The civilised world said goodbye to official racism years ago. Black and White can ride on the same bus now in from Jackson to Johannesburg. You do not see many white people on the buses of course, but the principle is established: segregation of the races is morally and legally wrong.
No doubt in time practice will catch up with principle but what passes for civilisation in the 21st century thrives on an “us and them” society. A famous British TV drama of the 1960s explored this theme. Titled “If There Weren’t Any Blacks You Would Have To Invent Them,” it showed how racism is more to do with the class system than ethnicity. So now that the poorest or most insecure white citizens cannot openly look down on their black neighbours, how do the lower levels of society give themselves status?
There are many ways; address snobbery, do you rent from a private landlord or a public service housing agency. Home buyers, or home owners as they like to style themselves although all they really own is the obligation to pay off a debt, even in the meanest of mortgaged homes quite glibly regard themselves as superior to renters. So there is one Apartheid. The job snob is another segregationist. People who work in financial services for example find it easy to be condescending about trades such as plumber, electrician, car mechanic, bricklayer etc. although there is little doubt which group would be most quickly missed should they be removed from society.
The most worrying manifestation of the new Apartheid though is the marginalisation of the old. This started out with wrinklies being derided as demented husks who could do nothing but reminisce about the war, but more and more I hear people of my age group complaining of feeling marginalised. We know nothing, our skills are obsolete, we are regarded as if we speak a foreign language (some of us actually do, because in our day you could not earn a GCSE in French for being able to say “ce vin est merde M’sieur.”) and our status in the modern world is similar to that of a boil on the arse. There is just no place for the middle aged in the twenty – first century.
Everything now is organised, managed (“if it can be measured it can be managed” goes the slogan of Blair’s favourite Management Consultancy) and we must not embark upon any venture without having been properly trained. Where did my mother look for advice when I came along? My Grandmas. Yet now the idea of grandparents being involved in a child’s upbringing in any capacity other than occasional money provider is sneered at. New parents are given parenting classes, in which they are taught by childless but very sincere people with qualifications in “childcare.” Old people have no idea, we are told and yet it seems to me, and my memory is not quite fuddled yet, that there were far less problem kids when I was at school.
Ah school, where the only history taught is that “the past is a foreign country, they do things differently there.” So differently that the role of parents has been usurped completely. I remember getting my daughter in trouble once by showing her how to use an encyclopaedia to find information for a project. Her submission was rejected with the comment “your course has not covered this information yet.” In other words kids are only allowed to know what the system tells them. Now we are getting to the really Machiavellian aspect of the new Apartheid.
Teenagers are coached in doing what comes naturally to such an extent that they lose interest and start getting their thrills from downloading videos of things that come very unnaturally. In the eighteenth century Lord Chesterfield said “nothing in life sets up a young man so well as having an older mistress.” I wonder what he would have made of the current fad of “daisy chaining,” in which children (they would hate me calling them that) leave school and have sex with as many partners as possible before they have to go home to watch the soaps. And yet parents are excluded from sex education too. Not surprising as few of us would teach our kids that it is just a numbers game. But of course, numbers can be measured, love cannot.
Not so long ago we looked forward to joining the adult world, older people had more fun, they told better stories, we learned from them how to think for ourselves.
In order for the state to continue its march into every aspect of our private lives we must willingly become a compliant society.
Future generations must be taught how to play and how to love in the uniform way approved by the appropriate NGO, they must be educated to want to know only what they need to know, disillusioned with experience before they have had any worthwhile experiences on which to base judgements and most of all they must be protected from anybody who might give them the idea that there is a great big wonderful world beyond the boundaries of their narrow lives. Brainwash people with the idea that they have done everything worth doing by the time they are sixteen and it becomes easy. And that is how the apartheid of age is being used.
NOW THAT IS TRULY MACHIAVELLIAN.