Thursday, 27 June 2013

The Gloomy Trousers of Uncle Vanya

Terry Pratchett coined the phrase to describe a canon of literature so utterly negative that no redeeming virtue could be salvaged; such is the interview by Slovenian philosopher Renata Salecl in Der Spiegel.

All life is misery. There is no joy. We have too much freedom, and too great a choice. There is no happiness. There is no alternative. Capitalism is neurosis.

Yep; what we all need is a big, responsible State to make all those awkward consumer decisions for us; Can't choose between ten brands of washing machine? Let the State allocate you a place in the two-year queue for a single government brand instead. Don't shop - just receive a ration that the State decides for you. Don't think - the State will do all the thinking that's needed. 

It's a lesson I suppose that some people - clearly poor Renata included - are just pathologically incapable of benefiting from freedom. Of course, Communist nations used to keep tame philosophers on the payroll. These days the buggers have to earn a living. No wonder some of them aren't happy.


Weekend Yachtsman said...

And this person is from Slovenia?

Clearly she's too young to remember the good old days.

Or perhaps her parents were apparatchiks so the good old days really were good.

Mind-boggling stuff; otoh the same ideas can often been seen in the Graun or heard on the beeb.

The struggle is never over, whatever the evidence or experience.

G. Tingey said...

"Too much freedom" & "too much choice" ?
Well, THAT's cureable.
Tell her to fuck off to N. Korea, then!

Anthem said...

She's just miserable because no one ever invites her to parties.

Seriously though, there are elements of truth in what she's saying but she's making all the wrong connections between cause and effect.

Anonymous said...

Do we know what she looks like? Maybe "too much choice" equates to "no choice at all, because the country has a shortage of 15 foot bargepoles"

Edward Spalton said...

In East Germany (Ost Deutschland), the former German Democratic Republic, there is quite a sentiment of nostalgia for the "good old days" of communism when everybody had a job etc. It's called OSTALGIE

Quite a number of people preferred the certainties and, of course, when you grew up in a system, its symbols, ceremonies and the flavour of the type patriotism it promoted became deeply ingrained.

Mind you, I know a number of British trade unionists who used to be honoured guests in the People's Paradise and who were really quite miffed when their fraternal jollies came to an end.

And it was "democratic" in the sense that there were different parties to vote for - a Farmers' Party, Christian Democrat Party and so on. Of course, they were all coordinated with the SED
(Socialist Unity Party of Germany) an enforced coalition between Communists and Social Democrats which took its orders from Moscow. Rather as today's main parties all toe the Brussels line.

There is now a satirical party in Germany, called simply "Die Partei" and they have borrowed one of the good old songs "Die Partei hat immer recht" (The party is always right). There is a video clip of them all having a jolly good time singing it.

It must make Frau Merkel rather nostalgic. She was a propaganda officer in the Free German Youth (the Communist unisex equivalent of the Hitler Youth).
If you want to see some of their impressive jamborees, just Google "Musikschau Leipzig" for massive marching displays.

Colonel Shotover said...

Good grief Raedwald don't tell me you managed to read all that rubbish?

Weekend Yachtsman said...

+1 for Greg this time ;-)

Tony Harrison said...

Many thanks to Edward Spalton for mentioning Musikschau Leipzig, a Kultur-Fest I had been unaware of. The YouTube clip of the 1969 event is utterly fascinating and is one of the clearest links I've ever seen between the DDR and the Third Reich - talk about Nuremburg Rallies... Worryingly, the massed bands and counter-marching are compelling and stirring, at the same time as creepily inhuman...
Re trade unionist links to the DDR I once met a lecturer in a UK college of FE who spent every summer holiday in the DDR with his wife, made no bones about it, passing on his cheery propaganda to teenagers year after year.

Edward Spalton said...


The communist East German army (NVA) preserved more of the old military traditions than the Bundeswehr - such as the goose step and a steel helmet which was very reminiscent of the Third Reich. They also used quite a few of the good old tunes, along with PC stuff like the Internationale .

Now the Bundeswehr has a parade helmet which is very reminiscent of the Wehrmacht. They have some excellent drill teams and a very impressive torchlight parade called Grosses Zapfenstreich which has elements in common with "Sunset" and trooping the colour. Many British regiments march to German marches- part of our Hannoverian inheritance. I even heard "Preussens Gloria" ( Glory of Prussia) at this year's trooping.

Veronica Roth said...

Nice post. I was just writing about Uncle Vanya's trousers and wanted to link up, but better not because I'm Czech and that will just prove my partner's Will have to go check out more of your posts now. :) (P.S. I kayak, and that's a kind of a boat, unless you're an anorak about it, and I make things ...hey... we might be friends, having so much in common.) (P.P.S. It didn't look like an i and n, it looked like an m! I hate capchas)