Sunday, June 21, 2009

Beatrix Campell, Tim Blair, OBEs, feminist Marxist republican thinking and Mollie deserves her ribbons

Some days it has to be said Tim Blair performs a worthy service to the world. Live with it.

If I hadn't been trawling his over full intertubes space in search of news of loons - in much the same way as I read Archie for news of Mehitabel the Cat - I wouldn't have come across Beatrix Campbell's explanation of why she's accepting an OBE.

It is - in the one moment of clarity - entitled Why I accepted my OBE.

While it's old news to the world, I was distracted by family matters and missed it on its original outing, but still it's such an enthralling experience, I felt I had to add it to the honor roll of true loonacy. The sub header hints at the flavor, the tang, the sheer exuberant nuttiness of the piece:

Being conferred a Queen's honour means my country needs me – a republican with politics rooted in Marxism and feminism

Oh dear lord, everything about it is so ... delicious. I hardly know where to begin. I feel this deep lust to quote every word, to lick them and fondle them and pash them in a sordid lesbian embrace worthy of Fellini's Satyricon. Let's start with the entree:

Once upon a time, a long time ago, I was chatted up by an intergalactic film star. "No, No, No," I said. "I love women, not men." "Yes, Yes, Yes," he insisted. It was one of those moments – apparently an offer I couldn't refuse.

I did refuse. But when I told my female friends, they all hollered: "You should have done it! Then you could have told us all about him!"

That moment came to mind recently when I was offered an OBE. This was an offer I didn't refuse. Not that refusal wasn't my first reaction. And I didn't accept it because I wanted to view the inside of a palace or see the shoes of the Queen or because I could give my nearest and dearest a day out and then dine out on it.

An intergalactic film star? Well fuck me dead, lesbianism at its finest. But why in a land where the king in waiting is an aspirational tampon am I surprised by this conflation of lesbianism and the desire, nay the flagrant lust for an OBE? Or the coy reference to The Godfather with an offer you can't refuse? Actually sweetie I could refuse an offer from the Mafia. Perhaps even the Queen.

No never, surely not the Queen.

But this is nothing, as Dustin Hoffman was wont to say in Wag the Dog. So what's the real reason for getting down and doing a boogie with the Queen.

The OBE was conferred for service to equal opportunities. A noble reason. But it isn't even this. It's a signifier of something else – that a kind of radicalism is recognised as necessary.

Noble? Signifier? Huh? You mean you accept an award from a Queen your republican spirit deems to be unnecessary to show that your radicalism is necessary? Um, isn't that a tad insecure?

Um, okay, what else you got to offer?

My politics comes from Marxism and feminism; it's republican, it's gay and it's green. It isn't about "good works", but its works are all towards the good of society. And that can't be realised without the most radical transformations. It belongs to networks whose mission is to create ways to empower the most marginalised and to call power to account.

Oh dearie me, can it get any better? Can the cackle count exceed eleven? Calling power to account by going off to bend the knee to the Queen? Empowerment? Radical transformations? Networks? Missions? Good works? A good society? Delusional madness of an elevated tampon kind? Gibbering baying loonacy at the height of the full moon? 

But yes, amazingly, inscrutably, it does get better:

For sure, the political establishment has not adopted a benign tolerance for those who seek its undoing. But there is a recognition that the movements to transform relations between genders and generations and to confront the causes of inequality are indispensable.

Wow. Thank god handing out an OBE to a blithering idiot isn't a sign of benign tolerance for those seeking its undoing. Why am I ineluctably reminded of George Orwell's Animal Farm?

Then they filed back to the farm buildings and halted in silence outside the door of the farmhouse. That was theirs too, but they were frightened to go inside. After a moment, however, Snowball and Napoleon butted the door open with their shoulders and the animals entered in single file, walking with the utmost care for fear of disturbing anything. They tiptoed from room to room, afraid to speak above a whisper and gazing with a kind of awe at the unbelievable luxury, at the beds with their feather mattresses, the looking-glasses, the horsehair sofa, the Brussels carpet, the lithograph of Queen Victoria over the drawing-room mantelpiece. They were just coming down the stairs when Mollie was discovered to be missing. Going back, the others found that she had remained behind in the best bedroom. She had taken a piece of blue ribbon from Mrs. Jones's dressing-table, and was holding it against her shoulder and admiring herself in the glass in a very foolish manner. The others reproached her sharply ...

Ah yes, the power of the ribbon. But let's return to the theme of oppression through wearing ribbons:

This is not self-evident – the ethic of the last three decades of parliamentary politics has promoted the opposite, they are a riposte to the new social movements. And for all the hype about Blair's babes somehow signifying a new era of feminism-friendly governance, in its bones New Labour is misogynistic.

Deeply misogynistic. So craven they hand out gongs to those that abuse them. But these gongs, they're surely somehow transcendental, above the common ruck and mud of these wretched folk?

The survival of an honours system clothed in royalism and imperialism is a reproach to New Labour's craven sentiment about pomp and power. It's timidity about reforming the constitution and its indulgent accommodation of the monarchy encourages the belief that these institutions are somehow natural, that radical renewal is too painful – that powerful people's feelings would be hurt.

Which perhaps is why the most effective reproach to craven sentiment about pomp and power is to accept the OBE, so as to devalue it, by seeing it handed it to a lowly feminist Marxist republican. But wait is that a misplaced apostrophe in the "it's"? No mind, that too is a devastating indictment of the conventionality of bourgeois thinking, and the need to embrace the socialism of George Bernard Shaw, at least insofar as it applies to much needed spelling reforms. Even if that noble reform hurts people's feelings. We need radical renewal and a willingness to abuse the language as a painful radical way forward.

But somehow and even so and thus, I'm feeling a tad contradicted. What to say?

That creates a contradiction in moments like this. Looking at the community of great feminists who have been "gonged", there is a pattern of unyielding creative challenge. They're not ladies of a certain kind who've mellowed into sweet old girls – they're women who just don't give up, who've deployed their politics and their cleverness to change what can be known, what can be done, who we can be.

Oh yes, indeed. Not for a moment have they yielded their republican fervor.

These gongs announce: their country needs them!

So why do I feel I need a valium?

If there's a crisis about getting gonged, it is because the archaism of our constitution hails values that are inimical to the values being celebrated by the gong.

So that's what disappearing up  my fundament means. I never knew that, but now I know, and the knowing is good and true and sweet and just, you archaic, cynical, sneering ponces. Whom I should add I have no doubt are men.

By clinging to symbols and rituals that belong to a cruel imperial order the government compromises the gonged.

Oh chortle and stroke me with a vibrating dildo. Can it get better than this? Can it reach a triumphant, climactic, orgasmic conclusion?

You ask yourself the question: how can I accept anything from this horrible imperial regime?

And yet, getting gonged confers recognition of "citizens" contributions' to a good society – in my case equality – and the gesture affirms our necessity; the radicals – not the royalists – are the best of the British.

Yes it can, you cynics, yes it can. Radicals are the best of the British!

And now as the fresh glow leaves me, and my flushed cheeks take on once again a pale republican Marxist feminist hue, I have an overwhelming case of the munchies. I've immediately ransacked the house, put on a Noel Coward record, settled down to devour a cucumber sandwich, sipped a very dry sherry, and now relish the post-coital glow. An excruciating experience like this comes only once or twice in a lifetime, much like an OBE.

There will always be an England I realized, as I drifted in a warm cloud of unknowing, and there will always be English twits.

Now stand to attention and sing along with me:

This is England
The land of illegal dances
This is England
Land of a thousand stances
This is England
This knife of Sheffield steel
This is England
This is how we feel

No come on now duckie not that you gits. Wrong record. Forget The Clash, it goes like this:

I will not cease from mental fight
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
'Til we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant land
'Til we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant land

Oh you radical Billie Blake you!

Provided I get my OBE! You revolutionary feminist Marxist greenie you!

Sadly there was one gentleman who didn't understand, possibly because he hadn't been given enough ideological or toilet training:

Dear God......good thing I haven't eaten in the last hour or two.

Dearie me, what an unfair vomitous Napoleonic Snowball he is. Remember Animal Farm?

"Will there still be sugar after the Rebellion?"
"No," said Snowball firmly. "We have no means of making sugar on this farm. Besides, you do not need sugar. You will have all the oats and hay you want."
"And shall I still be allowed to wear ribbons in my mane?" asked Mollie.
"Comrade," said Snowball, "those ribbons that you are so devoted to are the badge of slavery. Can you not understand that liberty is worth more than ribbons?"

Fair crack of the prawn Snowball. Let Mollie wear her ribbon. It's the right, the revolutionary Marxist feminist republican thing to do. If nothing else as a sterling example of Edward de Bono's lateral thinking in action ...

(Below: a painting entitled Molly done as one of the color pages for the Easton Press edition of George Orwell's Animal Farm. Apart from the wonderful portrait of the blue ribbons, I fear I will not be able to read this edition of Animal Farm, but instead must stay awake at night wondering if Molly is indeed Mollie, or vice versa. Or is that just vice?)

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