coming over all Cleggy

With the political landscape shifting in the UK over the last few weeks I’ve been trying to shrug off a feeling of Cleggyness.


Don’t know about you but I often struggle to find a cosmic balance when it comes to politics.  Forced to choose between a world where not taking sides is a sign of mental illness and having feelings the mark of bourgeois decadence.


Where I stand politically is nestled somewhere between a bunch of bearded blokes from Marx, Freire to Freud. Hard pushed to give myself a political label blow me if I don’t end up feeling like Nick Clegg when I try to pin myself on the political map.


Politics is an uncomfortable arena for people working in mental health.


Apart from the big time political errors that have killed mental health services in UK, politics is a mad business.


For a start democracy is a depressing reality of projections and lies. This is a world where self-appointed democrats hate difference and paranoids congregate to celebrate the arrival of a bona fide baddie on the political scene. A psychotic world of them and us, Good Guys wearing away team strips to easily distinguish them from the Baddies.


The other problem is that politics makes huge personal demands. At the risk of my wrists getting firmly slapped, sometimes oppression is not just external. Bluntly put there are times when the biggest block to my total emancipation from my underdog status is actually myself. Sometimes it’s what I think of myself that keeps me from standing tall. Take Nick, a man with an internal fascist sufficient to convince him that standing up for his beliefs will lead to a political car crash.


Being a true radical requires overthrowing the internal voice that keeps you in the underdog position where being right doesn’t matter and truth can’t speak to power.


To understand the hard and perverse facts of life I generally look to psychoanalysis.  Despite psychoanalysts being the vanguard in a world where things are not what they seem, often these great minds run the risk of looking yellow in their attempts  to find the middle ground between external and psychic realities.


Psychoanalysis offers a vision of a depressive politics, where things are not clear cut and nothing is shinny and new new new. Winnicott, the warm-hug-daddy in psychoanalysis, writes about the essential conflict of politics where being in contact with real people means being in contact with difference. Rather than a neurolinguistically programmed liberal whitewash, this is a radical politics of emancipation from the internal oppressor who does not stand up to the fascisms inherent in our internal lives. Whichever way we cut it when we face people who are different from us we face the prospect of conflict and accepting that there is no one way.


Being able to hold this depressive middle ground is not a good look for political activists, forced to choose yellow rather than black or white.  It means losing the moral high ground and attempting to open our hearts to each other, in all our diverse and imperfect glory.


Nick Clegg is very lonely but you needn’t be if you sneak a peek at the Activists Survival guide. It will help you hold the depressive position without becoming totally depressed and people will like you more.

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