Goodbye moral high ground
I’m just going to get this out of the way now. I spent a wet Jubilee Sunday at the republican rally at the Tower of London. As someone a bit wiser and much older asked “were you looking for a fight?” I felt this was a bit harsh because in the tsunami of misplaced identity politics that we used to call the Southbank, I was booed and spat at and remembered why at the age of four I ran away from a rural agricultural community in the south of England. I attached myself to a plucky old Welsh lady who had come down to fight for democracy (not monarchy silly) and gave an impassioned speech about equality and the war. Some way into a discussion about elites there was a painful moment when I think I heard her say “I’m not racist you know, I have a friend who is Indian.” Realising that I was about to eat my own tongue I was bustled into the relative sanctuary of a pub and pacified with a bag of crisps.
And that’s when it came to me that there is something very wrong with me. I was so busy being righteous that I’d forgotten to stick up for myself.
I do demos. I do them a lot, I turn up on time, have emergency numbers and have periodically traded in my social life for a grand tour of newspaper selling. Despite being a fashion Nazi I have a lot of tshirts, but the only one I don’t have is the real one which says “I think I’m a bad person that’s why I’m here when I should be having more fun”.
The thing about being a moralizer is not so much about what is right (we are right, right?), rather which part of us is being satisfied by taking the moral high ground. If the satisfaction comes from reaching the safe haven of righteousness then there’s actually something wrong. My own moralizing is an attempt to appease the Catholic-nun-superego part of me that believes in original sin and that crisps should be banned. When I say, from the front line of democracy “You can’t hate me, look, I’m here on a miserable day standing up for YOUR right to democratic protest. I’m doing it for yooooouuuuuuuuuu” don’t believe me. I was doing it for me, to bargain my way into the mystical realms of self-acceptance.
There is a desperate need for all of us to engage in politics now, but the trade-off has to be the right one. Be right, speak up and don’t let apathy get the better of you but don’t do this at the expense of your peccadillos and perversions. It is an essential part of sticking up for yourself that you defend your right to have as much fun, sex and silliness as you can fit in. Wake up at the back, I’m talking to you comrade.
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