he came to England from America in the early 1960s because he thought the United Kingdom was a more tolerant and just society than his own. Gradually he discovered that the individual frequently has fewer rights and less power here and that what they think they have can sometimes easily be taken away.
“It seems to me that since this sequence [Count Brass] started to appear in 1973 we have witnessed an extraordinary erosion of liberty and hope in Britain. We have a generation that grew up knowing nothing better of government than the cheerless greed and jolly bullying of not very bright people terminally addicted to power…
“…there is a desperate need in modern society for new ethics, a new understanding of what self-interest and survival really are in a world which becomes increasingly centralized, inextricably multinational and, ironically, hugely dependent on its creative elements. Our democratic political systems have to grow increasingly flexible and responsive if they are to survive…
“…It could be that illusion or style is an important element in modern society especially as the illusions get more and more realistic and the realities become increasingly illusory, but if that is the case we still need to develop ethical systems which take account of it.”
Developing an ethical system. Little fear of our lot doing that, I fear. Too much greed and self-interest, for one thing; too few real brains for another.