Saturday, July 10, 2004

The Age of Cretinism?

That term - "the age of cretinism" - comes from a film I watched recently, The Barbarian Invasion. It's a great film which I would recommend. French-Canadian and, therefore, sub-titled, it's a reflection on a dying man's life.
There's a scene where he and his friends are looking back at what they have been involved in, saying something along the lines of: "We have been communists, socialists, marxists, leninists, stalinists, trotskyists, revolutionaries....but we now live in the age of cretinism."
That quote has had a powerful effect on me and my political thinking.
I thought about it again tonight when, accidentally, I switched on to Sport Relief. I hate those televised charity appeals, the way in which they horrifically manipulate people's emotions to achieve the victorious aim of beating "last year's total."
It's also sad the way that working class people, with the greatest intentions it must be said, donate money on such occasions in the belief that they are making a difference and making the world a better place.
This is not to say, by the way, that nothing good comes out of such occasions - I would be loathe to say that someone's local community centre shouldn't benefit from a Sport Relief grant or that some poor and dying kid in Somalia or the Sudan shouldn't be given something to eat for a week or two. And I don't mean what I have just wrote to be a flippant remark.
But, rather, these are matters of the State and not the individual do-gooder - and this is where the "age of cretinism" comes in.
Working class people today face an assault on their lives, thoughts and beliefs in way that no previous generation have ever had to face.
Private Eye, which I read and enjoy, can joke and satire our dumbed-down society, but it is certainly no joke.
I also think of cretinism when I see and hear the voices on the left who try and qualify the trial of Saddam Hussein by saying that Bush and Blair should be on trial too or, even more outrageously, that he shouldn't be on trial at all cos the Iraqi government that is trying him is a puppet regime.
When was Saddam a friend of any progressive in his own country or in any other. I may be wrong, but I thought he was only ever a friend of international capitalism.
I say, I couldn't give a fuck who is trying this despotic madman cos he is a despotic madman, full stop.
Yes, Bush and Blair may need to face their own trials, but that is a completely different argument.
The cretinism also surrounds the latest hoo-ha about whether Brown is about to replace Blair - it seems that, once again, politics is all about individuals.
I have no answers as to how we get rid of the age of cretinism, but I am sure that there are answers out there.
I don't think that my generation are going to provide them, but I have high hopes that our children are going to turn this society upside down - and I hope I am still alive to see it!
Footnote: listened to some great sounds today - Pet Sounds, Woody Guthrie's Dustbowl Ballads and, at the moment, Costello's Spike. All absolute classics and maybe if more listened to such sounds that cretinism would be banished. You never know!!


Blogger The Radical Postman said...

Reidski - I don't agree. We can only be dumbed down if we allow ourselves to be.
Has someone prepared a list of world leaders to be tried or is it pot luck. can we nominate by phone, perhaps a game show with 10p from every call going to some Charity?
How is Hussein different from others.?
By the way, dont you mean a Canadian French film? not French Canadian !
Woody Guthrie was a hard travellin man and one of the best human beings produced by the USA. It just goes to show not all Yanks are the same.

1:57 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Boycott Cretanism

11:04 pm  
Blogger Jim said...

I think we are sadly doomed to a world of cretinism. There are no answers. We get more stupid by the day. When television programmes are produced for profit, rather than for any kind of education or even entertainment, then we are pretty much fucked.

10:43 pm  
Blogger Darren said...

I went to my favourite cinema,, - lots of films, tv shows and great music - and made a point of downloading, erm I mean, buying a ticket for The Barbarian Invasion and the bastard film had no subtitles! I almost asked for a refund.

Your quote from the film reminds me of a wee cartoon that always made me laugh:

Picture it - two blokes sitting on a bench.

One says to the other:"You know: I can't decide whether or not to be a Stalinist, Trotskyist, Maoist, Castroite, Hoxhaist or a Leninist."
His mates turns round and replies: "Ever thought of being of a Socialist?"

O.K - you had to be there. I'll just go get my coat.

12:11 am  
Blogger Reidski said...

I'm with your cartoon buddy all the way there, mel. If there is anything I hate, it's labels such as trot, stalinist, etc, etc. Although, in saying that, I cannot stand trots. So that must make me some kind of hypocrite. No?

9:31 am  

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