O MacGuffin: A arte da crónica (2)

terça-feira, maio 06, 2008

A arte da crónica (2)

The French Solution by Auberon Waugh

For a beleaguered Englishman, wrestling with the fact that the pound is only worth 8.3 francs and a glass of orangeade in a bar therefore costs 42p or eight and sixpence, there is certain comfort to be derived from the discovery that large parts of French society, too, are going mad. I first began to suspect this at the seaside when I noticed that most Frenchwomen now bathe topless. For five weeks now I have been brooding and puzzling over this. A few women look quite charming in this state, although once it is common property even the most perfectly formed breast becomes no more erotic than a well-turned ankle or finely chiselled nostril. But most of the women were old enough to know better and looked extremely silly.

Whatever considerations drove them to this behaviour they cannot have included the traditional nudist argument that it is somehow healthier and more natural to expose one’s private parts. Without exception they kept their lower parts covered. Yet by demystifying her breasts, the human female renounces one of the most formidable weapons in her sexual armoury. Curiosity is the trigger mechanism to the whole chain of male sexual response – a chain both in the sense of progression and in the sense of shackle or confinement. Curiosity is not heightened by this premature exposure, but diminished. Perhaps it was their intention to discourage or repel bathers of the opposite sex, but I am almost sure this was not the case. The simplest and most obvious explanation for this loss of modesty is surely the true one – they have gone mad.

Confirmation is available form other sources that this same crisis of modernism which, in the space of twenty years, has destroyed the Roman Catholic Church and left Europe virtually defenceless to Russia is now afflicting many parts of French society with madness. The chief of these is French television, and the most extreme example of French television is a programme called Les Grandes Personnes. It shows children talking to adults . In effect, this means that a single-haired youth, pubescent and epicene, is interviewed by any of a number of middle aged, vasectomised pederasts with horrible, wrinkled, understanding faces and smug, left-wing views. The interview seems interminable, but probably doesn’t take more than thirty minutes. Under the indulgent eye of the pederast the ‘boy’ trots out a little library of left-wing views about his school and the modern world – how he is disenchanted with capitalism, how religion means nothing to him and is only for his parents, how they are not taught enough at school about things which really interest them, like racism and neo-imperialism in the third world. The pederast beams at him and draws a little closer. ‘Yes, yes’, he says understandingly, ‘religion was, shall we say, a romantic invention for the times’, and the plump, androgynous mannikin smirks gratefully back.

These are the new goody-goodies, the children who at my school would have been teachers’ pets, sitting at the front of the class with the right answer to every question. It would be easy to be alarmed by the fact that the entire younger generation in France – or at any rate, all those under twenty-five who might, in happier times, have been capable of mastering the Christian catechism - have now been brainwashed – or ‘educated’ – into a rejection of the capitalist system. Whatever silly things the French may say to each other in their schools and on television, however dramatic their apparent rejection of the system under which they live, the fact remains that capitalism is in an amazingly healthy state in France. Even the French Communist Party is a long way to the right of our own beloved Conservatives on such vital matters as wealth, inheritance and personal taxation.

Yet in England where education has scarcely been politicised at all, capitalism is in ruins. Our educational policy, designed to accommodate the backward or inept pupil has produced a generation of politically apathetic sluggards. The French educated system, which is the fiercest and most competitive in the world, has produced an élite dedicated to the destruction of capitalism, which continued to thrive. The English education system, surely the wettest and sloppiest outside America, has produced a generation of ignorant woolly-minded idlers who have all but destroyed capitalism at home.

Our problem is not insanity so much as feeble-mindedness, a refusal to think things out at all. We watch Bruce Forsyth instead. Last week’s news that he had been signed up to make twelve new programmes for £180,000 – to stand in front of the cameras for 1800 minutes at £100 a minute – filled me with unutterable gloom. Of course, there is no reason to be jealous. The same vacant-minded audience who will gasp with delight every time he says ‘Nice to see you, to see you nice’ will also demand £83 per minute in income tax form his earnings (the maximum rate of income tax was reduced by Mrs Thatcher’s government to 60 per cent). I do not envy him his horrible house or the bogus Tudor bar inside it, or his pasty-faced new wife or his new plasticine baby or his nasty new moustache or even the genuine affection and respect in which he is plainly held by the British public. Apart from an intense personal loathing for the man I have no particular interest to declare. But last week’s confirmation of the fact that in order to capture the attention of the British public, one must show them Bruce Forsyth does rather illustrate my point that the English are being encouraged to replace into imbecility. It is not the sex or violence of British television which is worrying, still less its Marxist bias – just its vulgarity and stupidity. Where the French are going mad from the excitement of their intellectual process, we are consciously and deliberately opting for the Stupid Society, where working class tastes will determine our culture and working class ineptitude will determine the level of our prosperity.

If we are to decide where we would stand in the great late-night debates of our time, we must do so in the privacy of our own libraries, studies or bathrooms because nobody is going to hold them with us. So sit a little closer, dear reader, and let’s begin.

The trouble with capitalism, especially efficient capitalism, is that it not only makes the working class rich and free to exercise their loathsome consumer choices to the detriment of civilisation as we know it, it also make the working class powerful. When, in the exercise of this power, various inalienable characteristics of a working class are brought to bear – its brutal stupidity as well as its natural greed, is vindictive bloody-mindedness as well as its natural idleness (what the French call la sale mentalité ouvrière) - one sees how capitalism must carry within itself the seeds of its own destruction.

The trouble with socialism is that in the process of keeping the workers poor, oppressed and docile it must depart so far from its own sustaining rhetoric of liberty, equality, fraternity, prosperity and workers’ control as to create a psychotic society requiring mass imprisonment.

So we are left with a shaky, unthought-out belief in inefficient or mixed capitalism as our only protection against the drift into proletarian ineptitude and brutality. The French solution, of adopting the rhetoric of socialism while practising tooth-and-claw capitalism, carries with it the risk that our womenfolk will stand barking like dogs and exposing their breasts. That may be all right for the French, but it isn’t really what we want to see at Bognor Regis.

2.9.1978


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