Thursday, May 03, 2012

Welcome to Mr. Micawber's world

I was feeling especially old and curmudgeonly on Tuesday, when over the radio I heard that Quebec students were "protesting austerity". This is the current issue outraging the loudmouthed idlers - university tuition fees are going up a few dollars. But the malcontents joined up with the rest of the morons celebrating Communist New Year (May 1), and despite local variations, the song remained the same worldwide: Europeans protest austerity at May Day rallies; Unions protest austerity at May Day rallies; Europeans Rally to Protest Austerity, etc. etc. You get the picture; do a Google search for "protest austerity" - pages of results. Why, Wikipedia even has an entry entitled "Anti-austerity protests".

Honestly, I don't even recognize this world anymore. When I was young, thrift, which is what is being attacked here, was recognized as a virtue, and not a particularly heroic one. It was considered so basic, and, in a wealthy society like ours, so easy to attain, that it hardly needed mentioning. You confined your spending to the money you actually had, and this was a very minor sort of self-control that people were expected to exercise as a duty to society, like not showing up drunk at church, or not going to the office in your pyjamas.

"Protesting austerity" therefore strikes the same tone to me as "Protesting sobriety". I honestly can't even figure out how people with working minds were able to talk themselves into believing that this is some sort of cause worth loudly shouting about in public. To me it's incomprehensible, and yet the self-righteousness of these protestors indicates that they've never even entertained a moment of doubt about it.

Rather than "protesting austerity", I think these people's true cause is "Protesting Reality". Their method of thinking is like that of Mr. Micawber, minus his endearing humility and good-heartedness.

Or more likely, they've adopted the lifestyle of those P.G. Wodehouse toffs who made it a point never to pay their tradesmen's bills, because it proved that they were true gentlemen who couldn't be bothered fingering actual cash - that was the concern of the lower orders. But as the old Murphy Brown syndrome showed, the degenerate behaviour that works for a tiny decorative fringe of upper-class layabouts is disastrous when transferred downmarket into the ranks of the mere middle and lower middle class. Now we have a big segment of the young middle class who think that their membership to the Drones Club is assured, and are resolutely determined that a life of leisured dilettantism is their birthright, which some vulgarians with a chequebook are maliciously refusing to deliver.


Blogger Priscilla said...

...and they don't even have as much class as in Bertie's little finger.

3:00 pm  
Blogger Dr. Mabuse said...

You just know that if Bertie ended up in a crowd like this, he'd be looking for Jeeves to extricate him ASAP.

5:55 am  
Blogger Anne Kennedy said...

I wish I could Protest Reality on occasion. Who among us doesn't. But what a gift we can give to the world by teaching children Not to do that. What a wretched wretched generation to not bother with this most basic piece of child rearing.

8:15 pm  

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