Thursday, 26 October 2017

Macbeth, T.S Eliot and the Politics of 2017 a guide to Trump and Farage..looking back

Macbeth, T.S Eliot and the Politics of 2017 a guide to Trump and Farage

Shakespeare`s Macbeth has haunted me all my life. I first studied it in 1973 for my English Literature “O” level. It cropped up again when I was studying Literature and Philosophy some 5 years ago. Its a long time between being 15 and being 58. Yet the play speaks to me in so many layered and significant ways Those 43 years between have shown me the fragility, the weakness, the disturbance, the shadow, the fear and the dispair that can exist within us all. I have seen all those features of the Play wherever I have been. I have seen the characters from Macbeth in the places I have worked , in the political campaigns and political parties that I have been involved with and with individuals and outlooks I have come across.. I have felt the despair myself at times. At 15 these words struck me and at times the barb has been deeper
“To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.”
The ambition, the ruthlessness, the bullying I have seen it all. Lady Macbeth is in all of us. Her ambition hides the emptiness she feels and we cope with those times by creating the Lady Macbeth Character. We deny it but it is there
“Glamis thou art, and Cawdor, and shalt be
What thou art promis'd. Yet do I fear thy nature,
It is too full o' th' milk of human kindness
To catch the nearest way. “
We rationalise , we hide from ourselves, we say what is done is done and yet we know iotherwiseHow now,
“my lord, why do you keep alone,
Of sorriest fancies your companions making,
Using those thoughts which should indeed have died
With them they think on? Things without all remedy
Should be without regard: what's done, is done.”
Ambition, allows us to drive ourselves on, the witchfinders and fought with monsters in the abyss. The problem was that the monsters fought back and the abyss looked into him. The realisation that we are all broken, all imperfect frightens us. If we turn into Crusaders fearing and hunting the devil within we hide from our inner fears.
“Stars, hide your fires; Let not light see my black and deep desires.”
You can see this in the monstrous ego of Trump. You can see it in Farage and I wonder if in five years time we will see the destruction of Farage, Gove and Johnson , their reputation destroyed by the unveiling of Brexit implications as powerfully as Iraq destroyed Tony Blair. The jury is out let us see the unforeseen black swans landing in the years to come. In 2016 the implications of globalisation destroy the incomes of the 75th to 90th percentile of incomes around the world
This was the group who left education at 16, did not attend further education and are who flocked to Trump and Farage This is now the group feeding the popular Right across Europe and North AmericaThey will become Electoral fodder for the Macbeths to be and the Banquos to be murdered. Unless the neo-liberal elite end the right accept a globalisation that is based on income equality and equal access to power I fear that the tumbrils will be oiled and wheeled out.
As for myself I cant get the words of T. S Eliot s third verse of the Journey of the Magi out of my mind ..perhaps its merely that its early January but I dont know......

“We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods”
Let me conclude with another two quotes.
'Oh, it is easy for the one who stands outside the prison-wall of pain to exhort and teach the one who suffers”
Aeschylus, from Prometheus Bound
“But the worst enemy you can meet will always be yourself; you lie in wait for yourself in caverns and forests. Lonely one, you are going the way to yourself! And your way goes past yourself, and past your seven devils! You will be a heretic to yourself and witch and soothsayer and fool and doubter and unholy one and villain. You must be ready to burn yourself in your own flame: how could you become new, if you had not first become ashes?”
Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra

Macbeth tells us of the human condition, it describes the worst we can become and it is important, frightening and illuminating what it tells me of others and myself. Particularly of the political world and the menagerie of individuals we meet there. There are monsters out there.......

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