This Film Needs Watching: Still The Enemy Within
I really felt the need to write a few thoughts on finally getting around to watching the 2014 film Still the Enemy Within. An Owen Gower documentary that tells the story of the Miners’ Strike from the perspective of the miners. Something that you suddenly realise is criminally lacking. How can one ever again swallow another BBC standard-issue ‘Remember-The-80’s’ sort of program after watching this? Their so-called neutrality is exposed for what it is: the winner’s attempts at ‘reality management’.
The former striking miner from Frickley (a village on the South/West Yorkshire border) was far from wrong when he said that if the Miners had won the world would have been better for everybody today – the conclusive moment of the film. But even if it was more-than-likely that the capitalist class would have found another way of crushing worker solidarity, the fact remains that this was an obstacle to the implementation of market fundamentalism (usually called ‘neoliberalism’) across the globe. The footage of events both fire me up and make me equally sad: thousands and thousands of unhappy aspects that make up our current age, only ever describable in broken up trains of thought, become self-evident in the fact that something, something more than what can be explained, has been smothered in the silent-sickness of the times we now inhabit. An energy, visible in that footage that saddens us, moves us, scares us, but now always seems to evade us.
Born in 1984, in an area of Yorkshire very much caught up in the conflict, something is certainly stirred in me; maybe it’s the voices passionately crying out for justice in my mother tongue whilst enduring state-sanctioned brutality, whilst the Orwellian doublespeak of Thatcher in her interviews, claiming to be on the side of democracy and decency (in 2015, how could anybody argue that the market fundamentalism she helped brutally impose is on the side of democracy and decency?); or maybe it’s that these places I know too well, are so unfamiliar to me in the context of world where people still believed they could fight for a better world? (something that also captivated me in David Peace’s fact/fiction novel GB84). People often ‘condescend’ Barnsley (for example) by saying “everyone looks to have given up, I find it a depressing place”. There is truth in this, but they’ve come at from an angle skewed by an age of ‘capitalist realism’; the 1984 footage shows very homely places fighting for a world that has now been made to look impossible. Through the cobwebs of malaise and depressive episodes of the last few years, the recent Tory victory should be a call to arms to challenge the idea that there is no alternative to this utterly shit and shitter social reality.
What else is their left for me to say? One thing’s for sure: I’m convinced that the more people who are encouraged to watch this film, the more people there will be up and down the Country, standing up to these 21-century-cyberprick-Tories, and their current assaults on democracy and living standards. I think it is possibly even more important to us right now that Ken Loach’s The Spirit of ’45.