Someone once said that history always repeats – first as tragedy, then as farce. And now we can safely say that history is also repeating as a kind of cabaret.
We were all dimly aware of the increasing incongruity of notions of 'substance', the 'narrative of history', 'progress', and 'essential truth', in modern (and not-so-modern) society; how modernity has passed seamlessly to post-modernity and a shifting chimera of identities no longer defined by rigid positions in class, gender, and nation. But it's fair to say we never expected the kind of morphing venality that we have seen so far this year.
Already in 2017 we have seen not only the breaking of international norms and widespread political crises across the globe, but also the new terms of an almost comical doublethink – 'fake news', and 'alternative facts'. Lawyers, spy agencies, taxi drivers judges, and journalists have become heroes in alliance, with Presidents, Prime Ministers, other taxi drivers, other journalists and other spy agencies the villains; the right and the far right circling each other in ever-decreasing circles, leaders of the 'free world' denounced as racists and sexists by neutral Parliamentary speakers, press barons fighting online battles with children's authors, the Holocaust being tainted with the brush of 'all lives matter' whitewashing, and Rabbis and Imans standing shoulder to shoulder against measures that were ruled illegal by federal courts which were subsequently denounced as 'fake' by the President of the Unites States. In fact, the world has become less of a planet orbiting the sun than a constantly rotating cabaret of atrocity.
What are the features of the Cabaret d'Atrocite? Well, the masks the performers use are transient and contradictory, their dances and songs just a reflection of their position in a constantly shifting narrative; there is no plot, no storyline, no script; the actors change their roles in constant flux, and with no emotion other than an impersonation of that which they wish to emulate. Painted smiles and pointing fingers, gestures of defiance and submission and control, torch songs and ballads and shanties and anthems merging into a murderous medley. And we are all now in the cheap seats.
It would be tempting to regard the cabaret as pure entertainment, just images moving across screens and disassociated reports of entertainment and escapades. But it is not – it is a performance that plays with all our lives, and in which we all have a part. And in it's savagery there is no protection, no rules to work by, merely the buffers on which people's attempts to oppress strain. This is the |Carnival of the Abuse of Power – miniature pyres and guillotines, pogroms and massacres chaotically executed and blandly reported.
But although the performance is serious, it can still be enjoyed. Play your role with passion, and skill; be fierce in opposition and pert in resistance. Dance with passion, but carry a sword; fight with a smile intact. Make your case, be ruthless, be demanding. Have fun, but be careful.
It's time to put on your dancing shoes, warm up the pipes, put your best foot forward, wear a big smile, and give these fuckers hell.