Freedom News

A letter to my centrist aunt

Print and post:

I want to explain my anger in our recent debates. It comes from the futility of explaining our political reality in any way that you will accept. I’m sorry if it seems moralistic, but it’s a deeply moral issue, not an intellectual exercise in finding out whose ideology can be more consistent. You might think that you don’t have an ideology and, therefore, perceive my anger as a result of your inability to adopt one. But this is an illusion. Everyone makes unconscious value judgments about how things should be, and as a leftist, my goal is to try and make these value judgments apparent to me and others and maybe even change them.

Progressives attempt to adapt ideology in opposition to oppressive systems. Conservatives, despite their best efforts, reveal their ideology upon encountering reality. This is why they need the media: to obscure the disaster of their ideas. The exception to this was Liz Truss, whose stupidity was hard to ignore because it impacted those the media and ruling class cared about: middle and upper-class property owners. People like you.

I understand the temptation to retreat from the battleground and pretend you don’t have an ideology. But everybody has an ideology. Centrists pretend their politics are based on “pragmatism” and “reaching across the aisle”. As Starmer has often said in response to questions of nationalisation, “I’m pragmatic, not ideological”. That might sound appealing; after all, he’s saying that he wants to do what makes sense. But this is a smoke screen. What would make sense would be to nationalise utilities and infrastructure. But the most he’ll propose is a state-owned energy company in opposition to, and in competition with, existing private companies. This is an ideology of not going too far in one direction or another. The problem is that political intervention doesn’t exist in a vacuum. We already live in a world dominated by marketisation. Inequality has its thumb on the scale. A centrist in power is not wading into neutral territory where their decisions are the only influence. So, when their ideology ensures that they do nothing of significance, the best result is a slightly slower decline in living standards. Eventually, it looks the same as if a conservative had gotten in. And public disillusionment leads to the rise of actual conservatives, who repeat the process slightly quicker, ensuring that their media monopoly allows them to stay in power for at least as long as the centrists did. And so, the cycle continues. Why are the Labour Party going to win in the next election? Because it’s their turn. They’ve signalled that they’re not going to change things at all, and the Establishment is content to let them have a go. Is that the best we can do? A different colour rosette? And I know your response: “But we need to win.” Firstly, I’d ask you to define who is included in “we.” Because if the last seven years have made anything clear, it’s that parliamentarianism considers people like me as anathema. Secondly, if “winning” cannot offer more than a slight swing away from totalising disaster, it’s useless.

The rich own everything. They own the houses and the real estate, the land the real estate is built on, the companies who build on the land, who fuel the vehicles, that extract the fuel, the think-tanks which dismiss the impact of the fuel, the newspapers who advertise the think-tanks findings, and the supermarkets which sell the newspapers. They own the TV and radio stations, the banks, the debt, the railways, the water, the energy, the pharmaceutical companies, and the arms companies. There is no part of life uncontaminated by the power held by a couple of hundred men. And they are almost all men, or at the very least, women with white skin.

And I can hear it now. “The passion of youth!” And perhaps my youth should be taken into consideration. The majority of my friends will never own property. And those who inherit wealth will find it no protection against the destroyed world they inherit along with it. Through their system of extraction, the ruling class will leave us a world resembling the apocalypses of folklore and religion. The answer to this is not pragmatism. The only solution is for a critical mass of people to become ungovernable. And for that, we need the numbers. And for us to get the numbers, we need people in positions of social power — people like you — to see and speak the truth. And the comfort taken in not doing so is not worthy of respect, or fair play, or polite conversation. We’re in serious trouble, and we need the numbers. So, I’m not sorry for getting angry. You should be sorry for staying so calm.

~ Ellis Fox

This article first appeared in the Winter 2023-4 issue of Freedom Anarchist Journal

Pic: Evelyn Simak/CC

Discover more from Freedom News

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading