It Was Alright In The 1970s

Cecil Rhodes said: “To be born English is to win first prize in the lottery of life.” This is often seen as an expression of gloating triumphalism: but I would rather view it as a precursor of a well-known arachnid-related character’s catchphrase: “With great power comes great responsibility”.
So I was very depressed to see the harmless telly of the 1970s disembowelled by the sneers and exaggerated shock of a bunch of young whippersnappers in ‘It Was Alright In The 1970s’ (Ch4, 16th & 23rd Nov). They even managed to parade a couple of chaps who had actually been in the 1970s progs to shamefacedly condemn them, like Western hostages of the IS about to be beheaded.
The 1970s was the time of my teens and young adulthood. It was a golden era of galloping progress: we looked back at the war and the 1950s and saw how far we had come in terms of free speech, mod cons and technological development in every sphere. Everything seemed possible. I was looking forward to a life where I didn’t have to do anything I didn’t want to and might actually have a rich and enjoyable sex life, rather than the pre-60s norm of one fumbling and awkward shag leading to a couple with nothing in common being chained together for a lifetime for the sake of the child.
Didn’t quite work out like that, did it? Today the universe of public discourse seems to be hurtling back to a pre-Enlightenment mindset, where the rational separation between words and actions is being erased. We seem to have lost all psychological robustness.
I was much happier in a world where I could be unthinkingly happy to be male, heterosexual, British and white(-ish). I shall check my privilege when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.


3 thoughts on “It Was Alright In The 1970s

  1. My only observations are these. I do detest Historical Revisionism. Yes, in light of modern sensibilities the past is often not as we would have liked, but that’s the problem. short of having one’s own Tardis, there isn’t a lot we can do about it. At best we should judge the era we are discussing by the mores’ of the times. The 70s were full of sexism and racism, but despite that, people fought for equality. Far from accepting the morals (or lack of them) people rebelled against the status quo. However one has to say the clip from the Professionals was, a bit gratuitous (and all I can say is lucky old Big Yin), Cue outrage for making a joke. The fight for equality goes on.

    I think that those on both the Feminism and Racist fronts need to pick and choose their battles, not try and fight every battle on a wide front. For example the “controversy” after one of the biggest scientific achievements of humankind (landing a probe on a comet) was marred by criticism of one scientists shirt. Surely the comments should not have been leveled at the scientist but the manufacturers of said shirt. I would argue that this attack has backfired. It demeaned the scientific achievement and has created a backlash against the complainants. Which, I hasten to add is NOT advocating sexism, just a statement of fact. I would also suggest that the scientist was not displaying sexism, just bad taste in fashion.

    Another Historical Revisionism is that surrounding Slavery (part of the racism debate). It was abhorrent and disgusting and much of Africa’s problems stem for this appalling trade. However, even by the lights of the times Slavery was NOT universally acceptable. Wilberforce fought tooth and nail to abolish it in the Empire. When the legislation was passed, not only was slavery abolished throughout the Empire, but the Royal Navy interdicted any slave ship, of any nation on the High Seas. Yet we are supposed to hang our heads in shame and repent the sins of our forbears. I celebrate Wilberforce and I salute the poverty stricken workers in the cotton mills of the North who showed solidarity with the slaves during the American Civil War. It seems (if you listen to the hand-wringers) that it was only the British that conducted the slave trade and only Britain should pay “reparations”. No mention is ever made of the French, Portuguese, Spanish who engaged in the self-same trade. Not the fact that the Europeans just piggy-backed upon the established slave trade established by the Arabs and that most slaves were sold by their own people. No one ever calls for Saudi Arabia to pay “reparations”. And what these Historical Revisionist forget is that Slave trade is now bigger than before and is centered on Sub-Saharan Africa (Africans enslaving Africans) and the Sub-Continent and Asia. Perhaps instead of fighting the battles of the past they should be fighting today’s battles?

    Just an Historical side note. The Mesopotamians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Anglo-Saxons, the Vikings all had a vigorous slave trade (Dublin was the centre of the Viking slave trade for example). Will the modern Middle-East, Italy, Greece, Norway, Denmark, England, Ireland all have to pay “Reparations”? How about the Arab slave traders that raided the coast of southern England and carried off slaves to North Africa, will Morocco, Libya and so on have to pay “Reparations” to us?

    Oops, rant bigger than the initial article. Sorry. Sits back and waits for the insults and brickbats from disgruntled readers.

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