This is going to be raw. I don’t have clever words today because I’m sat here having just stopped crying with a lump in my throat and an answer to why I’ve been feeling so unsettled since the summer. On paper I should be a happy camper – I’ve sold a trilogy (a life long dream) and have (hush now) a new job in a sector I love. I’m married and have great kids.
Except that today I witness a rally by the ‘Alt Right’ in Washington DC where they finished by shouting ‘Heil Victory’ after having extolled the virtues of white supremacy and on the same day when on CNN people weren’t shut down after asking whether Jewish people were even really people.
I sit here without a sense of what to do about a society I see dying before my eyes – one where we sensed we could become more tolerant, more accepting and even perhaps a bit more chilled out about that we disagreed with. Instead I feel like the extremes are taking the centre ground, not by reason, not with hope or grace but with hatred at their hearts and violence on their lips. It’s not about left or right – God we’re so passed that now. It’s about those who want to actively see others harmed or denigrated, who want to steal the dignity of others so they themselves feel better because they can ensure there are others whose lives are harmed.
I don’t understand why the press isn’t calling it fascism, racism and naked hatred. I don’t understand why so many people continue to think it more important to worry about their cats’ latest cuddle (and I’m not attacking you, it’s just that right now I can’t see past this massive change in the way our society works).
It seems to me that until people are rounded up for daring to protest about the government on the internet or until people who aren’t white or men who believe in the ‘god given religion of white supremacy’ are being herded into ghettos that we’ll actually wake up.
I have a faith and right now I have no idea how it might inform what I’m facing (it’s an existential crisis right now and to God I hope it never gets beyond that). There is no political party that appears to give a shit about this, no one defending our institutions when they disagree with the abuse of power, no opposition ensuring we have something more than a 1 party state in the UK. Instead, in our ignorance of how independent institutions should function we rant and
And let me be clear – this isn’t about people who voted for Brexit because some of the worst anti-semites and racists I’ve ever met are on the extreme left. This is about what the campaign for Brexit has made possible, what the hatred of immigrants in what has become the centre ground has made possible. This is about how the centre has become a place where we bully those who disagree, where we do not tolerate difference, need, weakness or reason on ALL sides.
How did this happen? How did we become a people so far from compassion that we’d rather children starved to death in Calais than be given hope in the fifth largest economy in the world?
Oh, I’m sure there are reasons, I could write an essay on post-colonial collapse, on the impact of the financial crash, of how globalisation has been a boon but has left many people in effective serfdom. I don’t need it explaining to me.
Nor is education the whole answer. This suggestion is to miss the point, to focus on the individual rather than the society whose narrative shapes us all. When the centre ground had moved so far to the extreme that it’s ok to question whether people fleeing war are even human then no amount of education can make a position anywhere else look anything except extreme itself. I want a party or a movement to belong to whose voice will be heard when arseholes shout that Jews should be killed, when they say we should torture our enemies, when they say that women should stay in the kitchen, when they say people with my skin colour are naturally inferior and should live separately. And just to be clear, it’s not simply white people who are racist and intolerant but right now it’s WHITE supremacism that’s on the rise in my country.
I want a movement whose voice will contest the very idea of the centre ground.
Is such a movement political? Of course it’s political! Yet it’s no the Labour party nor is it the Conservatives, both of whom in their own ways (Labour with their hideous tendency to operate from the centre and the Conservatives with their horribly regressive sense that poor people need to be told how to live) feed this very problem.
Yet I don’t know if I have the energy for this fight. Which is what those who hate me hope for I guess. I don’t know if people would fight alongside me, would fund and create content, would stand up in the street or hide those who were being hunted. I don’t know my children would be safe nor whether more people than less give enough fucks to stand up for a society in which we hate fascism.
I’m open to ideas but I’ve thought about this hard and see nothing to which I want to give my commitment to. I can only believe we need something new, some resurgence of hope, of grace that is secure enough in itself to stand up to those who would think nothing of beating it bloody to shut it up. I don’t know if you want to follow me in that, I hope you do.