Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The Politics of Jelly and Ice Cream

As a child you may have wanted to eat jelly and ice cream for every meal, to eat it until you were sick. Yet, for most kids, there were adults to prevent such greed from causing their offspring such harm. In the end we put away childish things and if we eat jelly and ice cream today it is with an adult sense of moderation. Learning such moderation is a large part of growing up.

Yet our society today seems to reward the infantile and the irresponsible. The adult equivalent of jelly and ice cream is probably sex- and here we seem to revert to our inner child. The tawdry succession of sex partners that Katie Price, aka "glamour" model Jordan, has left in her wake has enabled the manipulative owners of the "Big Brother" franchise to populate their nasty programme with quite a few of Jordan's former bed mates. Ms. Price's candour- on the front page of gossip magazines, newspapers, and in a series of ghost written books- about her complicated, even tortured, love life is supposed to show her as some kind of empowered new woman. Of course it does not: her infantile screeching towards one of her ex-husbands, and the father of some of her children makes her out as a child inside a cartoon of a woman's body.

Yet, Katie Price is held up as some kind of role model in certain circles, which is pretty worrying if we want to bring up well adjusted, thoughtful, mature and kindly children. Jordan is a symptom of a widening coarseness in Britain: a country that is seemingly unprepared to impose adult disciplines of moderation upon itself.

Instead of saving-up for furniture or electronic goods, or any other "must-have" in our consumer society, people now buy them on the never-never and sometimes even throw their goods away before they have even finished paying for them. Nothing: not lack of money for consumer goods, not damaging your physical health with drink or emotional health with promiscuity must get in the way of the hit of immediate gratification.

Our politicians can recognise the zeitgeist. In order to get elected, it will not do to give the voters too many home truths. As a society we insist that we can have it all: material progress, environmental protection, deficit reduction, full employment, economic growth, universities and apprenticeships, housing and the green belt; but we can't, we must make choices. Leadership is being able to articulate these choices and convey the benefits, and the costs to the rest of society.

We have few leaders in the UK today. A very small number of political leaders since Margaret Thatcher, have been prepared to defend their positions when they face unpopularity. Whether it is the short attention span of the media, or the growing complications of modern society, the fact is that the masculine, goal-oriented traits of decisiveness and tenaciousness in the face of unpopularity have been drowned by more feminine, process-driven traits of consensus building and compromise. This is not altogether healthy. We see the emergence of moral relativism: one can not condemn Jordan as the sad slapper she is, because "slapper" is sexist and demeaning to all women, not just slappers, and anyway who are we to condemn any one?

It is how we have become a society that is puking on too much jelly and ice cream- in the case of 60 stone men this is literally true- too much debt, too many broken homes, too many sick and dying alcoholics. Yet, if we may offer no condemnation to people who are sick, are we to make no judgement at all? Surely to recognise- to judge- aberrant behaviour is the first and necessary step to finding solutions to the problems that are created? Yet the compulsory social consensus - cheaply called "political correctness"- will not allow society to make such judgements and to impose discipline upon itself.

If, as a society, we have become addicted to the jelly and ice cream- of things that are bad for us without moderation- so our politics reflects this. Political leaders will not take a stand, they will not offer difficult choices, only the bromides that are so banal as to be a lie direct.

It is a tragedy that "tough choices" has become a meaningless cliche that exists to give the impression of decisiveness in a political class that reflects the social crisis but lacks the detachment or discipline to understand it, still less to address it. In the meantime our social, economic and political infrastructure are devalued by our inability to control ourselves and make responsible -adult- choices in the face of temptation.

1 comment:

Newmania said...

Well yes C but ...oh you`ll never get it will you , who do you think is responsible for this ?