Saturday, 16 April 2011

Memento Tory

I was watching Christopher Nolan’s ingenious film, ‘Memento’, again but with the sequences edited so I could see them in the actual chronological order. As those of you who know the film (for those who don’t but hope to watch it one day, beware of spoilers), we thought Leonard had managed to shoot the person who murdered his wife, until it was finally revealed that the person he shot had nothing to do with the death of his wife at all. Leonard’s inability to retain new memory meant that however much he tried to make notes to remind himself of potential friends and foes, he would often be confused, manipulated by others, and even deceived by himself when he was in a vindictive mood.

The most significant discovery in re-watching ‘Memento’ was that Leonard was ultimately his own worst enemy. Unable to form any coherent view of what had happened to him and others, he devised a self-deluding process to give himself a meaningful mission – to kill the man who took his wife away. But since it was Leonard whose memory lapses led to his wife’s death from insulin overdose, this mission was in fact a pointless endeavour in self-destruction. Seen in the correct order, all the characters who on first viewing appeared to be nasty in one way or another, turned out to be imperfect souls who nonetheless tried in their different ways to help Leonard find closure to his tragic predicament, and move on to something which had real meaning. But Leonard, repeatedly forgetting what he had learnt from painful experiences not so long ago, would embark over and over again on a futile quest.

Sadly, for our country, the Tory Party under Cameron is not unlike Leonard. It fixates on some hated enemy to be blamed for seriously harming the economy and damaging people’s lives, but it forgets that it was its own Thatcherite obsession with deregulation that brought about the financial crisis; and there was no other cause other than its unshakable addiction to cutting down the state that led to the rise in poverty which wrecked so many families. With no memory or any sense of culpability, it launches into making more of the same mistakes.

Perhaps deep down, the Tory Party could not face up to what it had done in the past. So it projects its unforgivable guilt onto others to whom it could direct its indignant scorn. But all the while, it’s out there hurting more and more victims totally innocent of the dreadful misdeed that it alone has perpetrated.

Don’t forget that the Tories, having allowed their banker friends to destroy the economy, are letting them off the hook again. They widened income inequalities in the 1980s and 1990s, and are embarking on exactly the same pernicious course once more. Where Rousseau had long ago warned of the danger of the wealth gap, their motto seems to be the exact reverse, namely: “the rich should get so powerful that they can buy the servility of other people, and the poor should have so little until they have to sell themselves into perpetual exploitation.”

No comments: