The politics of England in particular are facing fracture at an alarming rate. As Scotland gears up for another indyref, as Wales looks at shearing away and as Ireland could reunite to solve Brexit quandries, we must ask ourselves how we break down the multiple walls that brick away political knowledge from tens of millions of people- and make them see that votes without knowledge lead to corruption, failure- and fascism.
I was arguing with a commenter on my tiktok yesterday. I’d made a video stating -factually- that labour is the most credible opposition to the tories at present. The commenter replied incredulously, “Starmer? Credible?” and then gave me some very irate examples of the things that Starmer does that she doesn’t like. I, agreeing with what she was saying but also having the gift of realism, replied with “okay, what would you do then…”
She then went on to rant about how my politics are the problem and that neoliberalism doesn’t work- and both of these points annoyed me- my politics have a central, white hot core which is simply “make people’s lives better”. Please, regale me with how that’s a problematic chain of thought. But the main bugbear I had is that the exact issue I’ve found as I’ve forayed further and further into discourse around politics, society, media and the surrounding issues is that people talk in academic or overly complex terms which immediately put off or cut out the common person from the conversation. I know what neoliberalism is, what nationalism is, because I’ve spent a lot of time specifically researching them. I talk about them constantly because they’re important. But I also try my best to explain to those who may have interest, but have never heard the terms before, exactly what they mean.
In this aspect, I feel like all too many people are keen to have discussions that are important, and by their very nature – exclude people.
This extends beyond simple politics into abstract politics. I keep mentioning the word fascism in my blog posts because I am petrified of our approach towards it- but all the scholars into neofascism are discussing this problem with each other at the most academic level using complex parlance, who then hand it to experts in political theory who discuss it to a lesser extent with fellow experts, then a few keen parties pick it up- and it doesn’t reach the people who most need to hear it as they’re at risk of the radicalisation we fear. People most at risk of radicalisation, of falling victim to disinformation and of voting for parties who will hurt instead of help them are almost always cut from the conversation through various different ways, which i’ll explore below.
The limitations of our current education style
I’ve talked a lot recently about how the archaic system of education still deployed to this day does not help a vast proportion of the population. Education as it stands is designed to churn out people who can either do physical, menial or office jobs with the fewer amongst us going on to do other roles.
Many people would be capable of doing these other, “more important” jobs or reaching a further potential which allowed them to achieve more of their goals, or just live a better, more fulfilling life- but they are barred by the ancient style of education still used to this day, you can and will never progress.
Education styles have been widely talked about over the last 25 years- another of my posts on this blog is directly about this topic.
Additionally, a firmer understanding of topics is then off limits based on the progression to further education- which is now extremely expensive. Which brings us to the next issue.
The paywall of higher education
Locking away knowledge behind further knowledge is unfortunately a by-product of human intellect- you have to develop layers of understanding. So if we solved the first problem by enacting change in the educational sphere and more people were able to digest and learn from differing styles of education, we next have the problem to solve of the simple cost of deepening knowledge- university was expensive when I went. The fees then rose precipitously a few years after I graduated, and I was disgusted to watch the country entomb knowledge behind tens of thousands of pounds of debt. Some people simply do not have the capitol behind them to study because money is a blocker.
Whilst we live in a deeply capitalist society we can always expect that further education will come at a premium, simply to price people out who will then be trapped in the layer of workforce who don’t need a degree or more to progress. But this is a gatekeeping of knowledge so fundamental that it not only prevents people from accessing this knowledge. The other problem is that, as I stated, a lot of the political or socio-ecological knowledge is kept behind this paywall because it also alters those (if they are lucky enough to get there), who get there to be distant from their roots, and therefore make them less likely to be the people so sorely in need of the knowledge, as an irony. Furthering yourself in education often uplifts you automatically from your starting point, but the whole notion I’m driving at is that those AT the starting point are the ones who need the knowledge without the alteration.
The daily disinformation of the media
I’m confident that any person who reads the daily mail, the independent etc automatically thinks they are “politically engaged”. But it’s all too quickly forgotten that UK news sources in particular are written with a deeply political slant in mind, and almost all of the big selling newspapers lean right to varying degrees. With this in mind, those papers even by simply omitting the factual problems of a government like the one so installed now, are keeping people ignorant of key, vital knowledge.
One must truly search to find real political commentary and discourse, and as someone whose entire life has now begun to revolve around untangling the media’s insidious reporting of the Johnson administration, it takes real effort, nuance, camaraderie and time to decode the true meanings of the stories so published, and to find information that the media is all too keen to alter or cover up to protect a government who continues to lean on their necks (lest we forget that Johnson is looking at further curtailing press freedoms by banning stories which “embarrass MPs”.
We’re also bloated to bursting with insipid media which is created for vapid enjoyment and contains absolutely no intellectual merit at all- this goes beyond social media which can be carefully crafted into a tool of mass information dissemination or the antidote to right wing disinformation, but onto lengthy runs of shows with no actual lesson behind them being put at the forefront of viewing rather than those which would allow people to understand the society we’re in.
The final, and biggest problem, though…
Apathy, apathy and more apathy
Actual statistics I was shown recently show that a dramatic proportion of tory voters from 2019 have slipped into political apathy, uncaring of events because they simply do not believe that they can have a tangible effect on it.
The uncaring nature of so many citizens of the UK has lent strength to a party who know that many people will roll their eyes and say “they’re all the same”. When it comes to a reluctance to approach politics radically, any party who wants to win will toe the line of compliance simply to ensure that the fear of radical change will not obscure their potentially excellent political machinations. But this insistence of continuing to apply “the usual business” rules to politics lends itself poorly to an excitement in upholding honesty in politics to those who feel disillusioned- for if the system is broken, continuing to work within those bounds will not excite people for change- and will also allow those who think all politicians are corrupt, to believe that indulgence in that system is complicity.
Politics is for everyone
Ultimately, every single person in the UK is absolutely entitled to be involved in political discourse- as political commentator Supertanskiii said on the podcast recently, “politics is everywhere, it’s there when you go to the shop to buy a pint of milk”. It’s fine to have distaste for the system in which we are enmired- but the only way to clean up that system is engagement, from the widest spread of people in this country. And to do so, to borrow a thought from Orwell’s 1984- the proles must realise that the power is entirely ours, and our lack of assent, our denial of compliance, can and will make this government crumble before us.