Ten Years of 'Change' in the UK

I may be a little worried but I do wish Barack Obama well. He cuts a personable and an attractive figure as a political leader -- provisionally at least -- and these things are important. The soaring rhetoric is in itself also appealing in a political leader especially when viewed from the land of dull-as-ditchwater Gordon Brown.

On the negative side, it has to be said, is the vacuous but relentless Change mantra. He always leaves you panting on the edge of your seat waiting for the next sentence: change What? How? Why? that never comes. But you see, we Brits always at the cutting edge of crass sentimental politics have already had ten years of "Change" -- a concept invented by our very own Tony Blair. And we are still here to tell the tale.

The tissue of British society is little more infested with the grievance parasite than before but I would describe us more as walking wounded than actual basket case. "Change" seems to be a seductive bit of political sleight of hand that all too easily tricks the modern psyche. But I personally will not hold even that against Obama just as long as he too, like his predecessor Tony, confines himself to doing only a modest amount of harm.

I ended up being almost grateful to Tony Blair. Given that he was leader of the Mother of All Champagne Socialist Parties he actually behaved with more wisdom than might have been predicted. And I even came to quite like the guy.  So, although it does rather point to some worrisome shallowness in his multi-billion-person, world-wide fan club, all things considered I am kind of tagging along with the rest of the herd in feeling that on the day of Obama's election victory the world seemed a more colorful place.

The thing I still do not go along with though is why all the vitriol towards George Bush? Sure, back in 2000, I too was seduced like all the rest of the European public by a relentless media derision-fest at his expense. Americans -- who had voted for him in their millions -- were by association tarred with the same brush. Once I had managed to step aside from all this however and to make up my own mind about him (as far as is possible from a TV screen), the mythical, ignorant cowboy moron turned out, to my eyes at least, to be quite a decent, genuine and plain-speaking guy.

I would have him any day in preference to the average mealy-mouthed, craven British politician. The kind whose words weave an elaborate linguistic dance choreographed to say absolutely nothing at all, so running scared are they of our great, overpaid TV star political inquisitors. Bush may have been naïve and out of his depth in the aftermath of the grave crisis of September 2001. But what of the judgement of the average anti-Iraq war protester at that time? Was it so morally superior? Could it even be that it was actually less so? What was it that motivated them to gather in Trafalgar Square or at their Rock-against-the War gig?  Was it their sober assessment, with heavy heart, that a genie would be let out of the bottle by the abrupt removal of an acknowledged evil dictator? Or was it mostly a great chance to indulge in some adolescent spitefulness against the hated parents -- conservative America and the suddenly un cool and grown up Tony Blair? And was it perhaps also a chance to meet up with some pals on an otherwise boring Sunday into the bargain?

To say such things to virtually any middle class European would elicit a reaction beyond shock. It would sound so literally incredible that people would just assume that they had misheard you. They might even unconsciously recast your words. What you must have said, surely, was something about moronic Bush being the real dictator and you would like to dance on his grave. He is after all the Antichrist. The fleshy incarnation of hard-hearted American neo-conservatism without which the rest of the world would be so much more of a nice caring, sharing place wouldn't it?

There is a paradox here. My guess is that there is a good deal more vitriol in the soul of the average left-leaning, Bush hater than there ever is in the man himself. And this is just one tiny manifestation of a much bigger paradox: that the entire history of the Left has been a story, not primarily of middle class people wanting to give a leg up to the poor; more a story of one half of the middle class -- including the art world and the intelligentsia more generally -- venting their envious rage against the other half -- basically the capitalist, business-minded bourgeoisie.

But enough of all that. Let us hurry back to the Barack Obama victory celebration. Change has in fact already come in its wake. Americans are suddenly OK (with a few million exceptions). It is no longer the mythical land of people who sit fat and bloated at the world's negotiating tables spoiling everything. Who grab the international treaties -- that the nice rest of the world have carefully worked out to make the world a better place -- only to screw them up and run off laughing. Americans have turned into nice people.

Yes the Change mantra is indeed hard to endure. But at least it will now soon be done with for a while. Obama will start to wrestle with the real world -- and by the way, I very much doubt if he is one of those full of vitriol towards his predecessor. He is too smart for such nonsense. But soon enough the media pack will find a reason to repackage him to feed the insatiable appetite for grievance politics. It may be as the man who ‘betrayed' his race or maybe something else. America's truly gigantic and sustained contribution to modern civilization will continue to be air-brushed over by the mass-mediated liberal establishment.

For real change to come -- for the dominant 20th century culture of grievance and victimhood to move on to some more healthy social psychology rooted in a degree of personal responsibility and self reliance --  this would take leaders of far sterner stuff than Barack Obama.
I may be a little worried but I do wish Barack Obama well. He cuts a personable and an attractive figure as a political leader -- provisionally at least -- and these things are important. The soaring rhetoric is in itself also appealing in a political leader especially when viewed from the land of dull-as-ditchwater Gordon Brown.

On the negative side, it has to be said, is the vacuous but relentless Change mantra. He always leaves you panting on the edge of your seat waiting for the next sentence: change What? How? Why? that never comes. But you see, we Brits always at the cutting edge of crass sentimental politics have already had ten years of "Change" -- a concept invented by our very own Tony Blair. And we are still here to tell the tale.

The tissue of British society is little more infested with the grievance parasite than before but I would describe us more as walking wounded than actual basket case. "Change" seems to be a seductive bit of political sleight of hand that all too easily tricks the modern psyche. But I personally will not hold even that against Obama just as long as he too, like his predecessor Tony, confines himself to doing only a modest amount of harm.

I ended up being almost grateful to Tony Blair. Given that he was leader of the Mother of All Champagne Socialist Parties he actually behaved with more wisdom than might have been predicted. And I even came to quite like the guy.  So, although it does rather point to some worrisome shallowness in his multi-billion-person, world-wide fan club, all things considered I am kind of tagging along with the rest of the herd in feeling that on the day of Obama's election victory the world seemed a more colorful place.

The thing I still do not go along with though is why all the vitriol towards George Bush? Sure, back in 2000, I too was seduced like all the rest of the European public by a relentless media derision-fest at his expense. Americans -- who had voted for him in their millions -- were by association tarred with the same brush. Once I had managed to step aside from all this however and to make up my own mind about him (as far as is possible from a TV screen), the mythical, ignorant cowboy moron turned out, to my eyes at least, to be quite a decent, genuine and plain-speaking guy.

I would have him any day in preference to the average mealy-mouthed, craven British politician. The kind whose words weave an elaborate linguistic dance choreographed to say absolutely nothing at all, so running scared are they of our great, overpaid TV star political inquisitors. Bush may have been naïve and out of his depth in the aftermath of the grave crisis of September 2001. But what of the judgement of the average anti-Iraq war protester at that time? Was it so morally superior? Could it even be that it was actually less so? What was it that motivated them to gather in Trafalgar Square or at their Rock-against-the War gig?  Was it their sober assessment, with heavy heart, that a genie would be let out of the bottle by the abrupt removal of an acknowledged evil dictator? Or was it mostly a great chance to indulge in some adolescent spitefulness against the hated parents -- conservative America and the suddenly un cool and grown up Tony Blair? And was it perhaps also a chance to meet up with some pals on an otherwise boring Sunday into the bargain?

To say such things to virtually any middle class European would elicit a reaction beyond shock. It would sound so literally incredible that people would just assume that they had misheard you. They might even unconsciously recast your words. What you must have said, surely, was something about moronic Bush being the real dictator and you would like to dance on his grave. He is after all the Antichrist. The fleshy incarnation of hard-hearted American neo-conservatism without which the rest of the world would be so much more of a nice caring, sharing place wouldn't it?

There is a paradox here. My guess is that there is a good deal more vitriol in the soul of the average left-leaning, Bush hater than there ever is in the man himself. And this is just one tiny manifestation of a much bigger paradox: that the entire history of the Left has been a story, not primarily of middle class people wanting to give a leg up to the poor; more a story of one half of the middle class -- including the art world and the intelligentsia more generally -- venting their envious rage against the other half -- basically the capitalist, business-minded bourgeoisie.

But enough of all that. Let us hurry back to the Barack Obama victory celebration. Change has in fact already come in its wake. Americans are suddenly OK (with a few million exceptions). It is no longer the mythical land of people who sit fat and bloated at the world's negotiating tables spoiling everything. Who grab the international treaties -- that the nice rest of the world have carefully worked out to make the world a better place -- only to screw them up and run off laughing. Americans have turned into nice people.

Yes the Change mantra is indeed hard to endure. But at least it will now soon be done with for a while. Obama will start to wrestle with the real world -- and by the way, I very much doubt if he is one of those full of vitriol towards his predecessor. He is too smart for such nonsense. But soon enough the media pack will find a reason to repackage him to feed the insatiable appetite for grievance politics. It may be as the man who ‘betrayed' his race or maybe something else. America's truly gigantic and sustained contribution to modern civilization will continue to be air-brushed over by the mass-mediated liberal establishment.

For real change to come -- for the dominant 20th century culture of grievance and victimhood to move on to some more healthy social psychology rooted in a degree of personal responsibility and self reliance --  this would take leaders of far sterner stuff than Barack Obama.