Wednesday 22 August 2012

The Lord of the Flies

Piggy & Ralph 

I have always maintained that Greece is a country of children. A country that despite its thousands of years of history and culture, despite its gift of civilisation and philosophy to the ancient world, despite hundreds of years of austerity and occupation, has a childlike relationship with the today and a flippant mistrust of the tomorrow. I say despite but this could easily be replaced by because of.

You may feel free to be angered by this but personally I am very fond of children.   

Greece is now in the midst of another children allegory, Golding’s The lord of the flies. The boys are lost and alone on an island far from any place familiar and they are restless and frightened. Jack and his choristers seem to have all the answers. The conch is being handed more and more often to those who have the hair-of-the-dog remedy for a people in deep trouble, more problems and some of the little kids are looking to the big boys to do something about the problem, any problem. But Ralph and Piggy are not convinced. Some of the boys understand Ralph and Piggy’s misgivings, enough in fact to elect him their leader. But Jack is an aristocrat not a democrat and his choir is the only group amongst the children, the only organised, disciplined unit and regardless of their soprano status they become the hunters. Jack is a leader, the choristers are trained to follow and the others just need somewhere to go, you know, Jack is getting it done. 

He creates a monster, a monster that will take their food, a monster that threatens their very existence and who will vanquish the beast? Ralph, with his sober logic and chubby sidekick or Jack with his chorister warriors. Slowly but surely Jack trades on fear and loathing to contrive power of the young castaways to the point where anyone who dares deny the existence of the threat becomes a threat. 

The talk of financial contagion in the Eurozone has all but blown over, the idea that Greece’s default could cause the house of cards to tumble is as yesterday as dayglow designerwear will be next summer. Germany holds firm the tiller and once again France’s bravado falters on the breeze of Hollande’s words. 

The contagion, as Italy and Spain fall deeper into austerity, is not economic but social. Europeans have had it relatively good for a while now and they are becoming less interested in how to get back on the gravy-train and more in who took their seat. Extreme nationalism and right-wing ideologies are gaining favour with the young who see their futures being taken away by people who weren’t even born here, wherever here may be. The ‘Golden Dawn’ in Greece is mobilising, gaining ground and training with the immigrant settlements that it moves along in an act of public ‘service’. Even Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik has a growing following and while his refusal to show remorse is seen by many as insanity, it is seen as courage and conviction by his faithful. The modern age of information has given those who would normally be left in the shadows a chance to network and curry favour. 

People need to know they can rely on someone to get things done and as the bankers continue doing it for themselves and the politicians are doing it for anyone who can keep them in suits and handshakes a huge gap is opening for anyone with the guts to take on the job. History tells us that despite our upbringing of Marvel heroes whoever does step up to the fore will not be wearing a cape. 

At the end of the book (sorry spoiler alert!) the horror is curtailed by the arrival of pristine British sailors who, no doubt, take the remaining boys off for a good scrub then some scones and a game of cricket. And this is where the analogy ends, there will be no sailors arriving on this island Earth. 

Recent developments in this story.

The Lord of the Flies is not any one race, creed or colour it is our own inability to do the right thing.

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