August 02, 2009 | Ronda Jambe

A Baad Approach

Last night we saw the film about the German 1970s terrorist group, ‘the Badder-Meinhof Complex’. At the start it said it was a true story, and the thread of events was believably jumbled and incoherent, so I assume it was a fairly accurate portrayal of the actual course of their attempts to change history.
While those events were unfolding in real time I was elsewhere occupied and wasn’t paying close attention. In my adult life, and probably throughout modern history, there has always been a sense of urgency about world problems. Environmental issues have been a growing ache for me since at least my late teens. I remember hearing about the Weathermen in the US, and marching in a huge anti-Vietnam parade that crowded the subways and ended with chants in Times Square. But that march was as far as my activism went.
On the face of it, the Baader Meinhof bunch were sadly psychopathic. They had no plans beyond destruction, and no discipline to find any. They did not rouse my sympathies or engage my mind with any grand thoughts. They reached out to the Islamists, with predictably unhappy outcomes.
Movies about terrorism always seem to come to the same dead end, so to speak. There is nothing on offer, just the brick wall of death. Provoke the state, and its reactive repression will unleash reform? Do they really think so?
Today’s challenge is to find an economy beyond expansion and a society beyond employment. That’s right, we can’t all count on living off wages. The factories of China can’t keep producing for the people of China, because they will hit the brick wall of overcapacity and environmental collapse. We can’t get to social justice via consumerism, on that much I agree with the radicals of the 60s and 70s. But blowing up the government and civilians is a mindless adolescent approach, like cutting off hands to stop theiving, or locking up women to keep society decent. There has to be another path, but perhaps there is just apocolypse, as philosopher John Gray believes. Progress towards enlightenment is the illusion of secular Christian dogma, we travel in an endless cycle of overreach, war, and recovery. Who knows for sure?
Seeing the film about the 70s made me think back on the paths I took then. As a recent migrant to Australia, and a young wife, I was exploring the cultural delights of Sydney with a dance drama group and doing a Masters in linguistics. I taught maths at a boys’ high school for a year and quickly retreated to tertiary level. With my hippie inclination, I used to make candles in my kitchen. Since then, I’ve done a few things and don’t make candles anymore. Maybe I haven’t been part of the solution, just another plodding consumer. Maybe I’d rather be like my Buddhist cat, free of attachments and part of the furniture.
cat protea copy.jpg
One thing is sure, on a cold Canberra morning like today, while spring is still too far away, I sure wish I was where I took this photo. Perhaps you too have been there….
airlie for blog.jpg

Posted by Ronda Jambe at 7:27 am | Comments (1) |
Filed under: Uncategorized

1 Comment

  1. The B-M group were certainly in Jordan but not with Islamists in the early 1970s.
    It is the failure of those Left primarily nationalist liberation movements that led to the rise of a religious opposition in the Arab and Islamic world, exacerbated by the ghastly mistake the US made in training 35,000 young militants in Afghanistan in the 1980’s with Saudi money and theology.

    Comment by peter d. jones — August 3, 2009 @ 10:04 am

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.