... nothing will change unless we make it change ...
We can never make the changes we desire. Our ancestors had the skills and knowledge to make weapons equal to those with which those who oppressed them opposed them, and they had compelling arguments with which to attract supporters ('your children starve and walk rickety and barefoot for want of good bread while the lord in his castle buys perfumes and nosegays to protect the delicate senses of his ladies from the stench of those who pay for them' is rather more persuasive than 'the various benefits that take your earnings to circa thirty thousand per annum and buy you new cars, fifty two inch plasma screen televisions, foreign holidays, your own home and the sort of lifestyle Great Great Uncle Fred who died on the Somme would have killed for are not sustainable in the long-run').
We have neither their skills nor their compelling arguments. They grew their own food, made their own tools, had not the fear of the beasts in the fields that too many of us now suffer, made their own clothes, slept without concern under the stars and beneath hedges (as one hundred years ago their descendants slept in flooded trenches) and did not wait for an opinion poll or advertising survey, nor seek the permission of their servants, to make their views known.
People prattle on about Magna Carta, and the Bill of Rights and the Glorious Revolution (even the US Constitution) and so on, however the fact is that eight hundred years later we still depend upon the consent of a monarch, even if only as part of the sham theatre that is 'democracy', to enact what 'democratic' change the anti democratic institution the elected dictators have given us up to still allows us. Despite the 'evolution' of parliamentary democracy we are no further along the road to universal personal autonomy than were our unwashed and illiterate ancestors.
Evolution, even social and political evolution, is a savage process dependent upon failure and the imminent prospect of social, political and economic collapse, or loss of overall control. Change is forced only when elites fail and need to compromise to hold on to some of their grip on power, there is nothing gradual, consensual or democratic about the process, as Mr and Mrs Ceaușescu learned. Had they the sense to take car and kitchen design, and marketing, out of the hands of brain-dead apparatchiks they might have died fat and contented.
We can never make the changes we desire because we have no hope of arousing the 'lumpen proletariat' to the point that using the remote to switch off the HD TV 'stenders/ strictly Big Bruvver brain fuck-fest for just long enough to overthrow the bastards who sign the cheques that pay for the couches and the potatoes is seen as anything more than a waste of time.
The benefits dependent masses wail when their children die because the opportunity to be the object of attention is so rarely offered them; their grief is ameliorated, however, by the knowledge that children are the ticket to certain benefits income, just as those unwanted and unwelcome spawn sent, one hundred and fifty and more years ago, to the mines, the factories, the orphanages or up chimneys were.
We can never make the changes we desire because we lack the advantages those less advanced than us had. The time to stop what is happening to us was at the beginning of the industrial revolution. Sadly the term 'Luddite' has come to mean 'an ignorant social and economic Neanderthal ('knuckle dragger' in web speak) incapable of understanding or accepting beneficial change' rather than a skilled and often literate artisan, himself a master or employer, alarmed by the loss of economic autonomy the automation of his highly sought manual skills threatened, and subsequently resulted in.
We can never make the changes we desire because we are completely dependent, for even the most basic of necessities (grain, water, a place to cook, sleep and shit) upon a system the servants of which we have authorised to deny us the ability to provide for ourselves, on pain of severe penalties.
When the elites fail to put bread in our children's bellies we cannot beat our ploughshares into swords and muster unopposed on the village green; we can only rip up paving stones while 'The Police' kettle us, spray us with machine gun fire, gas us, drug us, haul us off, detain us and, when they can do no more to us, release us, having accompanied and assisted bailiffs illegally to assault our castles and illegally to carry off our goods and chattels, before making yet further demands upon us.
And who, living the care free life, would want that?
I cannot afford your book at present, however I look forward to reading it when I can. From time to time I flick through my battered old copies of Penguin Orwells (Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of ...
) and wonder how your picture of the war years compares to his. I know he wasn't the most informed of commentators, and was often hopelessly optimistic, but I think he was not afraid to report rather more of the truth he knew than most of his background.