Un-Crowning the Elite at the GE2017 Carnival.

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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]

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Has Hodgson’s team got a prayer in Brazil?

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Today, Ghanaian coaches made an appeal to Churches, prayer warriors and other religious bodies to pray for their team to “sail through the group stage and go very far” in the World Cup in Brazil.

Maybe they are on to something.

I have a friend who suggests that the fact that Brazil‘s football team openly pray before each match is the reason that they are so good. Surely he doesn’t believe that prayer can affect the results of sports matches? Is he suggesting that during those intense penalty-shoot-outs, that the prayers of supporters, so often picked up by the TV cameras, actually effect an angel-assisted swerve of the ball? On Saturday afternoons in Nottingham, for example, does God’s omnipresence rest itself slightly more intensely at the County fixture over Forest?

No, nothing like that, he assured me. For the Brazilians, these men who mainly understand that they are supremely gifted players; but having given suitable appreciation to the Giver of the gifts through their open, pre-match prayers, they are freed to do what they have done all their lives – enjoy playing footy. And to quote Eric Liddell, when they run, maybe they too feel some of God’s pleasure?

In contrast, when Messrs. Gerrard, Rooney and the rest of the team, sideways-skip their way on to those Brazilian pitches in a few weeks time, a visible weight of expectation will climb on to their shoulders, and “the hopes of the Nation” will once again rest on them ever so heavily. For the England supporters, Roy has selected his 23 players (for better or worse) and, for this World Cup, they are our pinnacle, and will be the object of our worship. As the National Anthem plays and the camera scrutinises each of the faces of England’s footballing gods, we beseech them to remove the ‘years of hurt’ and return to us our rightful 1966 status as the world’s best footballers.

Having prayed, the Brazilians players are released to do their job – be gifted human beings. The England team meanwhile are left to no doubt buckle under the pressure of being disappointing gods.