On Gammons, Ockers And De Sade

When in the first decade of this century I was struggling to find a satisfactory term for George Bush voters – what have subsequently been called Movement Conservatives and also conspiracy theorists, Deplorables and worse – the word “gammon” had not yet been invented in the UK. Or if it had, I remained unaware of it until Brexit. For the benefit of any foreign readers I will therefore explain that a “gammon” is an angry middle-aged white man, with his face always red – primarily with rage, but often assisted by capillary damage from heavy drinking. Rage against what? Foreigners, mostly, thus the European Union (the wogs begin at Calais, as they used to say), and probably also gays, feminists, intellectuals, the BBC and many other such irritants. In other words, pretty much everyone except royalty, plutocrats posing as self-made men, and other gammons. I may have missed the creation of the word, but I certainly knew the thing – after all, I grew up among them, braying the latest memes from the Daily Wail and the Torygraph as their own inventions and calling for the flogging and hanging of criminals and the shooting of trade unionists. Which they regarded as the same thing.

Living at a safe distance from Brexit, I was at the same time coining my own nickname for a certain local tribe, the people on the bus who could get from “Nice day” to “Bloody foreigners” in ten seconds. For their distorted expressions and the metaphorical stream of dirty water flowing from their mouths, I called them “gargoyles”. This was before Nôtre-Dame burned down and most of my hearers had no idea what the word meant. Apart from the fact that “gammons” is used about men and my “gargoyles” came in all genders, they seem to be much the same thing. But as “gammons” may not be understood outside the UK, while “gargoyles” is my own coinage, we are still short of a universal descriptor for a particular human type. Australians have their “ockers”, but this is not globally understood either.

Anyone who doubts that there really is such a human type, on the other hand, should look at old photographs of the early Sturmabteilung: I am confident that members and victims could be distinguished in a blind test. Nowadays, I suspect that you might have difficulty telling the neo-Nazis from the extreme antifa; indeed, I once proof-read a doctoral thesis about how they are often the same people, switching back and forth according to chance or their latest girlfriend, seeking both a sense of belonging and a good punch-up. But distinguishing the street thugs of both sides from ordinary people by looks alone, this might be possible. I am still looking for a universal term for the marginally less violent variety of right-wingers.

So how does De Sade come into this? Obliquely, in that he wrote that the lowest form of criminal tended to vote for conservative candidates. Now, in probably the Seventies I read a scientific article claiming that if you plotted political affiliation against ethical level (which they purported to measure somehow), then the Left included both the best and the worst individuals, with the conservatives in between. That seemed to make sense back then, when conservatives were suits rather than shamans, but things have changed. One might say that the conservatives have lurched towards the criminal end of the spectrum.

Although the gammons of my youth were forever ranting about how most other demographics ought to be hanged, they never executed anyone personally. January 6, 2021 showed us that this is changing very radically. It will continue to do so, probably in consequence of some brilliant worldwide organisation. The successful export to Europe of ideological anti-masking may be just the precursor. All the more reason, then, why we should find a term that is accurate and intuitively recognisable.

Posted on October 13, 2021 at 15:48 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: RESISTANCE IS FUTILE!, The Shadow In The West

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