Saturday, September 01, 2007

Why we fight for freedom

Before I explain why, let me ask you a question: Is satire dead?

I mean, is it possible to have political satire in an age where everything that the satirist can possibly imagine has already been exceeded by somebody somewhere? Our society has become a caricature of the kind of nightmare society writers used to imagine 20, 30 or 40 years ago. We gratefully watch rubbish and consume rubbish while CCTV cameras follow our every move and our every spending habit is tracked remorselessly. Robot police drones police pop concerts. Someone becomes Prime Minister without being elected. We imagine we live in a sensible country while over half of the world regards us as a jingoistic menace.

Surely, political satire is only possible in an age when people care about these things. Instead they laugh at the idea that anyone could care.

Perhaps instead it is possible to satirise the satirist who attempts to write satire -- Armando Iannucci, for example, who has been co-opted as the latest court jester. You can't get away from him these days. Why do the powers that be find him so irresistible? Another Oxbridge darling. He paid somebody to tell him what is really going on inside the Cabinet so he could put it in fictional form and astonish us. He paid someone else to write in the expletives. This is not satire, it is plagiarism. It is bad journalism.

So why should I care? Why do I care? What does it matter if I care? It matters nothing, nada, nihil.

In fact as of last night I have decided and resolved not to care any more -- I am giving up caring. And I am someone who used to care a lot -- after all, I was a Guardian reader (that's a joke). I supported lots of charities. I campaigned extensively on the subject of climate change. I believe completely that in the next 80 years millions of people are going to die as a result. Not to mention thousands of species. As if enough have not been sacrificed already on the altar of so-called progress.

I must have cared in the past -- I bought the Big Issue. I wrote passionate articles about important subjects as if I cared about them. I raised money for poor people in Africa. When friends came to me for advice and help I would do my best to help them. Even people I didn't know very well. People think I know something about computers and ask me to sort out their problems which I almost invariably have done. All of this is now going to stop.

I am no longer going to put my clothes neatly away at night. I am going to leave them in piles. I am not going to religiously clean all the surfaces in the kitchen every day and do three lots of washing-up every two days. I am not going to clean the car ever again. If the houseplants need watering and are about to die, what do I care?

I am not going to judge people -- they can do what the hell they like for all I care.

If I don't care about anybody else, why should they care about me? I don't want them to care about me. If they care about me it means they are watching me, and if they're watching me they are judging me, and if they're judging me I can't do what I like.

Besides, most people, it seems to me, especially politicians and corporate executives, seem to get away with not caring. They just do what they want to do and sod everyone else. I've always been someone who goes out of their way to, for example, pass on a bit of information that I get that I think will be useful to someone I know. I scrupulously recycle and watch my energy usage. No more.

My head has become too full of what other people think ought to be there, and what I think up other people think ought to be there. My time has become too filled with things that I do because I think I ought to do them or because somebody else wants me to. Now I'm going to be like most other people and just do things I want to do. And you know what? I don't care. I don't even care if you care that I don't care.

It's very liberating, not having to care. I feel free -- lighter than air. I am like the people of Iraq -- liberated.

Now I understand why we went to war, in Iraq and Afghanistan. We are supporting freedom, we are fighting for freedom. We are fighting for the freedom not to care, to stop caring. Why should we care that the world is going to pot? Tigers are about to become extinct. People are dying of malaria and beri-beri because pharmaceutical companies can't see a profit in producing a cure. Leprosy is still around. Children and pets are mistreated all over the world. Why should we have the burden of worrying about this?

Well, we don't. We are free of it. We are convinced that it will happen whether we worry about it or care about it or not.

In truth, we are fighting for freedom from the burden of having to care about the consequences of our actions. If these consequences occur on the other side of the world or if they occur in our own backyard it doesn't matter. Like the Catholic faith and belief in God, I am absolved of having to care because I believe in freedom.

Freedom is therefore the only thing worth caring about.

Thank you President Bush and all other previous American presidents for continually reiterating the reason why we have such big armies. No other country values freedom so highly, therefore America must be right.

It follows that it is right not to care. And that anyone who does care is an enemy of freedom.

That's why we fight for freedom.

(And a big Hah! to anyone who thought I was going to say it was because we want the freedom to satirise.)

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