Tag Archives: quiet revolution

Why Twitter’s #cameronmustgo is so important

Of course there’s been a lot of criticism – the right wing tells us that hashtags don’t win elections and that elections are how you get rid of prime ministers. I don’t think that was how they relieved themselves of Margaret Thatcher but there we go. It’s internet bullying, they say because nothing is meaner than a bunch of ordinary people standing up to wealth, power and media influence to offer an alternative. They say we don’t understand the economy, and yet they are the ones who have pushed ours further into debt. It’s been an interesting ten days so far.

Of course ‘Cameron Must Go’ isn’t the half of it. I don’t think anyone using the hashtag really wants to see him replaced by another smug, overpaid suit who thinks anyone earning less than £150k is irrelevant (yes, one of them, Mark Garnier, apparently said that…). It’s not just Cameron that must go, but the whole logic of punishing the poor and the majority for the sake of a very rich few. No more selling off national assets to the lowest bidder. No more lying to us, no more expenses for MP dinners, duck houses and jollies. #Cameronmustgo is a demand for cleaner, fairer and more reasonable political thinking.

I’m not speculating when I say this – one of the things that has inspired me about this grass roots campaign is the way regular people are bringing facts to the table. All of the hideous truths in the public domain that neither media nor politicians are, for the greater part, willing to talk about. How our illegal levels of air pollution are killing thousands of people every year. How planned cuts for future spending will put us in breach of child rights, of deaths brought about by austerity, and the squandering of public money. It’s been a calm and reasoned argument thus far, with frankly a good deal less verbal abuse than the ******** deserve.

A hashtag may not win an election, but it’s meant there are a great deal activists from different parties and no parties at all reaching out to each other as never before to talk about what needs to change. Anyone who thinks that won’t make a difference, doesn’t know much about people. It is hard to fight, when you think it’s just you. It is so hard, feeling like one lone voice against the cacophony of madness, to keep speaking out – it is lonely, exhausting and demoralising. But now we know. We know there are a lot of other people out there who want to be part of a fairer, kinder society. We all know there are a lot of us who think that greed is not a virtue, and that looking after everyone should be the business of politics. There’s a sense of momentum in that.

Hopefully, other political parties are looking at this Twitter movement and realising that the UKIP/Tory agenda of immigrant bashing, isolationism and picking on the poor is not necessarily the only way to get voters interested. A lot of us do not want that world. Many of us think quality of life for all should be the focus, not the impossible, unsustainable, illogical nonsense of eternal fiscal growth. Never mind that most of the ‘growth’ seems to be in the financial sectors where the ‘wealth’ is imaginary and can disappear in a flash.

All greed gets us is destruction and misery for the majority. Greed trashes our planet and damages the things most essential to life – air, water, food supply. It encourages me to see how many people are waking up to this and demanding change, and demanding it politely and with reasoned arguments. This, people, is what a quiet revolution looks like and it is most assuredly going somewhere. When enough people decide not to support a system, that system fails. I think the time is coming.

The trouble with revolutions

I’ve read enough to know that largely revolutions don’t work. Rally the troops, get all excited, kill some people, burn something… and end up with some new despotism with an unfamiliar face. I’ve read a fair bit of autobiography around China’s cultural revolution, the rush of enthusiasm, the hope, the bitter betrayal that followed. It doesn’t seem so far from the wild optimism and brutal bloodshed France went through. Wild, desperate attempts to seize power and make it all better quite often don’t.

Which when you’ve a revolutionary streak, is not happy news.

Fast revolutions don’t work. What is born in anger and brutality, is not likely to evolve into enlightened progress. I’m not someone who believes that the ends justify the means. If you look at history, it seems obvious to me that how you do a thing really informs what you get at the end. Violence begets violence. That which we build out of hatred, anger and resentment will not serve to warm our hearts much in the future.

The best revolutions are slow and quiet. They sneak in. I think about passive resistance and quiet acts of non-cooperation. A little civil disobedience can go a long way. Or wilful obedience. Sometimes nothing can be more subversive than doing as you were told. Precisely and literally. And not doing anything else.

We need change. I’m reading articles in newspapers about how the world is run to benefit the 1% who have the most, a UK education minister blaming feminism for the rising gap between rich and poor. We live in a system that is designed to serve the wealthy. We are playing a game where they make the rules, design the board, own all the pieces. Guess what? The game is rigged. We’re shown the few who sing, act or dance their way to fleeting fame and fortune to keep us believing that anyone can get out of the gutter if they’re young, attractive and lucky. It nourishes our illusions.

It’s not the physical poverty we need to tackle in this country at least. Compared to our recent ancestors, most westerners are obscenely well off. Our poverty lies in our lifestyles, how we feel. What use is money if you are miserable? What good is it playing a game you cannot win, to serve the needs of an elite few?

I’d lay good money if enough of us got angry we could storm the banks, burn a few politicians, put someone new on the throne. Give it a little while for the shine to wear off, and we’d find ourselves in the same system with a new set of faces under the hats of the elite. That’s not progress. Being the person on the throne is not a win, and only when we recognise that can we start to change the rules of the game. It’s only while we aspire to be like the people who seem to have everything, that we remain slaves of their system. Once you stop wanting to be them, its possible to rethink everything.

I want to live in a fair and sustainable world, where need is considered more important than greed, compassion is not equated with weakness, and money is not political power. I want to live in a world where beauty matters more than the bottom line, where quality means more than a quick buck. I want a whole different reality from the one we’ve got.

I am not alone.

Reading blogs and newspapers, seeing the growing disquiet amongst people all over the world, I know there are a lot of folk out there hungry for change. No dramatic uprisings. No bloodletting. No putting a new despot on the throne this time. What we need is a quiet revolution. It starts on the inside. It starts inside our own heads. It is the act of rejecting assumption and trying to figure out how things ought to be. And then, through small action, through personal choice, through our day to day choices, going after that vision of a better world. Throw away the unwinnable game. Chuck out the rules of the few designed to keep the many on a leash. Dream of something better.

Clap your hands if you believe in revolutions.

Clap quietly.

Guest Blog – Jay Lancaster

Author Jay Lancaster offers some startling insights into recent UK news and politics, along with some profound thoughts for the quiet revolution.

Yesterday, HMP Lancaster Castle closed.

Yeah yeah – who cares – bunch of criminals.

You should care. This was done to save YOU, the taxpayer, money, apparently. Let’s put aside the 700 years of history. Let’s put aside the fact we were top performing Cat C in the North West. Let’s look at money.

We were a specialist drugs rehab jail. We ran various programs, NA, 12-step, meth, counselling – whatever was needed by the individual. Guys would ask to come to us. They knew they could get clean here. A drugs worker told me that for every £1 spent on getting these men sorted, it’d save the taxpayer £4.

The taxpayer: you and I.

So today we closed. The Ministry of Justice owes on the lease though: the castle belongs to the Queen. For the next 3 years, a sum of money in the millions will be paid for renting an empty castle. 12 Support Staff and the Works Team are being kept on for maintenance. Of our team of 26 in Education, 11 are redundant and paid (by Manchester College – ie by the Learning and Skills Council – ie by YOU the taxpayer) a pitiful redundancy. Other staff, the healthcare, probation and prison staff are either redundant or moved. When moved, the prison staff will be paid travel expenses. £80,000 over the next year in travel alone.

But hey this saves you, the taxpayer, money RIGHT NOW. Apparently. I don’t think you’re going to notice this saving. You will of course notice the long term effects of this. Half my friends list is redundant or at risk of redundancy now. Where are the jobs? In the worlds of New Model Army – “nobody needs morality when there isn’t enough to eat.” So the crime rate is dropping? Do you think that’s a trend, or will they just keep adjusting the way they record the figures so it looks like it’s dropping?

They don’t teach the Civil War in schools. “What civil war?” The one in 1642-1649 which changed British and European history. I believe this is because they do not want YOU, the public, to realise that the government of this land – parliament or monarchy – is subject to OUR WILL. They do not want us to realise we have the choice. We are pacified by television, placated by consumerism, befuddled by the smoke and mirrors of mainstream media. You are probably all thinking people who get angry about what’s in the papers – but you don’t choose what is reported. You’re only angry about what they want you to be angry about.

Big society? Total bollocks. What can we do? Vote: a mish mash has got into power. But to not vote is an insult to those who have lost their lives for the privilege of democracy, so not voting is not an option. So, keep voting… BUT…

Small society. That’s the answer. Always has been. That’s why they try to destroy it. Homogenised high streets, corporate branding, advertisements and standardisation and towns with no heart – it keeps you all separate with the illusion of community.

Real community is not because you all shop at Tesco and you all buy hummous and you all think about Fair Trade and you all subscribe to the Guardian and you all worry about food miles. That’s how they’ve tricked you. 

Small society is when you walk out of your house and buy food at the greengrocers and talk with them. It’s when you chat at the bus stop, and nod at the old lady across the road, and keep an eye on the post piling up in your neighbour’s porch. It’s when you make the effort to seek an alternative. It’s when you place more value on a connection than on the money or the time – it will take 1 hour to whizz round Tesco, and you can spend the rest of Saturday watching tv. OR you can spend the whole morning at the Farmers’ Market and miss out on some tedious cookery programme.

It’s little things. One change a week. You don’t throw out your technology and knit your own muesli and sneer at the hardworking family who HAVE to shop at a supermarket. But you do make thoughtful choices, as and when you can – you do read the papers with question in your mind. You do discuss the local planning policy with the bloke in the newsagents. You do offer to show a younger family member how to go blackberrying. You join a local LETS scheme, you volunteer at a school – independently, not to boost Cameron’s figures on Big Bleeding Society. You do it for the kids. You get Freegle-ing and Freecycling. You make your voice heard.

Do you remember your grandparents? Then they remember theirs – and one jump before that – and a jump before that was the seventeenth century – it’s not so long ago. Four leaps of living memory, when we killed a King. I’m not advocating violence now – just an awakening to the power we hold as a group when we decide what’s important and what’s not.

They put an end to 700 years of history today. History is a dangerous thing – you can learn from it.