It's lonely in the middle. There's no picketing or parliament square for us, there's no change.org petition to make sure all hamsters get seed mix and there are no bombastic rallies in the name of centrism and reason. The far right wants to send all immigrants to the moon and all those benefit cheats who scrounge off the government to pay for their wheelchairs to the workhouse. Meanwhile, the far left, seems to be unnecessarily angry about quite a lot of things. We all get angry; anger can be useful, but would it be dangerous if our moral outrage became more important to us than our morals?
The moral outrage of the left (my personal beliefs would see me be deemed at the very least, centre-left) is vicious and fickle. We were very angry with purported comedian Dapper Laughs for being on ITV2, then his show got decommissioned, but that was years ago now. Then Julian Blanc wanted to come over here and teach men how to get women to have sex with them, but we told him he couldn't have a visa. We were very angry with Emily Thornberry after she tweeted a picture of a house in Rochester, whilst maintaining in the text of the tweet that it was in fact in Rochester, Ed Miliband was especially angry. Then we were all very angry with Ed Miliband when it appeared he wouldn't even have been considered the most electable member of 'Popstars' group Hear'Say. But luckily amidst all of this no-one was angry at the enslavement of native Congolese people, mining Coltan for our iPhones. So that must have finished.
These may all be deserving targets for our anger, but we are not deserving receptacles. We are so irrationally in love with our own outrage. There was Jack Monroe tweeting about David Cameron using "stories about his dead son as misty-eyed rhetoric" to justify privatising the NHS... So in her outrage she tweets the outrageous ... prompting outrage... where does it end?!
We love our fury so because it gives us meaning. It gives us our own little place in the world, a position we can take brashly and use to accumulate 'likes' on Facebook as we move loudmouthed and insatiable towards next week's fury. That will be the fury that finally stops the ageing process and brings about that panacea of equality, orgasms and cake. The world's heart will beat warmly and thank you, specifically for the day you told your friends how much you do or do not hate Russell Brand. I have opinions but I try not to trust them. There is so much information, so much debate, rhetoric, statistics all brandished like weapons that give the illusion that when an opinion is next to a fact, it becomes a fact.
The left has become so explosively reactive it is now in danger of being reactionary. There are certain things you can say to kill the mood when in the company of fellow 'progressives'; mention immigration even slightly unfavourably you are a racist. Talk about the Middle East but so much as question whether some of the blame may lie with Palestine; you will not be forgiven. Perhaps say that the daily 'Is ...... Sexist?' article in The Guardian might be somewhat retrogressive and separating and we would be better pressed to address equality in a broader more positive movement than worry ourselves with this rather petty tribalist journalism; it won't go down well.
I'm not sure how much of that is correct but it should be ok to debate or at the very ask questions about such things without facing such immediate ostracism and people taking it so personally. It seems that we are not arguing to seek a solution, we are arguing from an intellectually evolved sense of tribalism. There are 7 billion people in the world all thinking,
"Well I must be right, I am the only one I can be sure exists."
We are all hampered by the narcissism caused by our own consciousness being the only one we have any evidence for. Everybody seems to know what is right. Every politician has the correct but somehow opposite information to every other politician. Everyone on my Facebook feed knows better than everybody else on my Facebook feed about some quite serious things. There is no need for this. We just need to talk to each other with curiosity, openness and respect.
As David Hume said,
"The truth springs from argument amongst friends."
If we learn to listen to each other and accept that perhaps we won't be right all the time think how much politics would improve! If just once staring combatively from his lectern Ed Milliband turned and said,
"To be fair Mr Speaker, The Prime Minister has a solid point there."
The real reason why we were angry at Dapper Laughs is because he has a face. He personified a lot of the growing anger at 'lad culture' and we rejoiced in his demise. Achilles might be dead but Troy still burns. It is harder to hate things like UniLad.com and LadBible.com as they don't have a face. They are the organ grinder; they are the organisations that create the environment for Dapper Laughs to metastasise. And what of ITV2 and the commissioners of Dapper Laughs - On The Pull? Daniel O'Reilly has lost his job and now surely they need to lose theirs. ITV2 commissioners were wrong to commission this program. But we don't know what they look like, so the media can't easily scapegoat them. So they get away with it.
Julian Blanc was denied a visa. An easily corrected problem seen to. The country will celebrate this. The demand for Julian Blanc in this country is an effect or a symptom. The cause is most likely an alienating education system, young people who are newly sexualised and who feel lost at either end of growing inequality who have been exposed to media that sexualises everything, long before these kids are pubic let alone ready to understand. Address these problems and make the public aware.
Emily Thornberry was pointing out English flags on a house. Not a white van as some people have tried to suggest, this was not class assassination. She was highlighting Nationalism, because Nationalism is moronic. Nationalism is tribalism, and tribalism is primitive and separates us. Dan Ware to whom the flags belonged said,
"I will continue to fly the flags - I don't care who it pisses off. I know there is a lot of ethnic minorities that don't like it."
Surely that IS problematic!
Jack Monroe doesn't think David Cameron should get so 'misty eyed' over his dead son, she asserts he is affecting that behaviour so he can 'sell the NHS to his friends'. I think Jack Monroe might have a point, I think her phrasing may have been slightly off. Though to be completely honest I do feel like distributing a leaflet displaying a pie chart on tax expenditure in which the welfare section has been inflated by the surreptitious inclusion of pensions seems like an awful thing to do. It seems evil but that just feels to me like too simplistic a conclusion to come to.
This is all part of a bigger problem. The left is going to eat itself. I've heard people say they love 'social justice' - as if social justice were a policy or a Beatrix Potter character. You might as well love niceness or being warm. 'How do we get there?' is a more difficult conversation involving compromise, thought and honesty. Jack Monroe and the furious left must concede the Tories may in some cases be human beings, with feelings and they might not be 'evil'. They might just disagree. I've heard a life long Labour voter say that he believes in what is fair. The implication is hilarious. As if Cameron would state,
"I believe in being unfair."
I'm not suggesting that idealism isn't important, just that if we, on the left were willing to accept that maybe it's not just 'them on the right' who can be closed minded, then we may get to see those ideals begin to infiltrate reality.
I say all this as a man fascinated by the middle. Debate is healthy, debate is equalising. Vitriol is not, vitriol is polarising. It makes an enemy of dissent and we all become one-man totalitarian states. I must be allowed to ask questions about immigration regulation without being called a racist.
The culture of outrage is outrageous and I am outraged at it. The comments section is open, go nuts.
Alfie Brown is starring in his new stand up show - "Divorced from Reality ;(And My Wife)" at Soho Theatre 2nd - 6th December 7.30pm - www.sohotheatre.com