Friday, 13 January 2012

Circus but no bread

How can anyone in London (or the UK) be sad this year? The caring, sharing ConDem government has a year of thrills and spills ahead for all. The rave reviews are out already - conservative historians like David Starkey are orgasmic about the return of the royal barge to the Thames, a la George I and Handel's 'Music for the Royal Fireworks'. The same Starkey who loudly proclaims the historic wisdom of sweeping London's poor and low paid out of the central areas, as they only ever lived there as servants in the past, and returning these leafy areas to their natural owners - the rich. Expect paeans of praise to the Jubillee with TV royal commentators trying to outdo each other on the splendour of the pageantry and which minor royal wore which stunning fashion creation.

This week, in the Evening Standard, Cameron, fresh from holding a cabinet meeting in an Olympic venue, berated all of those negative folk who have not yet developed Olympic fever - the so called nay sayers. For Cameron, Boris etc, the Olympics are a wonderful opportunity for London and a chance for the city to display its best to the world. The truth is that it is a hucksters and spivs gravy train. With food distribution monopolised by Mc Donalds - currently building the biggest fast food takeaway in the world here - and imported Mercs for VIPs to drive around in, a wrap around one of the principal stadia sponsored by Union Carbide (responsible for not compensating thousands of victims of industrial accident in Bhopal) the whole thing is an abomination. It is a corporate feast, where the Tories and their friends will dine off the people of London and the UK and the much talked  of legacy will be negligible.

But more importantly, both of these events fulfill the role of bread and circuses in the ancient Roman Empire - by distracting and amusing the masses, while the Caesars and senators get on with the business of fighting wars and ruling the Empire. Boris, as a classicist, will understand this well. But at least the Romans also offered the plebs bread. This lot are busily demolishing the welfare state, killing off the public sector and driving millions into unemployment and poverty. This will be a year of circuses without the bread. And the City and the government will carve up the profits, while the multitude are transported by dancing acrobats and splendid parades. As the Latin puts it: "fallaces sunt rerum species" or "appearances can be deceptive".

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