What is the penchant in the last few years for showing film of people being killed, or their dead, defiled, bodies? Even in the case of the dictator Muammar Gaddafi I find the practice disgusting and rather disturbing. Our ancestors were, of course, less squeamish about images of death. But we seem to have managed to combine an inexplicable inability to accept or talk about the reality of death and its meaning with an entirely deadened sense of revulsion at the horror of one human being’s physical existence snuffed out by another. In the past, a realistic reaction to the horror of images of death was combined with and equally realistic attitude to death per se. We seem now to have the worse of both worlds: a blood lust worthy of the arena of pagan Rome admixed with a total denial that death is inevitable and something which, in life, we must always prepare for. This, it seems to me, is another aspect of the “men without chests”, the “materialist magicians”, into which Satan surely wants to turn the human race. Where he can’t eat them more easily, of course.
That rather brings me round to Gaddafi. I simply cannot relish his demise, in much the same way as I could not enjoy the death of bin Laden or the execution of Saddam Hussein. This is not because I am squeamish about the death penalty (though, in general, I am not in favour of it), nor because I am sympathetic to Muslim dictators or terrorists. It is rather that it seems to me so pointless, so infecund. And that I utterly despise Western leaders such as Obama and Cameron gathering like crows over the bodies, and cawing about the new and “positive” possibilities these deaths open up. These Western leaders, apparently secure in their democratic legitimacy, are little more than hypocrites. Sure, they do not execute their own people arbitrarily, throwing them in gaol or torturing them. But the difference is only in the methods. Otherwise, the purpose is still to line the pockets and retirement nests of a tasteless, boorish political class. And, inconceivable as it may seem, the task of the Western politician is, like a Gaddafi, to, where his people fail to see the logic of his position, convince them he is right, and where he does not see the logic of their’s, convince them he is right. On moral issues, he is a relativist (a dictator such as Gaddafi or a terrorist is almost always a relativist, too). He has little real philosophy. His taste is what belongs to the “popular” of his class (for Gaddafi, this meant gold-plated tea-sets and purple leather seating on his private jet; for Cameron a stainless steel kitchen and ikea-inspired furniture in the ‘lounge’).
J.R.R. Tolkien, when asked whether his The Lord of the Rings was intended as a allegory of the second World War, made it clear that it was not by pointing out that if the imaginary war had followed the real one, the Ring would have been seized by the Allies (Elves, Dwarves, Men and Wizards) who would have used it against Sauron, and probably even extended its power, and devised new “rings” more frightening than the first. In which case, Hobbits would certainly have been held in contempt by all. In fact, this is precisely what did happen in Europe and the West following the War and indeed continues to happen to this day. And, it is even now happening in the middle east: in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in Egypt, in Libya the saurons are overthrown, only for a lot of other, smaller, saurons to take over, who go on to devise, by intention or omission, worse mordors than the first saurons could have conceived.
Gaddafi is dead. Did someone say, ‘Long live Gaddafi’?