Nothing very “centrist” about that.

Laissez-faire
Less fair
Fewer fare
Welfare

Nothing very “centrist” about that. I remember when the common complaint of the Left was that Labour had moved to the right; that it was ‘Blue Labour’ and I remember how the Conservatives had the nerve to claim that they held the Centre when it had clearly shifted the country to the Right. Those were the days when the idea of a middle/the centre, though politically subjective, was understood to be relative; a moveable feast, eagerly sought and fought for – when to be moderate was not condemned as wishy-washy and most certainly was not used as a euphemism for ‘neoliberal’.

I wrote loads, here and on twitter, about the centre and the middle. Some of it was creative mischief or naive reactionary hyperbole, of course (just scroll up and type “middle” or “centre” into the search box) but the connective thread through my arguments was not and the topic was ripe in the Press and on social media. Back then, I was tweeting such sentiments as: “Labour stop fuss-assing with this insipid centre ground tosh. Take us Left & call it “The Centre” like Thatcher & Blair taught us 😉 #bbcsp” [April, 2013]

Those were the days when the middle/the centre was a desirable direction for those who are now calling anti-Brexit and not-keen-on-Corbyn people “centrists”, as though to hold such a position were right-wing and, therefore, anathema to Reason and decency. They forget that, like austerity, moderation is more than just a socio-economic philosophy. It is also an attitude; a reflection of an inner worldview response, mindful of extremism and hysteria, constantly taking responsibility for checking itself. There is nothing Thatcherite, neoliberal, Blairite or any other lazy labelling about that. There is little about our current political climate that is.

Woods and trees

We are, each, the embodiment of the human condition. Peoples to a person, unique and the same, our imperatives and characteristics overlapping and bumping into each other, relative and subject to a million and one contexts. We hardly know ourselves, even as we presume to categorise others and seek to negate or reshape them to fit our fleeting comfort.

We cherry-pick ‘n mix micro and macro for argument’s sake and we treat them as isolated systems when it comes to, well, systems. We confuse and conflate effects and correlations, assigning their causes according to tribal instincts, narrow, prescriptive framing and emotional whim. And yet how easily we forget that one thing leads to another. And not just the things we chose to pay attention to.

How we fuss. We scrutinise the heart out of each other, fixing on binary reductions of acceptability or threat. We sacrifice nuance and complexity to distortion and banality. We muddle and manipulate moral equivalence and use whataboutery as the first line of defence and conflate the superficial or irrelevant with the most profound. We take simple things and turn them into complex nightmares and get indignant or complacent when extra care and attention is an obvious requirement. We tie ourselves in neurotic knots and project, as though anything and everything might bring the human world to its knees at any moment and then we saunter, blithely on, as though we were either helpless or invincible.

We’re still fighting for universal respect for and application of human rights; still protesting for socio-economic justice and basic civil equalities. We’re still ascribing sub-human status, according to paranoia and political fancy; still elevating dross to celebrity; still coveting what we think exists over our neighbour’s fence. We’re still monopolising and squandering the resources of our one, beautiful planet; still arguing about whose God is greatest… And over and over we produce ego-riven conflicts and make wars in the name of Peace. We are already on our knees.

We think we see things as they really are but, really, we’re only seeing things as we are, whether we are aware of little more than events and selected details or transfixed by the enormity of the bigger picture. We don’t know when to speak up and when to mind our own business. We don’t recognise what we should and need to control or what we are allowing to have control over us. We don’t discriminate appropriately or effectively; we can’t discern wish from truth nor potential from reality. Some of us think it simpler to just try to control everything and everyone while others simply don’t care and others still haven’t even noticed.

And how we faff. We constantly tinker around the edges of problems, addressing the latest symptoms and ignoring their quite evident causes. This doesn’t just allow old symptoms to fester and their causes to become downgraded, over time, to ‘unfortunate’ but it also adds a whole other level of new causes. We seem hell-bent on rose-tinted nostalgia but we refuse to actively retrace our steps. We would rather pretend that we are merely adapting to forces beyond our control than reaping the consequences of so much that should have been avoided.

We don’t really look at the roots and common threads of our problems; not deeply; not wholly. We glimpse with darting, panicked eyes, wring our hands and do what we can with the skim. Just getting through the day. Lurching with our fingers crossed. But the skim has to go somewhere: it becomes another blanket burden to Society, to add to the already suffocating layers and it creates further opportunities for ideological and financial exploitation. Every burden provides another’s comfort blanket. It isn’t ethical or sustainable.

We live under a constant process of inadequate triage. Tinkering and skimming are default management settings. Like bailing out a distressed boat that was never really seaworthy. There is viable land and most of us have spotted it but the crew prefer that we keep bailing, even as the holes increase and the weather worsens. The crew is drunk on the short-term, shortsighted power of profitable crises. The officers and their minions tell us that that land over there is hostile and to bail faster, lest we run aground the only boat available for that long-promised rising tide to lift.

Between us, we have managed to undermine the subtle and make a virtue out of the dross. We’ve managed to fragment history and turn it into a blueprint for all manner of psychopathic algorithms and effectively reduced Imagination, Reason and Empathy to a small, closed circuit.

We are gullible sponges and cynical repellents, by context, by turn, susceptible to wish and self-fulfilling prophecy. We are sands, easily shifted; blades of grass, bending upon a fixed point. And as entrenched as granite.

[November 8, 2015 (with slight editing)]

~*~

Fear creates a feast
to suit the taste
of each invited guest
that takes a seat
and makes request,
to fill the belly of a beast.
We are what we eat.

[February 2016]

A party that…

For as long as neither Labour nor the Conservatives speak for me and are unlikely to, any time soon and, since no politicians I like seem about to join the Liberal Democrats, I think I’d rather like to see a new party emerge. Not easy to pull off, certainly but exciting to think about, nonetheless.

A party that attracts from all existing parties and beyond. A party that grasps the best of both Left and Right philosophies because it is intelligent enough to recognise merit and unafraid to support it. A party that is capable of putting its country and her citizens above and before itself. A party that understands how stupidly catastrophic Brexit is. A Remain party, obviously.

A party that believes public service to be noble and high office to be a privilege. A party that values both the liberty of individuals and the strength of the collective. Not a party of naive romantics and incompetent utopians but a party of imaginative thinkers with moderate dispositions. Not a party that is so pragmatic as to border on cruelty and authoritarianism but a party that employs practical wisdom in the pursuit of commonly discerned ideals. A party that respects Law, Constitution and Democracy and understands that all are of more import than as expedient vehicles for narrow ideologies.

A party whose worldview is not small and petty but humane and intellectually curious. A party that leads its country, not as a pompous, self-entitled yappy dog but as already being part of a global family, ever seeking positive, progressive and honourable relationships. A party that considers its nearest geographic neighbours as well-matched members of that family. A party that reveres our planet and respects its finite resources and our environmental impact on its integrity. A party that does not reach for success through exploitation, neither at the expense of its own citizens nor those of other nations.

A party that does not promote holier-than-thou messaging; that does not induce paranoia nor polarise and oppress with lazy scapegoating and policies that further segregation. A party that does not look to inhibit or advance demographic status according to popular whim and its own ideological contempt. A party that can make the local comfortable and sustainable within the pressures and opportunities of modern global connectivity. A party that understands how much stronger a country’s economy is when its citizens are healthy, secure and well-educated; autonomous rather than automated. A party that believes that an economy should work for its Society, not the other way around. A party that recognises how Brexit imperils any such model. A party that understands how Life needs to be worth living and endeavours to not be an agent of indignity, misery and hardship. And completely unnecessary risks. Like Brexit.

Call it “centrist” if you must‬. Or “liberal”. “Patriotic”, even…😉

The way Farage laughs

The way Farage laughs
As though what he is saying
Has embarrassed even him
Or when Corbyn sniffs as if
What he is saying
So impresses him
And how Trump gesticulates
That intimates what he is saying
Second-guesses him

All ways the first tell
Is like the last knell
Before the din

His story

On her back; on her knees
At the sink in bare feet
On a pedestal, silent, please
Dangerous angel
Too frigid; too bossy; too keen
Was his story; his glory
His magical chattel
From baby to wife
To invisible burden
Embattled; embargoed
Her scorn and her fury
Her life
As she rattles the bars
And beats hard on the ceilings
Deducing his god rod
Confuses his yardstick
The fairer sex feeling her Mars
As she’s peeling his story
Unsealing her future
In all types of footwear
And favourite bras.

Once everybody knows

Once everybody knows, does the poison fade or grow? Where do the pumped-up paranoia and the daft denial go?

Does common knowledge get a welcome in the hillsides and the streets? Enough that moderation wakes to see and win the light of day? Does forgiveness and a sense of humour meet and greet the anger and embarrassment half way? So that vitriol and vengeance dissipate? Does it sweeten up the atmosphere? Does superstition disappear? And do the floodgates spring apart to send a purifying tide to heavy head and fizzy heart or make the distance side to side become a roiling sea? Does the constant churn return us, endlessly, back to the start, where faith and proof demand to function separately? Does some truth unite the factions or divide to further fractions? Will it eat us up or will it set us free?

Turns out

If seeing is believing and believing a feeling is virtually all, does it matter that the emperor has no clothes? Is he even really naked, since he has been gifted with a thousand and one projections of bespoke attire?

Gaslighters are telling themselves that they are the victims of gaslighting. Well, yes, they are: turns out you can fool the absolute heck out of some of the people.

“For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who don’t believe, no proof is possible.” ~ Stuart Chase