in a few years from now….
Rather than going feral and getting a gun I’m trying to make sense of what the hell happened last week.
Regressed into cave dwelling I went looking for a cool dark place and headed to the cinema to watch the Mad Max trilogy. Tribal wars over black fuel, nightriders and nomad trash, Humungous and Max in the war of the giants, the rest of us surviving on dog food.
People, there’s nothing wrong with turning to 1980s popular culture to prepare for the resource wars. In a world of push-me-push-you-oh-yeah-who-says we’re all on the hunt for heroes.
More than trivia, the first Mad Max film was created in 1979, the watershed year of neoliberal economics. And 2015 heralds a generation of social crisis as the promises and policies are forgotten and we’re left with the tatty reality of scavenging for social goods. Whether you are of an ideological persuasion or not, this generation of government hasn’t come up with any answers leaving us in a vicious race to the top of a rapidly failing food chain.
The elections have exposed a reality that we live in a country divided between the establishment and the increasingly dis-established. Floods, food banks and child poverty for now but in a few years time the environmental and humanitarian crises will be our collective reality.
Three weeks ago I got my PhD, a fat teenager of a piece on international solidarity based on a life long preoccupation with how to get on with people that are not the same as me. A PhD offers more than the usual bout of existentials not least because years of screaming self doubt and loneliness tends to push your sanity to its limits, all for something that literally 3 people including your dad will read (Let. It. Go.).
As a bona fide Doctor in Solidarity as we enter the political Thunderdome I should be feeling a lot more funky than this. And despite being able to carry off chain mail pants and studded shoulder pads I have had the horrible realisation that I don’t stand a chance of being Tina Turner any time soon.
It’s tempting at this point to head for the hills but impractical because for most of us there is no tribe to join. Even with a working life spent ‘in the union’ and a childhood larking around in the rural South West, I’ve always felt like a bit of a wronger. Too thin skinned to ignore the big-daddy-bloodsports-landed-gentry-power-dynamics that actually underpin any idyl.
Even if I could fake an ease with my rural tribal homeland, the South West has become the Florida of the UK. A landscape preserved as a theme park for the pensioners of private equity, freelance media folk and Jeremy Clarkson. Worshiping at the church of Waitrose, free coffee to soften the blow that our pensions have been cashed in to pay for a single generation to feel that the neoliberal raids of the 1980s were worth while. This is just the veneer of society that will get neatly packed up into un-muddied range rovers the second the floods come again.
At which point honestly I’d be OK if Tina and her tribal hoard just took over the South West and set up their HQ in the Cirencester Waitrose.
Most of us spend our lives trying to work out how to get on with the people around us. This means facing up to some really annoying actual facts. That you and I are not the same and at some point I will have to work with/live with someone who has opinions that I just don’t like. Even in the apparently golden age of class identification, we weren’t always the same. Just ask a working woman. So if 12% of the population did really vote for UKIP then there’s a chance that this week I’m going to have to rub along with someone who on some level makes me want to live alone in a field.
Solidarity only matters because of the real differences between us. It means that solidarity always has to be built. Our social project where our unique, fragile and un-neurolinguistically programmed contact with each other is what creates the basis for cooperation.
These are the depressing facts of life, that we’re all we’ve got. As Freud almost said, life is about making the best out of a bad lot.
Solidarity has taken a real hit, but what’s left is us. You and me minus the heroics, working out a way of surviving that. Not the same but on the same side.
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