What to say when people say… I don’t go on protests because they don’t work

Facts: You are right that marching from A to B in an orderly fashion has rarely caused politicians to come out in a stress rash. The civil rights movement in the US marched, yes, but people also used other tactics that probably scared politicians a lot more than marching. And yet from time to time, when people have had enough of being abused by those in power, they take to the streets in large numbers to try to take back control of their lives. This has worked repeatedly, but it works when people are really pissed off and they don’t much care whether Mr Policeman or Mr Murdoch like what they’re doing. And when they don’t all go home at 5pm. And when there are large enough numbers to cause serious economic disruption and disruption to the messages the politicians are putting out.

Thoughts: It may be that what you really meant was ‘I can’t be bothered to protest’, or ‘I can’t be bothered to think about what would work’. If so, move along, don’t spare it another thought. But if what you really meant was ‘I don’t think we’re pissed off enough yet to cause the serious disruption that would force the hands of politicians or force them out of office’, then why the hell aren’t you pissed off enough yet? Do you think they’re going to start providing a good quality of life for everyone when they wake up one morning full of a new-found benevolent joy that turns them into cuddly teddy bears? They’re not acting for you. They’re acting for the money people. If they are taking things away from you, it’s because you’re letting them. They won’t give you nice pressies freely. You have to take them, by acting together with other people. And if you don’t have the numbers or the organisation to do that, at the very least you can disrupt the illusion that there is any kind of consensus about their activities.

Opinion: We have a government in the UK that, even if you accept our system as ‘democratic’, has very little democratic legitimacy, and they are dismantling public services people fought very hard for, including the NHS – I don’t know anyone who voted to dismantle that. Protests don’t work in the UK partly because people aren’t pissed off enough yet. I recommend getting pissed off. They really will take everything away from you if you let them. You might as well pre-empt the shitty America-lite no-safety-nets, low-quality-of-life state they want and get pissed off now. And when you’re pissed off enough, you might just believe that protests will work. You might take the actions necessary to make them work.

Note: This is a series of posts called ‘What to say when people say…’ Obviously they do not provide the definitive answers to most questions (except the ones marked with an asterisk, like so*). They simply provide ideas, helpfully broken down into Facts about Things People Say, Thoughts about Things People Say, and Opinions about Things People Say.

Government Propaganda Announcement: On the uses of my taxes

**fizz, CRACKLE~~pfFT**

Please repeat after the neighbourhood megaphone:

MY taxes are not, I repeat NOT, to be used UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, for things from which I do not DIRECTLY BENEFIT. For instance if I do not go for walks in woods then MY MONEY must not be used to support the COMMUNISTS at the Forestry Commission and their RAMBLING ASSOCIATION RUNNING DOGS. I like concrete and tarmac and sometimes sandy beaches so FUCK FORESTS because I do not use them.

I do not benefit from the equipment given to disabled people because I AM NOT DISABLED. Do I look like a CRIPPLE to you? Then why are MY TAXES going to support them? Literally support them, I mean LITERALLY. What kind of messed up world is this?

And why are MY TAXES going to scrounging students who are the ones who benefit from their degree? THEY SHOULD PAY. I am perfectly happy with a society without university graduates so FUCK STUDENTS – I don’t owe them anything. What have former students ever done for me, eh? I said EH? Tell me THAT!

If I do not need to use needle exchanges, why would I need to fund them? I am not a JUNKIE. I do not want my taxes to go to JUNKIES. I want my taxes to go to things that I NEED, like bin collections. I want my BINS collected goddamn it!

And no I DON’T GIVE A FUCK that the binman gets minimum wage from the subcontractor because the local council was forced to outsource it by Westminster. And no I DON’T GIVE A FUCK that because he’s on minimum wage he can’t afford to pay for the basics of life, I SURE AS HELL am not going to pay for them through MY TAXES. Or for his WIFE who has to stay at home looking after the kids. And OF COURSE I don’t care that his oldest kid has Downs Syndrome. Do I have have Downs Syndrome? Do I look like a SPASTIC to you? No – then I’m not paying for his care. And no I DON’T GIVE A FUCK that the binman won’t have a pension, and I DON’T GIVE A FUCK, that when he’s sacked from his casual contract he won’t have benefits because I’M NOT ON BENEFITS SO WHY SHOULD I PAY? And no I DON’T GIVE A FUCK that he won’t get a pension, I just know that I’M not paying for HIS pension.

Just collect my bins and SHUT THE FUCK UP Mr Binman. For through the medium of government propaganda I channel George Osborne, David Cameron and Nick Clegg IN ONE BODY. Do you hear me? I RULE!

Please repeat this announcement three times before every meal and ten times before bed. Thank you. **fizz, CRACKLE~~pfFT**

5 Reasons Why Changing Yourself Won’t Change the World

1. You. The World. Different. Taking up meditation does not fundamentally change this dynamic, except in your head. If you buy ‘ethical’ stuff, that doesn’t make everyone else do it. If you buy less of something like oil, that drives the price down so that other people can buy more of it – the world just goes on acting independently of you and your choices.

2. Around you grinds a vast machinery of government and business. They’re quite happy doing their thing, and if you do your thing, they’re pretty happy with that too. If you don’t face the challenge of disrupting that machinery, it carries on. Your alternative lifestyle might make you feel better about yourself but so what? Those people in charge don’t seem to care, and they’re not stupid – there must be a reason they don’t care.

3.  There’s nothing wrong with changing yourself. You could probably do with some improvement. But it’s a lifelong project. You’ll never be perfect. So if your plan is to move on to changing the world after changing yourself, how long do you want us to wait? *taps fingers*

4. We often think that if everyone changed themselves, then that would change the world. Firstly, that isn’t true, because the institutions screwing us over will still be there, and nicer people won’t make them nice. Secondly, you’re assuming everyone will want to change in the same way as you. Pretty arrogant, no? Maybe they will change – and turn themselves into Tom Cruise. Tough shit.

5. You don’t matter very much. Look, I know that’s unpalatable, but the truth is, in the grand scheme of things, you’re a little speck of dust in the corner of a Boeing 747 hangar. I am too. It’s fine. Don’t get all indignant about it. Just find other specks to work together with – we’re not much alone, but together we can create our own power to oppose the abusive powers that currently shape our world.

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck…was given a government woodchucking grant?

I don’t know the answer but I’m pretty sure part of the condition of the grant would be an outcomes-orientated monitoring process that would provide quantative data on woodchucking measurables as the evidence base for key performance indicators.

So the information you require would almost certainly be hidden away somewhere in the back of the annual woodchucking report – it’s just a matter of knowing where to look and what degree of ‘bullshit factor’ to add in to the mix when assessing the figures. You know the woodchuck fudged the numbers.

You may also need to question the assumption that a woodchuck does nothing but chuck wood, and ask would the woodchuck chuck other stuff too if it were given the chance?

Also to consider: what distortions does the government woodchucking grant bring to the woodchuck’s woodchuck lobbying campaign as a result of becoming dependent on woodchucking grants?

What to say when people say…you should vote for the least worst option

Facts: Human societies, many of which had democratic elements to them, have survived for millenia and since before recorded history. Some of them weren’t even in Europe. Strangely they mostly did this without voting for a bunch of selfish twats who they knew were lying to them but who they were intent on giving more or less unlimited powers to for a few years anyway – just on the offchance they weren’t lying or the damage wouldn’t be too bad.

Thoughts: ‘Elected dictatorship’, as we might call what currently passes for democracy in many countries, doesn’t actually give you control of your own life (If you don’t believe you should have control of your own life, please seek self-esteem training). So committing yourself to the institutions we have at the moment, as you do when you repeat the above phrase, is committing yourself to handing over the power to shaft you. Rather than saying ‘Don’t complain about being shafted if you don’t vote’ you could say ‘Don’t complain when you’re shafted if you lacked the imagination to think of something more democratic than this’.

Opinions: What to say? How about: No you shouldn’t. Every vote helps give the appearance of legitimacy to their power. And anyway, a crisis in our ‘democracies’ brought about by low voter turnout would probably be a much better result than choosing Shithead A or Shithead B.

Note: This is a series of posts called ‘What to say when people say…’ Obviously they do not provide the definitive answers to most questions (except the ones marked with an asterisk, like so*). They simply provide ideas, helpfully broken down into Facts about Things People Say, Thoughts about Things People Say, and Opinions about Things People Say.