WORDS: Ciaran Donaghy
When you think of these words, and the connotations associated with them, you think of violent struggle. You think of besieged peoples, and ruthless armies. You think of the ruling elite and the impoverished peasants. You think of the state versus the people.
Living in the United Kingdom can yield some pretty great benefits; it's unlikely that a drone strike will wipe us out. Our state media doesn't promote (too much) propaganda. We don't have population control. Our freedom of expression is largely protected. We won't be imprisoned without just cause, or without the judgement of our peers. All pretty great stuff. These might not seem like things to laud and celebrate, but compare these basic standards which we consider as basic rights, to the standards in various countries around the globe, and you will find that we have been dealt a relatively good hand. So, with this thougt in mind, when the Beeb are churning out a story about riots in Gaza, or fighting in Syria, threats of Islamic State et al. it becomes quite simple to rationale why people are revolting in these war torn regions - it's because they haven't got these basic rights that we take for granted. Of course, you and I know that the reality is much more complex than that, and is quite often a result of some bullshit foreign policy interference from the UK or USA who then leave these regions to clean up after our mess - but for the sake of this article, we'll just stick with the excuse that it's because they haven't got basic human rights. Because they haven't got democracy.
So if we are to accept that over-simplified premise, it becomes pretty clear that we, the people of the United Kingdom, have absolutely no need to engage in protest, or revolution, or resistance. After all, we have basic human rights like the right not to be tortured, freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and that wonderful bastion of peace and freedom - democracy. Surely in this country we're not faced with a state versus the people scenario?
This idyllic image of a free and open democratic state that respects the rights of all people is what the established political elite would have you believe. However, this utopian world-view (or state view if you will) does not reflect reality. After 5 years of one of the most socially divisive and destructive Tory led coalition governments, the people of the United Kingdom saw fit to not only re-elect them for a second term, but to give them a majority! How could this be? Are we led to believe that the majority of the population want to pro-actively sack nurses, cut fire-fighter's pensions, and further privatise the NHS? No, the sad reality is that in this general election, the last general election, the Scottish Independence Referendum, and most likely the EU referendum (and likely many other elections from here on in) is that these campaigns were run on a ballot of fear. When it comes to politics, people are motivated by fear. Fear for their families security. Fear for their jobs. Fear for their public services.
I get it. I really do. Why would a government tell you that it was actually the fact they slashed billions from the NHS that you had to wait 10 hours for a hospital bed, when they can blame it on immigrants? Why would the government make up some ideologically convoluted story as to why they want to slash benefits, raise tuition fees, and build less social houses, when they can simply make up some nonsense about the "deficit" as if it's some impending asteroid about to destroy the earth.
The next legitimate question is that if the government is so shit, why don't the opposition rise up and tell the truth? Because they want to do all the shitty things the government are doing too, only they'll be slightly less shit about it.
Furthermore, as if lying to us, manipulating our innermost fears, and pushing sensitive emotional buttons in order to force us to vote a certain way wasn't bad enough, we also have an electoral system that actively promotes voting for 1 colour, or the other colour, of the same shit so your vote will not be proportionally representative (you know, just in case you had some whacky ideas about voting for hope over fear!) This free and open democratic society suddenly appears much more insular, much more contrived, and much more sinister when one considers the constraints within which it operates.
So why am I outlining how shit our 'democratic' system is? It doesn't lead to loss of life. It doesn't lead to persecution. It doesn't cause division among the population. It's just politics. Surely having a malfunctioning democracy is better than none at all?
Unless we rise up against the Tories we will see the continued fire-sale of our NHS to the highest bidder. These providers treat health like a commodity, with the ultimate aim being the securing of profits. Pursuit of profits does not lend itself to quality provision of care and ultimately, makes health-care providers accountable to shareholders, and not the people.
Unless we resist the Tories, we will see the repeal of the Human Rights Act which has brought the European Charter of Human Rights into UK law. This Act has protected us from some of the worst state abuses of human rights and gives us, the people, a direct right to appeal to Strasbourg. Without this robust defence mechanism of human rights, our State would be much more free to encroach upon those basic freedoms we hold so dear.
Unless we revolt against the Tories, we will see a country already defined by class division retreat even further into those arcane constructs. A Tory government, with their tax breaks and benefits sanctions will take money out of the pockets of the poor and put it into the pockets of the rich.
After reading all of this, it could be easy to turn around and say; 'What can we do now? The Tories have already won the election."
Yes, that is true. However, politics is not something that happens twice a decade. It's not something that is imposed upon us from above. Politics is something that we can engage with everyday. Whether that is signing petitions to protect public spending for a playground for your kids. Whether that's attending a local rally in support of Palestine. Whether that is campaigning door-to-door gathering signatures to protect our NHS - you are engaging in a better politics.
I promise you, when you engage in better politics, you begin to lose the fear. When you begin to lose the fear you start to look to hope. When you start to look to hope, you see the goodness in your fellow man. When you see the goodness in your fellow man you also see his strength, both as an individual, and as a collective. When you begin to see the collective strength that each and every one of us possesses deep inside of ourselves - that is when resistance occurs. That is when protests happen. That is when the revolution will begin.