Since time immemorial, the voice of the mob has been an ever present and well documented phenomenon. Crowds of socially or economically disaffected have ever harangued their governments and leaders as they seek redress from their perceived injustices.
In ancient Rome, the plebiscite would gather in the forum to howl their disapproval until the honeyed tones and flawless logic of Cicero would draw their sting. At Speakers Corner in Hyde Park, Sunday afternoons would provide more entertainment than Saturday night at the Palladium as one after another, bile spewing and frothing from their mouths, radical protestors took to their soap boxes to air their grievances.
Good, clean harmless stuff in the main, and it changed nothing. Yet here we are in New Zealand, in the infancy of the 21st century, and the game has changed somewhat.
First the internet has provided a more far reaching and audible platform from which the flotsam and jetsam of society can beat their breasts and bewail their lot.
And second, and most interesting of all, is that they have found their moaning has gained some traction with an element of mainstream society.
It is a curious phenomenon, and one which I think deserves some consideration. For once, in trying to explain it, I shall side with the mob, and blame Margaret Thatcher.
In encouraging the masses to be economically aspirant, she blundered; in enabling the reality of those aspirations, she erred most grievously. How so, you may ask? Well, it is perhaps best explained by way of example.
Let us take an ordinary, working class lad. A bright boy, the product of hardworking parents. Perhaps he went to a grammar school, or due to the fiscal diligence of his parents, even to a minor private school. Let's call him Bloke A.
Grateful for the efforts of his family, he rewards them by studying diligently, and suddenly finds a world of opportunity at his feet. University perhaps, white collar work even, and a chance to move out of the slum from whence he came, and better himself.
Because in the post war years, a strange morality came out, one that decreed bettering yourself meant amassing greater wealth. The prospect of such wealth, as society grew it’s obsession with materialism, was a heady and intoxicating prospect for Bloke A.
He seized the opportunity with both hands. He studied a discipline, the law perhaps, no, better still, medicine. On qualifying, he was miraculously transformed from the lowly Bloke A to the much grander, and infinitely better rewarded Dr A. And that, as they say, is where the trouble started.
Suddenly thrust into a world of qualified and successful professionals, Dr A was swept along by the tide. Bigger houses, better cars, and with them the social aspirations which usually follow economic upgrading. This urge is in part due to the distain with which his childhood friends now hold him; they see him as a sellout, turning his back on their factory jobs, their prison sentences and their love of football. He cannot go back.
But alas, in his new leafy suburban world, our worthy doctor is a fish out of water. Try as he might, Lawyer B and Banker C feel they have little in common with him. They exclude him. A shiny Mercedes or a nice suit are no passport to a new social strata when compromised by frequently dropped aitches, a northern brogue, and an irrepressible desire to don a flat cap when taking the whippet for a stroll.
Dismayed by his omission from guest lists, frustrated by being black balled from club membership, our hero decides to seek a new start, as his skills are mobile and indeed much in demand. He yearns for Utopia, an altogether more egalitarian society, and during his research, comes across New Zealand.
And so he emigrates. Imagine his dismay on arrival as he learns his new home is as economically aspirational as his old one, that society has an even more complicated and impenetrable structure than the one in which he failed. He is in despair.
And so, lonely and depressed, he casts his net wider, until he washes up on the shores of the social Sargasso Sea of the world, the mob.
Encouraged by the welcome which they afford him, he embraces their friendship and their values with equal zest. Of course, he fails to recognize that a man of his grand standing can only help to legitimise their cause. He mistakenly thinks they like him.
Poor Dr A. Had he only remained with Lawyer B and Banker C, he might in time have gained admittance to their world. But now he is cast adrift, reduced to playing the role of Man Friday to a motley collection of revolutionary Robinson Crusoes. And even though he is assailed by doubts, he is hooked.
Occasionally he feels the need to remind the mob of his superior status, but is clever enough to do so in a self deprecating way. Secretly he rejoices in his success, but publicly he decries it.
Now and then he finds it impossible to agree with some of the more extraordinary beliefs to which they cling, and is shocked by the speed and severity with which they censure him. Does friendship count for nothing, he wonders?
But he endures. Theirs is the only approval he has ever had. And so he strives to solidify his place in the mob, ever more strident in his declamations, his espousal of their causes.
This, then, was Mrs Thatcher's mistake. She created a whole new raft of socially detached wanderers, seeking a home in which they could feel secure.
And sadly that is with the mob, that straggling gaggle of men and women unannointed by what society measures to be success.
And the consequence for the rest of us? The increasing presence in our lives of causes and ideas so fatuous as to be risible to all but the mob and their new found cohorts of the wealthy, educated and socially displaced.
It was capitalism which spurred their advance, yet it is capitalism which caused their eviction from their social comfort zone, and in realising that, I too say that capitalism is morally bankrupt. Yet the harsh reality of the matter is that it remains the only viable option.