Once a year in the Medieval Carnival, the unequal cultures of the super-powerful ruling elite and the world of the peasant-poor collided. In this public festival the gentry elite were ‘un-crowned’ and the peasants were ‘crowned’. The rulers were humiliated for a day and their extravagances and eccentricities were mocked and parodied.
In some ways this was a gesture of vulnerability by the rulers, but is viewed by some historians as an essential ‘safety valve’ in order for the wealthy elite to maintain their inequality for the rest of the year. In exchange for this minor ‘inconvenience’, the ruling elite gained the ‘consent’ of the peasants for another year.
There is something in this General Election 2017 that reminds me of this Medieval Carnival;
Perhaps it’s the tight-lipped, manufactured, performance of Theresa May who anxiously mouths designed-by-experts sound-bites and has them unfairly ‘air-brushed’ into a campaign by the state’s own broadcaster together with the mainstream media supporting, and all directed by the unseen powers; the super-bankers, the weapons manufacturers, the war-mongers and the geo-political manoeuverers. The Conservatives set their course for a short, sharp, opportunistic election event where humiliation was to be minimal. But what is different this time is that unlike any election I can remember, how transparent the Conservative’s agenda seems; things commonly hidden and unseen have become un-seamed and exposed in grotesque caricature. The fabric of our society after seven years of their control has been exposed and found to be wanting.
In contrast the crowds gather to hear the ordinary man Corbyn (who has an extraordinary reputation for politely but clearly calling out the hypocrisy and double-dealing of the super-elite (both Labour and Conservative). He is there for the crowd – not himself, and the crowd are starting to understand that.
We have an opportunity to ‘crown’ one of us and together work out an alternative conception of power. Another world is possible.
[Thanks and credits to Carol Kingston-Smith for quotes taken and adapted from ‘Imagine a Carnival’ from Carnival Kingdom -Wide Margin, Milton Keynes 2013]