Nation Shall Speak Unto Nation
— 11th April 2003
I hate the way people talk about countries. The idea that you can group all those people together and say absolutely anything about them at all as a group is such rubbish. It’s so depressingly simple, so lazy, so utterly utterly wrong (I mean logically here as much as morally) and yet we just can’t stop can we. We love it. Like kids racing up the steps to take another slide down the nicely slippery surface, all ready and prepared for us, no effort required at all.
The Americans are attacking the Iraqis, the British are helping, the French and the Germans are against it. The Americans are now warning the Syrians, the Turks and the Kurds to behave. Even when we take the huge effort to separate the regime of Saddam from the people it’s terrorised for years we make no effort whatsoever to distinguish between those people their different needs and expectations. It’s the McDonalds approach to to international politics - one solution fits all.
I know that time and language don’t often stretch to presenting everyone’s stories individually and that’s the nature of the global situation we find ourselves in, but it’s not that I object to. It’s the reduction of politics, war, even our view of history to such simplified and bite-sized chunks that it begins to become meaningless. Like using a computer program to reduce the entire works of Shakespeare to five ‘representative’ words. It might be helpful in reducing the size, it makes it quicker to tell people, easier to e-mail around to your friends, simpler to copy and paste into your mind and to reproduce at parties, but it is so far removed from reality as to become useless.
And yet we rely on it, have relied on it, so much, so unquestioningly. The Germans lost the First and Second world wars, the Americans dropped the H-Bomb on the Japanese, the French like cheese and surrendered. The Greeks invented philosophy, the Russians embraced Communism, the British ruled the World (once). No, No, No!!!
It’s probably been said before, much better, more more eloquently, it’s bound to be said again. I just wanted to say it. To have said it.
Christ I’ve got nothing better to say.