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(41,166 posts)
5. This is a cliche, and one that is only partially correct
Sat Jul 7, 2012, 12:05 PM
Jul 2012

It is true that people could do more to protest and rebel than they (we) do; but this is oversimplification. I'm not a believer in 'national character'. I'm a believer in policies and circumstances and strategies. A lot of the problem started with Thatcher. Not that things were ever perfect; but Thatcher turned things into something much worse than it had been. And on the way, she weakened the unions so badly as to make it much more difficult to rebel. (Of course that's largely why she did it.) In the process of so doing, she also badly weakened British industry, leading to greater dependence on the financial industry. And the effects have continued. Did the Brits have themselves to blame for voting for Thatcher and accepting her outlook? - yes, certainly. But that is done, and the question is where to go from here.

Then enter globalism. Many of the people who run British institutions are not British (including both Murdoch and Diamond). Many who are British by birth and citizenship choose not to live in Britain (including several tax-haven-dwelling media bosses). My view is that if you are going to have substantial media and business power in the UK, you should be a voting, taxpaying citizen of the UK. You could not be a Cabinet minister if you weren't a British citizen, or lived outside the UK - though Blair would obviously have liked to be an exception to this! - and similarly you should not own a British newspaper or bank if you aren't a resident citizen.

So we're in a mess. But I am not sure that we are more 'apathetic' than many other places. Voting turnout, though down on the past, is still considerably higher in general elections than it is in the USA or many other places where voting isn't compulsory. There have been more protests, demos, strikes, etc in the last couple of years than I remember for a long time; and more, I think, than there were in Thatcher'' times except for the directly affected industries (at any rate until the poll tax proved the last straw). And most places, where there have been massive protests and revolts, have been places where people REALLY had been brought to the edge in ways that we haven't yet here. In those Europaean countries where extremes of austerity have been imposed; and in countries where modern communication technology has now made it possible to resist extreme tyranny. And in many cases, the revolts were not successful or the jury is still out. The miners and steelworkers lost, and Britain lost much with them. Greece has not as yet thrown off austerity. The states of the Arab spring may yet find that they are 'meeting the new boss, same as the old boss'. This is NOT an argument or excuse against protesting! Protest is key to a healthy democracy, and this government badly needs as much protest as possible. It is simply saying that one should first and foremost blame the perpetrators of evil, not their victims who didn't rebel quite enough - just as one should blame the school bully, not the victims who didn't fight back enough.

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