by Jim Grundy
Throughout history, at least British history as I read it, the debate about the great issues of the day has always been rendered down to little more than identifying an ‘other,’ often a selection of others, and loading upon it/them all our fears, hatreds and general discontent with the state of society. There was – and is – an infinite appetite to blame all our ills upon an ever-changing gallery of ‘bad guys.’ If only ‘they’ did something about ‘them’ then, the logic (sic) goes, everything would be all right.
The speed, lately the increasing speed, with which the latest group dragging us down is identified and vilified should make us all stop and question whether our lives are really being destroyed by ‘them,’ particularly when last week it was someone else entirely. It should. But the focus of our attention would be more profitably directed towards the one constant in this fast moving blame game – and that is the origin of practically all stories telling us who to hate next. Step forward our ruling elite (they have other names but that’ll do for now).
We’re now facing a referendum on our future in Europe. And the E.U., not without genuine cause, does come in for a lot of criticism. But anyone arguing that simply (ahem) leaving the European Union would mean that, for example, councils would not be withdrawing care for those struggling with terminal illnesses is one of the dafter examples of wishful thinking anyone is ever going to come up with.
Whatever the rights and wrongs of the E.U. (and, let’s be honest, there is a huge subtext about nasty foreigners and immigration underlying it all), does anyone, can anyone believe that Britain out of the E.U. is about to be transformed into a paradise for the benefit of the average person living in these islands?
It seems to me that the more involved and intangible our problems, the harder to understand their root causes, the greater the need to find simplistic, impressionistic answers to them becomes.
I wish simple, easy to implement, solutions would appear. I also wish the hard-wired instinct to find a scapegoat would disappear. But I am bound to remember one conversation around the time the ‘Birmingham Six’ were released. One very angry man said, quite simply, that he didn’t care whether they were, in his words “so-called” innocent, “some bastard’s got to pay.”
Sadly, that ‘bastard’, when you travel along that road, is always going to be us. Not them.