Friday, May 12, 2006

State & Citizen: Then versus Now

Opening lecture detailed the far remove at which the State was held from the individual in Britain before the Great War. You can find the same thesis argued in this history. One of the radical consequences of the First World War, and of the Modernist movement, was, as stated, the involvement of the State in individual lives to an increasing extent.

Immediate evidence for the degree to which the State's responsibility is presently conceived can be found in this article from today's Vancouver Province.

Its author, one Joey Thompson, reacts to the dragging death in Maple Ridge of gas station attendant Grant De Patie ..... by blaming the government for not having a law: in effect conceiving of the State as capable of preventing all human tragedy if it would just pass enough laws or apply sufficent taxation.

Whether this fundamental faith in the omnipotency of government is laudable or damnable is outside the purview of our course. What concerns us is how utterly alien Ms. Thompson's mentality would have been to people in Britain before World War One.

To them, it would be be as if Ms. Thompson read of the serial decisions made by the teenaged Darnell Pratt to (i.) drink to excess, (ii.) steal a car, (iii.) drive impaired, (iv.) drive without licence, (v.) steal petrol, (vi.) deliberately run an attendant over, and (vii.) remain indifferent to the screams while he slowly grinded the innocent man's face, limbs, and chest to the bone under the car over a five-mile drive toward an unimaginably agonising death .... and then after she had considered the matter, Ms. Thompson were to decide that the blame belongs to the athletic & administrative incompetancy of the Vancouver Canucks.

Update: via the indispensable Arts & Letters Daily, a timely and somewhat biting article from Britain's Telegraph developing this topic, with the lede:
Despite being richer, people are not happier than in earlier times. Only government can solve the problem, with a more caring attitude. And more therapists... more>>>>

1 comment:

pigeon said...

White Feather reflection
The combination of patriotism, the need for men at the front, and the prior oppression inflicted on the women of Britain (patriarchy)was just what the war needed. The army could not rely on the first two conditions alone. To get the men out, it was necessary to utilize the female guilt trip. And, like Compton MacKenzie opined, they guilted their unappreciative, abusive, or just plain uninspiring bed buddies into the war and out of their hair. Let the Sisterhood prevail! I wonder if, for a second, the thought of "gender-cide" warmed their hearts? Or if women in the Industrialized world had ever come so close to overseeing their own lives? Did they ever dare to wonder at what cost their temporary freedom came?