The media and commentariat are obsessively focusing on the Brexit shenanigans in Westminster and the protests in the surrounding streets. After Johnson’s first full day in Parliament and his first defeat, it’s almost certain there will be a general election in October. Brexit will pretty much be the sole focus of what looks to be the dirtiest and most fiercely contested election in living memory. The media and commentariat will have a field day with this…
Meanwhile, away from Westminster and the metropolitan bubble, the slow collapse we’ve written about previously continues: Collapse…and revolution? Commentators talk about the ‘left behind’ when a more honest description would be the deliberately excluded.
These are the growing number of people in precarious employment living in insecure housing in areas where the services they rely on for a decent life have been slashed to the bone. The people working two or more poorly paid jobs and still having to claim benefits just to have enough to survive on. Those thrown out of work by technological innovation and who are struggling to get back into an ever more ruthless job market while having to negotiate an increasingly brutal benefits regime. Those living on neglected, poorly maintained estates where even the basic services such as rubbish collection are failing. The long term sick and those with terminal conditions who are treated with callous contempt by a benefits system that’s set up to fail and humiliate them. The growing number of homeless who have fallen through a so called safety net that’s stretched to breaking point.
Boarded up shops on the high street, broken pavements on the estates, potholed and broken roads, uncollected rubbish and flytipping – the physical signs of decay are all too clear as soon as we step outside our front doors. The public services and amenities that used to help make our communities civilised places to live – libraries, public parks, public toilets, etc. – are disappearing or being downgraded because they don’t pay their way. It’s private affluence for a decreasing number of people and public squalor for the rest of us mere mortals.
We’ve been handing out and delivering our propaganda in a range of ways from being on demos and pickets, having stalls at gigs and fairs through to being out on the high street and door-to-door distribution. Regarding the gigs and fairs, fewer people are coming out – it’s as though people are starting to hunker down as things get worse. As for the fringes of demos and the high street distributions, let’s just say the mood is a strange mix of sullen interspersed with spikyness and some occasional aggression.
The divisions in the country are all too obvious and are getting worse by the day. Which is why we keep banging on about the urgent need to build neighbourhood solidarity and cohesion and do our best to de-bunk the toxic messages from the divide and rule merchants who increasingly seem to operate across the political spectrum. Operating as anarchists (of sorts), being agnostic on Brexit, holding most elected politicians in contempt and having an understanding of how unelected senior council officers and government ‘advisors’ screw us over does give us some advantages in a very challenging political and social climate.
Another general election that, with the complicity of the media, will be focused on Brexit while ignoring the issues of exclusion and inequality will only serve to exacerbate divisions and make the climate we operate in even more toxic than it already is. Suffice to say that politics will never be the same again and with the way things are going, it could also be said that for many of us, life won’t be the same again either. All we can do is carry on doing what we do, adapting that as circumstances change. The problem is that there’s only a handful of us operating in a climate where views are becoming more entrenched and getting people to listen is becoming more fraught. As we’ve said a few times before, we do live in ‘interesting times’.