Friday, December 03, 2010

Opposition is fun!

Well, it is isn’t it? It’s far more fun to jump up and down and scream than it is, say, to offer a reasoned critique of a strategy – just ask my daughter.  It’s no co-incidence that one of the first words toddlers learn is ‘no’ – shouting it when Daddy tries to dress you, or offers you an apple is a great way for little children to pretend to be in control.
The same thing really applies to opposition politics in general, and blogging in particular.  It shouldn’t really be a surprise that the three blogs that, in their different ways, best harnessed the impotent rage of opposition have decided, since Labour’s ejection in May, that the rage just isn’t there anymore, and without it, the polemic just doesn’t come.  Blogging properly is hard (which is why I don’t bother), and you need a good motive to keep doing it.  Being furious about Tony Blair and Gordon Brown was as good a motive as any.
There is, of course, a problem with anger as a motive: when you’re shouting that loudly, you can’t hear yourself think.  Inchoate shouts of rage may be cathartic, but they aren’t very productive.  Laurie Penny (who generally has the air of someone more or less perpetually furious about something) has caught a bad case of lack of self-awareness with regard to the student protests. Now, another good rule of thumb is that students protest because they can, because they don’t really have anything urgent they need to do instead, and, as above, because it’s fun.
Another endearing quality of students (and the young in general) is their total absence of a sense of the ridiculous. So running aimlessly around London shouting things becomes an act of rebellion – no, not rebellion war!  Smash the state (um…while getting it to pay for our education obviously)! It doesn’t have to make sense, it just has to sound cool.
"They want to marketise our education," says Ben, 21, his breath clouding in the bitter air. "So we're going to educate their market."
I’ll educate his market.  No, you shut up.
Fun as it all is (and it is fun – protests and demonstrations and marches are great. If I didn’t, you know, have a job and a mortgage and a baby and all that I’d definitely be out there demonstrating against something.  Rugby scrums perhaps – “what do we want?” “proper binding in the front row!” “when do we want it?” “after a crouch, a touch and a pause!”) it really is ultimately pointless.  Grown ups, after all, know how to deal with temper tantrums.  Ignore them.

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