Posted by: martinworster | May 7, 2010

88. THIS ISM ISN’T WORKING

Pull your finger out, it’s time for someone to create a new ‘ism..

I find myself hard to locate politically. No surprises there I guess. Blanket terms such as ‘Conservative’, ‘Socialist’ and ‘Liberal’ each hold certain truths with regards to my own belief system and outlook, although none are all encompassing. I am a political magpie, taking the best shiny bits from each to form a new whole. It’s difficult to grasp how mine – or anyone’s – whole life outlook can be defined by one term. It’s made the more interesting by the upcoming General Election in England. I follow domestic politics to a degree but I find the endless ping pong of party politics both exhausting and futile. More time is spent debating and arguing than actually doing anything. Even more time is spent on manipulating the media – spin I believe they call it. With the advent of 24 hour rolling news cycles that’s a lot of time to be filled with spin and counter spin.  I’m dizzy. Then of course this General Election was the first to feature the televised ‘Presidential’ debate. Now I feel all dumbed down.

I was brought up in a very politically (but not morally) Conservative household. I grew up in the London Borough of Finchley, so for the 80s and 90s Margaret Thatcher was my local MP. I met her on a few occasions. The fruit and vegetable dealers daughter met the antique dealers son. We are all a nation of shopkeepers. I was too young at the time to really hold a serious opinion on the Iron Lady. It’s easy to retrospectively judge her and depending on which side of the fence you sit on, Thatcher the fascist ripped the whole country apart – or was responsible for putting the Great back in Britain. U turn if you want to but I’m still not sure of Thatcher’s lasting legacy.

My higher education was spent at the left leaning Sussex University. Post structuralist theory, feminism, gay and lesbian interpretations of Shakespeare and an embarrassed disdain for Britain’s colonial past were on the syllabus. As an English graduate it was a case of the Empire writing back – and it certainly was no love letter.

It all makes for a very confused political outlook. Being the son of an antique dealer I was always surrounded by old objects that told stories and retained a sense of history. This has always given me a respect and reverence for the past – selling things from the past put food on our table.  Hence I am not against the Royal Family. They provide a link to our past and are good for the country as a whole. But at the same time the concept of nobility and being born titled and hence entitled is very undemocratic. 

Perhaps this indecisiveness makes me the archetypal woolly Liberal. I do read The Guardian (via my iPhone now). I like to buy organic products. I click on electronic petitions to help the environment, poverty, developing country issues and for other ‘worthy’ causes for which I am not worthy. I recycle and re-use re-useable bags at the supermarket. I often lay awake at night, my liberal conscience pricked by the general suffering endured by my fellow global dwellers and impending global warming.

We need someone to sit down and right a new all encompassing ‘ism. Something flexible and modern, fair and honest – worth aspiring to. Another Big Idea. It’s weird to think that Karl Marx came to England in the 1900s to study a society affected by the recent changes brought on by becoming the first industrial nation. Labour was mechanised, profits maximised, means of production secured, the relationship between boss and worker forever changed – the seeds of modern capitalism flowered and Marxism was born. 

Society is now too complicated to create another new ‘ism. In addition, in most developed countries – except America – the hold of religion is steadily declining. We’re all scrabbling around for something to get our teeth into,. It’s quite daunting when you contemplate where it’s all going – mans forever shifting belief systems rotating as we try to make sense of and interact with this mad world. I will continue to follow some isms – vegetarianism, humanism, environmentalism, bohemianism, a touch of socialism, liberalism… just thank the Lord / Buddha / Allah / whoever you want, that I’m not in England for this General Election as I haven’t got the foggiest who I’d be voting for.

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