A recent Facebook meme incorporated the following quote from Orwell’s 1984,
“They will not look up from their screens long enough to notice what’s happening.”
It’s an excerpt that evokes imagery of zombified teenagers having to employ their ‘hidden observer’ – the separate consciousness we have no control over which usually prevents painful interactions with lampposts and the like.
And this zombie state is certainly in keeping with the UK’s current air of political limbo. In 1994, Irish rock band The Cranberries released their track Zombie. The song was a protest against The Troubles and was written in memory of the two young boys killed in Warrington the previous year.
With its lyric “It’s the same old theme since 1916” the song references the armed insurrection in Ireland during Easter Week of that year. The band’s lead singer Dolores O’Riordan spoke about
“the Irish fight for independence that seems to last forever.”
Four years after the release of Zombie, the Good Friday Agreement was signed (incidentally, it’s a matter of public record that Jeremy Corbyn was instrumental in the creation of the treaty).
The two decades since have demonstrated peacetime in Northern Ireland, with the means in which peace was brokered now a model for similar endeavours across the world. Maintaining peace is rarely easy, however. It takes generations for ill feeling to dissipate and the capacity of strength required for pride to be constantly swallowed and a perspective of the bigger picture perpetually held in mind, is not to be taken for granted. To rock the boat even slightly would be reckless and dangerous.
The rekindling of terrorism in Northern Ireland is only a spark of rage away. A key part of the Good Friday Agreement is that the British parliament must remain neutral between the Unionists and Loyalists. Ergo, for May to even consider the DUP coalition is terrifying in itself, but for her to then resort to bribing them with money and moral concessions in order that her zombie administration might finger-cling onto power, makes her actions nothing short of malevolent. The sheer, unbridled arrogance is astonishing. The intention of the British class system is to install an innate sense of inferiority.
This is why the Conservative party do paradoxically well amongst the poor. It’s why people voluntarily opt for a system of government that significantly increases the likelihood of less-advantaged people becoming either destitute or dead. It’s why people voluntarily opt for a system of government which flagrantly promotes policies that needlessly deny the poor at the detriment to the already-absurdly wealthy. It’s why the myth of austerity was allowed to flourish – because of the many people who “know their place”. It’s why when Conservative MPs receive pay rises then cheer as they vote to cap the wages of nurses and those in the fire service, there aren’t automatic riots.
Regimes such as the one we are now immersed in rely on the inefficiency of benign protestation. They are rocks of corruption and greed obstructing our progression towards a universally civil, humane society. Rocks that re-stratify at a rate which makes any flak from wish or wash redundant. However, the downtrodden have become beaten steel. Work-hardening is the process used by blacksmiths that involves beating red-hot metal over an anvil in order to strengthen it.
The more and harder the metal is hit, the stronger it becomes. Enough of us are now strong enough to fight back. Mass mobilisation plans are currently active for a mass protest tomorrow, Saturday July 1. Transport to London from all across the country has been organised. An unprecedented number are expected to attend and have their say against injustice. Corbyn’s rousing Glastonbury speech has awakened lions from their slumber; stirred zombies from their apathy. And whilst Orwell was indeed prescient about the screens, he failed to envisage what would be on them – the details of where and when to meet and join up with the people’s protest against the elite and its tyranny.