Here are some things about me:
I’m over 50, white and I own a house in a rural area of Wales. I don’t have kids, I’ve been variously vegan or vegetarian for over 30 years, I use a bike and public transport where possible but I also have a car. I have cats and I grow at least some of my own food. I voted Remain in the referendum and I’ve voted Labour or Green at every election where I could. I’m aware of my privilege.
A number of these facts cause some people on social media to hate me, wish me harm or to dismiss immediately anything I have to say. But it gets worse.
Here are some of the things I believe:
1: We are facing an unprecedented global climate and ecological emergency. Governments and society at large, particularly within the G20, are not treating this with anything approaching sufficient urgency. The climate crisis justifies urgent action, including mass, sustained, nonviolent disruption, until governments address it with the urgency it requires.
2: Far right, authoritarian governments in many parts of the world are actively repressing progressive, alternative voices, often violently, and in the belief they can act with impunity. They have squashed or ignored all efforts by media and others to hold them accountable and they have no interest in the opinion of those who disagree. They are engaged in a clear campaign to reduce hard-won rights and freedoms and those impacts are falling hardest on those who are least able to resist.
3: Brexit was unnecessary and wrong. It has caused huge divisions in the UK, and fear, uncertainty and despair for millions of EU citizens here and British citizens in Europe. We now face the imminent prospect of having no arrangement in place to do even the most basic and urgent trade deals with the EU without complication and delay, let alone the vast array of other issues that confront us.
4: Capitalism is fuelling inequality and is the wrong tool to bring what Dr Martin Luther King described as “a positive peace which is the presence of justice”. It’s odd, I think, that those most strident in calling for an ever greater role for choice and the free market of ideas are so stubbornly convinced that capitalism is the only way to run an economy.
5: The largest multinational corporations exploit governments to avoid paying tax, and governments collude with corporations to offer them shelter in exchange for lightly regulated and insecure jobs. In every case the profits are privatised and the costs socialised.
6: Trans rights matter, Black lives matter. Being actively anti-racist is a minimum requirement and we must all do much more to protect vulnerable people and never stop doing everything to end domestic violence and the misery it brings.
7: Donald Trump is, among much else, the most degenerate, repellent individual to hold the office of President of the USA and no effort should be spared to remove him from the White House come the election in November.
For these beliefs there is a much larger group of people who won’t speak to me, who troll me or who wish increasing levels of harm on me – although nothing compared to the hate heaped upon many others.
But here’s the thing: like almost everyone I know, either in real life or on Twitter, I find it really difficult to translate my beliefs into any kind of successful action to achieve the better world I want. I keep asking why that is and the only answer I have is distraction.
Our governments can and do distract us with ease. This is a deliberate strategy as the resulting infighting, personal attacks and efforts to make the definitive, viral comment take away and defuse the real anger that would otherwise drive us into the streets to demand change.
We distract ourselves too. It’s much easier to rerun old battles, pick on established targets and ignore big picture reality. I should know, I do it every day. In the UK we know where our old battleground is – Brexit. Remain and Leave. 48/52.
We progressive types are played and play ourselves at kicking each other so we don’t have to get it together to set up barricades and fight back against the incompetent hooligans in power. We always fall into the same holes and, until we stop doing this, little will change. We need to stop playing on the ground prepared by our enemies and learn to trust each other, ask for help rather than turn up thinking we know everything, and focus on who we actually want to get out of the way.
For all of the beliefs I describe above I will keep pushing, arguing, supporting and fighting but I’m done now with Brexit. I was on the losing side and it hurts but I have to have some strength to fight the next battle, the biggest there is, the fight for a liveable planet without runaway global heating, with an abundant and flourishing ecosystem, that puts power and responsibility in the hands of communities rather than corporations and where climate justice is social justice. To do that I need to work with anyone who wants the same – anyone. If the people I work with in that fight voted Leave but also want real, positive peace in the presence of justice, clean air and water and a sustainable future then great. I won’t be asking “how did you vote in 2016?”
Before you hate me, answer this question. When Piers Morgan was using his platform to excoriate the Tories and their cowardice in hiding from scrutiny did you like his tweets? The enemy of my enemy is my friend?*
*Terms and conditions apply.