Monthly Archives: August 2016

You

You’re always hungry

You have strong opinions, especially about what is right and what is wrong

You’re very visual

You like things to be correct

You worry that social media lets people easily find information that confirms their biases

You worry that you’re too attached to modern technology

You worry that the internet is undermining your attention span

You’ve gotten through a lot this year

You find your friend’s online bragging irritating, but you press the “like” button anyway

You hope those compromises you made were worth it

You have wondered what “feminine” really means

You’ve recently had some improbable sex dreams

You sometimes feel embarrassed about your ambitions

You find reading a book for too long tiring, even though you spend a huge amount of time reading online

You are sceptical of the terms “introvert” and “extrovert” because they are too broad to properly encapsulate your social style

Every now and then, you experience a flashback to something you feel shoulder-tensingly-guilty about. Your heart jumps and you can almost hear the moment. It makes your skin prickle. This flashback is more crisp and detailed than almost all your other memories. Your original revelation of guilt happened in slow motion.

You worry that the internet is undermining your attention span

You already read that line

If somebody asks you who you are, you normally tell them who you are connected to or what you do. If you try to work out who you really are, independent of your connections, you become unsure of yourself.

You wonder whether you have made the right choices

You wonder whether you love too much

You wonder…

 

You wonder whether this poem is about you

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We sound a little bit like Christians

The Labour Party is full of the faithful. I’ve heard both Corbynites and Owenites claim that their side will win because they must. That Labour can and will win the next election because the Tories are awful, and that a vaguely defined alternative to both centre-left and centre-right economics will create greater prosperity because every single economy in the developed world is slowing down. There may be good reasons to believe that one’s side will succeed, but it is not wise to argue that because the situation is bad, it will get better.

For the left, the situation has gotten bad before and then not recovered for a very long time. The First World War was a futile disaster of imperial hubris that killed millions. It was followed by the end of the Liberal Party as a party of government, and Conservative dominance during the interwar period. The situation is bad, and the left may stay on the back foot.

Martin Luther King once said “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice”. This makes some sense from his Christian perspective. If there is a loving God then there may be some purpose behind our reality. It may be leading somewhere. Somewhere more peaceful, more truthful and more compassionate.

But this belief in a brighter tomorrow is also prevalent on the supposedly atheistic left, where there is no overriding benevolent force to justify the faith. Instead it is human nature and the unconscious forces of the universe that are said to be the engine driving positive change forward. Steven Pinker argues persuasively that rates of all kinds of violence have been in overall decline since we were barely mastering tools. But in this case there is substantial evidence to justify his claim. What reason do we have to believe that the left will recover any time soon?

The last time the Conservatives defeated a Labour government, they took power for eighteen years. Before the New Labour years of 1997-2010 no Labour Prime Minister had ever won two elections in a row. The Conservatives ruled in Britain for more years in the 20th century than the Soviet Union did in Russia. If the next two hundred years reflect the last two hundred, then politics will likely be dominated by reactionaries and conservatives. We may want to think otherwise, but is that suggested by reason or by faith?