30th April 2017

It’s been a weekend weighed down by lack of sleep, a state built up over an entire week where I haven’t once slept through the night. Even my lie-in this morning was a sleepless once, and didn’t cure my malaise. I’ve been mostly hanging around with friends so shouldn’t complain too much, but the blurriness of mind and the spring pollen and the number of turkeys who will soon vote for Christmas have combined to give me a headache.

I did however have a revelation at a smoke and rain party this afternoon. There was a presence in the conversation, something not spoken. We circled around the topic, we even talked explicitly about the future. But it soon became clear that nobody in the room wanted the future that currently awaits, there was a desire to create some other future, yet nobody dared talk about it explicitly, perhaps for fear of being mocked, or because they had been taught to not take their own dreams too seriously. There was one real reference to a better future, but it could only be mentioned as a joke.

What I realised was that I have felt this in so many places. It is like there is a secret movement within human hearts to demand a better future, but it is suppressed, pushed downwards. People lack faith in themselves, and also in each other. They no longer have faith in their leaders, and somewhere inside they dream of a future without them. But it is always unspoken, it must remain unspoken. To say it is to risk everything by refusing to take the present so seriously.

It amazes me that these dreams can never quite be crushed, no matter how hard the violent state and the savage media try. It seems a trickle of hope flows through us all, or nearly all, even when we pretend to be ‘realists’, when we pretend – by doing great violence to ourselves – that we cannot imagine a future except that laid out by our rulers. There is currently in Londres no movement to resist the rulers, yet there is this movement within us. I wonder if there is a way of bringing it to light? Doing so is risky, I can’t deny it, for once out in the world all ideas can fail, but there is also risk in hiding it all away within us until it dies. In those few I meet in whom I see no hope at all, I almost always see bitterness.

At present the people who understand where this Island is headed are young people. It’s the nature of being young that most of them do have hope, but there must be a channel for that hope, so that it can battle against the likely future. I see some people doing this in the Labour party, and perhaps that will go somewhere, but I worry too about putting so much energy into a party that has done so much damage in the past. I feel there must be other channels, so that those trickles of hope within us all can be united. But how to persuade people to take the risks? How to persuade people they can have confidence in each other? It isn’t clear to me.

Mayday tomorrow!

30th April 2017

28th April 2017

Last night I walked over the Tamesis, on the Bridge of Defeated Frenchmen. As always the view was spectacular, one of the best in Londres. I thought about how much it has changed over the last few years. Office towers in one direction, residential towers in the other, and none put there to make Londres better for those who live here. The city feels colonised, but in truth this is nothing new. The open secret of the river is that it was the centre of theft and colonisation for a long time, starting with the violent impositions on the population of The Island itself, who were regularly kidnapped by the state to work the ships that stole people abroad. This goes back hundreds of years.

I suspect that even if we can make a warmer, more caring society, we cannot do so indefinitely. It would not be a stable state. Too many people are too keen to inflict their traumas on the population. I am not talking about the idiot who got arrested near the house of our rulers’ chosen leader yesterday. I am talking about the occupant of the house and all who put her there. What this means is that we will always have to fight for a better world, even when we have a better world.

Talking to The Curious Brewer the other night about why so few people are actively fighting the rulers right now, as they head towards the end of the world, he said that people aren’t desperate enough yet. On the surface this does appear true of some people, yet the other night I went to a presentation of interviews with people with housing problems. They are being bullied by state agencies, being thrown out of their homes, their cities, being told to live on an amount of money that can’t even feed them. When I wonder aloud why these people aren’t fighting harder, I’m often told they are busy just surviving. There is something wrong in this picture: comfortable people don’t fight because they are too comfortable, and oppressed people don’t fight because they are too oppressed.

There is something else going on, and I’m not interested in pinning blame on individuals. At the same event last night there was a discussion on the debts built up by local authorities, debts with private banks that in some cases mean the councils are spending more money on debt repayments than on housing. The local rulers don’t understand finance and get screwed. But the reality is, no one person understands how the world around us is constructed. It is too complex. How did the Tower of Sauron at the Original Bridge get where it is? Few people could explain it to you. The view from the Bridge of Defeated Frenchmen is spectacular, but difficult to decode. Some general tendencies can be understood, but even those are obscured by myth.

28th April 2017

25th April 2017

The air is cold and the sun is shining – a good day to be out in Londres. Even the crows in Burble Park looked friendly this morning, and took it in good humour when a spaniel ran at them. It’s been a sociable few days, which also accounts for my good mood. Even the fuzziness from last night’s Guinness has a warmth to it.

I’m sitting in a car in front of a park, enjoying the sun through the screen, windows wound up to keep the polluted air out. I’m thinking about the future today, and visions of the future. Or rather, thinking about how few people see a positive vision of the future. Dystopia is easy to imagine, but a future without scarcity or domination by the powerful seems almost impossible for most. Is this the biggest challenge facing Londres at the end of the world? Only by imagining a better future, then putting it into action, can the end of the world become a moment of creation.

If I really try to speak of what a positive future would look like, people often look at me as though I am some sort of extremist. The willingness to disturb the status quo is a perversion, a sign of deep inner faults. I guess I have to accept that. In a world resigned to its own end, I am an extremist. I quite enjoy being an extremist. It makes me happy.

What makes me sad is that it is so difficult to radicalise others. I have been thinking a lot about how to do this recently. There’s no easy route forward. The band of extremists is very small, and there is no language bridge between us and the resigned. Many of my fellow extremists have said to me they find it difficult even to talk to their friends and relatives about their position. This is, I feel, a symptom of the lack of shared language, lack of shared narrative. The search for that shared language strikes me as one of the most worthwhile tasks in Londres right now.

This keeps coming up in my journal, but it seems worth obsessing over. I feel that some of the interesting projects I’ve seen over the last few years have been compromised by a lack of macro perspective. It’s good to do good things, but it’s a big old world and it doesn’t go away if you ignore it. We need big narratives back again, to tie us all together. Londres is just fragments until that happens.

25th April 2017

22nd April 2017

After a tiring couple of days, the Western Monastery’s Process feels to me like some sort of parasitic creature living on people’s backs. The Process is far removed from the everyday struggles people are living with, and drains energy rather than providing a way to exercise power. The Process, once claimed as a form of liberation, is a vampire. Which does not mean we should ignore it – but we must try to ensure it doesn’t sink its fangs into us.

I was just talking to The Driver, who says she just finds politics confusing. Policies are announced on the news and they make no sense to her, so she ends up largely ignoring the whole game. The elites have tried to make of politics such a technical matter, she said, that there is no way she feels able to input to it. She suspects this has been done on purpose, but she can’t see a way forward in which she would feel able to play a part.

Her partner meanwhile, recently arrived from off-Island, is amazed by how few people are able to talk about politics here. Time and again he meets blank faces when he tries to discuss it, as though politics has no impact on the lives of those he is talking to. I have felt this too, and the road to this level of cultural degeneration has been a long one. Most importantly the Enemy Press has framed the political language people use. That language allows them to say nothing. I’ve been accused of being patronising for talking about the influence of the Enemy Press, as though I’m accusing everyone of being hoodwinked. But let’s not pretend that our upbringing and education and environment don’t profoundly impact us. And isn’t the language we are exposed to one of the most important elements of this?

A campaign against fake news online has been gathering pace, but think about this: after thirteen years of compulsory education, many people appear unable to distinguish a bad source from a good, or to read the bias in an article. Thirteen years! Think about what you can do in thirteen years. Think about how much you could learn.

If people truly can’t cast a critical eye over a newspaper article, it sometimes seems to me that the omissions in their education must be deliberate. But I don’t know: perhaps it is simply decades, centuries of accumulated ignorance, passed on through the system. I am so often amazed at what people don’t get taught at school. Few people come out of their compulsory imprisonment in chidrens centres understanding what science is, for example, and thus what its strengths and weaknesses are. They can do a basic equation for acceleration (until they forget it the week after the exam), but can’t tell you that science is a social process based on reproducibility of results. Why is this? I confess to being puzzled. Thirteen years. If these weird distortions and failures can creep into the less politicised subjects, think how much more they creep into the more political ones such as history.

Many people believe that the streets of Londres have been tranquil over the years, because this is what they are taught. They don’t know the bosses had to set up volunteer groups to try to keep the city running during the General Strike, that there was a great fear of a general uprising. They don’t know how often the kings had to hide in the Tower for fear of the wrath of the population. They don’t know that people fought on the streets for the right to pleasure, and for the right to control their own lives. Some other myth dominates, some myth in which ‘politics’ is not worth bothering with. In this mythological world The Process is offered as a sop to the idea politics might be worth bothering with. But few think it truly is, and so The Process hangs heavy on us all.

22nd April 2017

19th April 2017

The news yesterday was not good. The corrupt and debased Western Monastery of Londres has decided to inflict upon us a Process of their own devising, claimed to be in our own interests, but in fact part of a perpetual game in which they always win. The purpose of the Process is to demoralise all opposition, to suck up the energies of those who believe in the future by forcing them to focus on personalities in the present. There is talk of crushing saboteurs from the rulers’ stooges, as though anyone who disagrees with them is a traitor.

People accept the Process because historically it represented a victory over the complete lack of a process, yet it has long since been co-opted into a channel for spats between members of the ruling class. This time, a particularly vile element of the aristocracy will probably strengthen their hand, enabling them to continue with the punitive approach to poor people, their belief that work cures sickness, and their theft on a vast scale from the public coffers.

I have no desire at all to get pulled into this Process, distracting as it is from questions about the end of the world and what the future might look like, but it will be difficult to avoid. Somebody I am not always a fan of said publicly: “I am weary of this self-regarding country; its terrifying yet mediocre ruling class, its histrionic popular press, its paper-thin civility.”

Indeed. Two hundred years ago in Yorkshire there was an organisation called The Black Lamp. They met in secret in woodlands and moorlands to plot the downfall of our rulers. If anybody approached them, shrouds were thrown over the lamps, and they disappeared. For a few years they were greatly feared. Then, with little fanfare, they faded from history. But I have heard rumours that The Black Lamp never went away, that it is a simmering current within an outwardly compliant population, a secret stream of dissent within society. The Black Lamp, some say, has simply taken a long time to prepare itself.

Wherever there is action rather than passivity, you can be sure that The Black Lamp thrives; wherever there are whispers of discontent, you can be sure The Black Lamp will be there stirring it up; wherever there are those who believe in the future, The Black Lamp is there to channel the rage. So it is said anyway, and I have often felt that history is haunted by something not spoken of in history books. The Black Lamp, some say, is close to achieving its goals, and plans to make its presence felt once more, at first simply in rumour and urban legend, at first simply to spread fear among the aristocracy and their agents, at first simply to inspire those who can bear the Process no longer. The next step after that is unknown. Or at least, how would I know?

19th April 2017

17th April 2017

I’ve been out of Londres for a few days visiting a friend in The West. The coast and countryside were, as usual, beautiful. My friend was in a sad mood due to the death of a friend, and also tired and a little anxious. Talking with her made me wonder, as so often, why we live in a culture that doesn’t prepare us for real life – the plotlessness of it, the twists and turns beyond our control, the aging and dying.

But then, there may be nothing to be done to prepare us for all this, or at least most methods so far invented rely heavily on fictions that don’t always stand up to the harshness of reality. It’s possible, I found myself thinking, that a sense of humour is the best tool we have to deal with it all. Death is difficult to laugh at immediately, but perhaps it is possible to laugh at ourselves later. Perhaps life and our expectations of it can be seen as rather ridiculous. Did we expect everyone we knew to live forever, or to die only of old age? Life takes its toll, but so what? Is that any reason to take its ups and downs so seriously?

Tonight I go out for a drink with The Organiser and some of her friends. We will probably not discuss death, or if we do we’ll take it very seriously, before returning to the lighthearted business of drinking and eating. Which is all a bit strange, given that death – even untimely death – is as inevitable as urination or bad excuses from train companies or rulers who have no empathy with those they rule. My sister’s recent death I have been inclined to take seriously, partly because her end felt unnecessary. But that is silly too: all death is unnecessary, or totally necessary, depending on how you look at it. I should add that it also strikes me as silly to object to feeling bad about the death of someone we love. Mourning is normal. What’s not is that we live in a ridiculous civilsation in which every tragic event takes us by surprise, we are so programed to look for the happy ending. Can we at least laugh at that? Tragedy is part of everyday life. There’s nothing surprising about it at all.

Back in Londres, I wonder how different public politics would be if we could talk about death as though it were normal, if we could talk about any of life’s catastrophes or declines as though they were normal, and our feelings about them also as normal? This, I suspect, relies on an idea of politics that is about being together and caring for each other. The only way to get through the plotlessness is with each other. Crazy thoughts.

17th April 2017