Monday, February 18, 2013

Plus Ca Change, Plus Ca Le Meme Bullshit Chose

Oh, those whiny war protestors!  So narcissistic, thinking their opinion should trump that of parliament!  So self-indulgent, to ignore the fact that many had different opinions!

I mean, I understand these whacks at anti-war hacks.  I found all those Boo-hoo how come nobody listened to us? opinion pieces trite and annoying too.  Who wouldn't?  I agreed with the authors' sentiments and I felt like launching the laptop out of the window.  Me!

What's noticeable though is that the last week's pre-war nostalgia parties came in only two flavours - either the We-Were-Right variety from the anti-war folks themselves, or the You-Were-Kind-Of-Right-But-You're-Dicks species from their detractors.

And indeed, the But-You're-Dicks guys have a point, at least about democracy.  Loads of people really did think Saddam Hussein was armed to the teeth with nuclear and chemical weapons and that somewhere beneath the smoking remnant of his fucked airforce or the charred ruin of his 70's-era army, lay the Destruction Of The West.

I imagine quite a few even believed he could fly over London in one of those model planes the Americans pretended to be afraid of, then drop an ebola-stuffed atom bomb on Great Ormond Street Hospital out of his arse.

People believed these kinds of inane fictions because largely, they were naive enough to think that the government wouldn't lie through their teeth with the charm of conmen slipping a sly finger into Granny's purse, but they believed it nonetheless.

And so it's noteworthy that we've seen so many pieces reminding us of how many people believed all the bullshit propaganda, and so very few pieces explaining why people actually believed this facile, transparently fantastical nonsense.

I mean, this is surely the big story here.  When nearly half the population base their opinion on a war - a war with a bodycount big enough for a respectable mid-20th century conflict, mind - on tall tales and oogah-boogah, you'd think that would be an issue.  And yet, from what we've seen this week, it barely rates a mention.

The reason is plain, I imagine.  It's fun to club writers like Owen Jones and Laurie Penny for being angsty and strident.  It's fun to concuss these people with the club of political reality, and fun to call them wankers for dismissing so many suckers.  Let's laugh at the weepy idealists is a grand lark.  Point with me, people!

We fucked up and got tens of thousands of people killed, on the other hand, is not fun.  Explaining why you fell for one of the most hilariously obvious con-jobs since those American women got serially-groped by the door-to-door Breast Inspector isn't fun at all.

Nope, correspondents can't don Kevlar, stand on the deck of an aircraft carrier and shout over swooshing infographics, which demonstrate that unmitigated lies and bullshit came out of this mouth here, entered journalistic ears at this strategic point, and were then distributed verbatim to the populace over a wide area, here and here.   

Can't do that, no sir.  We were slack-jawed, credulous idiots doesn't sell papers, unless maybe you can think of a way to get a credulous but photogenic idiot to get his or her arse out during the confession.

Nobody can explain their grand theory of humanitarian derring-do while perched upon the carcass of a nation.  You can't take the moral high-ground when you've carpet-bombed the middle-ground and napalm-nuked the low-ground, and then strafed the rubble.

Nobody looks good when they're gabbling justifications for credulously accepting Iraq as some kind of sudden, pressing threat to world civilisation.  It sounded ludicrous back when there was doubt over the issue but now, long after the matter has been settled, even the masters of the art just sound like they've been caught whacking-off to bestiality-porn on the office computer.  Again.

And that's what all of this is, in the end-up - a choice between publishing self-effacing articles openly declaring the authors' incredible levels of gullibility, or just forgetting the nation's credulity and giving the hippies one more richly-deserved slipper-thrashing.

This country's no different to any others, I imagine.  Lay out a choice like that, and the hippies are always going to wind up with smarting arsecheeks, especially if they've had the temerity to be both correct and smug about it.

If it also has the effect of drawing a discreet veil over one of the most crass and nonsensical episodes in recent British history well, that's just one of those little added benefits that life sometimes throws you.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


(Since I spent most of my time on this blog arsing on about our myriad wars, and since we're coming up for the ten-year anniversary of The Fabled, Most Awesome Virtuous Anti-War March Ever To Achieve Pretty Much Nothing, I thought I'd revisit TFMAVAWMETAPMN.  After all, every other lazy bugger is). 

I remember it was very cold, and I was very hungover.  It took a long time to get to Glasgow - either lots of people were driving through for the protest, or there was a football match on.

I remember it was damn loud and some jokers had brought drums, but I recall being fine with that.  It was all kind of exciting.

I remember we joined in right behind a bunch of Commies with shouty placards, since it seemed as good a place as any.  "Who are these guys?", Mrs R. asked me.

"A bunch of Commies, by the looks of things", I told her.  I seem to recall that the crowd behind us were crusties, Greenie types, although my memory is vague by now.

I remember that when we turned south and made for the Clyde, a workman in a hardhat shouted down from some scaffolding at us.  "Don't you have anything better to do?  Get a job!"

Get a job?  I had two, for Christ's sake.  "It's Saturday, dickhead" I shouted back, and added the finger for good measure.  I was a youngster, you know how it is.

I remember Mrs R's friend phoning her right then.  "Youse are pure fannies", Mrs R's friend told her. "Do you want Saddam to bomb us?"

Mrs R told me her friend thought we were pure fannies and wanted to know whether we wanted to get bombed by Saddam.  I told her I thought brainless, credulous horseshit like that was one of the main reasons for being there in the first place.

I remember when we got to the Armadillo, where the Labour Party conference was being held, we had to wait for about an hour and a half for everyone else to arrive.

I remember the Prime Minister had showed up earlier than expected for his big troop-rallying, let's-bomb-fuck-out-of-Iraq-for-reasons-that-make-no-damn-sense speech and then buggered off long before we got there, to avoid any unpleasantness with the huge crowd of pissed-off people.

I remember the snipers on the cranes overlooking the Clyde, and how big their rifles looked even at long distance.  I remember the police cars parked at the Armadillo all had one copper driving, and another with a sub-machine gun in his lap.  MP5s, I'd learn later from playing Call of Duty.  Deadly effective up close, but not so much at range.

My mate thought they were there to protect us from terrorist attack; I thought they were there to protect the Labour Party delegates from popular attack.

I remember thinking there must have been about sixty thousand people there.  I'd been to enough football games to know what a big crowd looks like, and this was a big crowd.  I remember the cops thought it was half that size.

I remember that the protesters were about evenly-split between Barber-jacketed middle class folk, studenty/crusty types, and ordinary Glaswegian punters.

It was the Glaswegians who actually made an effort to speak to you.  They were nice and many were clearly from rough parts of the city, and although some of them had some fairly wacky ideas, all of them appeared to be basically aware that wars involve killing fuck out of people in vast numbers.  That put them far ahead of the lawyers at my work, who mostly thought this war was an awesome idea.

I remember that many of the speakers were boring as hell.  I remember Tommy Sheridan blared slogans at us like an angry foghorn, exuding little of the personal charisma that he's apparently famous for.  I remember John Swinney gave us a hedging, if-this-then-that speech of the genus you'd expect from a professional politician with higher ambitions.   Mind you, I remember that Jimmy Reid - I think it was Jimmy Reid, anyway - was witty and acerbic, which I liked, although I had no idea who he was back then.

It may be because I like her so much that I remember Margo MacDonald making most of the points I agreed with: the ones about how the whole affair was a stupendously retarded and dangerous idea, certain to end in a godawful bloodbath; about how the Vietnam War must've struck people as sane at some point, even though it was plainly deranged, but mostly about the jaw-dropping levels of political bullshit citizens were being forced to wade through, to get at anything that looked like a semblance of truth.

Somebody pointed out that the previous Gulf War had been sold as a virtuous police action, but later turned into an insane death-rampage, although I don't recall who.  Somebody else noted the many and various porkies that had been told about the new war, and how you couldn't trust anyone who you caught telling you porkies.  You couldn't trust them at all, and you were a sucker if you did.

And then, we walked back to Mrs R's car and went home.

I remember it was still very cold, even though it was a beautiful sunny day, but I remember there was a widespread feeling of satisfaction, like something good and worthwhile had been done...  Like maybe, some kind of contribution had been made to the debate, a statement that couldn't just be ignored or slyly shoved aside.  The crowd was plainly a mish-mash of political cranks and ordinary citizens, but getting this many people to take time out to agree on one basic message - This war is total bullshit - felt like an achievement.

I don't remember whether it was that night or the next day that we got the Prime Minister's response, but I do remember that I was out of the front room, and that Mrs R shouted me through to the TV.

"Tony Blair was just on talking about the marches", she said with a confused look on her face.  I asked her what he'd said.

"He said he was glad that we could protest, because people in Iraq can't do that", she said.

"Uh, okay.  What else did he say?"

Mrs R shrugged.  "That was it.  He said it's great that we can march, because Iraqis can't".

"That was it?"  I looked at the TV.  The newsreader was talking about something else.  I clearly remember rubbing my temples like I had a bad headache coming on.

"The man's a fucking lunatic", I said eventually.

"Yes", Mrs R said.  "He is".

Then, we watched the football reports.