A lot of the world, mostly but not exclusively the “white” occupied areas, are enjoying unparalleled wealth and freedom. I am sure many would disagree, but in my opinion at least, this is only because we take for granted so much of what is available to us. Central heating, colour tv, computers, mobile phones, are all luxuries which, not so long ago, would be signs of almost unimaginable wealth. Similarly with travel. In the immediate post war period a trip to Australia took three weeks by ship and was out of the financial reach of the great majority unless subsidised by the state. Now it is 24 hours away and at a price less than the average weekly wage. The cinema hits of the ’50’s revelled in exotic locations which were truly out of reach by the vast majority, but which are now common venues for holidays.
Yet this wealth and freedom has come at a price, for we are increasingly constrained by the state and its overarching mediocrity. Risk has been abolished and along with it that once fashionable business ethic, empowerment. Shocking examples of this, of the contempt with which workers are suborned into extensions of the system go far beyond the nightmare world of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. There it was the physical actions of workers which marched to the rhythm of the machines, now it is the minds. The cashier at the supermarket checkout now has to ask the pensioners if they are over 18 before they can purchase alcohol. It is an absolute, there is no place for judgement in the brave now world of mediocrity. “Just doing my job” (and afraid to loose it).
The only imperative now is safety. Risk is forbidden, blame is everywhere. It is as though we are in complete denial of the lines from the funeral service, “In the midst of life we are in death”. Death now is unacceptable for all but the very old.
We look on in horror at the events in the middle east where death and destruction are everywhere. We ring our hands in grief yet persecute those of conscience who decide to take direct action in defence of humanity, for surely, beheading prisoners is inhumane. Yet only 80 years ago, many from around the world went to fight fight for democracy in Spain among them 4,000 British volunteers along side volunteers from the USA, Canada and the Balkans with 800 volunteers, which included about 400 Bulgarians, 160 Greeks and 25 Yugoslavs. Good to know that George Orwell would now be classed as a terrorist.
Instead of honouring those now willing to risk their lives we persecute them and class them as terrorists. This is a high price to pay for doing the right thing, but in the elimination of Risk, no price, it seems, is too high.
Support Shilan Ozcelik, 18, the first Briton to be arrested for trying to fight against Islamic State in Syria and now in Holloway woman prison London. Shame!