Sunday, 19 December 2010

Why Individualism Failed and Woodrow Wilson is a Cunt.

The dust has settled on this year's X Factor and the one with a face like a hobo's shoe has shuffled off for his fifteen minutes of obscurity with a million quid in his back pocket. But it's hard not to see the whole sorry charade as a remnant from the era just past when, in our own British (and ever so slightly shitter) version of the 'american dream' you too could be a pop star and go in 'The Jungle' and eat a kangaroo's penis if you just wanted it it badly enough.

But what did we trade in for this inalienable right? Are we to be the first generation since universal suffrage who's young people genuinely couldn't give a fuck about politics or society - and more importantly how to change politics to make society better?

The 20th century was defined by wars in which millions died to protect the rights of the individual, but having won those wars have we squandered the winnings on the shiny trinkets of individualism? Do we now have to fight all over again for humanity as a whole?

The dangers of overstating the case for the individual can be illustrated by a little game I like to play called "How Much Stuff Is Woodrow Wilson's Fault?"

It's fun because you can actually trace a direct historical link between the actions of the 28th President of the USA and more or less all the worst moments in history from the end of the First World War right up until today:

Using well documented historical events* you can show that directly or indirectly he is either the instigator of or apologist for; America’s late entry to (and subsequent profiteering from) WW1, the failure of the League of Nations, the start of WW2, the global spread of WW2, the Suez Crisis, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Yugoslav Wars in the 1990’s, the Israeli/Palestinian conflicts, Saddam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden, 9/11 and of course racial segregation in America up until 1965. Try it yourself if you don't believe me.

*Most of this can be traced back to his wrecking-ball (albeit well-meaning)
’Fourteen Points’ and his trip to Paris in 1919 to help shape the monumentally ill-conceived 'Treaty of Versailles'. The racial segregation thing is largely down to his failure to repeal the 'Jim Crow Laws' so as not to piss off the wealthy (white) Southerners he was busy filling his administration with.

The point is that yes, the "Schoolmaster of Politics" did have a hand in all those terrible events, but he was by no means alone. Clearly, Hitler, Ho Chi Minh, David Ben Gurian and about 100 million others had parts to play too!!! He was a catalyst which shaped the actions of many generations, across many continents for decades after his death, but it was all these other people - 'humanity' in the widest sense who ultimately perpetrated all these horrific acts. Or "No man is an Island" as John Donne more succinctly put it.

All we can hope for as individuals, is that our actions affect humanity as powerfully as Woodrow Wilson did - although hopefully in a more positive and less bloody manner!!!

In this new age of austerity; post-communism AND post-Thatcherism (in which I include the New Labour era which was essentially Thatcherism Version 2.0) we are undoubtedly also post 'individualism' as a goal in and of itself. Perhaps the time has come to reintegrate the values we won for the individual in the 20th century back into the values we want for society in the 21st.

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