Thursday, 28 April 2011

Thoughts On the Royal Wedding and "Class War" Bores

The interest in the Royal Wedding is nothing to do with "feudal nostalgia" as Tanya Gold asserts and more to do with a celebrity and media driven society obsessed with spectacles and ways and means of averting the boredom that comes from excessive consumerism and toxic affluence.

The monarchy became a popular symbol of Britain during the nineteenth century along with Empire, Protestantism and other pillars of a now crumbled order. The flying of the Union Flag for the occasion in London, an increasingly socially and ethically ghettoised global city with little connection to the rest of the UK makes the attempt to unify 'the nation' seem absurd.

Indeed, the Royal Wedding seems to be exciting more interest around the globe from foreigners than from those in Britain themselves who no longer primarily see themselves as "British" . This is why David Cameron's attempt to drum up support has in most areas of Britain north of the Home Counties and more prosperous towns and cities not been met with such tremendous enthusiasm.

The number of applications for street parties from what I can gather are down from what they were in 1981: this is partly due to the way the mystique of monarchy was tarnished by adultery, divorce, and banal soap opera into which Charles and Diana's marriage descended into.

More than that Britain in 1981 is a very different place than 2011. Society is more atomised. People do not know their neighbours and national identity has fragmented into English, Welsh and Scottish nationalisms. The English identity has become little more than obsession for the football team.

In the part of North London I live in there are virtually no posters advertising Royal Wedding parties, at least in Wealdstone. Only in wealthier white English areas is there any significant public indication of an attempt at celebration, as in Ruislip where some houses wear a festive air with huge flagpoles running up St George's flags.

Along the motorway towns there is a flicker of enthusiasm. But it's less about celebration of the Royal Wedding than a defensive proclamation of English identity which accompanies the wearing of sport casual wear with St George's flags on it. The flagpoles are there all year long in any case.

The Wedding Parties will be more about a "get together" in order to have the chance of socialising and meeting people for a drink in a country where this happens often via Facebook. In the same way as watching football on the telescreens in clone pubs in the motorway towns fulfil this function.

Those protesting against the Royal Wedding are also playing their banal cliched role in being "radical" in a bored society where the need to "feel" something is paramount. The wedding is partly about "identity" but it is also an event that will bring tourists and money to London. It's also a business-"The Firm".

By global standards most Britons are pampered and privileged: they are consumers with higher levels of affluence than ever before. The boredom is one reason why people value 'right on' class war poses . This is also folkloric ritual. Britain is deeply bored. And increasingly very boring.

The Royal Couple still have more in common with the average affluent consumerist Briton than those Eastern Europeans who do cleaning in London, those Chinese who make the cheap goods people in Durham or Derby consume, those who stitch together the clothes that are sold in High Street retail outlets.

The Royal Family are celebrities but most celebrities are elevated to their position by the masses. Whether the latest pop pap purveyor or those talent shows run by Simon Cowell. If people just switched these manipulators and morons off, ignored the X Factor and so on then 'the system' might be changed.

But the Royal Family are not that so bad for Britain compared to Simon Cowell, the recycled celebrities on TV. Making the point in public of not watching one wedding is pathetic when the system of manufactured wants, desires and consumerist alienation is really run by those who give consumer-citizens what they have been conditioned to want.

All Britons are privileged because they happened to have been born here or permitted to live here. It's hereditary and also an aspiration. British people are aristocrats compared to the condition of most people across the world, those who exist to stitch together the consumer goods with brand logos that define the consumer's status.

The point is that the Royal Family could be reduced to the level of the monarchy in Sweden or Spain. The doltish swipes against monarchy on the basis of 'them 'n' uz' are class war tropes that some British get off on because they are no less infantile than those who personally identified with the life of Diana as an exciting soap.

As in Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities, where the aristocrats are almost oblivious to the condition of the people outside their own cocoon, the affluent consumerist Briton cares little for those living beyond their own shores nor the tourist complexes they visit in corrupt undemocratic nations.

Money power is the prerogative of rich Westerners when they go to Thailand or Cuba to exert their global droit du seigneur. Like bored aristocrats, a significant number of Britons drink themselves stupid due to boredom, are obsessed with sex and debauchery.They have a sense of entitlement.

In global terms, Britons are global aristocrats. Britain makes little of use, lives off its past by flogging itself as a playground and pleasure nexus for other globally privileged, and is one colossal parasite sucking in capital from other nations to keep its consumerism- one hardly merited by anything it actually produces with the country going.

In that sense, the Royal Family is a perfect symbol for Britain, where pre-modern meets post-modern but less so where public life is defined by celebrities, rock stars, and other assorted halfwits are more obsessed with image, status and their malignant egotistic pursuits.

However, the asinine swipes against monarchy on the basis of 'them 'n' uz' are class war tropes that some British get off on because they are no less infantile than those who personally identified with Diana. D Carter took issue with this,
You dismiss concerns over the British class disease as if it were completely unrelated to the monarchy and didn't exist. In reality, they sit atop the whole rotten edifice. "Think yourself lucky" is the argument of medieval serfs defending their masters, not 21st Century citizens.
But Britons are not medieval serfs are they ? They are privileged consumers.

But by any standards, the British people are better off, live affluent consumer lives amidst the brands and logos and all year available supermarket produce and holidays abroad that make them aristocrats by global standards. Do Western consumers really work so hard as to merit all what they have ?

Does a corporate PR exec really produce something far more valuable than a miner in China ? A factory worker in a developing nation ? A graduate in an Arab nation who cannot get a job because the West inc Britain shore up corrupt dictatorships to control the oil supply that fuels the average Briton's lifestyle ?

Arguing that we're all Kings because of our own accidents of birth is no argument at all.

Yes it is an argument. Not necessarily in favour of the Royal Family but of the parochial idiocy of "class war" tropes when the real class war might become one in an age of globalisation between the 'have not' nations and the haves. Given that "the masses" are now as affluent and bored as C18th nobles.

It's how to stagnate and devolve. It's how British manufacturing declined. "Of-course they'll buy our stuff, no need to invest, they always have haven't they?".

If you had not noticed, Britain doesn't make much any more. The wealth comes from servicing the needs of the global economy. The Royal Family is part of the Heritage Industry. They could be replaced by actors, of course, but Britain lives off its past.
Just accept the status quo and be glad of small mercies. That might be acceptable when we're really all in it together, world war for instance, but in peacetime it's a hopeless excuse for all the things that beset us and the class system in general.
Britain should be glad of small mercies. The consumerism that alone defines the lives of most of them, the brand snobbery ( endorsed by the monarchy from Glade Air freshener to Walkers Butter biscuits ) is part of their identity. Only football gives an outlet for emotion.

Footballers come from lower class backgrounds but are , by any standards, overpaid. Unlike the Royal Family, they do not entertain for life. And if you hate football ( as I do ), it's a mystery why hordes of screaming crapulent dolts chant and get passionate for a brand name like Chelsea.

But few criticise football fans for being stupid blind serf like beings who elevate people who happen to be able to kick a ball well to the status of icons.

It's not as if Chelsea means anything is it ? 11 players kicking a ball across a field and all performing because they are paid colossal sums of money to do so. By those with enough money, those who affect working class or plebian culture but are wealthy by global standards.

It can be argued whether the Royal Family is relevant. It can be argued whether it provides value for money and finances itself. It can be argued whether it should be scaled down to Dutch or Swedish proportions. But the crap about "class war" should be dropped.

Face facts: the class system is still there partly but people are not that bothered because there is no "working class" any more: there is an underclass and the fresh waves of migrants who do the jobs Britons think they are above doing. The class system has been globalised.

D Carter criticised this,
That there are others worse off in purely fiscal terms beyond our shores does not diminish the point that the monarchy and aristocracy are the representatives of a class of foreign invaders who have kept us and our ancestors in servitude for a millennium.
The concept of the Norman Yoke is not one particularly relevant.

Consumerism is their tool, not ours, designed to keep us in debt and servitude.

No, consumerism as a way of life is something that large numbers of people willingly collude in because it has become an essential part of their identity and also of part of the sense of entitlement that animates those who have grown up in a land in which the desire for more and more is now normal.

The obsession with image and egotistical self assertion, something known perversely as "individualism"- is even at the heart of the most vociferously anti-monarchical groups. Those who crave attention such as the boring group known as "Class war".

Take the doltish Ian Bone. On his website he writes this, unintentionally hilarious,
Cometh a Tory government and a Royal Wedding and cometh Class War. London Class War was re-established on Sunday and Croydon CW coming soon. CW will be organising actions against the royal wedding soon and on the day.Theres the Better dead than Wed cd to get out. We urgently need to do 5,000 FUCK THE ROYAL WEDDING POSTERS and a 5,000 re-run of the wildly popular CLEGG/CAMERON WANKERS POSTERS.
Such moronic protests are counter culture becoming consumer culture. The CD's, the posters. It's all part of the folkloric ritual of "anti-monarchism" in Britain that appeal to the rebel market niche. It's as boring, if not far more so, than the at least unpretentious older fan of The Queen.

Ian Bone's loathing of the monarchy is largely part of rebellion against his the system which made his father a Butler, mere toytown revolutionary politics of the sort that gets him invited on to The Johnathan Ross Show and ultimately to sell his books to film makers who want to make a profit.

Class War Anarchism sells and helps youths to work off excess energies. whilst deluding both City financiers and radical activists that there is something more exciting and interesting in their lives than banal consumerism.

The Whitechapel Anarchist media and computer blogs show a devotion to virtual anarchism in which an organised club form anarchy becomes a kind of day trip out in the City. An account of the WAG's day out to the Climate Camp 'Peasant's Revolt' during the G20 Protests in 2009 starts off like this,
The day started off with us trudging down to our old haunt Bank for 12 Noon prompt, despite the usual stereotypes of Anarchist time keeping we were there bang on time, but then the waiting began. Two hours in total. The Police presence was tiny, though they did enjoy ducking behind pillars and spying on us when we met up with some more famous anarchists, though being a WAG means the police are always interested in your activities anyway. We spotted the FIT Copper from television programme Bargain Hunt who took the wisecracks on the chin to be fair. He never should have bought those stones though!
Lifestyle anarchism of this sort is no less ritualistic than the obsession with watching Princess Diana's life

Rather like battle Civil War re-enactment societies the WAG tends to like hoisting banners, frequenting ale houses and staging events like Spitalfields Fair.According to their 'favourite' anarchist magazine Freedom, it had 'tug of war, five a side football, and a 'plethora of stalls and entertainments'.
'Most popular though was ye old stocks, wherein many malefactors and ill doers were righteously bombarded with wet sponges'.( My italics )
Without any sense of irony, the report boasted, 'the fair drew several hundred people and to the merriment of all, no cops'.

For all the posturing about the cops and the Ruling elite, such activity is merely plebeian affectation for the pre-consumerist age on a 'Merrie England' theme. There is never any real criticism of consumerism because Whitechapel Anarchist Group is about self-presentation and brand differentiation.

If anyone posting here cannot tell be that certain forms of anti-monarchical posturing are not as much part of the obsession with spectacle and the need to work off boredom, or that anti-monarchists and those who see it necessarily as class repression are not as tedious as David Dimbleby, then it would be interesting to know how.

It's not that the British public regards itself as somehow cap-doffingly inferior to the royals; On the contrary,at the bottom of the widespread mania and enthusiasm for the coming wedding spectacle is the sense that 'we' own the Royal Family.

Which is precisely why there was that absurd outpouring of kitschy demonstrated grief after Diana died back in 1997 and Tony Blair was able to exploit it to put forth the idea of "the People's Princess" to a generation obsessed with celebrity because they have reached a higher stage of consumerist boredom.

Supporting the Royal Wedding and the monarchy ( or hating it as the apex of "class oppression" ) is an exercise in consumer choice. But more than this, with regards the monarchy as celebrity they are at least polite and despite being aristocrats there are many millionaires with "class war" pretensions in public life who are far more annoying than the royals

Take the idiotic Paul Weller, that erstwhile class warrior who penned Eton rifles is now a class warrior millionaire who gets drunk out of his brain with women much younger than him. But he's not a modern day aristocrat ennobled by the housing estate masses now is he ?

If Britain is hardly a serious nation any more, it due to these radical hypocrites more than the ruritanian charade ( as J G Ballard characterised it ) that is the Royal Family.

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