Even when people who know better, know better, my political DNA makes it impossible for me to listen with an open mind to the fatuity of racist nonsense which spews forth from UKIP and its ilk.
See what I mean?
I simply can’t say sensible things as people like Bob can.
Yet, today, something that came my way from a collaboration between the Guardian and the Royal Court has changed quite substantially how I feel on this matter.
Where the dichotomy of white-van man – and its rather darker subtext, white van-man – just made me squirm with the rank idiocy of the whole matter, unable as I was through the frame of my own prejudice to comprehend all that emotion honestly if offensively felt, the short almost ten-minute film I saw this afternoon, fruit of the above-mentioned collaboration, left me tweeting the following:
.@guardian @royalcourt Oh my Lord. That had me weeping. :-(
As another tweet commented shortly afterwards, though randomly (out of and back to the ether):
Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance & change often begin in art, very often in our art—the art of words.
UKIP, in me, in their political misadventures, in their often – for me – primitively racist and homophobic statements, have only served to create and leave a sense of despair about my homeland: after all that we have suffered in the 20th century, we should now so easily revert and throwback to this tawdriness only makes me want to resist with everything at my disposal.
The Guardian/Royal Court film, however, speaks to me and my being through its art, in a way that people like UKIP never will through their politics.
And there’s a lesson in all of this, and it’s a lesson I think we ought to face up to: yes, UKIP is a horrible political grouping, but in a democracy like ours, however mediated, oxidised, even actively corrupted and damaged, we need in some way or other to learn how to understand others too. On our terms, of course; naturally; it’s our right. But if democracy is to be allowed to continue to negotiate us out of the far worse alternative of bloody civil conflict, then it must also be on the terms of those others. Even when they act in manifestly bad faith.
I now understand UKIP’s voters – in particular, its attraction – as I was never able to contemplate doing so before. And it’s not due to Hope Not Hate; it’s not due to Michael Ashcroft’s perspicacity; it’s not due to other rivers of virtual analysis; it’s not due to Labour, the Tories, the Lib Dems or the Greens. Entirely, for me, it’s due to a short, brave, sob-inducing piece of theatre; made by journalists and artists together; filmed in front of a coffin we see draped in a red and white English flag, ultimately shot in a heavily-pregnant black and white; a piece of art which moves from the individual to the national, from the historical to the personal, in one shocking sweep of rudely violent rhetoric.
So much pain.
So much breakage.
So much sadness at bridges both burnt and burning.
So much sadness which politics has never once allowed me to absorb; but which art, this time around at least, has managed to bring close enough for me to finally see why all this is happening.
They say our emotions blind us to reality.
But sometimes the most visceral of moments are keys to unlocking the truth.
Bringing people together, face-to-face, via technology which already knows how to bring them together, monitor-to-monitor, is the only way forward; the only solution out there; the only way to recreate the democracy we’re in danger of losing.
I dunno. Maybe I’m not a political being after all.
What do you think? Should I jack it all in?