What a very different world we lived in then (see video). An over confident crumbling State, newly enriched by oil, but draining hope and resources from a working class seemingly happy to give power to Tories that hate it. Hmmm.
A world in which a culturally cut off East pronounced to its people that another five year plan would enrich them further, while whole industries literally ground to a halt. And a culturally frivolous West impoverished its workers by forcing them to pay for the things they needed to live in order to enrich an already rich minority. And we were all under threat from nuclear oblivion.
Nuke oblivion was not something we spoke about much in Northern Ireland. We were more worried about cars parked at the side of the road, or wandering in to the wrong pub. Or our parents or children returning from work.
But there seemed to be much more hope at that time, regardless of political reality.
I dont think there is much hope in the entity called "The UK/Britain" nowadays. I feel the only way we are going is into a shiny toilet bowl, polished crystaline by Tories. The basics that kept us from utter devastating poverty are being stripped from us. The NHS , the Welfare State, critical thinking skills...
As Mumford and Sons reveal that the braces and beards were just cover for upper class bigotted nazi views; working class pop culture dies in a fart of boring sameness and pocket entertainment based on very base attitudes and instinct (everything boils down to looking good/odd/unnatural in selfies), where is the united bite back from working class politics, and culture we have had, generationally, for years? Where is the rock n roll socialism, the anarchic punk, or even the Things Can Only Get Better third wayism that ignites hope and music (Brit-pop, though, really was the exploitation of a scene that should have stayed just below the surface, shouting, sneering at power rather than singing alongside it. Chumbawumba knew this... Others made millions from this, and then fucked off...) ? Is the utter lack of young, angry, unifying voices because of the fact "mass pop culture," is now pocket size and so milisecondly disposable that it cant last long enough to carry messages of mass change?
During Thatcher's reign, mass pop culture here could bite back... Punk, post punk, alternative comedy, comics, books, and satire... And even mass events like Live Aid and amazing, fearless journalism that shone a, light on regimes and individuals, who were fucking us over. Nowadays, the media seem to want to legitimise shitty views about race and mental health (see Piers Morgan ), or at the very least compromise between goodness and shite and landing themselves and in turn, us, in a slurry of excrement, rather than expose powerful people and organisations as being wrong, nasty bigotted and self serving.
Boris Johnston, during his tenure as London Mayor rolled out the chitter chatter around a proposed bridge in order to way lay our gaze in case we saw just how shitty he and administration was. Nowadays, bigger mire of shit, bigger bridge as lives are lost during this pandemic and more are threatened as Ireland's peace begins to crumble. Obfuscation and lies are now the only skills needed to govern. If you can do this well, join the Tories. If you can compromise with that, join Starmer's Third Way mark II.
I loathe the Chinese government. Their human rights record and the treatment of Uygur Muslim peoples, their volte face on promises to Hong Kong and their strangulation of its democracy are all dreadful things. But in China, there is hope. A massively expanding wealth and modernity that promises health care and work and a (heavily policed), young, vibrant culture.
I dont want to be China. I really don't want a generation of children scarred by an education system and socially conservative culture that wrecks lives. I dont want a system in which we have no hope to stop "progress" that eats up cultures and creates a bubblegum , generic, policed, compliant safe, fearful, popular culture that does absolute, terminal damage to communities and lives. And I really do think the unchecked industrialisation that drives Chinese (and ours, even though it is grinding to a bureacratic, criminal halt) capitalism is our way to the death of civilisation and many millions of people. China, does not have an equivalent of The Jam, The Clash, The Specials, X-ray Spex or The Slits. And if they arose, they'd soon be in reeducation camps.
But China has hope. Modernity. And it has been redistributing wealth not only in China, but in Africa and other places it is buying up. China is buying and controlling the world.
I'm not sure what I want to say here, other than HOPE really has to be more than a poster from Obama's presidential campaigns. And democracy really must be part of that, and pop culture really needs to be a vehicle taken over by working class people, rather than the daddies money of the Mumfords and the bland, homogenous producers seeding our radios and films, and tv and games, books, civic narrative and Internet.
We need a new way. One that does not use lives up in slave capitalism, and one that does not police hope and dreams and a fight for a better, inclusive , culturally diverse world.
The answers are not China, as they were never in The American Dream, or post war Britain, or Thatcherism or some sort of utopia, as dreamed up by Edward Bellamy or Karl Marx.
Hope is a shout that is heard by everyone, and hope gives confidence to change and retake what has been stolen from us by Thatcher, Cameron, Google, May, Bush, Clinton, Blair, Christopher Columbus, Big Oil, Johnstone, Sony, Murdoch, Amazon, Facebook, Trump and Xi.