Thursday, 8 February 2007

What is to be done?

No, anticant is not suddenly donning the mantle of Lenin, and has no ambitions towards democratic centralism. But I find myself constantly asking this question, in a world scenario where home and overseas politics are in a worse mess than I can recall since Dunkirk. Abroad, the huge-bodied pea-brained American elephant lumbers around the Middle East causing purposeless mayhem and threatening yet more. Here, politics is firmly in the doldrums while everyone waits for the no longer entertaining Archie Rice to take his long drawn out final bow or be dragged kicking and screaming from Downing Street by Inspector Plod. Nobody it seems, is willing to tell him to take a running jump.

As a consequence there are a lot of increasingly frustrated and angry people waiting for something – anything – to happen. It has become clear to me during six months’ blogwatching that there is a great deal of depression around cloaking feelings of helplessness and growing fear. It is not – as the government has suggested - therapy dished out by a mythical army of counsellors that the population needs, but a clean sweep of the augean political stable.

What can concerned individuals who are not actively involved in the political process do to influence the situation? First, I would suggest, distinguish between what is possible and what is - for the time being at any rate - unalterable. We each need to take responsibility for our own feelings and behaviour and to recognise that anger is only useful if it is directed towards achieving something more than filling the air and cyberspace with our moans and groans and blaming complaints against “them”. Saying it’s all Blair’s fault, or Bush’s fault, or the Jews’ fault, or the Arabs’ fault is a denial of our own tiny individual smidgeon of responsibility for the prevailing moral and political climate – just as driving a gas-guzzling 4 x 4 on journeys we could perform by public transport or on foot is a denial of our personal liability for what’s going wrong in the thinning ozone layer.

Let’s avoid conspiracy theories unless there is compelling evidence in their favour and no credible evidence to rebut them. I have been amazed with the plethora of conspiracy theories which slosh around the internet like mental sewage. I am not a conspiracy theorist, by and large. I am not even convinced that cock-up theory is a common explanation for what happens. Of course there are plots, and conspiracies, that are intentionally activated by powerful people. But far more often, the best laid schemes of mice and men go astray and things just happen in a totally unanticipated way. “Events, dear boy, events”, as Harold Macmillan said when he suddenly woke up to the fact that he was no longer Supermac.

To say it’s all the sinister work of a small clique of evil people, and that all would be well if they were eliminated, is mental laziness. Wilhelm Reich put this very well in The Mass Psychology of Fascism:

“The responsibility for wars falls solely upon the shoulders of these same masses of people, for they have all the necessary means to avert war in their own hands. In part by their apathy, in part by their passivity, and in part actively, these same masses of people make possible the catastrophes under which they themselves suffer more than anyone else. To stress this guilt on the part of the masses of people, to hold them solely responsible, means to take them seriously. On the other hand, to commiserate masses of people as victims, means to treat them as small, helpless children. The former is the attitude held by genuine freedom fighters; the latter that attitude held by power-thirsty politicians.”

That makes a lot of sense to me. We are the masses. Let us take ourselves seriously, and cease bleating that we are helpless victims. We can do better than that.


Richard W. Symonds said...

Bloody good post, AC. Thanks.

Jose said...

Excellent, Anticant. I'm wondering what we should do with the giant network of laws that "our" representatives have enacted to keep us firmly at bay.

Because it is ultimately us that are the target of those laws. Those who infringe them are inveterate sinners who respect nobody and nothing.

anticant said...

Kind of you to say so, Richard and Jose. It was my struggle to find ways of expressing my thoughts that made me temporarily contemplate giving up blogging. But I believe it is so important for us "little people" to communicate with one another, and many others like us, if things are going to improve that I shall endeavour to continue, however hard it sometimes is to find the right words and phrases.

tyger said...

I have plugged this excellent article over on the blog. excellent.

Thanks for the tip Richard.

Richard W. Symonds said...

Don't thank me, Tyger. Anticant's the one to thank here.

I have no wish to flatter AC here - and I know AC has no wish for it - but I think we recognise here that he has managed - with I'm sure considerable difficulty - to put into simple language what many of us have been feeling, but couldn't put into words ourselves.

YellowDuck said...

I have read your last two essays and they have given me a lot of food for thought. I'd like to debate them with you, but I need some more time to mull them over. The only thing that comes to mind is again that the state itself is to blame for our current sense of helplessness. Especially on the continent decades of social democracy has conditioned people to look elsewhere for help and solutions rather than rely on their own capabilities. We are not helpless. We do not need excessive welfare support. We do not need pampered protection. It's interesting to note that under George W. Bush even the US has seen a massive increase in the scope of the state - eroding people's own self-belief, looking to Daddy-Oh to help them out against evil terrorists and Chinese companies.

We need to become more self- reliant again in all spheres of life. Only once we start thinking like that we will be able to gain our freedom back.

1loneranger said...

Fear not anticant.

We, the youthful rabble, will make our stand. As long as I have anything to say about it.

I am learning so much from the information I'm gathering here, and elsewhere.

It would be a shame to see you cease offering up your experience for us to digest.

Your writings fall on young eyes like the first rains of spring.