Gimme shelter, screamed Mick Jagger; and food, and money, and education and everything you got and do not dare to ask me to work for it as you had to scream the Wall Street Occupiers and their pitiful knock-offs elsewhere in the rest of what used to be called the Free World. The Rolling Stones in the first verse also sing “If I don’t get some shelter, Oh yeah, I’m going to fade away”. One can wish. Unfortunately, instead of fading away or getting shelter in some penal or mental institution, they get support from every Leftist hypocrite in sight; Obama, Gore, Assange, Moore, Soros… and other, similarly unhappy, bitter, unsuccessful human beings, though admittedly successful publicity and money seekers. I have not heard anything yet from our Bob Brown.
Similar protests had been going on for quite a while in Chile, where the mostly secondary school students are protesting against a school voucher system and want the education to be managed exclusively by the state. They do not like the choice and they are supported by the Communist Party of Chile. Also since May this year there are demonstrations and some camping, from time to time limited by the police, in Puerta del Sol in Madrid. The Spanish chapter of Gorejugend demands immediate closure of all nuclear power plants, more money for education and, under a catchy slogan “voting is pointless” abolishment of elections. If you have not heard of those “people movements”, do not be surprised. “It Don’t Mean a Thing, If It Ain’t Got That Swing”* (while we are in a musical mood) i.e. it has to be within geographical and intellectual reach of the Washington Post hacks a.k.a opinion creators, for them to comprehend. The rest of the world media would then, and only then, follow.
In describing or trying to describe this mindless and obnoxious pseudo-people movement, most writers go back to the sixties, to the utmost limits of their memory horizon. Slightly better educated people know that in searching for similarities one could go further, to Visigoths or Vandals for example, but for me the allusion to the phenomenon labelled La Bohème would do. Already in 1832 a certain Petrus Borel and companions, “scantily dressed” camped in a Paris garden, until the landlord evicted them. Borel was one of the petit cénacle, a group of followers of Victor Hugo, meeting in the Left Bank studio of Jean de Seigneur. (See a problem for our journalists? Left = good; bank = bad.) Petrus Borel and Jean de Seigneur wrote for La Liberté, which called for “the abolition of official institutions and restrictions”. Borel also said “I need an enormous quantity of liberty”. One can see the difference between the old and the new immediately, beside erudition naturally. Today’s would-be rulers call for more institutions and more restrictions. They might like another of his statements, assuming they would be capable of comprehending it, “ Paris possessed two dens of outlaws, one of thieves, one of murderers; that of the thieves is the stock exchange, that of the murderers is the Palais de Justice”. Of course, with the first statement, practically all the people, perhaps 99%, relying on their savings and superannuation funds would agree. If not as yet, certainly very soon.
Theophile Dondey, one of the group, said “…I despise from the depths of my soul the existing social order and above all the political order that is its excrement.” I am not sure what the Gorejugend exactly despises, beside themselves, but they certainly add excrement to the public arena figuratively and literally. Another, a certain Gerard de Nerval, used to go for walks in the Luxembourg Garden with a pet lobster on a leash. Somehow I suspect the new avant-garde, relying for nourishment on McDonalds’ hamburgers, would not know how to cook a lobster, not to mention how to feed it. The idea of a person looking after another person or something other than himself would be abhorrent to them. For them caring has to be the sole preserve of a socialist, bigger the better, government.
The old bohème had certain artistic ambitions, mostly unfulfilled and a part of a masquerade. Some, however, and let’s mention in passing Gustave Courbet, Nadar (Felix Tournachon), Charles Baudelaire and Henri Murger, (whose writing provided basis for Giacomo Puccini’s opera La Bohème), made it. Our new “avant-garde” do not even bother for if they did, they would be more laughable. Neither literacy nor numeracy (99% ?) is their forte, and I will not bother to mention logic or reason. They are, in their own eyes, martyrs but if anything they are martyrs to their own mediocrity.
The similarities between the two, in my opinion, include the glaringly obvious lack of parental discipline, directionlessness, barely disguised envy, impracticality, preference for a form over substance and yearning for the world where reality never interferes with muddled ideological fantasies. A certain Karl Marx, still an authority in some putrid circles, described La Bohème thus: “decayed roues with dubious means of subsistence and of dubious origin, ruined and adventurous offshoots of bourgeoisie, vagabonds, discharged soldiers, discharged jailbirds, escaped galley slaves, swindlers, mountebanks, lazzaroni, pickpockets, literati, organ-grinders, rag-pickers, knife grinders, tinkers, beggars – in short, the whole indefinite, disintegrated mass, thrown hither and thither…”* A close enough description even of the current lot, bar the mention of manual workers. [I suspect that today for this Marx would be taken before the nearest Anti-Discrimination Commissar before he could say ‘capital’. Perhaps he could claim the immunity as a leftist.]
In the whole disgraceful mess of the Wall Street Occupiers woolly-minded rhetoric, there are grains of genuine socio-economic grievances; just as there were at the twenties and early thirties of the last century in Europe, described and analysed by Rosa Luxemberg in her The Accumulation of Capital and by Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf, later amplified out of all proportions by the Communists’ and National Socialists’ propaganda. As everybody knows, the National Socialist were successful for a while and the International Socialist had to retreat. Later, with the help of the corrupt Western intellectuals, they regrouped. Today, even without the overt help from Russia’s and China’s secret services they are on the march again. Sensible voters everywhere are replacing socialist governments by conservative, more democratic parties, so frightening to the totalitarian Left. To the relics of the sixties and their younger avatars it may indeed look like that Final struggle from their favourite ditty and they are far too stupid to notice who is manipulating them.
With music we started, with music we end. I am going to dust off my Puccini’s La Bohème LP and occupy my armchair.
* * *
*/ Duke Ellington, 1931
**/ Karl Marx: The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte