Monday 28 November 2011

The Death of Politics

Well, it seems you can't please everybody. Who knew? They say you should never discuss politics or religion, but it's such fun winding up the god-botherers to the point where they turn purple and mutter something about it not being meant to be taken literally, having argued from that standpoint all night, that to proscribe it would be a real shame. I consider the occasion when a Catholic priest tried to strangle me for merely suggesting that the bible wasn't the literal word of god was a minor triumph in my journey through the  mundanities of life. (True story - you know who you are, Father Donovan)

But politics, it turns out, is a bit of  minefield. Somebody should have warned me. Surely everybody ought to have a view? No view, no vote, or rather, no meaningful vote. It turns out that what appear to be opinions are very often more what you might call traditions. "Ah votes Labour cos ah'm a labourer, like." "We vote Conservative because mama and pater say it's the only thing between us and barbarism." "I vote Lib-Dem because I really don't understand politics at all and I want people to like me."

There is only so much space to go around. Only so much money, so much oil, steel, coal, food, etc, that a vote in practically any direction involves real consequences. Ultimately, who do you want to feed? And it's not always who you intended. Vote left and millions of children starve because the sweatshop, their only industry, is shut down. Vote right and some different children end up being bombed. Vote Lib-Dem and, er, absolutely nothing changes because all the other parties carry on regardless and make wanker gestures behind their backs.

For all the posturing, the manifestos, the plans; for every policy, action, tax-cut, tax-hike, tax-break, there are undesirable outcomes. A good civil service pension means a sub-minimum wage for a private sector worker. For every new degree, a new door-slam for perfectly competent, but 'unqualified' applicants. Even thoroughly apolitical actions have dread consequences; for every X-factor vote, Simon Cowell grows richer; for every two-minute silence there's a devaluation of the currency of mourning. And every time you add to the collection another choirboy quietly grits his teeth.

Humans, we're scum, as the great philosopher Rab C Nesbitt says.

The trouble is, we're scum with the power to alter the world around us yet the selfishness to not work in concert. Like all animals we're driven to look after ourselves first and others second, if at all. It's interesting that this instinct is often strongest in the sectors of our society we consider the least evolved. But don't fool yourself; your altruistic streak is no such thing. It is merely another way in which you exhibit traits that will attract others of your species. Ask David Attenborough - he knows more than most about human nature. It has, after all, been his life's work and legacy.

So, in the new United Dingdom, there will be no politics, no internecine squabbling, unless it's pointing at religion and guffawing, no votes, no industrial action, no revolution. I will make you all happy. And if you're not happy, I'll have you shot. Fair enough?

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