So RIP Hugo Chavez – or maybe not so much ‘rest in peace’ but ‘remain in perpetuity’ as his embalmed presence continues to loom over Venezuela. I don’t know why, but the old Stranglers track – No More Heroes – keeps running through my head. It could be that with the death of Mr C there is one less political hero in this world or maybe it’s more the case that heroes – and certainly in the case of political ones – just can’t exist any more. Why is that? Are we all just a bit too cynical these days with instant access to every unguarded word, every slip-up along with acres and acres of reports and commentary to help us shape our views? (Happy Lib Dem conference by the way, guys!) Are we just too clever for our own good? No wonder many of these ‘grass-roots’ guys make it big. They appear human, they have a joke, they find the right scapegoat… It reminds us of what political movements should be about – struggle, ideology used for good, the desire to just make things better, going after the bad guy…
And that’s where it all breaks down really – we all have different ideas of who the bad guy is. In Mr Chavez’s case it was the US – fair enough – but then when I see the identity of the honoured guests beating their way to Caracas to grasp Mr C’s formaldehyde-filled hand I do feel a little queasy – not least of all at the presence of ‘Gorgeous’ George ‘I’ll be the cat’ Galloway – probably not the most dangerous but certainly on the short list for most nauseating!
So who decides on the bad guy? Well, if you’re a subjugated – or even ex-subjugated people – the big guys who rule/used to rule over you are a safe bet and an accepted target– you know – the US, the UK, France, Russia… It all turns a little nasty when it’s the little guy who’s targeted. It’s happened time and time again throughout history – particularly in times of economic hardship – the scapegoat. Here in the UK at the moment we have a rather distasteful movement called UKIP led by a man who looks like some evil-robot-boss character who’s stepped out of a surreal episode of Terry & June written by Joe Orton. Quite fitting that, as UKIP want to take Britain back to the seventies, when Jimmy Savile reigned supreme, where any non-Brits employed to do the shitty jobs – that no-one else wanted – at least had the decency to keep out of sight, and where you could walk down the street to your smoke-filled pub and only the hear the Queen’s English being spoken. (Which reminds me – my good friend Commercial Malcolm posted an amusing little piece on YouTube which is less than complimentary about Nigel Farage and co and it prompted the most illiterate and frankly embarrassing commentary, so all in all a pretty good advert for them!)
So no more heroes in politics? Yep, pretty much. I mean, can you imagine a JFK-like-outpouring-of-grief these days, in any of our ‘developed’ countries? Over a politician? I can’t see it somehow. Maybe we are too informed, or too cynical or just too removed from our ‘grass-roots’. We should be careful though because when that happens we lose sight of who the bad guy really is and that can only be a dangerous thing.