Thursday, February 03, 2011

A little interlude from my interesting past

I was thinking today about all this turmoil in Egypt and what I expect will be the imminent departure of Hosni Mubarak, but does anyone wonder what ever becomes of such past bêtes noir when they have been ousted?

I am going back now to an incident in my history when I was a student at Warwick University. It was considered in terms of the student body to be a rebellious and a revolutionary body, there was the famous occupation of 1969, and the occupation of 1975, still recorded as the longest in student history and I was part of that and so was Brian Deer. (Yes that one)

Well Brian Deer and his ignominious later career excepted I am taken back in my memory to a Christmas party in  75 I think. Earlier in the day I had been on a field trip organised by Lincoln Allison (now retired I believe) which included a little tour around those parts of Warwickshire I was well familiar with but my fellow politics students not being natives were not. Anyway forgetting the Dassets spattered with snow, and the journey back in a rickety car with a failing alternator (what is new there) I can recall ending up in one of those Victorian Villas in Leamington, inhabited by my personal tutor Prof. Malcolm Anderson. That was a curious situation because everybody was there, and it was there I met with General Yakubu (Jack) Gowon. This was indeed an odd situation because the student's union had vehemently protested against his presence at the University, yet this was a politics department party, and everybody was there, lefties included, protesters and all. (yeah me too)

How does a twenty year old rebel react to being face to face with a bogey such as Jack Gowon? Well it I don't know, I am glad I have never met George Dubya or Tony Blair because they might scare me.

There is much said about the banality of Evil and I can well ask is my MP a guy I know quite familiarly as  Bob Ainsworth any more evil than Jack Gowon? Who has brought about the greatest body count? We just don't know do we? Bomber Harris of WW2 fame maybe, and where does that morality leave us?

For that matter before we heap on the guilt consider, you and I will never know our own body count when the final judgement comes. Should I never have eaten Cadbury's chocolate, and ought I not to  bank with Barclay's you might guess the score....

I guess Jack Gowon was civil and a gentleman, how could I hate him? I cannot imagine what our encounter might have been in  circumstances other than those in which we met. Never mind that you cannot imagine in those days can you? I was dressed for a "civilised" party and I  was wearing my combat fatigues, very Fidel Castro. I can recall Jack helping me on with my coat at the end of the party. He picked up my jacket and found it heavy and he said to me "what have you got in your pockets gold bars?"  It makes you wonder doesn't it?

Apart from that I did have a keen political debate with him, he was at the time a Freshman and I was in my second year. That was an amazing debate that I recall, me a working class nobody talking to this guy who had headed a nation and been involved in a controversial war, and I lectured him about politics, and he listened and said that he had a lot to learn. In retrospect I didn't know a lot at all but there I was in conversation with an international pariah of the time and I was introducing him to new concepts he was not aware of as a de facto head of state. I mean what does that feel like, I was heavily into Hobbes at that time, very relevant.

Hey Jack where are you now? It is easy to write him off as a monster, but when I met him he was a human as anybody else, there was no aura of evil, if anything there was an aura of naievity. I cannot make a judgement and say he was/is any more evil than Tony Blair, or Colonel Gadaffi or Larry Arnold.

And where is he now? Well believe it or not he has been and is in the latter days involved in what would generally be considered humanitarian causes, so we might consider nobody is beyond redemption, hey even me.

I do not think by any means Jack Gowon was the most evil person I ever met, he may have been involved in decisions and acts that killed thousands, but your next door neighbour may be filled with a hate that given the opportunity would do as bad, is there really any moral difference?


Erbkranker said...

No there isn't.

And little seeds of evil are scattered all around us waiting for a shower of utilitarianism to germinate.

Springtime is here.

The author said...

Bist du meschuggene mein freund und mein freud, mein fried und feind, Autistischens wirkligkeit und kunstlichkeit, vergisst mich nicht veillecht des gesamtheit verloren und verlasst?

Umlauts notwithstanding.

r.b. said...

I studied this a bit. I had to google to figure out who you were talking about. Makes one see that it is being in the right place at the right time that determines much of our lives. A leader, or a student. It's unbelievable that it is the same man. Yet you seemed to be at ease with that.

Forgive me, this has nothing to do with this particular blogpost, and I am ashamed to ask, but it is for my son, who is trying to write an essay. You spoke once of idea-mapping tool you used to write for college papers, I believe. Ben is creative sort, and could use that tool. Could you redirect me to it, so that he could develop some ease in writing? I went through you posts for 2 years, but must have overlooked it. Thank you. Rose

r.b. said...

Oh, I think I found it. It was "free mind" , with a picure of a butterfly on the icon.

Erbkranker said...

There can be no way a man of your calibre can have said what I think you've just said, so it's going to be a word-for-word job with the help of the Goethe Institute.

Erbkranker said...

Du? Good Gracious, you'll be ogling my wife next.

I'm certainly not mad and I have the paperwork to prove it. But then you have the paperwork to prove a larger part of the DSM is fictitious; so what's to be proud in not suffering from something that probably doesn't exist?

Queen Victoria wouldn't seem quite the same if all that Black got a DSM code. And what about that crackpot-loony king that sent his dead wife on a tour of England?

700 years later we still haven't forgotten his particularly embarrassing breakdown, have we?

Recasting you as an over-achieving Orang Utan or Rolf Harris does not make us enemies.

I'm currently suffering massively from arseholes making my life a misery, so I'll (today at least) allow you künstliche Autismus.

Tomorrow though, you may too escape as I want to compare Leitch to some twat or other. Probably Charlie Gilmour, actually.

If this seems a little disjointed, it's because I'm drunk. Surprised?

Autismus Wirkligkeit? Oh God, I'd love to dry-hump a bearded Canadian now.

The author said...

'Arry me old pal me old beauty, there is Hoch Deutsch, there is Platt Deutsch, and there is Brum Deutsch (vide the Weinacht's Markt) if you can't appreciate a little German Dichtkunst then you are no inheritor of Wittgensteins Poker never mind Kant's excursions in the Cunny Warren usufructition notwithstanding.

Orang, Parang, Ketawang, whatever .... let's not even mention the Petronas towers.

Do you remember Spitting Images?

Wahrheit und Wehrzeit eh?

Justthisguy said...

Heh. What goes around, comes around. Looks like the pale folks are starting to get the shitty end of the stick, these days. Yes, I am developing White Nationalist tendencies. This is complicated by my not getting along very well with my own extended family, the people to whom I am most genetically similar. A bit of the "A", there, you know.