“Evening all,” as they sometimes said in my youth.
OK. So I’ve kind of gravitated back to this blog – at least for the minute. I’ve changed the people I purchase the hosting from, though not the server where it’s located. So I kind of feel I have to mark the moment. And review a bit the past few months too.
As this has generally been a political space over the past few years, and as I have developed a little in my politics over the past few months, I need to bring you up to speed – at least those of you who haven’t read what I’ve written elsewhere, which is I suppose most of you.
The post I reproduce below signals, I think, a key change in my thinking, where I touch on the politics of victimhood:
The politics of victimhood is a dangerous beast. Whilst UKIP has long practised it in its pursuit of political notoriety, using false perceptions of immigration realities to whip up a casual furore amongst those who feel bewildered by our globalising world’s latterday speed of change, and whilst certain elements in both the Tories and Labour have preferred in a quite cowardly and triangulating way to simply go along with the narrative, in truth it only leads to the start of a banal fascism.
That fascism is already here.
Yet, for the moment, that politics of victimhood I mention seems to be working for the UKIPs amongst us where it doesn’t work for the progressives. I used to tweet at the Twitter account @eiohel; stopped for a number of reasons already described previously on this blog; and then realised, in dawning hindsight, that one of the more important dynamics which drove me finally to let go was that so many of the people I followed on this account were deliberately promoting the aforementioned politics of victimhood – though well within what I am sure most of them perceived as a framework of a left-wing nature.
By saying this, I don’t question their honesty, truth or integrity in any way. I just question whether their strategy – simply summarised as persistently using and exposing, for all to publicly see, their own declining standards of living at the hands of this awful Coalition government – will succeed in winning over hearts and minds outside their super-informed and well-organised support networks.
To my mind, now, after suffering their pain from the outside looking in for a long and unhappy three years or so, I’m not sure it will. For the first time in as many years, the Tories are above Labour in the opinion polls. And it’s not that I don’t approve of Labour’s leadership – quite the opposite, in fact; quite the opposite. But I suspect that where Labour have preferred to also use the same politics of victimhood which is apparently working so well for UKIP & Co, and which they see being used to great (though limited) effect by those very real and yet empowered victims in the Twitter- and Facebook-spheres, for progressives – progressives who really wish to show they are progressive – it is simply not enough to bewail one’s suffering. It is not even enough – not even even appropriate – to bewail one’s suffering and then tack on a
pointed piecemeal process of policymaking. No. In truth, if there is to be a real difference between rank fascism (wherever it is to be found) and a progressive stance in relation to this currently pitiful and intellectually poor world we are both sleepwalking into and actively permitting, then it must lie in how we tell our stories.
Let us not complain how poor we are, how badly treated we find ourselves, how bullied and discriminated against this society does make us. That is the UKIP/Tory way. That does not ennoble us. That sings no different a song to any voter out there.
Instead, if we are to learn from our recent past at all, we need to show that voting Labour makes you smarter, cleverer, happier and more sociable.
Social-ist. Skim off from all this corporate-devised social media the instincts to share, collaborate and act that could so easily make for a better world.
Democracy not as a goal but as a tool. Not as a destination but, rather, a way of seeing.
And leave the politics of victimhood for those who would believe they are to be nothing but the acted-upon.
Not us, though.
So yes. Perhaps the thought will upset you. But appealing to people’s compassionate sides so overwhelmingly as the sad evidence now allows will only create a debilitating fatigue. Labour needs leadership which doesn’t fall into the easy trap of choosing to reaffirm our prejudices but, rather, prefers to go down the route of enabling our ability to draw out the positives in life. And to cross over frontiers of humanity.
In a way, like art itself, like a good kind of mathematics too, Labour needs to be a party which doesn’t gather votes to itself by subtracting from life but – instead – appeals to and facilitates people’s lives by adding all the time. Not a mania for Gove-like change so that bully-boys can demonstrate their ability to thump legislative tables. No. An intelligence which observes and truly learns from what history can teach for the better.
“So stop complaining?” you ask. “Is that what you say?”
Maybe so. Stop complaining, yes – perhaps that is what I mean.
Don’t forget any of what they’ve done, by all means. But do use your memories to reverse – quite as fast as you can – out of personally, and politically, destructive victimhood.
So I suppose, if you’ve read this far, what I’m really saying is that the last few months I’ve spent extricating myself from the pain of social media users of a disadvantaged nature – I even said this (slightly edited today) on my @zebrared account the other day: “In the end, keeping tabs on and circulating the casual and causal evil of moneyed politics is a virtuous and democratic act, but spending so much time in processes of sharing bad stuff, perceptions & appreciations does the souls of those involved no good at all …” – have led me to realise that the truism that ignorance is bliss, whilst certainly not very 21st century, may continue to weigh heavily on our mental health.
The human being, by nature, needs the meditative qualities of precisely that: nature. Again, as I said, in the same tweeted stream of thought:
Just wish it were possible to participate in politics in time-efficient ways: in ways that allowed us to act *and* live non-political lives. A non-political life, a life not poisoned by the things modern politicians do to each other and us, is OK whilst it sustains the illusion. And that illusion of not being poisoned, where govt apparently ignores you ‘cos mainly you ignore it, is often welcome – even when a mirage.
Which brings me to the TTIP. I am sympathetic to the instincts behind emails such as this one I received from WDM recently:
On Monday Vince Cable and other leading members of the UK government will meet with big business in London to discuss the biggest corporate power grab in a decade.
Take action now to stop the corporate power grab.
The EU-US trade agreement (TTIP) threatens to undermine public control of services like the NHS and education, to erode environmental and food safety protection, to encourage controversial technologies like GM and fracking, and to give big business sweeping new power to write and challenge democratic laws.
Please write to Secretary of State Vince Cable too tell him the UK must resist TTIP.
Resistance against TTIP is on the rise on both sides of the Atlantic. If we act now we can beat the corporate trade agenda and fight for trade that works for people and the planet.
Join us to stand up for democracy.
But I haven’t, as yet, clicked through to help the cause. I find myself at a clicktivist loose end of late. Is that how it works? People like myself, perhaps too old to continue with the assertiveness which youth may add to human behaviours, gradually disconnect from all the good causes out there: and in so doing, we lose the historical moral compass and authority the TTIP link above describes so poignantly.
A loss of morality? A final vanquishing of democracy? Evil corporate business people winning the historical battle for control of our thoughts, actions, property – and even our flesh-and-blood ways of seeing?
Or – in the wearisome face of the UKIP-ed nation-states, in the absence of any kind of civic nationalism at all, in the presence of a brutal reversion to dog-eat-dog philosophies which find themselves cleverly dressed up and designed to be perceived as walls to protect and defend – are in fact the aforementioned (remember, allegedly evil) transnational corporate institutions actually much the lesser of such evils?
Certainly the lesser when compared to these resurgent nationalistic views of what nation-states should be.
So which would you prefer – if these were the only alternatives? A corporatised world of – maybe specious but nevertheless relative – global probity, where internationally recognised institutions pre-organised our democracy… or the random nastinesses of the UKIPs of this planet, destroying our peace of mind and body politic by pulling our emotional sense and sensibilities to immoral little pieces?
The immorality of an ultimate intellectual abdication in the face of the revolting nationalists versus the final victory of the capitalist monetisation of life?
Go on. Choose. The future is begging us to.
For the only alternative to either of the above I can think of is experiencing and occupying the continued misery of social media networks, where truth is absolute and accurate and available, it is true – but where knowledge, equally truly, no longer serves to confer us any real power.
Except, that is, perhaps we should now accept, the power to damage permanently our own beloved selves.