An apology for parochialism

With all the momentous changes in Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain and elsewhere, my focus on British politics seems more than usually small in scale and minute in interest.

I suppose I could draw out some grimace-inducing parallel between the urge for liberty in the Middle East and the Maghreb and, I don’t know, AV, the “Freedom Bill”, tax avoidance or student loans. But frankly, anyone who does that sort of thing should have their state license to blog removed.

Perhaps it’s just the emergent curmudgeon in me, but when some tyke recently graduated from university declares themselves in “solidarity” with movements they and I neither understand nor have any personal stake in, I feel irritated at the presumption, not inspired by their passion.

That said, there is no real difference of opinion between me and those shouting “Solidarity!”. I am equally awed by the bravery and the urgency of those who would overthrow dictators. (This applies too to those being repressed by regimes like North Korea, Syria, Iran and Cuba, to name but four).

I suppose the only difference is that I feel that the courage of those protestors is so much greater than mine that I should hold my manhood cheap while any speaks who stands on the streets of Egypt or Libya.

I suppose I’d have felt the same about the Czechs in the Prague Spring, or the Hungarian Uprising, or the Spanish Republicans. If there was an International Brigade, perhaps I’d feel differently about the rights of our home grown radicals to annexe the acts of others to their own causes. As it is, I don’t.

So all of this is by the way of an excuse. This blog will remain limited in its scope, parochial in content. This is not from any lack of sympathy or inspiration to events beyond the small borders of British politics, but is simply due to what I hope is an appropriate degree of modesty, combined with an acknowledged lack of expertise.

There are great days afoot. I have not earned the right to speak of them.

9 Responses to “An apology for parochialism”

  1. CS Clark

    This is, what, Occidentalism? Anyone who protests over there is brave, honest, courageous and true. Anyone who protests over here when they could otherwise be attending a Fabian meeting is a poseur. I understand frustration at people who compare waving a placard outside Boots to risking life and limb for fundamental liberties, but you’re so, so far beyond curmudgeon.

    • Hopi Sen

      Eh? Protesting here may be any number of things- mockable and admirable both amongst them, depending on the subject and the protest, but what they are not is comparable to what those in repressive regimes are doing.

      I’ve been on lots of protests- “including against the recent tuition fees proposal. It is simply self aggrandising or self defeating “action” that irritates me, even when I understand and sympthise with the motives behind it.

  2. Tim Hardy

    I’m glad you wrote this. I can understand why you hold the position you do better now – even if I continue to disagree with it.

  3. Newmania

    I recently had an energetic and frank exchange of views with some teachers protesting about the threat they perceive to their pensions ( United in defence of pensions ). It was in the pedestrian area .

    I am probably more parochial than you are , just bores me foreign stuff .

  4. John Zims

    The New Labour hierachy are certainly losing some international friends,Blair has lost his buddy Gadaffi ,Mandelson has lost his shooting partner Saif Gadaffi.

    No doubt more of the sordid double dealing of Brown to get the release of a mass murderer from a UK prison will be revealed with the fall of the regime.

    Looks like Gadaffi will end up being offered refuge by Ken Livinstone’s buddy Chavez,is it now too late for Oona to be mayoral candidate next year?
    Whilst some of us knew that Ken liked to grandstand with some the most vile ,repressive human beings on the globe,his best buddy offering a home to a mass murder,who bombed and machine gunned his own citizens puts
    this on another level.

    Not forgetting the former Labour MP that was Saddam Hussein’s bootlicker.

    And this is what Labour told us in 1997 was their ethical foreign policy.

  5. chris

    There’s no need to apologize for writing about what you know. Everyone except the sort of pompous blowhards who pollute the media and Davos is parochial. Those Libyan protestors aren’t complaining about English tuition fees are they?

  6. Brian Hughes

    Well said Hopi. I despair slightly of the “what we need now is a futile gesture” style of political posturing. (And I despair of Dave’s “sorry we shouldn’t have done deals with those horrid chaps” rhetoric. Although, if the latter genuinely marks the beginning of the end of British PMs trying to past themselves off as Great World Statesmen striding the globe with their insight and influence, perhaps it’s not so bad. But don’t hold your breath.)

    And I sympathise a little with the futile posturers. Coming to terms with the lack of ability any of us has to have much influence on the affairs, great or little, even of our own small state let alone those of anyone else’s, is part of growing up.

    Speaking of futile gestures, I sent an email to some friends who live in Christchurch New Zealand this morning. But what, apart from sympathy and good wishes, can I usefully offer? Nothing, rien, zilch. Same as what I can offer protesters, brave or otherwise, in far off lands.

    As I’ve mentioned here before I consider myself to be from a lucky generation in the sense that the great cause célèbre of my youth was South African apartheid. Literally a black and white issue upon which it was fairly simple to know which side to be on. Not buying South African apples etc probably had little effect but it made us feel better and the “stop the tours” demos provided nice days out. The middle-east and even the funding of further education in England seem so much more complex…


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