“1 2 3 4 – I Declare A Culture War”
A narrative is not a true story. Authentic is a meaningless invention of someone in marketing who mistook or hoped it would be mistaken for sincerity. Woke is genuine, anti-woke is, apart from absurd and hostile, the last desperate, rearguard action of a very vocal minority mindset that few can longer tolerate
The insistence on stoking tiny, imaginary fires to blazing outrage where everybody feels they have to weigh in with an opinion is, of course, a whole lot more juvenile than thumb wars. Sadly, it’s also a whole lot more dangerous, mostly in offering up endless distractions which bank upon the sound and fury of division to help avoid the more pertinent and complex questions that should be holding centre-stage.
“You wretches detestable on land and sea: you who seek equality with lords are unworthy to live. Give this message to your colleagues: rustics you were, and rustics you are still; you will remain in bondage, not as before, but incomparably harsher. For as long as we live we will strive to suppress you, and your misery will be an example in the eyes of posterity. However, we will spare your lives if you remain faithful and loyal. Choose now which course you want to follow.”
These are the words of King Richard II of England, spoken around 1381, in the wake of The Peasants’ Revolt. That’s what we’re all up against, still. Forever, it seems.
‘Preteretrospective’ started to take shape during the lockdowns, confinements and restrictions of 2020 and 2021. It is not, however, a direct reaction to the era of the COVID pandemic. I have no need to alter and change course in my writing to reflect that or any other situation. Prior to the pandemic, I read and heard, with a kind of disappointed, weary heart, how some artists made a huge play of having gone back into the studio because they needed to address the Trump presidency and the state of America. It is something that I have seen before and after, in songwriters, performers and artists from all over the world, many times. All credit, perhaps, for even bothering to go back to the studio and rewriting and recording material to address something that has suddenly become a concern in their eyes. BUT, and here’s the crux of the matter…
What the fuck were you wasting your energy and writing all that time before? Songs from your bubbles, songs from your bunkers, songs of your vanities, songs that derive from YOUR need to be seen, rather than songs that need to be heard?
There is a straight line to be drawn from this kind of sudden development of virtue-signalling conscience to the vast increase in believers of all the various conspiracy theories that have been – as they always have since time immemorial – growing, fermenting and sadly gaining huge traction since the outbreak and global spread of COVID-19. Both come from a deplorable mentality exactly the same as the ‘not in my backyard’ brigade, the kind of people who voice support loudly and visibly but don’t want refugees in their ‘neck of the woods’ or protest plans for wind turbines anywhere near the vicinity of their properties; however these people try and justify themselves, defend their spurious and dangerous and ultimately downright selfish take on life, society and the world, it comes only and always from the ME-FIRST school of philosophy. Something about it stuck in too many people’s craws, the fact that FINALLY they were personally affected by something from the outside world, the same outside world that had always left them untouched, despite the slow but blatant eroding of employment rights over decades, the exploitation and profiteering of big corporations and their shareholders, the arrogance of the free market, trickle-down economics devotees, the financial collapse of 2008 and the needless austerity of the UK’s Conservative government from 2010 that led directly to that country’s current catastrophes, of which Brexit was merely a symptom emerging from decades of neglect, more than a century of middle-class and aristocratic arrogance and greed, and century after century of class division and a system and hierarchy that some blame on the UK’s constitutional monarchy, which is of course a ludicrous and unnecessary anachronism, but exists in all countries regardless of whether they have a family sitting above everybody else at the top.
Conspiracy theories tend to be bought into by people disaffected with their perceived place in the so-called order of things, people who cannot accept that the world, the system, society as they recognise it, is fucked simply because of flawed human nature, greed, selfishness and corruption, and so their MUST be something deeply sinister behind it all, because THAT simple truth is unacceptable to them and would require efforts to try and change whereas shouting about vague unfounded shadowy powers controlling everything for nefarious ends absolves that responsibility. And it’s the surest clickbait.
What we’re looking at is insecure people in a declining world under two collapsing global systems, our ruling classes have failed the climate and our politicians have failed us. It’s time to make things fair, it’s the only way the human species and the planet can endure. But the problem, seemingly, is that some people really want to be alone in their Armageddon, using their wealth to buy themselves a few more miserable months, years or decades on an inhospitable, ravaged, burning planet, alone at last and proving Sartre wrong. Hell, in fact, is those people. The world is in free-fall on every level and they are the cause – the status quo, the establishment, the people who hugely profit off maintaining a system that priorities profit over principles and keeps us up to our necks, sometimes drowning, sometimes finding something to cling to if only for a short time.
AND they have to stop. And our governments have to stop them. And if our governments continue to fail or refuse to stop them and instead carry on imposing further and further measures to prevent us from taking action, we will, in the end, be forced to stop them by force. That is inevitable. And it will be overwhelming.
Before we get to that point, we therefore need a completely different system of governance; no more feudal serfdom, which is where we are, they just changed the name and threw some tawdry possessions our way, the consumer distraction, a tiny taste of what they luxuriate in 24/7, 365.3 days of every year. Be done with it! You can visit for a hefty price but it’s never going to live up to your expectations, to the glorious promoted image of it, and they’re not going to cut you a key and they’re certainly not going to give them up. Not easily. But it is inevitable – it just might be the very last of them, burying it in the scorched and scolded ground, with a message attached to the keyring with the very last selfie – someone holding up their last, literal, closing balance sheet.