I hesitate to write about politics. It makes people (including me), fairly angry, a lot of the time, and when you have strong opinions about something, it doesn’t necessarily engender good thinking or good writing. You have to be much more careful to reign yourself in and examine your assumptions. In the first draft of this I referred to a certain political appointee as a professional asshole, and while I think that’s true, I recognise that it’s an opinion. Opinions are like professionals assholes, in that politics is already rife with them. See? I did it again. I just can’t help myself.
I seem to loose all concept of restraint, writing about politics. I get really burned up about a lot of the things that go on in my country (the UK, for those keeping score at home), and an awful lot of it has to do with the fact that our political system is barely fit for purpose. Our second house is completely unelected, the first past the post system allows parties to turn tiny vote-share increases into enormous seat share increases in the House of Commons (see the last election), and it maintains the status of two primary parties as the only ‘real’ choices. We don’t have a constitution per se, but a collection of case law and tradition that has to be tested in court when we find its muddy edges.
It seems to be a perfect system for people like Dominic Cummings and Boris Johnson to thrive in, professional assholes whose arrogance is absolutely blistering. Perhaps the worst part is that there seems to be essentially nothing I, as an individual, can do about it, because our system forces me to give up my power to a representative. My representative has always been ineffective, but against the current majority, even an effective rep wouldn’t be able to do much. The alienation that I feel in my country with regards to its ‘democracy’ is so intense as to be incurable.
Writing about politics analytically is difficult for me, too. It’s bound up with a keen, and overtly emotional, sense of justice. Too many stories about heroes defying kings who abuse their power as a child, I suppose. Politics inevitably deals with and takes power over, issues that affect me, my loved ones, and the people in my communities. That Cummings and Johnson seem not to take it seriously, like it’s a game to them… it incenses me. That fury makes it difficult to bring to bear the usually quite competent (even if I do say so myself) analytical bit of my mind. Besides, no one wants to read five hundred words of unhinged screed.
The final nail in the coffin is that writing about politics can attract unpleasant people. (Just look at me; what kind of monster spends so long compulsively thinking about injustice?) There are too many people online, who are more than willing to write as much unhinged screed as they can; for twitter, for comments, all sorts. I just don’t want to have to deal with them! I guess it’s laziness on my part. And then there’s the intellectually dishonest types, the ones who often have nothing at stake and see politics as a sort of spectator sport they can make money from; polemicist commentators and the like. They’re probably best ignored – put out the fire by denying it oxygen.
Anyway, enough of that. I got a scene of Halo of Flies written today (couple of lines from it below), then had a pleasant Saturday not really doing a lot of anything. Read some more comics, watched some stuff online. I’m really enjoying StrucciMovies‘ essays lately. They’re thoughtful and constructive and really convey a passion for film that’s infectious.
“It was midnight, the moon was full, and the dead were resolutely asleep in their graves. Their souls, the part of them Alberta was really looking for, were elsewhere, and it seemed, assiduously avoiding her.”
–Halo of Flies