The Limits: Politics

This is the last of three blog posts on how limited our lives have become.

We have been told “The personal is the political” by the student movement and second wave feminism. Skunk Anansie sang, “Everything is political.” I disagree.

It has been said by several social and political commentators that politics has taken over people’s minds and lives. If we think back to only two years ago, people had all sorts of conversations on all sorts of topics. If we think back ten years, we can remember even more diverse conversation on even more diverse topics. Lockdown and people spending more time on the internet, as well as the growth of social media platforms, has meant that more people are engaging with politics; not politics in the widest sense, but identity politics.

The creep of identity politics in the workplace has also made people more aware, and more willing to turn to a tribe of political ideology rather than the former tribes people had of football teams, music and other interests. Identity politics has crept into art, music, sport, history, films and TV series – there is no escape from it.

Politics should be about solving the housing crisis, ending third world debt, providing a much better education for children, ending zero hours contracts and re-imagining the social care system. Politics should be about our ethics and chart our growth as a species. Instead, we have reduced politics to genitals, sexual attraction, skin colour and other such shallow observations about our fellow humans. Politics has been reduced. We have been reduced.

We have been in and out of lockdowns for almost one year. Who and what has helped? The constant bickering and name calling on social media? Or the people who have given up their time, and often their money, to help their fellow humans? Marcus Rashford has done more for children and BAME people during the lockdown than our politicians and BLM. The lack of cars on the move in the first lockdown did more for the environment than Extinction Rebellion.

Look at LGBT. LGBT people were once known as the most loving and accepting people. However, since LGBT has become politicised heavily, especially by queer activists – see my blog post called I Am Not Queer for the difference between LGBT and queer – LGBT has fractured, LGBT people have turned against other LGBT people and most LGBT people want nothing to do with any LGBT organisation. I have found for twenty years that I am not welcome and I am met with hostility and threats of violence by other LGBT people because I think differently and I am a traditional Christian. BLM has done more to push back race relations in the UK than any far right group or newspaper, with Black people calling other Black people all sorts of racist names.

This is not good for us. We have reduced ourselves. We need to allow our minds to expand once more. We need to find the answers to the housing crisis and all the other concrete problems we have in our society. Name calling and tribalism will not achieve this. When identitarians say “We have work to do” I wonder what work they are talking about; sowing more seeds of division or healing our land? I housed homeless people. The colour of their skin or their sexual orientation had no bearing on how I got them off the streets. I worked on hospital wards. Someone’s sex or skin colour had no bearing on whether or not patients were able to walk and talk again after a brain injury. There is real work to do, and it is far more difficult to do than call people names on social media.

We need to talk about football, music and other interests once more. We need to stop seeing our fellow humans as enemies for being different from us or thinking differently from us. We need to form friendships again based solely on train spotting, music, outdoors sports, art, religion, nature and much more. We have reduced ourselves and our species to spiteful arguments about power and victimhood. Is this fun? Does it bring love to people’s lives?

There is more to us than this. Think back to the laughs you had with friends in a bar or on a mountain top or at a music festival. Think of the fun you all had together. Get that back. Even if we remain in lockdown and have more lockdowns in the future, we can decide to get our fellowship back. Go and get your fun and your laughs and your life back. You deserve much more. You are worth much more.

About catherinehume

Catherine Hume: Writer, social care worker and a liver of a life less ordinary.
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2 Responses to The Limits: Politics

  1. Hi Catherine, I agree with the general point that we need to look towards commonalities to change society for the better. It’s worth pointing out, however, the biggest identity politics is nationalism (white). After all, are the government not know getting heavy-handed with museums and universities regarding critiques of the British Empire? I feel that is an effort to protect the brand of the empire which, ultimately, was based on white supremacy and economic exploitation.

    I think minority groups have every right to assert their own human rights. Would Kamala Harris be VP in the US but for Black Lives Matter (and George Floyd’s murder)? Would Harvey Weinstein be in prison but for the Me Too movement? I’m using specific examples where the causal link might be hard to definitively prove but my point is mass movements can topple and change for the better.

    However, I agree, whilst we assert our identities and rights, we must not lose sight of our commonalities – including our common enemies.

  2. Just to add a very small example I saw on Twitter. A woman in a same-sex partnership tweeted a slightly sneering message about a delivery guy who asked if she was ‘Jamie’, to which she replied that that was her partner (who happens to be an academic). To which the delivery guy explained that as Jamie was a unisex name, he hadn’t been sure if it was her or her husband.

    The woman tweeted despairingly that this was another example of wilful queer blindness – suggesting that her haircut and clothing made it obvious.

    This was a small example, to my mind, of legitimate identity concerns blinding a person of goodwill and empathy for another.

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