We refer to inequality as if it is a conspiracy perpetrated by factions within society rather than being simply an act of domination by the strong over the weak. It is the action of human beings everywhere, whether we disagree with them or not. Political parties manipulate inequality all the time. The Right demands of us the freedom to make mistakes but of more importance, it wants us to live with our mistakes, to pay their price for our failures, and usually, it wants us to pay for their mistakes too. The Liberals understand that we all make mistakes and want to protect us from making them in the first place while the Left will demand compensation on our behalf. Of course, this is a bit of an oversimplification. There is altruism in some political policy but compassion in conservatism, liberalism or the left is a necessity rather than a virtue of politics. If our members of parliament know what is good for us whether we like it or not, their behavior is tempered by another maxim and that is that politics is the art of the achievable; therefore, fear of failure rather than respect for the electorate is what determines policy.
If our politicians know what is good for us then imposing their will is rationalized by means of political virtue. Of course they will always tell us that our acquiescence indicates our agreement. But the reality is much more mundane. Britain does not have Political Action Committees like the USA possesses. If we feel aggrieved we cannot simply petition higher courts of justice. Our voice in politics is heard when our politicians want to listen. The “Tyranny of the Majority” I referred to in an earlier article is what our politicians use in order to maintain discipline within society. The European Union has magnified the injustice within society by trying to ensure that every activity has the same outcome. In leveling society it has had to cater to the lowest common denominator in society without considering that when we deal with 28 separate nation states we have 28 separate lowest common denominators and not one. Frustration and anger breeds discontent that the consumer society will be unable to appease because not everyone shares either the vision or the wealth generated by the Union. Access that is a right and not a privilege creates expectations which constantly escalate without reference to the prevalent circumstances.
But the European Community (the EU) was an American construction – a last attempt at civilizing the murderous ‘Old World’ which to outsiders appeared incapable of containing its passions. Those passions had created centuries of hatred and warfare.
So we have a different kind of domination today. The tyranny of European parliamentary bureaucracy – tens of thousands of regulations define every aspect of society. Those regulations define every aspect of our existence: What may be called Camembert, what may claim to be champagne, even the angle of a banana; in summary, what is permitted and what is not.
It was recently revealed that corruption costs the EU at least £100 billion per year. That is only £200 per person for every man, woman and child living in the EU. But to put it into perspective, that is £200 that is stolen from every one of us every year.
We could argue that peace has never been achieved so cheaply or so painlessly. £12 billion per year is then, a peace tax for Britain, and perhaps it represents good value. But that all depends on whether or not all that regulation and the necessity to cede sovereignty deliver harmony or something else less welcome. If society is gradually becoming eroded and if our attempts to scale any heights are increasingly curtailed by group-think and the terror of the collective we may one day wish to return to an era of irrepressible passion vicariously or directly played out before us.
Or perhaps we have already begun to take that journey. We as a society have become enamored of violence in our everyday speech and in our visual entertainment (in our movies and in the ubiquity of aggression in our video games). The popular movie franchise, “The Hunger Games” is one futuristic nod to the Roman amphitheater of two thousand yeas ago. It is not so long ago that war was seen as a noble expression of manliness which brought out the best in us. We have advanced one hundred years so that we can now make our war games sexually egalitarian while retaining their deathly malice.
Some of our music refers to our women and girls as “bitches”, our music videos often add to their debasement rather than their empowerment. We have opened many doors to equality while simultaneously we facilitate the advancement of the pedophile, the rapist and the chauvinistic thug. It appears that in honor of free speech and civil liberty we are losing all sense of voluntary self-control.
The artistic and the intellectual thug, and the professional demagogue are two sides to the same sickness that we have refused to tackle for fear of violating our sacred principles. But those are the same principles, the abuse of which undermines society and, whose misuse we appear to be powerless to dispel.
Most non-Europeans did not feel the existential terror of the Nazi era. It may be the reason that in Britain as well as in the rest of the English speaking world we misinterpret the malevolent power that is represented by the Quenelle. The excuse that it is no more than a symbol of social disharmony and the muted articulation of French frustration has not prevented some from seeing in it the slow break down of French society; while for others it is nothing less than a portent of the collapse of civil society. The Quenelle is symbolic of all that is dysfunctional within society, a visual representation of the poison within. We seem to have ignored the simple undiluted fundamental here. The Quenelle is a modern Nazi salute. Does it matter whether it is left wing Nazism or right wing Nazism that fuels its popularity?
If we have re-awoken to an era of distractions, of rediscovered faith outside of faith, of devotion to the mundane as well as the hateful, it is perhaps no more than our latest descent into a void characterized by barbarism.