The writing on the wall: Diabolical dialectics

Submitted by on 9 October, 2002 - 2:06

It's certainly been a week for things turning into their opposite.

  • "There is such a thing as society" (now where have we heard that before?)
  • Oppressed Gentlefolk
  • Not just toffs
  • Everyone's favourite BISHOP
  • And Fruitfully

"There is such a thing as society" (now where have we heard that before?)

"All fixed, fast, frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with his sober senses his real conditions of life and his relations with his kind." David Willetts, recognising, contrary to Margaret Thatcher's assertion, that there is such a thing as society.

Oppressed Gentlefolk

His Ranting High-horse is at it again. Country folk are new oppressed. They need to take the example of "gays and blacks" and organise themselves.

It's certainly true that some country people have appalling lives. Public transport is almost non-existent (it's uneconomical); health and social facilities, even shopping facilities, are sparse and hard to reach; agricultural workers often have to live like serfs in homes owned by their employers - there is a real lack of affordable housing; agriculture is second only to the building industry in its appalling safety record, with hundreds of needless deaths and crippling injuries. Small farmers, especially on hill and marginal land, were almost wiped out by the foot-and-mouth epidemic last year.

The Countryside Alliance march was billed as the biggest since the Tolpuddle Martyrs march or even the Peasants Revolt. To remind you, the Tolpuddle Martyrs were agricultural workers who were deported to Australia for organising one of the first trade unions. The demands of the Peasants' Revolt were an end to serfdom and for greater freedom of labour. The people against whom these great revolts were organised were the big land owners and the feudal aristocracy. In the bad old days, this small group of tyrants owned all the land.

Whereas now, 189,000 families own 40 million acres, which is 88% of the land in Britain, and the other 59 million people live on just 4.4 million acres. While each household pays on average £550 a year Council Tax, the major landowners enjoy subsidies through hand-outs in the form of the Common Agricultural Policy to the tune of £4 billion each year. This is the equivalent of £12,169 for each family every year. Grinding oppression indeed!

No wonder the Duke of Westminster, Britain's richest man (£3 million a year in grants from the CAP) felt the need to help out with a £1 million loan to the CA, or that the Duke of Northumberland allowed the family home, Alnwick Castle, to be used for a £50-a-head fund-raiser. The Duke owns land and property worth £800 million..

Info: Mark Metcalf, one of the authors of "The Rich at Play - foxhunting, land ownership and the Countryside Alliance" £4 ISBN 0 9543014 0 4 Available from RPM Publications, BCM Box 3328, London WC1N 3XX and also online at )

Not just toffs
But it wasn't just "Tory toffs" on the march.
"In a carefully co-ordinated activity, the British National Party was at the Countryside March in force to show Countrysiders that there is a party which cares about the countryside. More than 70 BNP activists distributed more than 46,000 copies of a specially produced paper - The Countrysider. The reception from country folk was uniformly friendly and BNP teams struggled to keep up with the demand from the marchers.

The sun shone, the mood of the BNP teams and marchers was cheerful and the colourful array of flags and banners stood out against the green of Barbour jackets and hats.

The day was described by party members as "excellent" and "fantastic" with The Countrysider going like hot cakes. Two activists at the Embankment were hassled by CA stewards with one shouting at the marchers: "They're the BNP, they're the BNP!" The reply from one lady pocketing her Countrysider : "Good to see them".

Or this from Indymedia:
"The president of Birkbeck college students' union was attacked during the CA march. A marcher smacked him over the head with a horn, shouting 'You paki cunt!'. The cops were on hand and arrested the attacker who was charged with a racially motivated attack (this wasn't mentioned by the media in their reports of the four arrest total)." Not much solidarity among the oppressed then?

Everyone's favourite

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, "everyone's favourite bishop, human, genial, collaborative, imposing", (according to the Tablet, a Catholic newspaper) is helping police with their enquiries into paedophile priests. The leader of the Catholic Church in England, when Bishop of Brighton and Arundel, failed to raise concerns about a known paedophile priest, who was finally jailed for five years in the mid-1990s for serious sexual offences.

They included abusing a boy with learning difficulties and other children as young as 11. The priest was allegedly transferred between churches when allegations came to light, but the police were not informed at the time. They have now referred it to the Crown Prosecution Service.

And Fruitfully

"Turning up the heat can quickly change a [genetically altered] male fruit fly from heterosexual to homosexual", a neuroscientist in California reported recently.

When the heat was raised to 86 degrees Fahrenheit, these rewired males began courting sexually receptive females less and started preferring other males more, approaching them with behaviours such as vibrating wings, curled abdomens, and licking of genitalia.

The male fruit flies also lined up in circles and chains resembling a conga dance and, on occasion, even reciprocated other males' sexual advances with attempted copulation.

At 97 degrees, they exhibited green wellie-like protuberances and began pursuing foxes. At 104 degrees, they started writing letters to the Prime Minister and claimed to be both oppressed and have a divine right to rule. It is not recorded what happened at higher temperatures.

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