Well, that's like hypnotizing chickens
The word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies "something not desirable." The words democracy, socialism, freedom, patriotic, realistic, justice have each of them several different meanings which cannot be reconciled with one another. In the case of a word like democracy, not only is there no agreed definition, but the attempt to make one is resisted from all sides. It is almost universally felt that when we call a country democratic we are praising it: consequently the defenders of every kind of regime claim that it is a democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using that word if it were tied down to any one meaning. Words of this kind are often used in a consciously dishonest way. That is, the person who uses them has his own private definition, but allows his hearer to think he means something quite different. Statements like Marshal Pétain was a true patriot, The Soviet press is the freest in the world, The Catholic Church is opposed to persecution, are almost always made with intent to deceive. Other words used in variable meanings, in most cases more or less dishonestly, are: class, totalitarian, science, progressive, reactionary, bourgeois, equality.
Politics and the English Language
Dylan Thomas defined an alcoholic as "someone you don't like who drinks as much as you do." Our Nick defines 'middle-class' as people he doesn't like, who earn less than a national newspaper columnist.
Satirists caricature Liberals – and I think we can now stop calling them "Liberal Democrats" as their alliance with the right has sundered their links with the social democratic tradition – as muesli-munching, Observer-reading, real-ale-drinking members of the progressive middle class. The events of last week have smashed that caricature into 1,000 pieces. Instead of going with Labour, the leaders of middle-class liberalism went into David Cameron's coalition. Far from adding grit to an administration dominated by the children of the rich, they toffed it up and raised the average cabinet member's net worth by tens of thousands of pounds.
Oh, good grief. First, all alliances in various European Parliaments - well, they must have sundered the myth of social democracy there too. For instance, Angela Merkel of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU):
From 2005 to 2009 she led a grand coalition with the Christian Social Union (CSU), its Bavarian sister party, and the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), formed after the 2005 federal election on 22 November 2005.
This shows convincingly, I believe, that so-called Social Democracy is just a pragmatic sham behind which the reactionary running dogs of bourgeois capitalist oppression continue to oppress the honest hard-working sons of toil. Etc. Or something.
I have my muesli in front of me. And I'm partial to real ale. But you can stick progressive where the sun don't shine. "Toffed" doesn't mean that the LDs in the cabinet can trace their ancestors back to William the Conqueror or Henry VIII, it means that their parents were rich. And that net worth has to include Nick Clegg's parents. (Clegg isn't broke by a long way, but some of his money comes from his wife, who is a partner of international legal practice DLA Piper. I can't remember what Cherie Blair did. Wasn't she a cleaner, or did she take in laundry? I'm sure scanning at a checkout in Sainsbury's would be practically middle-class, what with staff discount on wine and organic tofu.
As so often, foreign journalists see Britain more clearly than we do. During the campaign, a puzzled Susanne Gelhard, London correspondent for German radio station ZDF, noticed that the British media talked incessantly about Cameron's privileged background, but never added that Clegg's was no different.
I've a good mind to dig up George Orwell and give him a good dig in the ribs for not including that highly ambiguous word 'never' in Politics and the English Language. Who knew in the pages of the Observer (before they become bespattered with fair trade coffee and muesli with organic soya milk) it could mean 'very very often'? Like in the Daily 'Hurrah for the Blackshirts' Mail. An old BBC profile mentions: Mr Clegg's father, a banker, is half Russian and his aristocratic grandmother fled St Petersburg after the tsar was ousted....Mr Clegg was educated at Westminster school, one of the country's top public schools.
On leaving Cambridge, he [Clegg] behaved in a manner any young Tory on the make would recognise by...
Working for Christopher Hitchens at The Nation, a left-wing magazine? And being a civil servant? Look, you can all hate Clegg as much as you want. I voted LD and I'm happy I did. But Clegg's background is pretty much on a par with Tony Blair's if not slightly more left-wing. (Will no journalist comment that Adam Lang in both the book and film The Ghost was an actor, as was Clegg, who acted with Helena Bonham-Carter?)
Lord Adonis, one of Labour's negotiators in the frantic talks, hints strongly that a freemasonry of the privileged determined the fate of the country. "The Liberals are pretending there was no alternative," he told me. "But they could have formed an alliance with Labour. Nick Clegg went to the Tories not because he had to but because he chose to."
Seriously? I don't trust the Murdoch press, but here's the News of the World:
It has also emerged that Mr Cable repeatedly told Gordon Brown he didn’t want to team up with the Conservatives.
It seems that the Tories were prepared to make a deal. Labour wasn't. It could have been Gordon Brown's arrogance, or Ed Balls's or Alastair Campbell's or even the party not wanting a deal because Brown would stay on. The Lieberals (if we're not calling them Liberal Fascists this week) could have made a deal. George W Bush could have sent Americans to Mars. 'Could' is a good word.
When the then Conservative establishment made Sir Alec Douglas-Home our last Etonian prime minister in 1963, comedians ridiculed him to within an inch of his life. He was an establishment relic stopping a supposedly meritocratic country realising its potential.
As we all know, comedians of the time (the anti-Establishment David Frost, John Cleese, Peter Cook, the Private Eye crew) were all unemployed Edinburgh heroin users living in Pilton. Wait, that's Trainspotting, my bad. Didn't they all go to public school and Oxbridge? Why, so they did.
Here's a short video about life for Tony Blair and Gordon Brown at school at Fettes (the Eton of the North, don't you know) and Fife.
The rage of the suffragettes in the 1910s and the second wave of feminists in the 1970s has declined to a whimper, and succeeded merely in propelling the docile figure of Theresa May to high office. The children of the new Commonwealth immigrants of the 1950s feature not at all among the cabinet's elected members. Meanwhile, the Thatcherite revolt of the 1980s is now so infirm it could not bring David Davis, the only senior Tory left who can speak the language of the lower-middle class, back into Cameron's circle.
Isn't the point of revolutions is that the beneficiaries are more docile than the revolutionaries? Who can forget Diane Abbot as a high-ranking Cabinet member under Blair? You have? How very strange. I think Norman Tebbit can "speak the language of the lower-middle class" (as well as the language of Begbie, or at least he used to give the impression that he took 'tete-a-tete' rather more literally than most) and he's not included either.
I really should give up this lark. Only read Nick because Jack of Kent said 'Nick Cohen in fine form in the Observer'.