The Plastic Hippo

February 20, 2012

Undergraduate humour

Filed under: Education,History,Politics,Rights — theplastichippo @ 4:54 pm


A long, long time ago, those of us of a certain age will still remember condemning any figure of authority as a fascist. The schoolmaster, the PM and the postman were all jackbooted thugs who were, like, oppressing us man.

Secure with a student grant and through a haze of laughing lettuce and Newcastle Brown Ale, Harold Wilson and before him, Edward Heath and before him, Harold Wilson, subjected us to vile totalitarianism. Wilson was certainly cunning and Heath was certainly very unpleasant, but they were small beer compared with Pol Pot, Idi Amin and General Pinochet.

Looking back, our innocence was breathe-taking but we did succeed in ending the Vietnam war. The six or seven of us who in 1971 handed our demand for the immediate withdrawal of the American military from South-East Asia into the United States Consulate obviously frightened the life out of Nixon and the war ended four years later. Power to the people, right on.

The six or seven of us who spent almost an hour sitting on the Consulate steps in protest went on to different universities where Vice Chancellors became the oppressors, even if we had never met them or, indeed, ever even knew their names. Having graduated, we went on to make a living by wearing suits and telling people who were paid less than us what to do.

Now, with our children and in some cases grandchildren going off to universities that charge £9,000 a year for the privilege, our naive militancy is carefully airbrushed along the lines of the Clinton defence or the Bullingdon Club. I never inhaled. I did not have sex with that woman. Smashing up the restaurant was youthful high spirits. It was all a long time ago.

Our undergraduate children may be up to more mischief than simply wearing a traffic cone as a hat or throwing up in a Wetherspoons, but with 27 grand for a three year degree plus the cost of books, accommodation, a computer, mobile phone, playstation and a sound system, the days of turning up with a tin opener and a copy of the Anarchists Cookbook are long gone. Unless blessed with wealthy parents, today`s bright young things face the glittering prizes of debt and minimal career prospects. Generally more pragmatic and certainly better dressed than those of us who had to endure Glam Rock and pubs closing at three in the afternoon, the alumni of the future are far too intelligent to simply brand anything irritating as being fascist.

Then and now, it is preposterous to accuse any British government as being fascist. No UK government, even one without the comfort or mandate of an elected majority would force people into unpaid labour to sustain the profitability of greedy multi-national companies. No British administration would ever resort to printing more money to give to failed banks whilst depriving the less well off of health care and education. It is unthinkable that any democratic representatives would withdraw support from patients with a terminal illness or from children with severe disabilities. It is ridiculous to suggest that a government would only consult with those known to be supportive of a corrupt ideology.

Only actual fascist regimes would lock journalists in a cupboard when a tyrant visited a hospital and order a public broadcaster to replace the word “cuts” with the word “savings”. Real evil juntas first indentify defenceless minorities as the cause of the nation`s trouble and then target them with right-wing propaganda aided and abetted by a tiny number of sympathetic media moguls. This is not the British way.

We would never enter the bellicose world of threatening other countries with military action and would never, ever fight a war over land that just happens to cover deposits of oil. Dispatching a nuclear submarine to the South Atlantic is merely a precaution against shop lifting at the Port Stanley Post Office. Arming goodness knows who to topple a dictator is simply business prudence and telling us that borrowing money is a very bad thing whilst borrowing ever increasing amounts of money is indicative of British accountability, openness and fair play.

As people suffer hardship, the British would never allow a fascist dictator to spend vast sums of money to turn an Olympic Games into a propaganda showcase for the superior race that inhabits the City of London square mile. A British government would never lie to the electorate and so, therefore, a British government can never be fascist.

The crazy Stalinists currently questioning the credentials and ability of Her Majesty`s Government to govern are clearly suffering from mental illness and need to be re-educated. Civil liberties, care, education and health are a small price to pay to keep the rich, rich. If they are so unhappy with the dismantling of Britain, they should stop bleating and move to North Korea.

Describing the coalition government as fascist is inappropriate. Hitler, Mussolini and Franco were at least successful in ruthlessly suppressing any opposition and frightened the rest of their populations into acquiescent silence. They wouldn`t have such luck now with the irritation that is social media. However, our ambitious government is suddenly very keen to curb the proliferation of free speech dangerously hovering about in the ether and gagging the press by exploiting the illegal activities of the very scandal sheets that peddle the government`s propaganda. No, not in any way shape or form, not remotely connected with, unrelated to and not even close to anything that even a dope fuelled, beer swilling student of the past would dare to describe as fascism.

It is probably a good thing that we didn`t have the internet way back then. Given the pressures of fascists demanding that we write essays, hand them in on time and turn up for lectures, the effort of writing a blog would have proved too much for the future captains and mistresses of industry. The inconvenience of raising a head from the Rizla on the Steve Hillage album cover to address a Twitter feed is best left to a generation brought up by watching Teletubbies.

We never really encountered any real fascists back then apart from one. The landlord of our shared student house demanded proof that we were not Jewish, Catholic or black. When we left and had our deposit refunded. We went back and smashed the place up. Anarchy in the UK.

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