In Ezra Pound’s early poem of rhyming couplets, “L’Homme Moyen Sensuel” (1916) he takes a pop at the crassness, as he saw it, of American culture:
The constitution of our land, O Socrates
Was made to incubate such mediocrities
Written shortly before he decamped to British shores the poem attacked the narrow-mindedness and what one might term a lack of intellectual and aesthetic vigour in the American psyche. Pound went on to do much to promote the work of James Joyce, T.S.Eliot and Ernest Hemingway for which we have much to be grateful. His later years were, unfortunately, less distinguished being that he professed eager support for Mussolini and Hitler, broadcast anti-American and anti-Semitic rhetoric during WW2 and was charged with treason in 1945. He was lucky not to have followed the same 8 o’clock walk that William Joyce – Lord Haw Haw – undertook after his trial. Instead he was incarcerated for many years before being released in 1958
Pound’s poem came to mind this morning – on Trump’s victory – when there was much discussion in the televised media about what had just happened. Readers of GP are well versed in the media style of obfuscation, omission and barely concealed propaganda that now passes for journalism. What struck me most forcibly was the little sense of understanding that these professional commentators and journalists brought to bear on the result of the American election. It had already been evidenced in the discussion after Brexit – and that continues to this day. One of the Pavlovian responses used both by well-paid commentators in the media studios and those in the Clinton camp was that Trump won because he appealed to white, male and uneducated voters. Where have we seen that uneducated adjective before? It was the stick used by the Remainers and their media camp followers with which to beat the Leavers. We know best. Why didn’t you listen to us? You must be thick. Uneducated. Dim. Male. White.
Oh how the white male has been castigated and become a demonic figure of hate within his own lands. As Ezra Pound, so do our media types fulminate against the direct descendants of men and women who worked and fought to protect the country of their birth and in which they had pride. Tied firstly to a rural economy and then subjugated to a life in the industrial heartlands, both John (and Jane) Doe and John (and Jane) Bull struggled to provide for their families. A significant part of the UK male generation wiped out in the First World War left those same families still struggling throughout the 20’s and 30’s – until they were called on once again to defend these shores. Their opportunities to better themselves or widen their cultural/aesthetic horizons during this period were severely limited at best or non-existent at worst but they retained a pride in their country and that unfathomable and indefinable essence of knowing where they belonged. Be it music hall, pub, working men’s club, cinema or bingo, theirs was a robust and cohesive community in which they invested their work, their leisure and their lives.
Now the sons and daughters, the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of these people, those very same people who physically created the wealth of this country are being censured and excoriated for their presumption in knowing what they want and what is best for them. They are chastised for not seeing the global picture, reproached for not believing in global warming (while they have to turn down the expensive heating – courtesy of the green tax – to save money) and then vilified for deigning to vote the wrong way. Of course, the wrong way is just a descriptor for not voting how the media wanted you to vote. Buoyed by salaries forcibly scalped from taxpayers on pain of imprisonment and sucked from subscribers bank accounts, feted by politicians and “celebrities” and cocooned within a bubble that is filled with like-minded Common Purpose acolytes, our television media journalists and commentators puff and preen themselves into figures of grotesque pomposity that gift to us their pearly words of wisdom and opinion. Peston, Marr, Coburn, Smith, Robinson, Humphreys, Wark, Davies, O’Brien and any number of correspondents and “journalists” – I use the term reluctantly as the evidence shows that few of them subscribe to the ethics of journalism that I know – both here and abroad blag on and on, browbeat and interrupt, bully and bluster, only intent in getting their views across, ensuring that you have conformed to what they have to say. Because they are all white, male (mostly) and above all, dear readers, educated. And they don’t live anywhere near where you, I and 99% of their viewers and listeners do.
So, it is doubly sweet, in this year of Grace, 2016, to watch these precious souls become firstly puzzled and then angry and finally to see their tears flow in a cascade of incomprehension. They flow to the floor where they puddle in a stinking deliquescent saccharine before evaporating into a putrid miasma that separates them even further from their viewers. They cannot see nor comprehend the fundamental shifts that are taking place outside their very windows. Theirs is a safe existence, untroubled by any possible replacement in their jobs by lower paid immigrants, flown hither and thither in business class, taxied around the capitals of the world at your expense and, most blessed of all, they live within the sound of Lady Nugee’s dinner parties where, together and in concert, they can mock and snigger at the stupid voters who allowed Brexit to come about and Trump to become President of the United States. And best – worst – of all, they will be back on the TV and radio tomorrow to do it all again and will still have no idea why no-one is listening to them any more.