87. So which way?

 

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Maureen had Radio 4 on yesterday morning. Because I like my news and current affairs programmes to come without bias, it is a station that, for me, loses more appeal with each passing year.

There may be lots of well-made programmes on minority politics and interests, but these are ceaselessly punctuated by hourly news programmes that vilify Brexit, Trump, Corbyn, Russia and, of course, ‘hate speech’.

By sheer repetition, the station sets up a series of ‘consensus’ villains and lays down an ever-more-onerous protocol of political correctness, which stultifies independent thinking and constricts everyday language. If only the topics of debt and war were burrowed into with such monotonous regularity as the Brexit deal and LGBT rights. The tightly-controlled narrative also peeks through in debates, where the parameters are increasingly restricted.

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If not quite an Orwellian trumpet, Radio 4 unashamedly propagates the status quo, unquestioningly advancing the notion that our Western ‘democracies’ are still somehow alive.

Democracy has never worked for me. My vote should (somehow) express my will that resources are allocated so that everyone is taken care of. Conversely, debt-based capitalism under an elite class of plutocrats is stripping the planet bare and consigning billions to poverty. The Tories always get in where I live, greed out-bidding the public good. Even when Labour govern, they lack the balls to challenge and reform the finance system, or tell the war lobby to go fuck themselves.

So my ears pricked up yesterday when a female author named Roxanne Gay said that she wrote her 2017 book ‘Hunger’ because it is “so hard to be a human”. I stopped what I was doing, because the six words resonated so deeply. Such a profound truth, contrasting so starkly with the typically dry narrative pouring from the Beeb.

The weather was beautiful. I jumped on the bike and took a long ride. The thawing countryside was stunning.

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Stopping for a cuppa, I mulled over the reality that, aside from childhood, and the years from age 18 to 21, and then 40 to 43, I have found being human to be a ferocious test. Often through my own decisions. A little of that has emerged in the blog. More to come.

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Cycling is a great way to unwind. A bonus is that blog topics tend to spring up from nowhere and crystallise. And while I prefer to write about my life, far bigger themes nag at me.

All of this a long-winded way of introducing my perception that the ‘Yellow Vests’ in France – the ‘Gilets Jaunes’ – are rejecting the Radio 4 narrative that globalised capitalism is the best possible system for humans. From my view, the 8-9 December protests, riots, call them what you will, look like the possible beginnings of a cross-ideological uprising, evolving from an initial opposition to President Macron’s new fuel tax to an outright howl against austerity. Eschewing the tired old divisions of political parties and united in disdain for their leader.

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Admittedly roping in far right players, alongside the students, workers, housewives and middle classes, but why not? Your politics do not have to be leftist in order to call out the economic and financial consequences of globalisation, and high taxation, which has left more and more French workers unable to meet their bills. We know that story all too well in Britain. Neoliberal policies that have shredded unemployment benefits, pension funds, free education, national health care, public hospitals and so on.

The reaction of the French police has been telling. While media images proliferate of tanks in the streets, teargas, water cannons and rubber bullets, there seems to be some sympathy and a recognition of common concerns. According to Alexandre Langlois, secretary general of the VIGI Police Union, “most of us back the Gilets Jaunes”. He told RT that “we can’t live where we work, because it is either too expensive, or we would be arresting our next-door neighbours, so we drive significant distances.”

It was equally telling yesterday evening, when French government ministers appealed for the anti-government protests to stop in the wake of events in Strasbourg, where a gunman killed three people and injured several more. The fear among those in power of losing control of the narrative, despite the non-stop brainwashing enacted through TV and other media, is palpable.

Never forget that Macron is privileged, a former investment banker. Who will never know the austerity he glibly touts. This rankles with many French women and men.

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It thrills me to see such a passionate social outburst against a leader whose lips have embraced Satan’s bell-end like a favourite lollipop. I have no clue whether the Yellow Vest movement will gain in strength, and continue to spread to other EU countries, beyond Belgium and the Netherlands, but it has made me so proud to have a French surname.

This is my opinion. Things cannot carry on in the current vein, but the paths forward are narrowing. On the face of it, the automation sweeping the world looks set to bring more surveillance, more brainwashing, more militarised policing, more work for less pay, and the disappearance of safety nets as state money runs out. All lighting up Macron’s little Bonaparte-like countenance. In essence much more of the slavery that Orwell described in 1984. If Trump gets his finger on the button, we might destroy ourselves altogether.

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The other option is harder to imagine, and you won’t hear about it on Radio 4. Let’s call it the Lennon option. The abundance option.

In which human consciousness changes so dramatically – and as rapidly as the fall of the Berlin Wall – that the current punitive systems fade like a bad dream. The Out of Essex option, where we will work of our own free will, doing the things we want to do, at our own pace. Where it is not “so hard to be a human” being. Hands up who has a better idea. We already have all the tools we need. But how to deploy them?

I’ll let the great man remind us of his wisdom:

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today… Aha-ah…

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace… You…

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world… You…

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

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