“In the Cold War,” the academic stated excitedly, “at least we had an alternative we could fight for! Now, when the cuts come, we have nothing.”
It’s strange how we fight against state cuts imposed by the Tories as if the time before it were a ‘Golden Age’. We look up at Atlee and the post-war period as if the times were filled with positivity and not with prudish sexist, racist and homophobic values. Our flags and banners in protests call for that time – our collective nostalgia distorting our perception of any actual known history.
The fact is, and remains, that that period was flawed. So were the years before Thatcher. Things haven’t gotten ‘worse’ since then, they have restructured the way that we think so that we continue to buy! buy! buy!, as if that will give us a respite from this otherwise miserable world.
We were not happy then, we are not happy now. Why do we try so hard to convince government to change back, when there is nothing worth changing back to?!
Instead of holding our banners high, and calling for an alternative that is dead in the eyes of many of our population, why are we not building something new? We do not even know what we want from life. We do not know what we want from society. We do not even know what we want from each other! Our world has become “I” centred, and we have accepted materiality as if that were our only hope for a future.
Why can we not see that socialism is merely capitalism inverted? Why do we continually set our hopes on such small victories?
We can build new strong alliances for an alternatives – there are people in the world who actively call for an end to the frivolities of our excesses: those facing climate change, resource wars, peasants and farmers, indigenous groups, the disillusioned and marginalised youth, the landless, etc. These people are the majority. They are the people we still have so much to learn from. But we need to open ourselves to listen. Our lives could be happier, healthier and filled with much more love, if we were willing to work together.
I get it – to challenge the fundamentals of how our society is organised is extremely hard. I find it hard to imagine a world potentially without planes, and the internet, and even cheap chocolate. But I know from my experiences with people, and with the many of us who suffer from mental health conditions, that the path we are heading down is tearing us apart. We become clutter, toys dismantled without meaning.
Yesterday, a friend repeated the same argument I had been hearing from various mouths since about 2006. Every time you work within the system, you sell your soul for little reward. When you work outside the system, you have your soul, but precious little else. Neither space is free, and yet it could be. If we dared to challenge it.
We could be Turkey. We need to start building the communities and spaces that can challenge the system. Transition Towns are one step in the right direction, but we need need more. And we need people willing to start acting in a real (and not theoretical) way. We need communication, spaces to talk and organise that aren’t just the next ‘ hippie love next’ or an ‘anarchist rave’ – our spaces have to be liveable, organised, healthy, real.
If we work together, the system cannot crush us. We are the system. You just need to dare to dream.