|Outside Bruxelles Midi station – the reassuring presence of the military|
|The view from room 510...|
The train boarded and I was in seat 73, coach 2. I thought, bearing in mind that somebody else was paying my fare, that I'd get a first class ticket, so it was pretty darn depressing when I noticed the figure 2 under the word 'class'. That's me, I thought, a second class citizen, but I wasn't really bothered. My aisle seat allowed me to stretch out a bit and en route I read a bit of Chomsky's Who Rules the World, it's a great book as it opens one's eyes to what's really going on, although, oddly, it's all stuff you kind of knew was true anyway.
Stuff like the so-called New Spirit of the Age, which is basically 'gain wealth forgetting all but self'. This led to what Chomsky describes as major industries devoted to the task of "'gaining wealth forgetting all but self' – PR companies, advertising, marketing, all of which contribute to what the political economist Thorstein Veblen called 'fabricating wants'. In other words, convincing us, the general public that we need and want things that we don't really want. It is, of course, all about putting the public in it's place – marginalising and controlling people who 'the establishment' (even to this day) regard as too stupid and ignorant to run their own affairs. "That task was left to the 'intelligent minority', who must be protected from "the trampling and the roar of [the] bewildered herd," the "ignorant and meddlesome outsiders" – the "rascal multitude, as they were termed by their seventeenth-century predecessors. The role of the general population was to be 'spectators', not 'participants in action, in a functioning democratic society."
|The lush hotel garden below me...|
"A primary domestic task has always been to "keep [the public] from our throats," as essayist Ralph Walker Emerson described the concerns of political leaders when the threat of democracy was becoming harder to suppress in the mid-nineteenth century. More recently, the activism of the 1960s elicited elite concerns about "excessive democracy" and calls for measures to impose "more moderation" in democracy."
But enough of Chomsky (for now). After a pleasant journey in that lovely 'out of focus' state of mind easily captured by a large glass of Merlot, I stared out of the window, looking at wind turbines, which seemed to be rotating in slow motion and, in the process, slowing everything else down too. The train arrived at Bruxelles Midi around 1900hrs and I the first thing I noticed was the military presence – armed soldiers patrolling the station. It was strangely reassuring. I jumped into a taxi and the driver was a pleasant man in his early sixties who told me there were traffic jams around town and they were all to do with the erection of a fairground in the centre of town. After about 15 minutes we arrived at my hotel on the Boulevard Charlemagne, the First Euroflat, and all was wonderful from the word go.
|My bed for the night...in room 510.|
|My sofa and desk... a great room|