I’ve never been one to follow fashion, which is a relief, as incoherent hate seems to be all the rage and it doesn’t go well with my glasses and cardigan.
Is the experiment over? Has liberalism had its day? It’s a pity if it has as we never got that vibrant, lurid and sometimes grotesque cabaret and arts scene that lit up Berlin for a while.
I have often been mocked by my happy-go-lucky friends for my downbeat demeanour and bouts of bleak scepticism, but now they are finding their hopeful smiles slipping. Though it perishes them to imagine it, they worry that they may be beginning to sneak under my grey cloud.
I am not victorious. This does not please me.
I hope I am damned wrong. I read Steven Pinker’s Better Angels of our Nature and Yuval Noah Harari’s Homo Deus and I see a possible bright future that is not made bright by the glare of an atom bomb, but by the best sides of curiosity and altruism. Then, I worry that the conquest of disease, the decline in famine, the drop in death by war, has led to a new form of aggression and rejection of what might be good for us. These advances have made some of us complacent. We are unaware that quite a few of us are a lucky few in the history of humanity.
While many fit in the category of the least unfortunate ones in the history of civilisation, the need to feel there are aggressors who must be crushed as they are stopping us having what we deserve is reaching toxic levels. Oddly, it can be those who most comfortably sit in the aggressor group who can become leaders of the disenfranchised. The multi-millionaires and hedge fund managers who dodge their taxes and reap all the benefits from other people’s contributions have fashioned themselves into the people’s choice. If this situation of rabid rallies is partly due to the disparity between the few who are vastly wealthy and the many who have seen their wages stagnate and shrivel along with their rights and security, why are those who stand for those values of the suvival of the richest offer such appeal. Has our reptile brain taken hold of us all?
I was people once. Then, I kept hearing how the people had spoken and the people’s will and I didn’t recognise the sound of the voice or the desires expressed and I realised I was people no more.
My greater hopes for what politics can do is shrivelling.
That was probably their intention.
I am beginning to accept that in the reality bubble whose surface tension is maintained by very few proprietors, the very best I can do is a hotch potchy centre right with liberal intentions.
The masters are secure. We will see if Philip Green loses a yacht or a Ferrari while those of us who do pay tax see it propping up lost pensions rather than building new hospitals or being spent on better old people’s homes with gay abandon.
The mainstream right wing news media, which is most of it, is proud, pumped up, and keen on toppling all opposition to their way and truth and light. In the end, it turns out you can hack dead children’s phones and anyone else’s you fancy without too many repercussions. You can’t be toppled as you own most of the toppling equipment.
Would it be useful before placing pencil crosses in boxes to make a list of what we really want from a society? What do we want for ourselves?
I am very fortunate. I was born into the prosperous middle class, this greatly increases the chance that I will die as part of the prosperous middle class. What are my priorities? I am comfortably enough off that I can afford naivety. I am keen on the idea of a fair society. I am prepared to pay more tax for it. I consider access to excellent health care for everyone, whatever their age, a priority. If life is finite, I think you should get as much of it as you can and that life should be as comfortable as possible. I believe that access to nutritious food and warm shelter should be available to all who want it. I think people should have security and a good, varied and further education should be accessible to all.
I have not been persuaded yet that the greatest enemy to these possibilities are either refugees or any of the cultural groups that fit into the category of “not one of us” or that the lack a vast, dividing wall is the only thing that is an impediment to you and your dreams.
Maybe you can persuade me otherwise.
Maybe I’ll refuse to believe it because I don’t want to.
Maybe my dreams of a society built on pragmatism and Utilitarian values is a vision of utopia that is just too crazy.
How strange, when I think of all the fabulous futures created in imaginative fiction with their magnificent edifices and happy throngs, that now, even imagining for a future based on pragmatism and utilitarianism is a sign rapidly approaching of insanity.
Dead Funny Encore, an anthology of horror stories by comedians and Alan Moore, is available now.
Book Shambles has Nick Offerman on later this week. This week it is Helen Czerski or if you are in a Halloween mood, there’s Mark Gatiss and Reece Shearsmith.