The passing show

The ignorant will blame anyone or anything for a problem, without any worthwhile evidence. He will blame the weather for his corns and the moon for his madness. and the “blacks” for just about every social evil afflicting us today. The “blacks” have taken the place of the Jews. Irish and Welsh as a focus of the bigot’s vehemence and hatred when he tries to account for problems which one government after another has failed to solve. At sometime or another in the past few years I have heard coloured workers blamed for: unemployment, bad housing, low wages, sexual depravity and very recently for the worsening traffic problem. Yes, one workmate even chucked that one into the pot for good measure.

The other scapegoat minorities of former days must be sighing with relief that for a change it is not their backs that are being beaten, but if the racialist ever gets through with hating coloured workers, we may be sure that some other minority will be in for it. The fascist-minded worker — let us not mince our words — clings to these spurious ideas from a twofold purpose. First of all, he can dismiss any social evil with a wave of his mental hand, by blaming the selected scapegoat. To blame is easy; it avoids the tedious job of hard thinking. Then again, spleen and anger are handy ways of working off the frustration which life under capitalism causes him, but which he has no idea how to tackle. To rant, snarl and blame are his stock-in-trade, to scratch under the surface and try to explain — never.

But how many outwardly calm and reasonable people fall for this sort of stuff? A good many I should say, if Smethwick is anything to go by, although perhaps they would shy off supporting an avowedly fascist party. The man who blamed darkies for the traffic congestion was one such as this. A very even- tempered, quietly spoken, even reticent chap, likeable in a dull and uninteresting way, but harbouring the same sort of misconception about capitalism’s problems as any fanatical hot-gospeller of race hatred.

It is anyway the same basic attitude—see a problem—think up a theory—and then try and make the facts fit it. Such is the stuff on which fanaticism and bigotry thrive. All capitalist politicians use this method to some extent at some time or another. The tragedy is that it goes down so well with the average audience.


“Give generously . . . He did” — Churchill Memorial Fund Slogan.

“The Minister for Economic Affairs drove home his point — that Labour wanted to create a Britain for which non-Socialists could be persuaded to vote” (Guardian report 3.5.65).

“I will never so long as I am Minister of Defence be a party to putting British. soldiers, sailors and airmen into action without the tools of their job.” (Denis Healey, 2.5.65.)

“An incomes policy is part of the price we ought to be willing to pay to ensure that men and women are kept at work.” (James Callaghan—Chancellor of the Exchequer. 2.5.65.)

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