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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Thursday, March 26, 2009
    Dead issues and star singles
    Seemed to be a lot of sozzled pedestrians lurching along the pavements of Berry Street this afternoon, stoned guys interrogating people for twenty pence at bus stops by the bombed out church, bug-eyed and bickering Big Issue Sellers on Bold Street. Great to see that there's life in all its fullness at the top end of town, a world away from the sterile, security-patrolled retail marts of Liverpool One. And in News From Nowhere, just one pound bought me a very good pamphlet, Last Orders for the Local? Working class Space v. the market place.

    The anonymous author traces the decline in authentic, 'lived' history alongside the corresponding rise of heritaged pubs, post-industrial tourist sites and media extravaganzas such as the recent Miners Strike anniversary documentaries. Written in 2001 the pamphlet's critique of such things still holds.
    “How long does the battle last?” I asked. “It starts at 12.30 and ends at 3.30, but there’s an interval for lunch at 1.30,” replied the woman with the Coal Not Dole badge. We all laughed nervously.’ (Guardian, 21/6/01.)

    A pathetic parody of th[e] repressed desire [to finally live history and no longer merely consume it] was recently played out on the 15th anniversary of perhaps the bloodiest picket line conflict of the Miners Strike; the Battle of Orgreave was re-enacted near to the original site. Filmed for Channel 4 TV by a Hollywood director, and with ex-pickets and cops from the original battle as extras (but ‘real’ actors playing the ‘heroes’ of the event such as Arthur Scargill – typically bourgeois history as the history of leaders), the event was painstakingly reconstructed from media footage of the time. As always, once the event is safely far enough in the past, the media that acted in its own class interests by lying and distorting the truth in the real time of the class struggle, feels confident enough to now reveal a somewhat more truthful version of events; now that it no longer has any consequences. This is a sure sign of the ruling class’s confidence that these are dead issues, definitively resolved in their favour. They want us to believe that class struggle is a thing of the past. Again, the colonisation process at work; get the defeated to dramatise their defeat as entertainment for the victors. Despite a bit of temporary flattering attention and extra pocket money for the locals, who really gains from this farce? No one but the ruling class and their media. The claims that the event was therapeutic (or “healing”) for some are predictable – but what does it help them come to terms with? Only the acceptance of their defeat and all its consequences since.
    All this on the day that a coterie of ex-players and local star musicians launched a single to mark the twentieth anniversary, next month, of Hillsborough. On the North West news tonight one of the participants was keen to assert that this project is 'not political'. Well, if it isn't then what is the point of it, really? Therapy? An acceptance of defeat?