Monday, June 28, 2010

Going Tribal

Well, any remaining interest I had in the World Cup has gone now. I was finding it difficult enough to muster any enthusiasm, even before England's truly dismal performances. Mind you, as my brother remarked as we watched yesterday's debacle against Germany, and the camera panned over the despairing England fans, pausing at the sight of a pair of them dressed in outlandish costumes, at least we hadn't spent thousands of pounds flying out to South Africa to watch it, only to end up looking a knob end on global television. Of course, I could try supporting another team. But it just wouldn't be the same. As much as I admire the Netherlands and marvel at their cool orange kit, I just can't work up any passion for them. The truth is that football is about tribalism, both at club and national levels. The difference is that, whilst you can choose which club you support, you have no choice in the country you follow. Your support is a form of obligation, derived from national identity. The other day there was an interesting article in The Guardian, by Terry Eagleton, I think, which argued that football had replaced religion as the opiate of the masses. His main thesis was that it gave the masses a sense of identity and belonging that, in the past had been provided by organised religion, political movements and trade unions. As the power of these institutions had been eroded by the resurgent capitalism of the late twentieth century, so football had been promoted as a (harmless) substitute, with the added advantage that, as well as being a means of controlling the masses, also exploits them financially.

Now, whilst I might not buy Eagleton's arguments in their entirety, there's no doubt in my mind that there is a concerted effort going on to undermine the remaining political cohesion of the left. I keep on reading, both on the web and in newspapers, that the old political tribalism needs to be abandoned in the face of a coalition government, with cross-party co-operation being the way ahead. The blinkered perspectives engendered by the old tribal ideologies, it is argued, are a barrier to progress in the modern political climate. Not surprisingly, a lot of this ill-considered bilge is being peddled by 'liberals', Not necessarily fully paid up Liberal Democrats, but certainly people who broadly supported Clegg and are now trying, simultaneously, to condone his cosying up to the Tories, (and their own culpability in allowing a Tory government to take power, through their actions), and align themselves with the left. It's not us who were wrong, they are trying to say, it's all the fault of you intransigent left-wing tribalists who wouldn't completely abandon your principles and form a coalition with us, regardless of ideological concerns. The reality is, that the greatest crime 'New Labour' ever committed was to distance itself so much from its core ideology and electoral base. We've all seen how the effective abandonment of large sections of the working class by their traditional political champions simply results in them turning to more extreme movements like the BNP to try and make their concerns felt. Diluting their core ideology simply resulted in an erosion of political cohesion within the party which, inevitably, led to their eventual defeat at the polls. People just didn't know what they stood for any more. Ideology seems to have become a dirty word in politics of late. But trust me, it is essential for the creation of effective and purposeful political movements and parties. Without it, you end up with opportunists like Nick Clegg. So, there you have it - don't listen to these 'liberals' and their nonsensical talk of an end to political tribalism. It's just another tired attempt to divide and rule the working classes by weakening our political resolve.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home