Encounter with Activists

When I landed my first and only Technical Author job writing manuals for telecoms software applications, my husband mentioned in passing that TAs are famously weird. There was a joke that went: a TA rubs a lamp and the genie says you have a choice: you can have all the money in the world, or all the knowledge in the world. The TA hesitates barely a moment and plumps for the knowledge. Well, wouldn’t anyone?

The deed is done and the TA blinks, stunned. The genie asks: well, what have you learned?

The TA says: I should have taken the money.

I sacked the employer, in his capacity as my employer, nine years later and subsequently got the autism label which would have helped immensely at the time.

Where was I? Activists. So one thing you can count on is that a truth-bum ex-TA will be a passionate Remainer. So there’s a pile of pro-EU pages on Facebook and I stick my oar in occasionally. After a while I end up joining one of them and holding a placard saying FULL LORRY PARK = EMPTY FRIDGE in a car park somewhere.

But despite over a million of us turning up in London for what was dubbed ‘the longest Waitrose queue in history’ and SIX million of us signing a petition to revoke Article 50, it is all batted aside. Something that matters, so desperately matters, is batted away with barely a second thought. 

The powers that we are facing will not respond to marching and placards and signing your name here. What we are facing does not respond to the screaming frustration, the searing grief and gnawing anger in the well-spoken Waitrose set (although at least some of us are also patrons of Lidl and Aldi). The point is that the powers that we are facing know very well how we feel and they demonstrate their contempt with comments like ‘They’re now British fish and they’re better and happier fish for it,’  and the canonical ‘Fuck Business’. All in a day’s work and our noses are rubbed in the sheer orthogonality of it.

Orthogonal = irrelevant. Those of us who did a bit of maths at school will know that orthogonal = at right angles, perpendicular. It’s on another dimension that simply doesn’t figure in their scheme of things. Ordinary people are ‘potted plants’. Their suffering can be dismissed in the way that we discard a plant that didn’t thrive. Oh dear, I forgot to feed it. People’s suffering simply doesn’t matter to them.

So being exhorted to write to John Redwood to appeal to his humanity feels like an insult. He bats it back because he can. He doesn’t even try to answer the question.

We are not dealing with people here. We are dealing with something that is deficient, in a way that an autistic ex-TA might understand, but from the other side. I doubt myself constantly. It never crosses their mind. Dunning-Kruger writ large.

So, placards and petitions don’t do it. However well worded, they come from the usual suspects and their susceptible audience, and boy! do the Tories understand susceptible audience.

Because the Tories are the enemy. That has finally been established. Many of their followers may not understand it yet, because of the zombie effect (of which more in another blog). And as a pre-emptive strike, I would point out that if you are a victim of the zombie effect it’s not your fault. You only buy it for the cartoons/sports pages/fashion section/lifestyle/health and recipes/crossword and Sudoku. The shouty headlines are almost subliminal. But what reputable news outlet shouts a value judgement, with underlined words, in the headline? Only one that despises its readers.

So, what do we howling inside, grief-stricken truth-bums do next? Petitions don’t work. Marches don’t work. Placards don’t work. Across the Channel we see the gilets jaunes setting fire to vehicles and they get concessions but that’s not what we’re looking for. We’re not looking for concessions in an existing negotiation. We’re looking for a wholesale review of the process of government and the way it has been eroded and played in the last couple of decades. We need a review of democracy itself, which incorporates a deep understanding of the way social media allows targeted adverts that the susceptible see and the rest of us have no inkling of. We need a re-establishment of the value of truth. And I hear you say fuck that for a game of candles and I’d agree. The horse has bolted. 

So stop sending me emails asking me to ‘add my name’ or ‘pledge some money’. I am simply deleting them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *