The Queen's Diamond Jubilee was a grotesque celebration of power and privilege.
I'm not one who went into raptures about Liz's 'Diamond Jubilee'. In fact I thought the whole affair was grotesque - although possibly slightly less grotesque than the way the sycophantic media fawned all over it.
Here was Britain's prevailing culture on display for everyone to see, the worship of ruling class authority and the elevation of personal privilege above the common good. Yet all the pageantry (paid for by the British people) associated with this flaunting of power and privilege was celebrated by the media as if it somehow represented all of the British people. One commentator described it as 'the essence of Britain'. Tell that to the millions of Britain out of work, living in poverty, homeless. Tell that to the 99 percent of the British population having to carry the economic burden for the follies of the one percent - most of whom were probably on Liz's personal invitation list.
In Britain much of the authority remains with the old elites but they have been joined by some new ones. The crown, the landowners, the lords, the church still retain considerable economic power. In the past forty years or so they have been joined by the new financial, military and media elites who have intertwined with the hierarchies of the old order.
The British Parliament, like our parliament. has been divested of much of its power and British voters - like New Zealand voters - have been presented with a set of political parties whose ultimate loyalty is to the ruling class and the values of 'the market'. If anyone still believes that social democratic parties are still vehicles for progressive change then the attendance of British Labour Party leader Ed Miliband at the service at St Paul's Cathedral was instructive. He looked relaxed, comfortable among his peers. In contrast he looks like a fish out of water among the workers he and his party pretend to represent.
This was more than an event of staged delusion and distraction. it was a polite slap in the face for a British working class that is more economically downtrodden than it has been for decades. But, never mind, here's a few rich pop stars to entertain you for a few hours. Elton John, the Jester in the Queen's Court, croaked a few songs and so it went on. And on
What was obviously missing during this salute to power and privilege was Britain's proud radical and revolutionary history - a tradition based on the ideas of freedom, equality and true democracy. Never mind folks - you can have Lenny Henry and Robbie Williams instead.
I can quickly bring to mind radical figures like Robert Owen, Charles Kingsley, William Morris , Anna Wheeler, Marx and Engels. the Chartists, the Tolpuddle Martyers the Levellers , the Jarrow March, Tom Paine and the Rights of Man. When people sing 'Jerusalem' how many know that it is call to build socialism in 'England's green and pleasant land' and not just the anthem of the England cricket team?
This is Britain's real history and it is a history that the ruling class seeks to deny for it demands social justice, solidarity and equality.
England arise! the long night is over,
Faint in the east behold the dawn appear;
Out of your evil dream of toil and sorrow,
Arise, O England, for the day is here;
From your fields and hills,
Hark! the answer swells
Arise, O England, for the day is here.
Edward Carpenter, 1886