Friday, 5 May 2017


Most people just want to help, don’t they?  Yes, they do. 
So, below is a list of things that are helpful right now.  At the very least, most of us don’t want to be actively unhelpful to our fellow humans, so I’ve also included a list of things that are not helpful. 
I’m not saying you shouldn’t do these things, but maybe just be aware that they’re not helpful…
Things that are not helpful
Using the word “sheeple” in any context*
* other than maybe mocking the use of the word (and even then, proceed with caution).
National flags
Reading headlines
Casual dismissal of large sections of the population, including, but not limited to:
Suggesting that a whole class of people will do whatever a newspaper tells them to.
Saying that it won’t make much difference because it won’t make much difference to you.
Commenting on the opinions and psychology of people you know nothing about
Condescension (see above)
Being very angry at supporters of political groups
Relying on anyone, other than yourself, to make you free or happy
Telling everyone that voting is a stupid waste of time
Telling everyone that voting is the only thing that allows them any say in anything, or that they can’t complain if they don’t vote (they can, they will and they should)
Political purity (ie, not engaging with a process because it is fundamentally flawed and/or rigged in favour of those who run it)
Conflating not voting with nihilism/apathy
Articles in The Guardian saying a particular party can’t win
Describing a poor choice as “no choice”
Abstaining, instead of choosing “the lesser of two evils”
Opinion Polls
Assumptions/predictions based on opinion polls
Confident predictions of any kind
Making the personality/dress sense of party leaders a political issue
This blog
Tony Blair’s opinion/s.  On anything.
Things that are helpful
Knowing your history
Knowing that you matter – specifically, that your words and actions matter, however unpredictable the results may be
Knowing that unpredictability is not a reason for inaction
Respecting people with whom we disagree
Working/discussing with those with whom we broadly agree, despite some differences
Working together to avoid the worst excesses of the current system, and/or their effects on those least able to defend themselves – especially sacrificing ego/ambition for the greater good
Reading the whole thing
Critical thinking – applied to everything
The considered, rational opinions of people you don’t already know
Collective action
Helping others to register to vote, especially those facing obstacles to registering (those with no fixed abode, for example)
Open mindedness
Realising that an election does not make you an expert on politics, media, psychology and culture, or anything else
Admitting that there is no reliable way to predict the future (including looking at the past or present)
This blog
Making policy a political issue.  (You know, like the government policy of spending £100billion on a nuclear submarine whilst telling everyone that people should be forced into destitution because of a lack of money.  Or the policy of cutting public spending to save money and managing to not actually save any money.  Or the policy of transferring public money into private hands.  Or the policy of making citizens destitute and homeless.  Or the policy of using more violence in an apparent effort to stop more violence.  Or the policy of degrading public services until calls for privatisation are grudgingly accepted.  Or the policy of smashing unions to help precipitate decades of neoliberal consensus in which almost everyone is encouraged to vote against their own interests.  And then acting like that’s the best thing that’s ever happened and anyway you can’t do anything about it and anyway what else is there and anyway what are you gonna do about it and anyway no one else agrees with you or will support you and anyway powerful people are against you and anyway rebels don’t go to heaven and anyway we only want what’s best for you difficult decisions must be made what’s that?  What, that, over there?  Don’t look at that, it’s a secret it’s classified it’s not your business it’s top secret you wouldn’t understand. That type of thing.  You now, Politics.)
Most people just want to have fun, don’t they?  So, here’s a bit of popular fun from this week:
Ten Things – one of which is a lie!
- Democracy
- Animation
- Love
- God/s
- Altruism
- Documentary
- Elton John
- The Media
- The economy
- War
Most people who are eligible to vote will vote, won’t they?  Some might even like it, although there doesn’t seem to be much enthusiasm from anyone in particular.  Not voting is an option, of course.  Here are some lists of considerations for the option.  Not exhaustive, of course, just a list of things worth considering when deciding whether to vote, and for whom.
Things voting is like
- going to the funeral of a work colleague
- signing a birthday card for someone you don’t particularly like
- seeing a film everyone else thinks is brilliant, which you think is rubbish
- being asked what you want and then being told it is all impossible
Things voting is not like
- freedom
- stopping capitalism killing you/us/everyone (on its own…)
Things not voting is like
- refusing to clean the toilet because the whole flat needs re-decorating.
- refusing to wipe your arse because you need a shower anyway (and then not having a shower). 
- supporting a football team, without ever going to see them.  Even though they play in your town.  And you can easily afford a ticket.  And they rarely sell out of tickets.  And you’re free most Saturday afternoons. 
Things not voting is not like
- freedom
- democracy
- a genius tactical move that proves an exceptional level of political insight
- an admission of guilt
- helping vulnerable people
- stopping capitalism killing you/us/everyone
Things voting can achieve
- changing MPs
- changing the government
- minor change for the better (mostly, historically, but not only, for middle class people)
- smug self-satisfaction when things go wrong (“Well, I didn’t vote for them, so it’s not my fault”)
Things voting will not achieve
- stopping capitalism killing you/us/everyone
- drowning Boris Johnson in a lake of fire on live TV
- anything much, on its own.
Things not voting can achieve
- major change for the worse (mostly for working class and poor people)
- smug self-satisfaction when things go wrong (“Well, I didn’t participate, so it’s not my fault”)
Things not voting cannot achieve
- stopping capitalism killing you/us/everyone
- anything, on its own.  (So, if you’re gonna not vote, maybe people will expect a high level of practical help…not saying they should.  Just letting you know that they will.  And that living with the consequences of not voting is not significantly different to living with the consequences of voting.  And that neither is a reason/excuse for inaction/defeatism.  And that because something is not for you, not designed by you, and is mostly made to hurt or ignore you/all of us doesn’t mean it can’t ever be used to help you/us.  And that voting, as a historical process, is not nearly that clear-cut anyway, but involves different forces in competition/conflict.  As you will probably know if you have thought about it at all.)

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