from Baxter - Sunday, November 06, 2005
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This is me doing a retrospective political Taz.
As I am forced to confront the ever-looming prospect of another year at close, I find it incumbent to examine for myself the flagrant contradictions enshrined upon the hallowed pillars of modernity: progress, civilisation, tolerance, justice. Analysing the events of the year from the perspective of another trivial spec on the face of humanity, I am ever more consistently compelled to consider my true state of isolation exemplified by my inescapable presence in the human herd. When and why did trust become so familiar a term in a world to which its meaning appears still interminably lost? Why are we so certain that words are the keys to our redemption? Reaching out to someone to extend an artificial limb, easily amputated at the flippant twist of a plastic joint. The trained hand of superficial courage, the enlightened gesture of the alloy-constructed ‘new man’ , trained to exude a false openness to the newly sensitive world. We are a generation trained and indoctrinated to ‘share’, yet all we do is further our own alienation.
The world has not become any friendlier. Rather it has facilitated its perceived needs for emotional honesty with an artificial overlay of automated facets designed to superficially suffer its indignities for it. We live in the world in which the genuine necessities for emotional ‘freedom’ , racial acceptance and gender-equality are supplanted with colloquialisms and clichés, unassailable moral standards so beyond reproach that their invulnerability extends also beyond the blighting pale of logic and emotion. A schoolteacher who argues for integration and equal opportunity is marginalized as a racist by ethnic minority leaders; A person who waves a Palestinian flag on Israeli independence day is an anti-Semitic Nazi. ‘Equality’, ‘tolerance’ and ‘enlightenment’ are defined by mass conformity rather than understanding and ‘human’ decency. The victims of old resentments feel in their self-imposed indignation the justification to re-allocate the conditions of their injustice on newly recognised margins, while the offspring of their former oppressors are left to wallow in the guilt of their parents, the acceptance of which is never more than arbitrary and abstract, another line of clichés and an unending and unfathomable wall of rhetoric.
We do not, as a whole, feel truly sorry for the collective crimes of humanity. Rather, we effect, by proxy, an attitude of indignity for the failings of others whose humanity we refuse to contemplate, whose association is negated from our consciousness. We avoid being sorry by pretending to be sorry. We remember the Holocaust every year in soul-numbing verbatim, demeaning visitations on unforgotten themes reinforced by the repetition of the names of culprits, the unending images of irrelevantly named or unnamed faces of casualties, and freshly re-edited collections of aging film-reels, spliced with visual imagery of ominous buildings, rusting barbed wire and fading light bulbs which become the emotional symbols of something which none of us are encouraged either to forget or fully appreciate. The outer trappings of the criminal have become more portent than his deeds, and the shallow symbols of the crime have become more inflammatory than the crime itself. In the same breath of air a man may berate an immigrant as sub-human, deviant and parasitic and then express sincerely held indignity at the arbitrary display of a swastika.
The memory of Auschwitz has not become the progenitor of greater human understanding; rather, it has become a superficial icon by which the relatively secure minority of the world can effect emotional detachment from the barbarism of the so-called lesser and less privileged members of their species. So-called enlightenment has grown into a parody of itself, illuminating its own hypocrisy, stripping away its veneer to reveal the pathetically disparate and self-demeaning creature that is man, its architect. We cry out in anger at the ignorance and intolerance of others superficially unlike us whose crimes we immortalise in our collective memories, seeking to further distance ourselves from what we label monstrous and inhuman - perish the thought that these could share anything with us! - and then return to our righteous indignation at the thought of sharing our supposedly enlightened environment with others less fortunate than ourselves. We become enraged at the racist behaviour of foreigners towards our popular idols, and we rise up in solidarity at a few unwanted chants or slogans, whilst we do nothing to quell the genocide and mass-murder of so-called unenlightened nations only a few thousand miles away.
Welcome the Age of Irony made manifest in a race of consenting blind and deaf. And when the voices of dissent become too loud for us to bear, we will resort to that time-honoured means of false-resolution: we will talk. And talk. And when we can talk no more, we will throw money at them. We will drown them in an unquenchable flood of the commodities which we wallow in, we will flood them until they cannot shout anymore, until there is no more dissenting voice to be heard above the unending tide of wasted resources. And we will feel indignant, justified. And in the meantime we will undergo the emotional vaccination that is the constant media saturation of the issues of suffering and deprivation, till the sight of starving children or rampant armies of maniacal psychopaths armed with the products of our industries will mean less to us than the localised bickering and social conflicts that stir us from our lethargy only in relation to their proximity to our doorstep.
This is the age in which both freedom and equality are espoused in the verbatim of the all-conquering lobbies of global enlightenment and the humanist elevation of mankind to self-effaced deity- the collaboration of which is only feasible with the deterioration of both ideals - freedom and equality - to mere repetitive and unconsidered givens. In our haste to embrace a new and brighter future we have forgotten the reasons for which we sought it out. The World shall by our hand be made free - free to accept our will, free to consume our produce; and if they reject our freedom then we shall bring it to them by force. We shall root out by any means, just or unjust, the injustices of the world. We shall be ignorant towards the ignorant, and we shall be ignorant of ignorance. We shall be intolerant in our prosecution of the intolerant, and we will feel exonerated in our intolerance. We shall bring enlightenment to the world, and mercilessly crush all those who refuse to be enlightened. We shall empower the oppressed to oppress their oppressors. We will cry for those we are told to cry for, and we shall hate those whom we are told to hate. We will be taught, but refuse to understand. And in our search for new idols we shall endear those who have struggled in vain to teach us. We shall create for ourselves new gods of our former dissenters, and enshrine them in the hallowed temples of our guilt. We shall deify their names - Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, the list goes on - so that, right or wrong, we don’t have to heed their warnings. And in our haste to please our new gods we shall bring them fresh sacrifices from the masses of the un-evangelised world who have not seen our bright and shining light. We who profess so much, and appreciate nothing.
And so, confined to this glorious brave new world, I find myself confronted with an inescapable question: is suicide avoidable?
Surely not! My very existence seems a contribution to the great mass suicide that is mans rampant hell-bent charge towards his rendezvous with extinction. Man is killing himself whether I like it or not. And every passing second his self-destruction grows ever more efficient with the introduction of new mediums, new intoxicants with which to feed this monstrous and ravenous technological and consumptive addiction. It really doesn’t matter when or whether I get off the fucking ride, because the brake is busted and the kid at the controls is on smack, and the last rail rusted out ages ago! The passengers are all on fire and loving it! Surely no one will miss one less consumer?
I’m losing my temper from yelling at the black man sitting next to me, who’s screaming at the white woman sitting in front of us, whose husband is shouting abuse at the gay couple in front of him, whose children are spitting at the disabled immigrant kid in front of them, who’s sitting next to a wealthy liberal preaching the advent of our new and enlightened society, while a suicide bomber tells us that we‘re all about to pay for our crimes by his act of righteous anger. Do I meet my doom alone or do I find solidarity in collective destruction? WILL EVERYONE SHUT THE FUCK UP!!!???
But I will not get off the ride, for I am an inquisitive coward. I’m too scared to miss what’s at the end of the track, even if it’s impending doom. And so I will consume. And I will be desensitised. And I will go my way and hold my rage against the idiots who continue to think that buying hybrid cars or collecting coins for red-nose day are doing anything more than assuaging their own guilty consciences as they go home to their smug, self-satisfied existences. I will hold my peace when a bunch of ridiculously wealthy ‘celebrities’ give a minute of their much-valued time to tell me that the consumerist self-centred society that they exemplify and that has made them rich is killing one deprived child every three minutes, so could I give of my meagre resources to make the world a better place - SPIT IN MY EYE AND TELL ME IT’S RAINING!! And I will let the world kill me, for I have not the guts to do it myself!