After almost three months in a Middle England where “hordes of homeless roam the streets”, it is from ‘Mitteleuropa’ that this morning’s post comes and there will be little reference to Theresa May’s “cherry picking”, or to Jeremy Hunt – whoops, and there was almost a freudian slip from Vienna there – telling all twenty seven EU countries that they shouldn’t “mistake British politeness for weakness” . Still, enough is enough and this blog will leave self-obsessed, in need of a bit of psychoanalysis, Brexit Blighty for the time being.
The real night out here was Thursday and a visit to Vienna’s Burg Theater. Ibsen’s ‘Ein Volksfeind’ (‘an enemy of the people‘) provided the entertainment, even if that entertainment was mostly due to a production which facilitated grins and distraction rather than any real cognitive processing of the content. Of course, there are reasons for that and Henrik Ibsen might be excused for writing something which, while still, of course, relevant, smacks of platitudes. After all, he did write the play in 1882.
Nevertheless, the play is indeed still relevant and, with a central thematic concern of it being political corruption, is there any surprise that a few days ago three scheduled performances were cancelled in the eastern Chinese province of Jiangsu after some members of the audience at a performance of the play in Beijing ” shouted out at the performers and called for freedom of speech”?
Ibsen has been popular in China among educated elites for a long time and his plays, which often highlight social problems, had been popular. However, with Xi’s state capitalism following hard on the heels of Deng’s “Socialism with Chinese characteristics” , there is no room for freedom of thought, not to mention freedom of speech. It is time to talk about China, but everyone does business with China, and if it is only to be hoped that in Europe certain morals prevail, it can be certain that Beijing is already banking on having Brexit Blighty in its pocket.