Sunday, April 05, 2009

The Snobbery Of The Tool

You know, I was watching that G20 protest on TV this week, and I found myself filled with inexplicable, blinding white rage.

At first, I struggled to explain the feeling. It certainly wasn't caused by the epic outburst of fiscal fuckery the big banks used to accidentally tank the world's economy. Nor is it the fact that the deranged self-confidence of this tiny oligarchy has inadvertently transformed British and American democracy - your birth-right and mine - into a fierce contest to see which political party can keep them the happiest.

It's not as if this situation is new, after all. The idea that democracy is about representing the interests of 1) the super wealthy for the supposed benefit of 2) everybody else has been at the heart of UK politics for at least thirty years... So no, that wasn't the reason for my rage.

It wasn't the coppers and their kettling tactics, either. I've seen several thousand cops in swish space marine outfits swaggering around on double overtime before, and I've seen their crowd control tactics up close and personal. I know lots of coppers in my personal and professional life, and I'm certain that most of them would prefer a day off with their kids than a full-on rammy with a load of wannabe anarchists.

So it's not that.

No, the reason for my incandescent fury only became apparent when I watched an interview with one of the protestors, an attractive, well-spoken twenty-something crusty with natty dreads.

What really boiled my piss was that the protesters were middle class, and middle class people don't have any right to be angry or to protest about anything.

There were certainly plenty of people with very silly political views in attendance, but I think we can all agree that their ignorance of global finance isn't anywhere near as infuriating as their comfortable backgrounds, their posh accents and, most likely, their double-barrelled names.

Should we institute a new opinion-licensing system, whereby everyone must produce photographic evidence of their working class bona fides before they are permitted to attend protests? At least three snaps of a close relation engaged in manual labour required, and no less than six paycheques recording an annual salary well below the national average.

Regional accent optional, absolutely no ethnic foodstuffs more adventurous than a Chicken Jalfrezi accepted... One whiff of balsamic vinegar, and it's no placards for you.

See, I've no clue when this idea that only the nation's car mechanics and bus drivers hold valid opinions began, nor do I understand the ever-shifting criteria - I notice that the plummy tones on the wingnuts' new fuck-toy Daniel Hannan MEP, for example, haven't invalidated his opinions with his boosters. As Shuggy pointed out the other month, the fact that Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins aren't exactly coal miners doesn't seem to bother their fans either.

I've seen this wheeze deployed in defence of war, ID databases and antisocial behaviour orders. Crack a gag about the dishonesty of the tabloid press or about immigration and deportation, and within minutes some joker will be along to condemn your revolting elitism in blisteringly self-righteous tones. So it goes for taxation, petrol duty and professional sport - football's fine, but rugby's the preserve of howling Hoorays.

God knows I'm guilty of this myself, mocking the persecution complexes of some of blogland's wealthy faux-victims, so I'll cut everyone a deal here.

If everyone agrees to soft-pedal the bruschetta and chardonnay stuff, I'll do the same, and maybe we'll all be happier for it. Surely an opinion can be true or false, regardless of whether the speaker is a banker or a bin man.


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