Friday, 21 October 2011
Ealing, Belgravia and News from Elsewhere 2
Well of course it's wrong if they did just shoot him dead without a trial, but dictators very rarely end with trials. Outsiders can tut as much as they like but it is fury that brings dictators down, and it is fury that tears them apart. It is a fury they themselves have generated among many, a mixture of terror and obeisance and false praise that piles up in people until something breaks. It is not good to meet a crowd in such a mood. How many, after all, has the dictator killed? How many more has he imprisoned and tortured? Or threatened to kill, imprison and torture? There will be redress. There will be blood.
Which doesn't mean that there is no calculation. A living dictator will continue to exert power, and the due process of law takes a very long time, so the new state can be destabilised. Under the circumstances fury and calculation are two sides of the same coin.
I know we talk about Blair and everyone else 'doing business' with Gaddafi. Realpolitik is not about morality, not in the short run at any rate. It is about advantage. It is about deals. Politics is mostly realpolitik with rhetoric as advertising. This does not shock me in the least. I do not approve but it does not shock. Nor does realpolitik rule out ideological or even a generally humane politics. Realpolitik needn't be the entire substance of politics, only the business end, only at times. But in our heart of hearts we know it is there, not only in them, but in us, that it is one of the basic tools in the kit and that it is used. Are we compromised by it? Of course we are. But that need not make us cynical. Compromised is what we inevitably are. But we can be working our compromises for better reasons in better ways. There remain better ways of conducting realpolitik with better people. Ideas and ideals remain valid and invigorating. But the tutting is as much rhetoric as the language of rectitude that surrounds realpolitik.
So Gaddafi is gone. Will the future be better? We hope so. Under the circumstances it stands a chance, and why not take that chance?
Or so I think as I head off to Ealing Broadway passing the bronze horse pictured in the post below.