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ding dong....

Pinochet is dead, and I think we can be forgiven for not feeling in any way sad about the death of a revolting dictator who was feted by the world's super powers while brutally repressing his enemies at home. The Guardian reports on the reaction to his death in his native land, in which we learn the following:

However, even in upper middle class neighbourhoods where Gen Pinochet was once revered, his reputation has disintegrated in recent years, because of ongoing inquiries into financial crimes, including tax evasion and illegal weapons deals.

You know, I didn't mind when he was ripping out lefties' fingernails, but pilfering the petty cash? Now he's gone too far!

I should add that I am very strongly against such financial crimes, but come on, after years of dictatorship that's what pushes you over the edge?

Also, the Tories have returned "back to basics", with Ian Duncan Smith basically denying the existence of gay people and enthusing about the good old days. What days might those be, Ian?
'You can argue that our Victorian forebears succeeded in achieving something very unusual between the 1850s and 1900 in changing public attitudes by - dare one use the word - instilling moral codes. I don't want to suggest this was an ideal society, but it was one where a sense of moral values and of the responsibility people owed to each other did seem to be pervasive. There was a much greater sense of shame in respect of transgressions.'

Ah yes, those days! The days when children worked up chimneys and in blacking factories, when married women couldn't vote or own property, when people starved to death on the streets of major western cities, where venereal disease was rife among "respectable" married women because their husbands were regularly sleeping with prostitutes, when child prostitution was taken for granted, when there were actually even more single parent families in the UK than there are now because so many parents died young. Who wouldn't want to go back there?



( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 11th, 2006 11:26 am (UTC)
That's... special. I hope the reporting was inept, rather than accurately reflecting a rather shitty reality.
Dec. 11th, 2006 01:03 pm (UTC)
Alas, I wouldn't be surprised if it was the latter - he did have support from certain sections of the public, and I can believe they managed to turn a blind eye to some scruffy little dissidents disappearing but got all stuffy at the thought of someone daring to mistreat money...
Dec. 11th, 2006 11:34 am (UTC)
Ah, those glorious days! The Trib had a clipping from the Hibernian Review of, admittedly, 1780, fifty years before the Victorians, but still: saying that Ireland was bound to be poor as long as it was so indolent, and that while in England children of three years and older were put to industrious trade, in Ireland they wandered about naked and idle. Fine values! Excellent times! Oh yes, and let's bring back the race for Africa, shall we?
Dec. 11th, 2006 12:10 pm (UTC)
Yes, divvying up Africa / the Balkans with a pencil and a map on a table in Berlin - a fine example of the pervasive sense of the responsibility which people felt they owed each other. Provided each other weren't female, or Balkan, or Worse.

It's kind of nice to see the Tories openly being the Tories, though - at least everyone knows where they stand.
Dec. 11th, 2006 11:41 am (UTC)
And of course any such tirade about 'Victorian morality' is narrowly focusing on the alleged moral rectitude of the middle classes, as The Poor all slept 78 to a room and The Aristocracy slept with whoever they pleased (to the extent that sleeping arrangements when visiting others at their country homes would be based not on who was married to whom, but who was having discreet affairs with whom).

Yes, let's go back to the days when an unmarried middle class woman would stay at home for life as an unpaid drudge for her elderly parents if she couldn't get married, and if she 'fell', off to the streets with her. And all those things you mentioned.

Also, I am currently marking exams and if one more student claims Cathy in Wuthering Heights is a 'strong' woman I am going to ask in the margin whether she can lift a horse one-handed.
Dec. 11th, 2006 11:44 am (UTC)
Quite apart from the image of the "naughty 90s" as being something of a shift away from earlier puritanism...
Dec. 11th, 2006 12:03 pm (UTC)
but it was one where a sense of moral values and of the responsibility people owed to each other did seem to be pervasive.

Unlike the Tory party of say, the '80's and early '90's...
Dec. 11th, 2006 12:49 pm (UTC)
I had a feeling I was not alone when on coming to that para of IDS's in the Indyserver (honestly, I can never remember in which I read what) I spat out my coffee and shouted 'Yes! and let's send the children back down the mines instead of lazing about getting ASBOs and an education and aspiring to advance out of the class God intended for them!'

It would have been better had I not been in a coffee shop.

In a way it's rather a relief that the Tories are still behaving like Proper Baby-Eating Tories.
Dec. 11th, 2006 01:17 pm (UTC)
Not to get all What Have The Victorians Ever Done For Us on you, but the Victorians were the first to start properly regulating and limiting child labour, and making the state responsible for primary education.

This has absolutely no bearing on the odiousness of IDS and the rest of the Tories, however!
Dec. 11th, 2006 01:25 pm (UTC)
Oh, I don't want to deny the amazing reform work that was going on – the Married Women's Property Act was passed during this period, after all – but the point is just that, despite what IDS says, in general Victorian Britain was not, obviously (to us, not IDS) a sort of golden age! I don't think it denies the genuine good that went on during this period to point out the bleedin' obvious: that the Victorians weren't actually living in a society that was automatically more moral than our own.
Dec. 11th, 2006 07:59 pm (UTC)
It all depends on how you define "moral".

If "moral" = (among other things) "no sex outside marriage, no homosexuality, the human body must be thoroughly covered up, women (like children) should be seen and not heard and do what the men tell them - and for goodness sake if you're going to break any of the rules Don't Get Caught"...well, then maybe the Victorians were more moral than we are.

The thing that people tend to forget is that morality is not a fixed and unchangeable entity.
Dec. 11th, 2006 01:19 pm (UTC)
Also, the Tories have returned "back to basics"

And aren't they also encouraging people to thump miscreants, or did my poor hungover brain misread the paper yesterday?
Dec. 11th, 2006 03:30 pm (UTC)
I've always found it laughable when politicians here in the states proclaim the virtues of the Victorian era and for the same reasons. Is it just me (because I live in the midwestern US and am exposed to the worst right-wing politics) or does the right seem much more sinister here?
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )


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