First published on The Lady Shed on 1/5/15
“Problem with you Mum, you’re an extremist”
That stopped me in my tracks. Driving along in my automobile, on a West Dorset lane, hedges ensuring I can only look ahead, no views of what’s happening in the fields around me. I didn’t slam on the brakes, but I sure was stunned into silence for a second.
“What do you mean I am an extremist?”
“You always go on about the Americans. That is extremist Mum”.
He was a bit angry with me. He loves America, the skateboarding, the rap music, the series on tv and all that stuff on YouTube. He doesn’t watch the news too much, that’s always the same old stuff of no interest to him whatsoever. Like so many adults who have given up on lis’ning.
And he sure has a way to get straight to the point, that boy of mine. And stop me in my tracks. He makes me think. He makes me readjust my ways. And I want to listen. Kids are not as blinded by economic beliefs that have been misinterpreted by a society on steroids along a motorway with hedges so high we can’t see any fields that may look different.
When so many teenagers I listen to see little hope of a bright future in this country, I wonder where we are heading. Just like the next person.
Starting from the system as we know it, our current base, the jungle out there, I can’t help but conclude that we will need dramatic changes in the long term if we are ever to live in that more balanced world philosophers have been writing about for centuries. For changes in the short and medium term, if we are to achieve any long term goals of rebalancing Society, maybe we do need to think about a few extremist ideas.
Yet I keep hearing that people don’t like change.
It makes me very angry when the Conservative Party’s manifesto states in the first paragraph “Labour’s Great Recession”. It worries me no end that the MP where I live has written a book entitled “How to privatise everything”. It astounds me that he writes policies with the help of seconded employees from KPMG and their like, even more so that our laws allow him -and many others- to do so. And then you have France riddled with endless strikes and equally filled with food banks. Economics and balance sheets are the only reality of life, it seems. “I didn’t leave Labour, Labour left me” said a Scotsman from Inverclyde, a typical Labour constituency near Glasgow, interviewed by the World Tonight on Radio 4 on 29 April 2015.
Is he the only one thinking this?
Take calculator, add person A = £6,210 a year salary to person B = £1,865,999 a year, divide by two and you’ll get an average that means the country is doing great, thanks. It means bugger all, how does that deal with poverty? I’m useless at maths but if the top paid earn forever more and the low paid earns a tiny bit more thanks to tax cuts, then when you average their salaries the number will be bigger. Recovery we hear, but for who? Cuts to vulnerable people’s benefits have lead to deaths. In 2015, in Britain or France. How can this be?
More importantly, where do we go from here?
In our black and white world, it seems that if I speak up against ‘the Americans’ I must be Red Nat. I must be against Obama. If I go on about the danger of corporations acting as a monopoly I must be antibusiness. If I speak up about Israel, I must be antisemite. Therefore I must be racist. Therefore I must be derided, attacked, bullied, silenced. Which is pretty much how the media have been able to conduct their affairs up to now. And allowed to tell people who they should vote for. For goodness sake, why are these non-dom media barons allowed to get away with such blatant political bias?
Yes things are changing, people are engaging in politics when given half a chance, as the Scottish referendum has shown. People are turning to alternative media for news thanks to the internet. McDonalds are closing outlets, Tesco is struggling (on paper). What happens next? Will they pay their small suppliers even later? These dangers have been forecasted for years, by extremists on the left, yet they have mainly been ignored by Westminster Cabinet Inc. The old school media meanwhile is peddling the same old hatred to divide us to smithereens.
Benefit scroungers vs the rich, public sector workers vs private, countryside vs cities, good old days of the Empire vs ignoring the young, disabled vs the lucky ones, Eastern European vs proper British, hard working families vs lazy single parents (we can only assume). Oh and religions, obviously, nothing like a good old established subject of division and hatred. Always works that one. And that was before we even started the election.
Now we’re in overdrive. When a woman suddenly inspires not only Scotland but also English voters, all hands on deck. She’ll be working with that Welsh one as well. And heaven forbid the Aussie one with mad ideas. She and the other two must be taken down: if we are to be Great or British, we must remain a Union, we must therefore ensure those self-centered Scots stay back where they belong, north of the border. And The Sun happily backs the SNP North of the Border, and treat them like terrorist scum South of the border.
And I’m an extremist?
I have a beautiful roof over my head, I live in a stunning area and I’m angry. I’ve never been hungry, but I’m scared. When more and more ‘haves’ think that Conservatives have gone too far, won’t vote for somebody who won’t tell them where those damn £12bn cuts will come from; when they can see for themselves how this witch hunt of the have-nots-who-must-all-be-scroungers hits the old industrial areas like Cornwall; when the scroungers off the top have not gone anywhere near a judge, let alone a prison, and nowhere near enough the coffers of HMRC whilst the rest of us keep filling that big black hole to pay for:
- the interest on our debt that goes straight into the bank balance of private banks with no renegotiation of the rate,
- in-work benefit that goes disproportionally to the likes of Amazon and their non-tax paying international friends,
- private landlords that make millions from rents on sub standard properties because there is no alternative social housing,
then please forgive me for worrying from my utopian cloud. I understood (wrongly) free market to mean something a bit more balanced, a bit less authoritarian from the corporations who want yet more power in Europe with TTIP so they can sue governments if their balance sheet gets hit by:
- our not wanting fracking,
- our wanting to know what we eat with proper labelling,
- our asking for dangerous chemicals to be banned.
TTIP is being negotiated in secret, now, and the main parties are in favour of ‘business’. When was TTIP mentioned in the elections?
And I’m not even talking about climate change, a subject that has been as good as absent in these elections too.
If we cut benefits from the poorest yet more, won’t there be even more anger? Would we not likely have more riots like in the States, like in New Orleans, still not recovered from the devastating hurricane ten years ago, even before racism is taken into account?
Do we want to become more like the States and their Senate that blocks the President from moving in the direction he was elected to go towards because a small number of people can spend millions on political campaigns, anti-climate-change ‘scientific research’ aimed at the ‘left’s conspiracy theories’, the Fox News and Tea Party of this world…
That’s why my son calls me an extremist about Americans. He’s not the only one. And I understand what he means. Out of context, I sound like a communist. In our current world, I’m just worried that we are like a car on a West Dorset lane going way too fast, heading for a tractor that we cannot see but is firmly around the corner.
I have a vision of blondie Boris and his water cannons, a couple of years from now, you know the ones, acquired cheap from Germany without permission from government. That gives me a vision of his type of leadership, apart from his jokey way of talking to people like they’re idiots, like he knows better and will do what it takes to get his way. If authority is what we’re after, he’ll do a great job. Authority scares me because when it does not listen, it becomes totalitarian.
It does not let me talk.
If I want to go and protest in London about fracking I might end up kettled for hours by some private company like G4S, end up at the wrong end of that water cannon, maybe sent to a Serco private jail that needs to make a profit, if I get injured it may be Virgin that looks after me and if I end up with a nervous breakdown due to massive stress because I find our society frighteningly out of hand but don’t want to just ignore it because it is my children’s future, well, who knows who will look after me?
At the moment in West Dorset, people with mental issues who end up at the top of a cliff out of despair are taken in a police car to Poole, an hour away. Because there’s no money to help them significantly, they’re ‘released’, they go back to the cliff, the police has to pick them up again, and again, hopefully as the alternative is at the bottom of the cliff, and yet police numbers are decreasing.
Where do we go from here?
There are many alternative roads from the established ways, if only we get a chance to look at them properly, analyse their proposals fairly, and work out a more balanced way forward. From Positive Banking that invests in small businesses, to enabling community Green Energy so we never rely on monopolies and foreign countries anymore, surely humans are clever enough to build a better society learning from the mistakes of the past?
In my search for a fairer world for my children away from finance capitalism, totalitarian communism or corporate socialism…
am I really an extremist?