The term “sleep walking into a Police state” seems to have gained some currency amongst the press at the moment. This is not, in itself, the truth of the situation. If anything matters are actually worse. In fact it is only one symptom of the malaise that riddles Britain today. We have reached the dreadful state of the Self-Disenfranchising Society. The mere sudden realisation of suffocating surveillance would be preferable to the conditions we find ourselves in. I say Britain rather than the Western world as I can only speak of what I personally see and experience. However, here, whereas up until now members and groups within society have fought for their rights we have those amongst us who freely give them away. It would appear that there are two main paths to Self-Disenfranchisement. There are those who opt out of the World around them and those who are willing to sell their rights for a certain level of comfort. A stifling loss of liberty and self-determination for booze and cocaine or DVD players and Saxos.
What do we know of the former? They are all junkies looking to avoid confronting the want they feel inside. Whether it is the retreat into drug addiction, alcoholism or even the cyber world they have turned their back on humanity. Are they to be pitied for their weakness or despised? Either way it is the ultimate cowardice, a lingering self-destruction that benefits no-one. I also feel a sense of betrayal. How many unfulfilled possibilities have there been? Children dying from illness or accident, promising young people snatched from us through no fault of their own when on the cusp of fulfilment? Yet these wastrels have their chance and fritter their lives away in some meaningless non-existence. They consign themselves to a waking oblivion that does not allow comprehension of, or engagement with, the world around them. They have no impact, they have no say, they have removed themselves from influence.
And what of those who, having had the bait of comfort dangled before them, have settled into non-questioning acceptance of all that goes on around? I accuse them of the crime of Complicit Oppression and hold them in utter contempt for it. These are the people who think that a trip to a burger bar is a family day out. They buy into the coke drinking world that advertisers put before them and consider themselves content. These are the people who watch programmes with uninteresting and uninspiring people doing very little and believe they are being entertained. The shallowness of popular culture exists because of the vacuity found within the post-nuclear, post-ironic family. They choose the role of placidity because they are mentally lazy and it is easy. These are the dangerous ones because, unlike the junkie, they are only visible through the consequences of their drab little lives.
The Self–Disenfranchising Society has sown the seeds for the mediocrity we are drowning in. “This happy breed” has a hollow ring now, it is the happiness brought on by tranquilisers. Our forebears had to fight for the comforts that we enjoy, the rights we so glibly rely on. After all the blood that has been shed and the suffering endured so that we can have a reasonable wage, safety and security, what do we do? We allow a new kind of oppression. A cliché of the revolutionary cry of old is “my body may be in chains but my mind is free”. The motto for today is “my body is free but my mind is dead.” We are going nowhere because we have no drive, no yearning for something better.
Perhaps we need someone special to rip us out of complacency, a figurehead to breath life into the corpse of human endeavour. If we look to the past for heroes who do we find? Churchill, Brunel and Einstein; Hood, Montgomery and Bader. Any number of people from any 50 year period of the past, yet today there is hardly anyone. Why do the masses raise unremarkable non-entities to the level of celebrity? With few exceptions we are not told about the inspirational people who are out there so there is little wonder they seek to imbue anyone with worth for the slightest of pretences. For example, generally record breakers and astronauts do not make the front page unless something goes wrong. The headlines are saved for whipping up paranoia or spreading gossip. What has happened to our need for adventure and exploration? I do not advocate the taking of senseless risk but I cannot help questioning today’s health and safety obsessed, accident litigious society. We are too scared to leave our front door and try to achieve.
Where to from here? Self-determination and democracy have come full circle. The dark irony is that people clamour to be heard on inconsequentialities, on footballer A’s divorce or whether starlet B has had plastic surgery – judgement given on matters of no importance by mob rule in league with the gutter press. Yet regarding civil liberties and other higher issues they have no wish to be involved. We are backing away from enlightenment and the truly frightening thing is we cannot return to how things were. Life evolves and does not allow us to “un-learn” or “un-invent” aspects of the world about us. We are compelled to look purely to the future. I would suggest that it is imperative to kick off the lethargy now - the time to shake society roughly by the shoulders is here. Now is the time for the Futurist. Futurism was born out of the need to detonate the moribund world of 1900 Italy, the same can be said of 2006 Britain. Should some wish to read imaginary undertones into this statement then let me state categorically that I talk purely of attitudes and ideas. Violence and terrorism are the realms of the unimaginative and the dim. The tools of Complicit Oppression are ripe for turning into the tools of revolution. The internet gives unparalleled opportunity to spread encouragement and opinion, the flickering television can revitalise our appetite for self-discovery and fulfilment. We have approached Utopia and shied away, we must turn towards it again before all chance of success is lost.