Land Of Hope & Glory
I was so tired last night that I went to bed at 9:30. As I lay there wondering why the sleep monster hadn’t come for me, I couldn’t help but stare at a star out of the window (as opposed to the stars I see inside all the time). This star was twinkling like mad and I couldn’t take my eyes off it. It made me feel quite insignificant but really glad that I’d managed to spawn the whole being alive thing.
Today I look about 50 years old. My eyes are starting to show my age and the fact that I consume too much booze. Some blokes get more dignified as they get older, I’m starting to look like a tramp. One of those tramps who obviously eats too much. You know the sort – fat tramps. Fat faced, fat old fatty fat tramps.
So, today’s topic of conversation has been on the slave trade. Always ones to jump on the hysterical outraged angle, my work chums argue that “I didn’t do anything, so why are we apologising?”, and it’s true, as far as I know not one of them is involved in the slave trade.
However, there are numerous valid reasons why a country that claims to be a grown up democracy should show shame and regret in the mass trade of human beings as a commodity. The power and economic growth of this country owes a lot to the slave trade, and in a way we are still benefiting from that today. We live in one of the richest countries in the world and some of the impetus behind the blossoming of that wealth has come from the blood of others. Hell, we live in the north-west of England, an area where industrial “might” was often based on cotton; the government and owners of the cotton mills filling their coffers from the toils of slaves (and working class British people working in horrendous conditions). The very town we live in possibly owes a lot of its riches and structure to the efforts of people forced to work in appalling conditions and with no rights, thousands of miles from their homes. And you feel annoyed that this country may apologise for this? Fuck you.
This isn’t some sort of guilt which will lead to self-loathing, this is an acknowledgement that as a privileged member of a country which has directly benefited from the slavery of others that we should recognise and apologise for it.
People can claim that there is nobody to apologise to, but the world is obviously full of people who live in a particular country or state due to their ancestors being forcefully taken from their homes. We actually blocked an EU backed apology for the slave-trade, and I don’t see what as a nation we could possibly lose by actually just saying we’re sorry for what our ancestors did.
So, the counter-argument was “are the Vikings going to apologise for what they did to us?”. Well, no. What benefit do the Scandinavians living today who had Viking ancestors get from the pillaging of British towns over 1000 years ago? Fuck all. Ikea wasn’t built on the work of slaves from Rotherham.
And looking around the world today, we haven’t learnt. Has imperialism really vanished? We still meddle in the affairs of other countries, be it though military force or political pressure. When Iran is being belligerent with the West, it’s hard not to shake your head and feel that we’ve got what we deserved. Fearful for the loss of our supply of oil by the re-nationalising of the Iranian oil fields, we pushed someone more “aligned” to Western ideas into power. We removed a democratically elected government and replaced it with a shah. And we wonder why Iran is suspicious of the West?
Iraq, Vietnam, Central America, Suez, etc etc etc…
Countries were we’ve tinkered to ensure our own interests are met, and then we wonder why the world is going down the shitter.
Anyway, there is nothing as utterly fucking ridiculous to me as affluent and privileged British people with a persecution complex. The pointless indignation of people looking for something to feel oppressed over, as they all sit in their comfortable houses, counted amongst the luckiest people to have ever lived. In fact, the next person to complain to me about the “PC brigade” is going to get a kick in the face.