Pastiche Politics: Redux

by | Oct 12, 2010

The previous post on this blog looked at the bizarre relationship between former Labour government minister (now Labour Party leader) Ed Miliband, and the 10:10 founder and Age of Stupid director, Franny Armstrong. One of the most curious things that this uneasy love-in produced was the escalation of the phenomenon we call pastiche politics – politicians and activists dress up as history-defining players of the past in an effort to conceal the vacuity of their perspective on the world. The ‘splattergate’ video produced by the 10:10 campaign epitomised the tendency of today’s wooden political actors to do nothing other than alienate themselves from those they intend to persuade.

After the bloodbath – an ill-conceived effort to use self-deprecating humour, apparently – The Guardian seems to have found a new film-maker and film to serve as (ahem) damage limitation following Richard Curtis’s video nasty. It’s a trailer for a documentary glorifying the achievements of activist groups Climate Rush, Climate Camp, and Plane Stupid. But it’s no less revolting than the 10:10 bloodbath.

[youtube iM8iAK58-G4]

It’s a classic case of pastiche politics. The big-hitting point they close with is made by a ‘domestic extremist’, who ‘puts her body in the way’ of business as usual in an effort to change the world.

You know, Rosa Parks sat down on a bus; the law changed, because lots of people agreed with her. So that’s what we have to do.

Rosa Parks didn’t have a self-congratulating, white, middle-class, privileged production team with private incomes following her every move, though. The Domestic Extremist compares herself favourably to Parks, but convinces only herself of the virtue of her activism. Rosa Parks bravery in the face of the possibility of brutal treatment by the police, physical attack and murder, and institutional injustice simply does not compare to the actions of the pastiche protester. She ‘doesn’t mind getting arrested’, because it will make little difference to her. Sure, she’ll get man-handled by some policemen, she’ll be arrested, and charged with some public order offence. That’s uncomfortable, but it is child’s play compared to the treatment suffered by genuine civil rights protesters throughout the world and throughout history. She’ll continue her comparatively privileged life, which will only be troubled – if it is at all troubled – by the consequences of her own actions, not by the colour of her skin. What is more, she’ll enjoy the support of whichever politicians are asking for her support, such as Miliband, and now the UK Prime Minister, David ‘vote-blue-go-green’ Cameron.

The trailer ends with the following plea for funds to finish the film:

This project won’t happen without your support

But it could equally be a mission statement for the environmental movement as a whole. Because, contrary to what our Domestic Extremist says, this is no popular movement. That’s why these protesters have to resort to pastiche politics – masquerading as popular protests of the past.


  1. Vinny Burgoo

    Have you noticed that the (allegedly crowd-sourced) film is part funded by the Lipman-Miliband Trust? Those Milibands can’t get enough of this sort of thing, even beyond the grave!

    There’s probably some EU money in there too. One of this group’s aliases (anti-capitalist groups always operate under several – it makes things seem more excitingly clandestine, I suppose) received funding from DG Education and Culture.

    The only old favourite that’s missing is the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, and that’s only because I got bored searching. It’s bound to be in there somewhere, directly or indirectly.

  2. geoffchambers

    Right on cue, one Christine Ottery has a report on a three-woman Climate Rush protest at the Express at
    To the commenter who says: “This is not about one person’s opinion being right or wrong. This is about what you are and are not entitled to do if you disagree” journalist Ottery says:
    “This I disagree with. Was it not right in an over-arching way that slavery was abolished? The same for women getting the vote? Yet there was leadership and activism in both cases”.
    Three women try unsuccessfully to deliver a message to the editor of the Express saying they don’t like the way he reports climate change – and the Guardian’s journalist sees an equivalence with the abolition of slavery.
    See the excellent comments by mitzcici near the end of the comments thread
    Christine Ottery is a researcher for George Monbiot.

  3. Sceptical Guardian Reader

    As a mixed race person, I am so offended by that bint comparing her self to Rosa Parks I could spit.

    These privlaged twits have NO IDEA about the real world.

    I’m not going to write anything else I’m too angry…


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.