10 December, 2006

You Cannot Stand In The Way Of Progress

Sorry, not much action here lately. I blame Tunisia. It seems to be an interesting country. Like many places, its leadership in the 19th century attempted a defensive modernisation in reaction to increasing European encroachments. Like almost all such places that tried this (eg Turkey, Egypt, Hawaii, China, etc.) this process failed alarmingly, leaving the country as a protectorate of the French.

My learned colleague Nicholas Whyte is discussing a similar (fictional) process in his review of The Curse of Peladon, in which a backward planet is being invited to join The Federation, over opposition from traditionalists who fear the planet's way of life will be eliminated. My recollection of the story is that it shows a very old school binary idea of things - tradition = bad, modernity & progress = good. It helps that the Federation in the story is shown as being fundamentally benign, and unlike certain of today's international institutions is not proposing hare-brained one-size-fits-all transformations of the Peladonese society.

Nicholas mentions how certain commentators have seen this story as some kind of parable for the British entry into the then Common Market (in much the same way that it's sequel is seen as having parallels with mid-70s industrial unrest in the UK). That got me thinking about how during the Thatcher era and beyond, the worst thing anyone can say about some EU politician is that they are a "Federalist". I wonder if this fear of any thing that smacks of being a Federation is some kind of relic of previous viewings of Blake's 7?


Nicholas said...

In Blake's 7 there was a pretty clear identification between the Federation and the Thatcher government! Of course, here in Brussels, "Federalist" is not a dirty word at all, though these days the adherents of the Federalist creed are seen as slightly wacky fundamentalists whose hearts are nonetheless in the right place.

ian said...

If only Blake's 7 had been available in Belgium.