Tuesday 8 December 2015

They're conjuring up solutions which involve moving millions of us

We wake up this morning to Donald Trump
saying that Muslims shouldn't be allowed into the US
and Toby Young saying that those who don't want Britain
to be officially Christian should leave.
In France, Marine Le Pen rises and rises saying
of France for the French.

In the past, our rulers and their supporters had a great urge
to redraw the map. They took out their pens
and moved borders and frontiers;
they drew lines in the sand.
They created countries where they didn't exist before
and put kings and presidents in power
who would willingly accept whatever we suggested
by way of raw materials coming out
and our finished goods going in.
We created 'spheres of influence'
and 'strategic interests'
which our commentators refer to today as if
these are unquestionable facts,
as if we are entitled to have these 'spheres of influence'
and 'strategic interests' wherever we want to.

In the middle of the twentieth century
some rulers remembered that old tradition
of moving millions of people from one part
of the earth to another,
or arriving somewhere and eliminating
all who lived there.
Why not do that sort of thing right where we live, they thought
and millions were moved or killed.

The world woke up in 1945
and decided that this was probably not a good idea.

For some, in the here and now
that 1945 view seems a bit previous:
they are saying now:

"Those people in 1945 were jumping the gun.
Surely there is something to be said
for conjuring up solutions which involve
standing on a traffic island
directing the flow of people:
you leave, you stay, you go, you come,
and this is how we can preserve what is fine
and good about our nation."

We all like what is fine and good
though we may not necessarily connect it with
this thing called 'nation'.
Especially if this thing called 'nation'
was itself involved at times
in those old habits of moving millions,
and eliminating millions
for the benefit, supposedly,
of that nation.

I mean, the point is surely not that
a nation is itself what is fine and good
(even when it's being foul and bad)
but that we try to find what is fine and good
for everyone.

But, hey, that is so 1945.