Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

In My View

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

In My View

Article excerpt

Byline: By Robert Handyside

"you can't always get what you want".

The immortal words of late 20th Century thinkers Jagger and Richards.

But what exactly did they mean by that, back in 1969?

I put that question to them last week. They haven't replied yet.

You can't always get what you want.

They were written in the 1960s but these words sum up the zeitgeist of the 21st Century. Zeitgeist is a neat German word that means "the defining spirit or mood of a particular period of history". Unlike "Strassenbahn", which is a not-very-neat German word for "tram".

I don't say that Mick and Keith were great philosophers. Not like Descartes or Wittgenstein. But Descartes was useless on lead guitar and Wittgenstein couldn't hold a note, never mind fill a 100,000 stadium.

Besides, when was the last time you read any Descartes? And he hasn't released an album for years.

So, what have patio heaters, 4x4s, cheap air fares and disposable nappies got in common?

They're bad and you can't have them any more, that's what.

That was Mick and Keith's presage from 1969. Could they really see 40 years into the future? Probably not, they were too busy outraging the establishment.

If we can't always get what we want there may be trouble ahead.

In politics, for a start. The Chinese have a proverb: "May you live in interesting times." My money's on it.

Politics is about promising to give us what we want. No, that's too kind; politics is about appearing to promise to give us what we want.

Nobody won an election by promising bad times ahead.

True, in May 1940 Winston Churchill offered nothing but "blood, toil, tears and sweat". But that wasn't an election. And there was a war on, so a certain amount of realism was expected. Also, let's be honest, Churchill could really knock out a speech.

Don't get me wrong; having elections is better than the alternative. At least with western democracy you can chuck them out if they mess things up. What did the Russians get from 70 years of Communism? Fourteen Five-Year Plans and a two-year waiting list for a new car at the end of it. …

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