Rambling Revolutions


I keep wanting to find a way of writing on here regularly, so I’m now attempting a ‘journal’ type of thing, which I’ve definitely attempted before and failed…well, stopped. I’ve already stacked a few posts to try and give myself a head start. You might think that’s cheating given the diary-like context, and it probably is, but I’ve been writing these on a mostly day-by-day basis, and (after this one) without too much editing required, so the main thing is that I’m just not posting them on the day they’re written, which doesn’t seem so bad. I want to give you people good stuff to read, not just random thoughts, but I also can’t keep up the regularity if I’m doing too many proofs and edits. We’re going to see how it all balances out, I guess. Hopefully there’ll be enough for you to enjoy.

Anyway. Damn, openers are such a struggle sometimes. I’ll be alright once we’ve tucked in to the series.

There’s a lot going on in UK politics at the moment, I mean a lot of talk about democracy and people and stuff, and this talk looks more like a revolutionary force bubbling under the masonry than it has in a while, this talk, this stuff happening. I mean it’s conflict. It’s trouble. On the other hand I’ve been encountering loads of fellow travellers, not just around town but the world over. There are serious writers and activists out there not only writing about anarchism, community living, self-sufficiency, not only writing about it but actually living it. And not necessarily giving it those names, I mean I don’t like those names but they’re helpful as broad labels for the kind of stuff I’m into. An example of one of these fellow travellers is Alexandra Elbakyan, who runs one of the various crews out there that try to keep academic papers free to all. In case you didn’t know you have to pay for a lot of those papers. Not just science and medical papers, and not to support the authors or institutions. Some publishers bought the rights or did the publishing, and those publishers have amalgamated into a few big names over the last couple of decades or so. As monopolies they’re keen on making as much money as possible out of students who normally have enough private or government funds to waste on whatever bullshit they’re not focussing on while they’re trying to focus on studying. Students are an easy con in that sense – it seems relatively rare, in the UK anyway, to find a first or second year student genuinely concerned about saving their money and spending carefully. Third year can be slightly different, experience and exam pressure put an end to some of those heavy nights out or those days in posh cafes.

So I’m seeing all this activity, the good and the bad – it’s great – but particularly with reference to the UK I’m worrying. The real revolution is in these fellow travellers, the thinkers, communicators, people working on networks and the exchange of information. Community development projects. All that. But there’s a fake one, a wrong revolution that might be waiting within these undercurrents of discontent. Maybe. Maybe we’re past that kind of behaviour. Not sure. I’m not necessarily talking about violence here, but at least some big change that’s very enthusiastic and very poorly informed. “Brexit’s already happened, genius” is what you might be thinking. I know that – and that isn’t it. What eventually happens about Brexit could be it though. I get the feeling we’re probably going to stall for time, which, in context, is definitely the right thing to do. There’s no-one good enough to push things forward so it’s best to wait and try and train someone up to do the job properly. But what if we don’t pull that off…what if the talent vacuum in UK politics continues…?

The revolution – any idea of revolution – is euphoric, okay. Historically all revolutions start with this good energy, this genuine righteousness of motivation, but then people get too excited and blow too early, it becomes conflict, it becomes violence and anger, ignorant and hateful, leading to years of tyranny or worse. It’s natural. When you think you’ve dropped in to the informational pipeline straight to truth – to God or whatever – it’s a powerful feeling, hard to ignore. You want to keep believing you’re on that righteous path. You have to ignore that feeling though. There are dangers in being too excited for too long, just like with being too sad for too long. I remember hearing a victim of post-partum depression talk about this feeling of euphoria, going mad with it, writing on the walls, getting up on her roof, seeing all the beauty around her, and then, clear in her purpose, jumping off the roof to try and kill herself. Not to belittle her actual real-life experiences, but that’s how a revolution tends to go. Heroic sacrifice yes, perhaps, but for what? Near annihilation? A social self-destruct?

Happiness isn’t a good thing on its own. It’s an emotion that you can use to your advantage, just like any emotion. It’s your friend or if not it’s an enemy to be feared indeed. Christ, getting dangerously close to a Col Walt E. Kurtz sentiment there.

Yeah, basically I’m worried about the revolution. I know, I know. An anarchist worried about revolution? People like Alexandra Elbakyan are excellent – sharing information, discussing, just pushing connectivity. They’re the real revolution, like I say. But Extinction Rebellion, people demanding a “People’s Vote”, people charging into the public gallery of a meeting of my local council waving placards…they have no fucking idea what they’re doing. I mean they’re still great, in a way. And fair enough tho, sure. It’s panic or euphoria or…some other powerful natural drug coursing through their veins. Great. But that mob mentality, thinking that you’re fixing something with a bold statement…you’re not. To be bold like that you become too simple. Complexity can’t easily (or just plain can’t) be written on a placard. Can’t be expressed in a bridge blockade, in a trip to jail for civil disobedience. It can be expressed through discussion, through art, through writing, or through extended periods of well-planned action. I’m not seeing well-planned or protracted anywhere at the moment, but I suppose maybe I’m not looking particularly hard.

I’m sitting here thinking that I might need to be careful. If this gets worse. And it might. Brexit (organisationally) never had to go this badly wrong. We’ve had shit governments in the UK for a while now and it was only a matter of time until people started to notice and take advantage of that fact. So Brexit is now the shitshow that represents the trouble at our national core. We’ve been broken for years and no-one at management level cares about fixing it. That’s the crisis – management are not answering the phone. The bosses can no longer be relied upon since they’ve all but filed for bankruptcy and moved to Fiji for a passport. Have you seen that list of places that give you citizenship if you spend enough on property there? They have.

But that’s them. We all need to chill the fuck out and then, calmly, collected, dismantle the capitalist superstate piece by piece. This angry excitement doesn’t work. Big, sudden movements fail if not planned down to the tiniest detail and conducted professionally. Slow and steady is better. Like the hare gets to the end of the race first, but then the prize is getting killed and butchered for food. Who wants to eat a tortoise that moves that slow, and is wrinkly and all shelly? Well, seagulls maybe but they’ll eat anything. And that said, lethargy never helped anyone. We want calm and deliberate action. Good ol’ Kurtz has a line on that, something like “Swiftly. Deliberately. Awake.”

I plan to go ahead as some kind of social commentator, often anarchic, often seeming mad, but mad like a jester you know? The court jester replaced the court wizard when our old monarchs no longer wanted someone wiser than them giving advice. Instead they had someone wiser than them acting stupid and telling insightful jokes. A different kind of advice, a kind that could but didn’t have to be taken seriously. A jester could talk shit about the king and get away with it while others were being sent to the chopping block. I think any opinions formed or even proffered for public consideration should either be immediately supported by clear evidence and reasoning, or, if not, then indirectly supported by a body of evidence and reasoning that’s neatly referenced within a surprisingly articulate rant or series of jokes.

Oh my but I’m rambling particularly badly here aren’t I? Maybe. Well, this is the new pure ramble zone. “Journal” being a polite euphemism for “poorly conceived and largely unedited”. Heck fella sometimes you just need to write. Ask Hunter S Thompson, the Dr of Journalism. I’m sure he’d pull a mace on you.