Romanticising Yet Disregarding Revolution in Modern-Day England

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I’ve chosen a beautiful drawing by Andrea Bowers, which is based on Walter Crane’s 1894 Offering for May Day as the photo for this piece on purpose. Walter’s original was published in a socialist magazine and Bowers reimagined version can be seen in London’s Tate Modern. Theoretically this should be seen as a progression because the symbol has become immortalised in art and lauded as a masterpiece in the modern day. However, in reality, it seems to symbolise society’s desire to romanticise symbols for their aesthetic beauty and not their message.

I assume Bower’s purpose was to highlight the struggles of protesters in the 21st century and the fight that people are still faced with today. The truth is though that it has become at best an impotent emblem and at worst hypocritical as it is a symbol of a group who wouldn’t normally identify themselves as ‘art connoisseurs’ en mass. This is not the fault of Bower by any means – she’s an artist who has captured something remarkable in her work – but the fault of a disengaged and disillusioned society.

Its installation comes at a time when Junior Doctors have gone on strike in the UK with such vehement strikes that they have removed even emergency services[1]. This is the latest in a long line of protests that began with the disenfranchised masses in 2011 and clearly continues to this day in the UK. Perhaps the most significant reality that holds through for all these various examples of social unrest is that the British Government met them all with a mix of police brutality, political indifference, and media demonization of the protesters.

I’m not advocating for political or social unrest here, principally because to do so would probably end in a prison sentence under the fascist laws gaining momentum in much of Europe.

I’m simply stating that on the day after Worker’s Day (it’s the 1st of May in most of Europe) little has changed. The masses are still largely ignored and demonized for deviating from the unfair role that was thrust upon them by the ruling classes and we’re all lead to believe that being a certain colour, trusting in a certain magic wizard or being born on one scrap of land instead of another actually means something. Because if we didn’t then maybe we’d realise that we’re all in this together and the corrupt politician and property developer weren’t just Scooby Doo villains but the people we should be really standing up against!

 

[1] This is the first time in the history of the UK’s National Health Service that this has happened.

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