1. The Simpsons Series 9, Episode 6, Lisa tries out for the Springfield youth football team. The boys are doing their stuff under the eye of Coach Flanders, and Lisa appears, proudly clad in ridiculous American body armour:

Lisa [menacing]: What position have you got for me?!? That’s right, a girl wants to play football! How about that!

Ned Flanders: Well that’s super dupa Lisa! In fact we already have four girls on the team. [gestures to the four girls practicing in the background]

Lisa [downcast]: You do?

Ned: Uh huh! But we’d love to have you on board!

Lisa: Well…football’s not really my thing…[wanders disconsolately about, perks up as a new feminist idea occurs to her]. After all – what civilised person would play a game with the skin of an innocent pig!

Ned: Well actually, Lisa, these balls are synthetic.

Female Footballer: And for every ball you buy, a dollar goes to Amnesty International!

Lisa (looking sick): I’ve got to go. [flees]

2. Ron Todd [then leader of the Transport & General Workers’ Union] made the point with deadly accuracy just a couple of months ago when he asked: ‘What do you say to a docker who earns £400 a week, owns his house, a new car, a microwave and a video, as well as a small place near Marbella? You do not say,’ said Ron, ‘let me take you out of your misery, brother.’

(Neil Kinnock, 1987, cited in Going South by Larry Elliott and Dan Atkinson)

3. i think in every time there are people who need a mission. It’s common with adolescents, who usually outgrow it and become General Managers and accountants. i don’t want to sniff at this impulse, as i feel it too – ordinary, treading-water-and-getting-older does not interest me (to tread water i need to swim). But most of the time it is corrupt and baleful. There are those who genuinely help; without these men & women the world would be markedly grimmer. But i would guess that most of these missionaries are, on the whole, malign. Heart of Darkness:

Hunters for gold or pursuers of fame, they all had gone out on that stream, bearing the sword, and often the torch, messengers of the might within the land, bearers of a spark from the sacred fire. What greatness had not floated on the ebb of that river into the mystery of an unknown earth! . . . The dreams of men, the seed of commonwealths, the germs of empires.

There are empires and empires. i can imagine some Conradian missionary, bringing English rule to the heathen, reborn as a feminazi or neo-racist insisting that Shakespeare be banned. The impulse is, i guess, most of the time perverted into blind self-righteousness. i think this fuelled Commie scum in the 30s – they felt they were fighting the good fight, bearers of a spark from the sacred fire. Now that almost everyone has accommodation & food in England, the self-righteous have found other fights – as amply catalogued by David Thompson, for example here and here.

i wondered from whence this grotesque phenomenon had issued but in truth it is not new. 100 years ago these same left-wing vermin would have been Christians wagging their fingers about pubs, or red-faced toffs bellowing about uppity workers. Now they are academics and Lisa Simpsons. The cause is different, the people are the same. They would be unhappy, to see they once held diametrically opposed views with just the same bigoted confidence and stupidity. But the bigoted confidence and stupidity are the crucial thing, that which endures, both in individuals across many lives, and in cultures.