A Bigger Loss Than Anticipated

“A bigger loss than anticipated.

You ask yourself where you live. It is a country of raised eyebrows, deep scepticism, and of keeping things as they are in case they get worse. It is a country that believes in the NHS but will risk its future because it is sceptical about threats to demolish it. It is a country with a fragmented working class base with a fragmented sense of identity. It has no great opinion of itself but will not be told by others that it should have a low opinion of itself. Fuck you, it replies. It is several countries not one. Its sleep too is fragmented. In the morning it raises its eyebrows while one part then another breaks off. It needs to be addressed patiently, with deadly honesty, with some appreciation of its intelligence, even with some affection, especially by those who want it to change, to move from acts of individual altruism (of which it has plenty) to one of socially cohesive altruism. It needs stop raising its eyebrows. It needs to see the greater good against the cost. It needs to say, now and then, fuck the cost. The gain is greater.”
By George Szirtes, snagged from here: http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/whatever-it-is-were-against-it-3/

Honestly, it made me incredibly sad, but also oddly comforted, to see someone articulate this so well, because it’s something I’ve been getting steadily more frustrated and upset by as those actual ordinary people on the left and the right push further away from each other – with the help of self-appointed wobbly, affable totems like Nigel Farage and Russell Brand – these last few years and months and days.

My friends online – largely big hearted small “l” liberal or left-leaning – are understandably frustrated and angry today, and I get it. I do.
But I also worry that, as the trend seems to be in our culture at the moment, that anger will just get worse and make us less rather than more communicative and coherent.

Are people who voted against what we believe in all evil?

I don’t think so, but then I’ve always been uncomfortable with the binary magic-thinking of people being either “evil” or “good”.

I do believe that most people will not specifically and knowingly vote for the deaths of the children of the poor. I sincerely don’t believe that more than half the people in this country are deliberately “evil”.
(The key words there being “specifically”, “deliberately” and “knowingly”. When talking about the distribution of nuanced ideas, distinctions like this are important.)

Are they stupid?

We’re supposed to be the ones who get it. We complain endlessly about how stretched the education system is, and how hamstrung teachers are by government mandate, and how much our political establishment cuts off the poor from the most basic access to facilities, and how smart our media (even the BBC! Even the GUARDIAN!) is at whittling away our critical faculties and pushing narratives. We kind of get, or at least have heard of, cognitive biases, and know that we’re ALL susceptible to having them tweaked and fucked with. We used our understanding of herd mentality to explain why decent people turned violent during the protests a few years back.
We should know better than to write people off as stupid, based on a tick in a box. At worst, they’re ignorant. Most likely, they just weren’t bombarding themselves with the same data you were. Because most people DON’T go looking for more information once they’ve found or been given a solution that sounds, you know, maybe right.

It’s a useful rhetoric device to spit these accusations, and ones like them, at the people who didn’t vote our way, & understandable in anger, but from tomorrow we should probably start working on how to communicate better across the whole electorate.
This division and inability to understand each other only helps the people who want to rule us, and they’re getting better at taking advantage of it.