Something important 

7 Jun

I’m nervous. The general election is tomorrow, and although the polls have consistently shown that Labour aren’t heading for disaster, the experience of the last few years leads me to fear that they are wrong. There was the surprise of a conservative majority in 2015. Then there was Brexit. Then there was Trump. On all of these, the polls were wrong, and on all of them I voted (or would’ve voted) for the losing side. 

You don’t have to be left wing to see that not everything should be run like a business, or that the Tories’ “difficult decisions” are exactly what they want to see happen, or that David Cameron, with his gigantic state borrowing and his restive Scots was a failure even on his own terms. You don’t have to be left wing to see that a vote for the Conservative Party is a vote for static, misanthropic misery. You don’t have to be left wing to see these things, but it helps. And the United Kingdom is not known for being left wing, at least not for these past four decades. 

The other question is how this country sees itself. I, for one, don’t think it sees itself as a country at all. That is, we have no genuinely shared sense of belonging. Our national beliefs are shopping . . . and shopping. The culture of individualism rules supreme, at least within the tight bounds of being able to spend one’s money as one sees fit. Beyond that, I don’t know about individualism. It has all the appearance of a fad. Our capacity for self-improvement ends at the exact point where the money runs out. For example, terrorists committed mass murder here in Manchester the other week and the people responded. How did we respond? We responded by tattooing ourselves with the image of Mancunian toil – the bee. There’s a specific, approved design to the tattoo. And we gave ourselves a pat on the back for labelling ourselves as having joined in. To me, it seems that a visitor from another planet would find imponderables in our behaviour, which at one and the same time places individual autonomy on a pedestal, yet is clearly bonded to a medium of cultural and economic value-beliefs which it denies has any kind of agency.

In this environment, it makes perfect sense to vote Conservative. In this scheme of ours, the value of personal freedom is beyond question. Specifically, it is beyond any questions related to its inherent speciousness, existing as it does in the amoral, avowedly apolitical vacuum whereby it lacks any kind of societal or economic context. That’s what Tories expect me to believe in: loneliness. Loneliness is the poverty of a condition in which everything and anything I do is a matter of “personal choice”, i.e. is of no consequence whatsoever. I’m not lending my support to a political party whose core belief is “you’re on your own son, so you’d better get used to the idea.” A vote for the Tories is a vote to hug misery tight and never let go. 

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