At the Rugby 7s three years ago, E@L was caught at the front of a crush. He learnt then, again, that the future belongs to crowds.
They were queueing up to get into the after-rugby party at "The Tent", an every-night piss-up and music-fest in the HK Bowling Club grounds opposite the Rugby Stadium. Usually ultra-fantastic band 9th State played their 70's, 80's& 90's retro rock and roll, it was brilliant and outrageous and it was SUCH a good time.
E@L and some of his mates were raucously drunk after a HUGE day at the rugby, lining up to get in as per ritual, per routine, per habit, for at last there was a chance to eat some non-McDonalds-quality food and maybe have some wine not just beer, as well as joining the fun in the mosh-pit...
But somewhere back in the crowd, a group of even-more-drunken gwailo fuck-wits were getting pissed off with waiting as, sure enough, it took quite some time for the amorphous throng to coalesce into the two only lines required to make their way down the scaffolding supported steps and into the entrance gate of the club and then move into The Tent.
E@L felt a push against him from behind. There was a surge of energy, emanating from this largish group of chanting English fuck-wits in particular, a wild group of dickheads trying to push forward, laughing and jumping, *pretending* to fall, in the direction of the gates, against their neighbours in the crowd but actually doing so on purpose. This was chain-reactioning into those at the front, forcing them unwillingly to become uncomfortably familiar with the wire-mesh of the fence overlooking the Bowling Club, maybe 60 feet below...
There was only a few fuck-wits doing this, but many of the HK people affected by the surge were not fighting back against this thrust, allowing themselves instead to be carried forward by the charge of these idiots, laughing and chanting as well, enhancing the pressure effect across quite a large area of the crowd. Maybe we'll all get in sooner, they must have thought.
E@L, as you can imagine, was not so easily impressed. But there were so many people near him who just accepted the throb of pressure, the push of the masses. When the first wave of pushing came forward, he got so close the fence as to have to hold his hand against the wire himself, over the heads of several adjacent local people who were in fact SMILING!, thrilled by the dynamics of the situation.
A disconcerting picture flashed though his mind - from the inside front cover of his copy of Mao II... The victims of the Hillsborough Disaster...
People are such mindless idiots, as a rule. But E@L was never one to follow mass opinion...
He felt another surge coming. This time however, he leant back against the flow, pushed back into the people pushing at him and tried instead to open the distance between himself and the fence, despite the pressure and conjoint effort of the crowd behind him - he was a force of resistance.
He called out...
"DON'T FUCKING PUSH! I'LL FUCKING KILL ANYONE WHO PUSHES!"
... hoping that the crowd of idiots were in hearing distance. The people near him were somewhat taken aback: why was this gwailo not enjoying this mindless, sheep-flock flow? But instead of joining them, he said to those at his side, "When you feel a push from behind, resist it. Can't you see? The people near the fence are getting crushed..." They looked, thought about it, and must have seen his point...
The push came again, a third time. The yobbo English idiots (did I mention that they came from Britain?) were laughing and jumping against the crowd in front of them still, stupidly thinking that their insane efforts would cause some magic to occur up at the front of the queue, where at least 16 lines were trying to merge into two. For a third time, E@L pushed back with all his 120kg might, calling out:
"DON'T FUCKING PUSH! DON'T YOU REMEMBER HILLSBOROUGH? PEOPLE ARE GETTING CRUSHED UP THE FRONT HERE, YOU FUCKWITS!"
E@L slowly felt that he wasn't alone and that the people with him were beginning to push back against the pressure. A group of freethinkers was forming around him. As this group resisted the pressure, so did the thrust of the crowd begin to ease. It felt that the forward insane pressure against the wire was truly and in fact finally dissipating as independant-thinking people resisted.
Maybe those nearby people had heard him, listened, accepted. Maybe the drunken English pommy fuck-wits (from England) were distracted by something else - a bright light, a whistle, a large set of breasts, or something. People at the front of the crowd who had been feeling the push and were initially being crushed up against the wire began to relax a bit and were able to get out of harm's way.
Maybe this never was going to be a disaster, maybe it wasn't going to cause problems after all.
The progress of people into the steps to the entrance began to ease, the flow was OK, no-one was pushing anymore. Had E@L averted the disaster, saving how many lives? Had the English twits at the back been distracted or shamed? Who knows?
The crowd moved normally again. No-one was getting pushed against the wire fence anymore. The evening was still fun and the non-incident never made it to local newspaper, which is at is should be.
All E@L really remembers of any value from the night is the ease with which a few lunatics can turn a crowd into a self-destructive mob and how important it is to see the bigger situation and to RESIST when the way we are going is wrong...
So fragile our humanity, so tenuous our grasp on civility.
Our existence, it needs constant monitoring.
It needs people who push back:
- Against the unthinking crowd.
- Against the mindless masses.
- Against popularity, fashion.
- Against what is initially perceived as fun, as amusing.
- Against thinking that you can't make a difference.
- Against not seeing that you do have a choice.
Going AGAINST the flow... THIS is the role of gonzo bloggers, of artists.
Of E@L, scourge of the mindless, of the mob-brain infected, of the fraternity of infinite monkeys.
Prompted by: In Manila today, another tragedy as people rush to get into a stadium, this time for a lottery draw.
Via Mme Chiang.
OTHER MONKEYS SAID
Going to think about this post for a lota reasons.
Crowds, 1 man theory, fences and greed.
Read MaoII (Don DeLillo) as well.