My son was wondering where they had all gone. He has heard of Mandela and Luther King and Ghandi- but he knows they are all dead and gone. The battles they fought belonged to other generations, not his (although perhaps the battles go on for ever in reality.) He wondered why there were no leaders like these around now. Where are the revolutionary heroes of 2015?
I was reminded of this song;
We thought about this, his mum and I. Perhaps heroes like this are only ever visible in hindsight- from the close perspective of history they are more nuanced and shadowed by compromise. Perhaps too the nature of our media twists and shapes the message so that it just becomes another piece of electronic background noise; at best something that flicks across your Facebook feed then fades back into ephemera.
Perhaps too the age of great ideological debates has been replaced by a homogeny of endless consumption; each and every thought and idea has value only because it generates hits on a server somewhere that also sells something.
Perhaps too that activism also has had to play by these rules. Movements like Occupy have eschewed ‘leadership’ in the traditional sense, moving instead for fluidity and protest modeled more on performance art- the sort of stuff that twitters well.
But sometimes you encounter someone to whom that rather cringeworthy word authentic can be applied to. Someone who is prepared to live in a different way. This is part of the dramatic appeal of Corbyn in British politics at present- for once, substance is elevated over style. Content is valued above communication.
For those of us who still long for flawed heroes, perhaps this will pierce the cynicism of these words. A real revolutionary hero.
Here you go son. He is not your generation- not even mine- but a hero none the less.