Well, to be honest, this probably goes back to the start of 2015, at least… just before the last General Election (not that I was exactly a bundle of joy following the outcome of the 2010 election!).
I remember precisely how I felt when the exit poll results were announced on television at the end of 7 May… utterly shattered. I watched in downright disbelief. How could the electorate be so stupid?*
I also remember thinking at that time just how strange it was that I appeared to inhabit a virtual world (via facebook!) in which most of my friends shared my thoughts and aspirations for the world, poverty, war, climate change, taxation, health, education, justice… (the list is quite long!).
Unfortunately, clearly, there was a parallel virtual world inhabited by people with largely opposite political viewpoints(!)… and these were obviously in the slight majority (hence the election result).
Sadly, as far as the real world was concerned, things haven’t been helped in the UK Parliament by a completely ineffective Opposition – which continues to fail to challenge the government over a wide variety of crucial issues.
Fast forward to 23 June 2016 - EU Referendum Day – and things got massively worse! The Referendum vote (which, incidentally, is ADVISORY, not mandatory… and which surely should therefore mean that parliament needs to vote on whether or not the UK stays in the EU?) has actually resulted in the government deciding to ‘pick+choose’ which of the MANY messages in the Brexit vote it wants to listen to (mainly immigration, sovereignty… it seems) and which it decides to ignore (once again, the list is long). For goodness sake, it wasn’t like a General Election – with an opportunity to reverse the decision in 5 years’ time – no, it’s a decision that affects our children, their children and their grandchildren. It didn’t matter that the resulting 52%:48% majority was so narrow. It didn’t matter that the campaign produced lies from BOTH sides of the argument (but far more from the Brexit people in my view).Once again, I seemed to be living in facebook virtual world of people who largely shared my beliefs and aspirations, but lost out to the alternative facebook equivalent universe.
I remember feeling absolutely devastated by the vote for days and days (and, frankly, still haven’t recovered… as we continue to hear how our government interprets the voters’ wishes!).
It’s been interesting/depressing/alarming/reassuring talking to various people about the situation. One or two have suggested we all move to Scotland (only half-jokingly?) – assuming that the SNP will launch another Independence Referendum in the light of the EU decision… and that voters will opt to follow the ‘Remain’ option. Others complain about the country being London-centric – with huge concentration on the relatively small Westminster parliamentary ‘village’. Other people point to the fact that many of our population (especially in the north of England) feel ignored by politicians and that the EU Referendum represented a valid way of making an effective ‘protest’… and then there’s been the ‘Occupy’ movement too.All this has set me thinking…
Given how much the world has changed over the past 25 years or so (since the internet, for example), would it really be possible – perhaps, before 2050 – for us to be living lives in which we could opt in or out of various ‘society options’? In other words, allow us (ok, I’m not going to be around by then!) to live our lives in a world of like-minded people – a bit like the facebook virtual world I seem to be inhabiting today, but where our life-style preferences can actually become reality?
Fantasy? Really? Who knows?
If someone had told you 10 years ago that we were going to be having driver-less cars in the near future, would you have believed them? If someone had told my father (he died 24 years ago) that we’d ALL have computers in our homes or that people would be able to contact each other instantly on tiny phones that each of us would carry around with us in our pockets, he would have laughed at our naivety…
Maybe reading Paul Mason’s book “Postcapitalism” has simply made me question how we do things… and how we’ll do things in the future, for example:
“The main contradiction today is between the possibility of free, abundant goods and information and a system of monopolies, banks and governments trying to keep things private, scarce and commercial. Everything comes down to the struggle between the network and the hierarchy, between old forms of society moulded around capitalism and new forms of society that prefigure what comes next”.
Yes, I could list a whole multitude of issues that, on the face of it, couldn’t be resolved in the sort of world I’m trying to imagine… and, no doubt, someone will also point me to extensive research currently being undertaking on a virtual reality world… or maybe it’ll just be a case of all the banks, governments, corporations or the establishment simply won’t allow it?!
Just remember this blog post in the year 2050(!)… you’ll be scratching your heads trying to remember the name of that old bloke who vaguely talked about the alternative, virtual world that had actually become a reality!
*: Actually, I’ve had huge reservations about so-called ‘democracy’ for several years: I certainly wouldn’t trust the UK electorate to vote on hanging, for example (and I obviously wouldn’t have allowed them to decide about the EU!)... I’m afraid I think we have a massively-biased press and media which are all too ready to inflict their views on what I regard as a sadly gullible population!Photo: Hayward Gallery, London (Carsten Holler: 'Decision' exhibition 2015).