After 4 years of a clean break with writing about politics, here I am, coming back to a topic that fascinates me and depresses me in equal measure.
David Whyte talks about “living the conversation”. What conversation do you want to live?
I like this way of framing your “life purpose” because a conversation is never a “resolved” question. It’s a living, breathing, forever renewing, forever changing thing.
I keep being “dragged” by the conversation around politics, even though there is no logical reason why I should. I’m not achieving anything, and nobody is listening to me.
Yet here I am.
The “Girl Who Wasn’t Me”
Once upon a time there was a “Girl who Wasn’t Me” writing about politics, much like I was doing at the time. Her writing got attention, and her career took off, while mine… didn’t.
Eventually I had it with the indifference, I had it with the neurosis, I had it with the “fighting to get noticed” of every single political activist on Twitter and just left politics altogether.
I tried to become… “The Girl I was meant to be”.
I believed that life had a different path for me.
And now… now I see that there’s another “Girl who wasn’t me”. A “Woman I wished to be”.
She focuses on yoga and meditation and mindfulness. On eating healthy things, and dreams and green smoothies. All while enjoying a comfort and security I have never known.
She can be a life coach. She lives in a beautiful, endlessly instagramable house. And she has a male partner with a good job. That’s key. Peak behind the curtain of the Female Empowerment Brand and you will see husbands. Instagramable houses don’t come cheap.
I wish I could be like Her. Instead I worry about the state of the world because it affects me, directly. All while I make the most out of living among grime and filth, roaches and rats, none of which will win me any favours on Instagram.
I’m suscribed to this Woman’s newsletter. She could be found writing the lines “I don’t usually write about politics, but”.
Yeah, but. But Trump. And you remembered that your family is Jewish. And suddenly for a precious minute of two there was a gap in the bubble of privilege and comfort. Suddenly politics was important. Because it might possibly affect you, maybe.
That gap is closed again now. Back to Instagramming your house, and your beautiful kids, and your life of privilege and comfort.
I wish that could have been me, and I could have turned “life coaching” into a career, and I didn’t have to care about politics ever again.
I wish I had turned into that Woman. I thought that was who I was meant to be.
My life is precarious. And if the shit goes down in the political world, read: the Conservative Party win again, I will be the first sacrificial lamb.
I do not have the luxury of remaining indifferent.
I finally realised why I was so angry
Remember that episode in “Sex and the City” when Carrie runs into financial trouble? It’s my favourite episode, and the only one that’s worth a damn. She says “suddenly, I was irrationality angry, and I knew just where and who to take it irrationality out on”.
She had been having cocktails with the girls the day before, sharing her struggles with coming up with a huge sum of money for a deposit on her apartment going condo. Miranda offers to lend her the deposit money, Samantha offers to lend her the deposit money. Charlotte remains silent.
Right after her realisation the day after, she storms to Charlotte’s house and asks her why she didn’t offer her the money. Charlotte says it’s not her responsibility to help Carrie with money, she’s a grown woman.
Now, a bit of background here. Charlotte just recently divorced a rich man and got a Manhattan penthouse out of the settlement. We don’t know how she makes a living, but we do know she doesn’t need to work, something Carrie points out to her. What makes Carrie angry is that Charlotte did not offer to lend her the money, even though she has money to spare.
In the end, that’s exactly what ends up happening. Charlotte realises that there is no point in having money if she can’t help those she loves, so she gives Carrie her engagement ring to get the money for her deposit.
I love this episode because it is the only instance in the 6-Season-long series when one of the characters struggles with money.
There’s a lot to be said about how one’s suffering and struggles lead us to awakening.
By the same token, there’s a lot to be said about how comfort leads us to numbness and complacency.
Much like Carrie, I realised last week why I was so angry. Ever since this General Election got called I’ve not seen any of my more “privileged” friends post anything on Facebook.
OK, so not everyone spends as much time as me on social media. But I know these people, I have known them for years, and I remember them when they were young and fired up about politics. Back when there was much less at stake than today. You know, when we weren’t facing the possibility of WWIII, when there wasn’t a Fascist in the White House, and not a shadow of Fascism could be found in France?
Back then they cared about politics.
So what changed?
Privilege and comfort, that’s what.
(It makes me wonder if Charlotte would have helped Carrie with money back when she wasn’t so wealthy.)
To put this crudely, I’m the only one among my friends to have remained on the minimum wage, doing a menial job, with no contract. I’m also the only one to have needed health services that weren’t easily available (still waiting).
And also, this needs to be said, I’m the only one left single. The world needs reminding over and over: single people are a lot more vulnerable to poverty and destitution than coupled people. Every homeless person is single. Couples don’t end up homeless.
I wish I was a “Privileged Liberal”, and my politics were clear
My politics are not clear because Politics are no longer clear.
Because “the System” no longer works for most people. That would be “Most people”.
It still works for a few, the middle class “Privileged Liberal”. And they are the loudest proponents of going back to the system we all used to believe in. You know, back in the day when it worked for most people.
They are safe, they are comfortable, and in their view, democracy works. There is no housing crisis, employment is peachy, science will eventually solve all our problems, and education is the path to a better job.
Science, justice, journalism, medicine, the economy… these would all work just fine if we went back to how things used to be.
Oh sure, there’s a few “chinks in the system”, but the Privileged Liberal believes the chinks can be fixed.
And yet there’s an increasing number of people who think the system is all chinks.
I don’t pretend to understand how these people think or why they think as they do, but at least I’m trying, which is a lot more than what most Progressive Liberals are doing.
They want to carry on as if nothing has changed.
Nothing has changed???
Man, people have to be seriously comfortable to remain stuck in their worldviews after the election of Ronald Tromp.
What is the point in having such a loud wake up call if they aren’t going to… wake the Hell up?
How can ANYONE alive not question their actions and their values in the face of Fascism and possible Nuclear War?
Really, if this doesn’t make you question your beliefs and your course of action, then nothing will.
Well… not nothing.
Perhaps abject failure. Perhaps abject poverty.
Perhaps when nothing in your life works anymore you will be left with the undeniable realisation that the system is not redeemable in any way.
The world as we know it is falling apart.
This is where we have to start. By accepting that the old world is falling apart.
The political world has got much worse
In the time I’ve been away from political activism things have gotten worse.
You might think I mean the election of the Roland, and partly yes, that’s a clear sign of “worse”.
But I also mean the political activist scene from the “Progressive, liberal” camp.
Everything has turned into “hating the other side”, as Charles Eisenstein says. Now at first I would read that and think “Well, maybe a bit, but honestly how can one not hate the conservatives and republicans? They are evil!”.
That was until I had an encounter on Twitter with someone from “my side” who thought I was “on the other side” simply because I disagreed with her.
I replied to this woman on Twitter, who is an author and a progressive liberal, by saying that the concept of “white” is complex in Europe, because it mostly means “people my skin tone not darker”, and every country in Europe has a different skin tone. Her reply was that “it’s not that complicated, actually, ask any brown or black person”.
I find it interesting that whenever I critique the mainstream narrative on race and racism, people immediately assume I’m white. I wish that assumption held water at job interviews.
I replied nothing, because there is nothing I can say to the Privileged Liberals.
Much like there is nothing I can say to the working class racists.
There is nothing I can say because they don’t respond to arguments, they don’t listen to anyone who thinks differently, and anyone who disagrees with them is “one of those”.
We have all stopped listening to one other.
I have nothing in common with the Privileged Liberals, the people I should have most in common with, and nothing in common with the working class racists.
I am, and always have been, strictly on the Left, and there are very few people sitting there.
Maybe if I was in a nice middle class job, with good private healthcare, and married to a man with a nice job, with good private healthcare, and both of us owned a nice house and a car, maybe I would be a Privileged Liberal too.
I’ve been kicked out of the Privileged Liberal bubble, much like I’ve been kicked out of the “middle class”.
When you fail to secure a good job and a good husband, such is your faith.
I too want to fall asleep
Nobody wants to go to sleep more than me.
I’ve been suffering my whole life.
If I ever found myself within arm’s reach of comfort, I would go to sleep and never wake up.
Say, if I married a rich man, I would go to sleep and never talk about politics again. I would get myself three Macs, just because. I would go to yoga class twice a day. I would not cook a single meal, make a single coffee, wash a single dish. I would go on yoga retreats and possibly become a yoga teacher. And if I ever wrote about anything, it would be about rainbows and sunsets, and how beautiful life is and how everything is right with the world. Because *I* would have a beautiful life, and everything would be right with *my* world, thank you very much.
I’m kidding but I’m also not kidding.
I get why my comfortable friends no longer care about politics.
I get why comfortable Liberals only care about the politics that will improve *their* lives.
And I certainly get that awakening stops when comfort begins.
But perhaps imagination can bridge the empathy gap of those who haven’t suffered much and can demand but little.
Politics, an Overview
- The world as we know it is falling apart. There will be no return to “business as usual” for the economy, education, science, politics, justice, journalism, agriculture, etc. Either things collapse (for good) or they are replaced with something better. Either way, they will change.
- Personal life as we know it is falling apart too. You know how “personal life” is supposed to go, right? You get out of collage, find a job, get an apartment, meet someone, get married, mortgage, 9-5 job, car, 2.4 kids, dog, holidays, retirement. It’s essentially the life of all “Peanuts” characters. The “family life” of the 50s.
This story no longer applies to most people, but our idea of “how our personal life is supposed to go” has not been updated. This means that an increasing number of people live with the shame of not having a “normal life”. Some don’t find a job, or find a crap one, or aren’t doing the 9-5, or share a house, or end up single, or get divorced, or have children on their own.
Like I said, an increasing number of people do not fit that narrative, and yet it’s the only one available, we have not collectively updated it.
Here’s the key, though: it’s a narrative that applies the most of the Privileged Liberals, to those who think the world doesn’t need that much change.
- If you’re one of those people on the “centre”, who thinks that the world doesn’t need that much change, only a few tweaks here and there that can be achieved by democratic means, then that is a privileged position to have. I’m not one to tell people off for having privilege (I hate the concept anyway). Here’s what matters: you are allowed to think “only small change will do”. But know that there’s an increasing number of people for whom nothing works, and they are getting desperate. Desperate enough to burn shit down.
You are free to pretend that they don’t exist, and carry on with your ideas as usual. But you can’t be surprised when shit burns down.
We can survive everything but exclusion
People can survive a lot of things. They cannot survive not being included in the “official story”.
If our official story of “how a personal life is supposed to go” no longer applies to most people, those same people are going to lose it.
If our official story of “how the world is supposed to go” no longer resonates with most people, those same people are going to lose it.
I don’t have any answers.
I just know we need to come to terms with not knowing.
With accepting that we need radical change, and that it won’t look like anything we’ve seen before.
I was around two thirds into this post when I began to wonder how “right” I am; I’m now guessing it’s around 60% truth.
Think of it more as a personal account on politics, rather than “True Political Analysis for all time”.
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