I spent a good chunk of 2018 being eaten alive by depression and despondency. I still did the things I enjoy and spent time with my family, but there was a definite sense that we are stuck at the end of the world, waiting for the systems we rely on to finally fail. Staring down a hole that was going to kill most of the human race and take a big chunk of the ecosphere with it.
Where I live in the UK we are governed by people who can only be described as a moral vacuum. They have absolutely nothing to offer us, the people who live here. There’s a circus going on around the membership of the EU. Many of them are probably making money from the uncertainty. Our supine media lie there pretending the antics of these clowns is worth reporting, when most of them should be in prison.
While the incoherent circus goes on, they’re taking our rights away, selling off publicly owned resources, and privatising our health systems – making them worse and ever more inaccessible. As of a couple of years ago it was estimated that their vicious austerity policies had contributed to the death of 120,000 people in the UK. For fuck’s sake, that’s 40 times what some arseholes killed in 9/11, and nothing has happened to the manslaughterers! This is only going to be worse when their new Universal Credit system is rolled out.
The Brexit circus has also stirred up the empire loyalist morons, who don’t understand what a filthy thing the British Empire was, or, more likely, don’t care. So we have this vile rise in racism and othering black and asian people by dickheads who should know better. Many of our European friends who live and love here are leaving, and who can blame them?
The British left have a long tradition of being blissfully unaware of what their betters are getting up to in other countries as long as they get fed a tiny portion of the sweet fruit that comes from imperial conquest. In fact, a big chunk of the investment in the postwar boom was built on ravaging what remained of the empire. A big chunk of the funds that helped found the NHS came from cutting the heads off people who didn’t want to be ruled by Britain any more. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but there it is, kids.
In the rest of the world we have the Cheatin’ Cheeto killing kids with impunity while he plays golf and tweets self-serving rubbish sat on the toilet. Satire is dead. In fact, the only place you can get accurate reporting of what’s going on in the world is satirical comment. The serious commentators can’t cope with how surreal the world has become. In many ways it’s a good thing that the murderous imperial machine is now visible even to the most deluded, no more excuses, dead brown people become money, look at how it all works!
And, of course, in other places, the fear that comes from all the uncertainty and threat of poverty is being whipped up into fascism by cynical politicans who want to keep things as they are. This is one of the fundamental contradictions of the conservative mind, it wants to preserve a world that never was, its main fear is change and loss. But change is the one thing you can’t stop, so go with it to a better future and find better things to love. At least that’s what I think.
So, why did I write Tales of a Brighter Future?
Praxis, a word from the Marxist canon. You learn by doing, you discover by struggling with your ignorance. You learn from failure. Marx took the Hegelian idea of the dialectic, where tension between opposing forces moves and transforms things. Praxis, for me, is letting this teach you. It also opens your mind to new ideas, and better ways of seeing the world. Our enemies, sat there raping the world, can’t behave in any other way. Where the relationship between the forces in society place them constrains what they can do, it makes them what they are, and blinds them to anything better. This is why there’s no point in appealing to them, or signing petitions (except as a way of demonstrating what ignorant, heartless bastards rule us). It’s also why hating them is a waste of energy. Fix the system, and all else follows.
It’s also quite terrifying. In the midst of all this pain, a few people are beginning to wake up. The much maligned millenials can see what a crock of shit they’re being sold, the destruction of collective ways of doing things is making it hard for them to see what the alternatives actually look like. In order for our society to wake from the postwar zombie dream that has been destroyed by neoliberalism there will have to be an incredible amount of suffering all across the world. And we are probably only at the beginning, even now. You might live in a country where you are insulated from some of it, but don’t be fooled they won’t throw you on the fire too when it gets cold.
So Tales talks about the better world that’s possible. It tries to tell some simple and fun (ish) stories set in that world, where we can vicariously live and see how things are done and how they got there. Where we can see how deliberately killing off any hierarchies is necessary, where we can see why that’s so important. Where we can see what a society looks like when everybody takes responsibility and the much prized individual is still there, but they have empathy and a collective sensibility, instead of the current me, me, me arseholery. Where we can see how crazy and loving people had to be to create that better world.
Tales has stolen ideas from Bookchin, Pearcy, Marx, Lenin, Kropotkin, Coffin, Mexie, Bad Mouse and many others (some of these are Youtube commentators – go look). I can’t claim them for myself and don’t want to. You aren’t meant to agree with me, praxis. Go look for yourself. Be angry, but be better.
Four months ago I had given up, and was hanging on by my fingernails. I couldn’t write any more. I have, all my life, always been writing something. Being unable to write is like part of me was missing. Then I watched this video by Mexie and got myself back. I managed to find some energy and reconnect with others and found the wherewithal to finish Zerø Day – we have to find our own way. As she says we are the adults now and we need to find the humility to say everyone can be my teacher. We can’t and we won’t be replicating the systems from the past.
I’m back. I will write more, I will do what I can to prove a better world is possible. I need your help – let’s dream it, let’s work on it.
A better world is possible.