Thursday, 26 April 2012

Pompous Post

Is it because we are all so doubtful about the future that we live in times of Absolute statements? You hear the most civilised and intelligent people coming out with crap.....

Maybe Doublespeak has infiltrated the minds of us all so that we no longer notice when we are lying. It used to be confined to politicians, bureaucrats and estate agents, but now it is the preferred language of anyone successful in the cultural media, who boldly go where people are most likely to pay them attention, aware that we will give up listening if they preface statements with stuttering qualifications like "perhaps" or "in a lot of cases" or "I believe". You hear the most civilised and intelligent people coming out with crap.

I've just been listening to some very cosmopolitan and intellectual men on the radio in that slot they inhabit on a Monday morning, and heard a broadcaster, a playwright and a composer concur that Elgar is never played in Europe because his music is too intrinsically British.

Was I dreaming for all of the years I lived in Hamburg? I used to hear Pomp and Circumstance on the radio, and saw posters advertizing performances, more than it's ever played here. Anglophile Germans love nothing better than singing along to Land of Hope and Glory; embarrassed by their own patriotic marching tunes, they have adopted ours. 

Surely I was dreaming, because many of my impressions of German life are contradicted by the confident assertions of experts in the British media. 

Disturbingly, I hear and read unanimous approval in England of the way the German economy is run, without any enquiry into its social cost.

I am not an economist, all I can do is make a conclusion from my own observations of people, and post them here. For years, the widening gap between the comfortably off and the poor has been more noticeable in Germany even than here, because of the suppression of aspiration, and, as far as I could tell, the low pay and undervaluation of most retail and service staff. Bosses have successfully found ways to circumvent the Labour Laws enabling themselves to fire and hire as cheaply as possible. The almost ubiquitous renting system, so advantageous in theory, results in the ghettoization of the poor, just as has been developing in London over the last decade, when rising house prices and now proposed housing benefit capping have forced people out of the city where many of them were born, educated and worked.

The German economy has created an underclass that is growing all the time in a way that should be unacceptable in an enlightened democracy, but is evidently an acceptable condition of modern capitalism.  This is not even natural selection - it is a policy of social inequality that intervenes to nurture the strong at the expense of the weak. British Conservative governments have practised the same principle with less courage of their convictions since the Thatcher days; a generation ago, even Labour candidates during the party's painful make-over in the mid-90s dropped full employment from their main electoral agenda. Unusually for a politician, the Minister for Employment betrayed the truth when he declared that he was responsible for unemployment.

I have no economic solutions to offer, I can't do sums, but I can hear hypocrisy, cowardice and complacency. The blinkered adoration of a flawed economic model abroad looks like a convenient way of off-loading doubts about the future of the commonweal by deflecting attention from the abyss at home. The meek might inherit the earth, but it will not be habitable.