Sunday, 12 April 2009

Brown's weasel words

According to the BBC News website, our increasingly bemused and bemusing Prime Minister has come up with a splendid new vote-winning election promise: COMPULSORY VOLUNTEERS!

He does not, of course, mean compulsory VOLUNTARY service, but compulsory UNPAID service. Some difference there, I should have thought.

One of my earliest run-ins with authority was when, as a wartime schoolboy, I was sent to a boarding school which proudly proclaimed that all activities – apart from lessons – were “voluntary”.

In practice, if you refused to take part in weekday games [the head was cricket-mad] or the Sunday cadet corps, you were relegated to an especially disagreeable gym session conducted by an utterly incompetent master.

I strenuously objected to this, as I considered it to be arrant humbug.

After long tussles with the head, and the intervention of my parents, I was grudgingly permitted to spend my Sunday afternoons on my own as I wished – usually going for solitary walks.

I considered the concept of “voluntary compulsion” or “compulsory volunteering” a totally dishonest and bogus one. It was dishonest and bogus then, and it is dishonest and bogus now. But it is precisely what we have come to expect from New Labour.

They should call it Youth Conscription, and have done with it.

Come back, George Orwell. We need you.


Longrider said...

They should call it "slavery" because that is precisely what it is.

zola a social thing said...

Still grumpy I see Anticant ( even after those hot cross buns).
You might take solace as you are one of those impulsive volunteers that blog and flog the hubris.

Who the fuck needs charity when we find hope and faith through the blogs?

Bodwyn Wook said...

There are Obama murmurings of this same drool. It IS poignant and appealing in terms of our late-modern history, too. However, I am a libertarian and, so, think it's as well all rot. But if indeed you are going to have a nation-state (although this in the post-modern age itself is dead anachronistic), then you do stand in need of these little rituals of affective over-stimulus, coercion and national, emotional identity building: WPA programmes, the CCC, s great, big fat War to finish it all off. (And, afterward, the young all scamper off into the the bushes, to LOSE 'strength through joy'.) The essential emotional and social need is human, it has been gratified in past ages for instance by the religion hoax, and now the (preferably race-based, or anyway 'cultural') nationalisms. Only the state show is much outdone nowadays by footer, the celebrity cults and the nonstop private offers on-line, of divers dubious doings, all delightfully dirty if not exactly dirt cheap. /Herr/ Braun is trying to breath life into a corpse, MR Jacqui Smith namely....

Anonymous said...

They should bring back national service, that's what they should do. Now I'm too old for it myself, I mean.

Bodwyn Wook said...

That's right, all us old beatniks and hippies are now copping to the fact that "national unity" can't just be based on old scratchy vinyl of the Rolling Dipshits, er, Stones and so on, plus bitching about Vietnam or Baghdad or whatever...

MerkinOnParis said...

The youngsters in my area who are being 'offered' CBT in an effort to massage the unemployment figures have a name for it.

They call it Compulsory Basic Training.