The Word Rabbit

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This article was written on 30 Jul 2015, and is filled under Uncategorized.

Exile

The East Germans used to talk, in hushed tones, about something called internal exile’. Essentially, this meant that they recognised that nothing could be done about the awfulness of the regime, the Stasi or any of the other aspects of it, so they would retreat from public life behind their books or music and have as little to do with politics as humanly possible.

Several things argue against this approach, not least that it allows public men to get away with all manner of base criminality without so much as a peep from the electorate. And if you want to stretch the East German comparison to its limit, the regime would not have fallen in the way it did if people sat around on their backsides, lost in War & Peace.

So much for the caveats. Internal exile commends itself to me because we’re not living in East Germany with huge issues of civil liberties and the idea of citizen versus the state at stake, or anything like it, for all that the leaders of the political parties would like to pretend otherwise. In fact, there are no major issues at stake, save for one.

That issue is one of decency, as I see it in my tweedy, uptight Welfare State-succoured way. It’s about not sending people who are struggling to food banks and thinking that this is somehow indicative of the ‘big society’ in action rather than a failing state that is wholly unable to take care of its citizens apart from the richest, who inexplicably get tax cuts.

It’s also about not greeting every immigrant with a massive gust of hate and mean-spiritedness that regards them as a potential drain on resources and as something other than human. Finally, it’s also about paying people the benefits that they need to live on, rather than begrudging every single penny that is spent and reading banner headlines about people living on benefits.

I don’t know when this started happening and my ideological bent is such that I want to attribute it to the rise of Margaret Thatcher and her unlovely ilk, but there were signs saying ‘no blacks, no dogs, no Irish’ long before her, so perhaps it’s a weakness in the national character. Perhaps we’ll always be full of hate for the ‘other’ and fear what we once did to them in the name of empire will be done to us.

This hatred is what I see in the rise of UKIP and it’s what I see woven into the essence of the Tory party like some disgusting two-headed hydra. It’s tendrils extend into the Labour party and pull the strings of his successors and the tremendous herd of lockstep New Labour MPs who still infest it like a pancreas shot through with cancer.

And yet I’m one of the few who seem to see this and to hate it quite so thoroughly and so purely. Worse yet, I live in a safe seat where Tories or Lib Dems have held it since time immemorial and where, if the answer is ‘neither,’ then there is little point bothering than for the faintest possibility of encouraging the other parties.

For that reason, I find myself contemplating the future with boredom mixed with distaste and seriously considering not voting as the game simply isn’t worth the candle. And I also find myself considering the possibility of internal exile. There’s nothing much I can do in order to stop the country voting the hateful way it finds itself pulled or stop the mainstream thinking what it thinks . But I can not take part. And that, for the time being, is about all I can do.

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