I was commissioned to write this a few years ago for the Central European House of Photography in Bratislava (and thank you to all the photo...
Monday, 19 May 2014
Everyone's just making it up as they go along
'Everyone's just making it up as they go along.'
That's the most important lesson life has taught British actor Stephen Mangan.
The people who make it up most of all are politicians. They do it with serious voices but that doesn't make it any less made up. The country where they're making it up most at the moment is India where the head of the BJP ( not the nice BJP, but this BJP), Norendra Modi has just been electedy've just elected prime-minister.
Pankaj Mishra does a wonderful description of where Modi comes from and where he's going in this article. He is a member of an organisation whose founders admired the Holocaust as "race pride at its highest," he is accused of complicity in the massacre of muslims, and his politics are an Indian variation on transglobal asset-stripping for the rich.
Mishraj describes in his article the rationale of Indian and international politics and business; they're all making it up as they go along because as long as the decisions made (more labour 'flexibility', less support for the poor) are in the interests of the globally rich and powerful, massacres and sectarian rhetoric can be excused as a kind of immature 'opportunism' that the realities of real power will eliminate.
So progress is measured in terms of the growth of the rich at the expense of the poor.
"The bulk of India's aggregate growth," the World Bank's chief economist Kaushik Basu warns, "is occurring through a disproportionate rise in the incomes at the upper end of the income ladder." Thus, it has left largely undisturbed the country's shameful ratios – 43% of all Indian children below the age of five are undernourished, and 48% stunted; nearly half of Indian women of childbearing age are anaemic, and more than half of all Indians still defecate in the open.
And as the poor get marginalised so they become less important and a sort of invisibility emerges - in political debate, in corporate decision making. Even in Hindi cinema, the world has been flipped on its head. If in earlier decades, Bollywood was all about the poor peasant labouring against the evil landlord or corrupt mine owner, now it's been flipped on its head and its the rich and powerful who are celebrated.
But the case of Bollywood shows how the unravelling of the earliest nation-building project can do away with the stories and images through which many people imagined themselves to be part of a larger whole, and leave only tawdriness in its place. Popular Hindi cinema degenerated alarmingly in the 1980s. Slicker now, and craftily aware of its non-resident Indian audience, it has become an expression of consumer nationalism and middle-class self-regard; Amitabh Bachchan, the "angry young man" who enunciated a widely felt victimhood during a high point of corruption and inflation in the 1970s, metamorphosed into an avuncular endorser of luxury brands.
We have a European election in the UK in a few weeks time. A xenophobic party called UKIP will do very well in that election. They are the more 'acceptable' end of the spectrum, and they have a leader who isn't always serious (that simple fact is what makes them populare. He sugar coats his xenophobia and hypocrisy with a couple of pints at lunchtime) - more acceptable than the BNP. That's a BNP youth broadcast shown above. It's a video full of angry kids saying angry things about all the people who they imagine have done them wrong, kids who are so bitter it seems as though they must be victims of the 'militant homosexuals' who go round breaking up families and imposing Shariah Law and banning tiddlywinks and English bangers or maybe I'm getting my messages mixed up there (like the guy in this video).
Anyway, the BNP aren't in government here. The BJP are in government in India. God help them.