When I was in my formative elder adolescence, and then at uni, and then out of uni, Thatcher was there to tell us fudge was bad, conviction politics (read fundamentalist politics) was good, and society didn’t exist.
I don’t know if we’ve seen the results of that over the years; I have my own opinions, mind, and I’d be happy to share them with anyone offline.
Today, though, isn’t the day.
Today should be the day we do little more than grieve. Except, in a 24/7 news ecosystem, this merciful quality isn’t only strained but rather stained too.
Anyhow. This tweet came my way just now:
I’m really not sure how we could have more surveillance, either. Or more anti-terrorist legislation. Or more privacy invasion.
And it seems, in a way, only in a slight and very moderate way, that what’s really under attack here isn’t so much the concept of freedom of speech as the right to muddle through. The right to be very English about things: to be eccentric without having a psychiatric condition attached to one; to be unsure of oneself and overly polite in reaction to stuff; to dance around with airy-fairy language instead of getting painfully and brutally to the point …
(Oh yes, it’s a self-portrait I know. But hey-ho, we writers do that occasionally.
Didn’t you know?)
So. What I’m not saying is Thatcher herself was a terrorist. What I am saying is she was a fundamentalist of sorts: essentially, against the fudging of issues that makes for civilised dialogue, progression and development. All the things I really did begin to treasure as I was brought up – as I ultimately grew up – between two or three grand civilisations.
If there’s something that today’s far more violent fundamentalisms are losing us – and here I include, of course, the fundamentalisms that leap on all terrorist act to ratchet up the screws of a Big Brother we thought already ratcheted impossibly to the max – it’s this right to fudge, to get along, to muddle about an issue, to move slowly towards other ways of seeing, thinking and doing.
To have that right to contain multitudes; to change one’s mind; to rethink powerful issues; to prioritise the apparently tiny over the allegedly huge, and still come out on top … these ways, and so many others of supposedly negligible virtues, have long been attacked by those parties who only see positives in violent assertion.
Instead, then, of focussing on the downsides of fundamentalism, perhaps – as the civilised beings we are looking to remain – we should focus on the upsides of getting by.
I can’t, for example, imagine a killer-robot machine of 21st century terror ever choosing that road to walk their existences down – and so this, for me, if not for any other reason, is as good a justification as any to promote the advantages of fudge.