When I was growing up, if I’d asked my father why the sky was blue he’d have given me a lecture on the evils of capitalism. My father was a pretty left-wing member of the British Labour Party (the socialists) and devoted to local politics. I’ve voted once in my life.
I voted for Tony Blair but, within months, started to wonder why there wasn’t a way I could ask for my vote back. Cynically and cold-bloodedly, Blair presided over the destruction of all that was decent in the British Labour Party. Today, my Dad’s a member of the UK Communist Party because, he says, ‘I want to die a Communist’.
My Dad’s given up on British party politics but he can take comfort in the fact that he’s done a huge amount of good for the community in which he lives.
A typical trajectory
I grew up in the 1980s, when politicians tapping into our collective greed ushered in neoliberalism. I’m of the generation that heard Margaret Thatcher say ‘There’s no such thing as society’. Although Thatcher’s the only politician I’ve ever truly loathed, I’m a product of the belief that there’s only the individual and that politics is a boring waste of time.
But I’m coming to the conclusion that the only way to get ourselves out of the shitstorm we seem to always be in is to support the few decent politicians we have. Within the system. Politics may be mindnumbingly boring but what’s the alternative?
The alternative alternatives
Like so many of my friends, I’ve spent the past few years on an, ahem, spiritual path. I’ve been content to do yoga, meditate, eat happy eggs and stay within my own Eloi-Bubble. I help people I like and give money or click-lobby to supposedly help people I don’t actually want to be anywhere near.
Now I don’t think this is enough. Humanity is not evolving. The pink, toad-faced Morlocks are getting stronger all the time and, all over the world, bubbles are bursting.
It might be time to engage with the down and dirty real world. As the philosopher John Mellencamp says 'If you don't stand for something you'll fall for anything'.
Hillary and the private prison lobby
One of the first things I read this morning was a story on Salon.com that claimed Hillary Clinton ‘has accepted campaign contributions from two major prison lobbyists, Wall Street, and the oil and gas industry, yet promises progressive stances against all these interests.’
I don’t know about you but I can’t think of anything more disgusting than the idea of private corporations running prisons for profit. And I also can’t remember a politician acting in a more cynical, hypocritical and insulting way.
At least right-wing politicians like Trump or some of the monsters in power in Europe don’t bother pretending they’re in it for anything other protecting their own cadre of cronies. Hillary’s meant to be on the side of decency, dammit.
All hail the Milennial
Much of the energy that’s driving Bernie Sanders on seems to be coming from Millennials. They’re the ones seeing the American political system for the absolute joke it is. And who seem to not be prepared to take it anymore.
Because they’re the bright young minds that business wants to attract for its own survival, the Millennials may actually have some power – en masse. Or, perhaps more realistically, in local, grass-roots politics.
I don’t know if what’s happening in the US will lead to real, long-lasting change. For this to happen, the corporate Morlocks have to be cowed. Because capitalism survives by defanging and then eating whatever threatens it.
But I’ll take a glimmer of hope over disillusionment and impotent rage any day of the week.