From Hare to Fraternité

A very good essay by David Hare on Tory shamelessness and the 1970s TV show “Road to Freedom.”

Shame, said Karl Marx, is the only revolutionary emotion. When the series climaxes with the capitulation of the French army to the Nazis in 1940, one of the greatest humiliations of modern history, you realise how refreshing it is, after years of propaganda in which people are constantly exhorted to go easy on themselves, to watch fiction in which anguish and self-reproach are finally admitted to exist and to govern our behaviour… our whole society finds itself asking how we got here, and how on earth we allowed such outrages to happen… One obvious answer must lie with the disappearance of shame from public life. As far as public figures are concerned, there is no longer any such thing as disgrace. They live in an un-Sartrean universe, strangers, apparently, to the inner regulation of self-knowledge and self-hatred. Boris Johnson, theoretically a Catholic, seems to function without any recourse to the doctrine of sin that is meant to define his religion. For him… the idea of regret or remorse is anathema. In his own eyes, he is dully faultless… When the young director Lynette Linton took over London’s Bush theatre a few years ago, she posed in an interview the very question that puzzles many of us: Why do the British not take to the streets?… How much longer will the United Kingdom tolerate a ruling class that is incapable of looking inside itself and confessing fault? Surely, even if they are incapable of disgust, we are not. When will the rage, shame and anger that so memorably drive The Roads to Freedom, and which we recognise in our own lives of squalid acceptance and compromise, turn outwards, not inwards?

Road to Freedom on YouTube.