The time for obedience is over


An official at a Home Office Reporting Centre told ‘a man facing deportation that his job is to “piss him off” as part of the government’s challenging environment’ I am very grateful to him for his candour, he’s got the message across loud and clear. Everything that people are experiencing with the DWP, bullshit jobs for bullshit pay in the gig economy, driving people into poverty, forcing people to rely on foodbanks for an irregular meal, the crises in education, the NHS, social care and housing, no access to Legal Aid, British citizens being detained and deported, stealing disabled people’s Motability scooters and cars, cutting extra support for disabled people, stealing women’s pensions, the attacks on young people, and on and on, are all part of Theresa May’s ‘hostile environment. You don’t need to be an Einstein to work it out, the grand Tory plan is to harass and hound ordinary people to the point of despair.

The in your face message for Britain today from Theresa May is, ‘My job is to make your life hell’. I don’t need to spell out all the emotions that people go through faced with this Tory brutality, from disbelief to rage to despair, the system is working very, very well.

It’s a huge multi headed, multi pronged problem which has already killed off hundreds of thousands of people, with not a word of care or regret from Theresa May and her gang of liars and thieves.

But that is not the problem.

Yesterday, 03 May 2018, the Tories set up five test areas in the local elections demanding people provide identification in order to vote. At the time of writing the number of people turned away from Polling stations is not available, although at least 13 people were denied a vote in Crystal Palace. Bear in mind that the evidence for introducing voter ID is based on one conviction for voter fraud out of 45 million voters in 2017. This, not yet, policy has nothing to do with voter fraud and everything to do with the government fraudulently attacking democracy itself. There were ‘reports of some voters being angry and abusive to polling station workers when asked to show ID’, but there was not a single reported incident of anyone or group quietly standing firm, voting with their feet, and refusing to leave the polling station until they were given their vote which is a constitutional right. And there’s the problem.

Britain is bedeviled by civil obedience and understandably so.

Imagine your dead ordinary, bog standard, very English citizen, decent, upright and law abiding. Now imagine their circle of friends and acquaintances, they’ll be pretty much the same barring mere superficial differences. Their opinions and attitudes will be mainstream and the television will be their main source of news and entertainment. They might struggle to take something back to a shop for being broken or substandard and never in their lives will they have complained about the food in a restaurant. And the problem is – shame. Making a fuss is (initially at least) embarrassing and shaming, it means making a spectacle of yourself, drawing attention to yourself, stepping out of line in a nation where queuing and staying in line is almost a religion.

Personally I regard Britain as unique among nations for its entrenched, unquestioning, civil obedience and the Tories know this and count upon it and they also know that no matter how appallingly they treat ordinary people, about half the nation will vote for them, no matter what. Having grown up in a staunch Royalist Tory household I know that voting Labour was the equivalent of dancing with the devil and pissing on the feet of Jesus. The Daily Express was the word of God and women never wore trousers or smoked in public and the most heinous crime us kids could commit, the absolute sin of sins, was to shame my mother in public. I was raised to be obedient above all else and the greatest challenge of my life has been to learn not to be, through black depression and despairing of life itself.

Howard Zinn wrote, “Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of leaders… and millions have been killed because of this obedience… Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war, and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves… (and) the grand thieves are running the country. That’s our problem.”

Well, the worst that the Tories are capable of has not yet happened, though the gloves are off. It falls to us at this time, to face this problem and to do whatever we can to pursue and to drive change.

For many, if not most, the first time they get pissed off enough to do something about anything, it’s loud, angry and bombastic, maintained by fury and a lot of noise but, in reality, of little substance.

I remember the first time I took something back to a shop to complain. My wife, young daughter and I were out for a picnic and bought some peaches from a greengrocer. On opening the bag outside the shop we found they were all rotten and something definitely had to be done about it and I had an epiphany. My disappointed daughter had to know that she could do something about this and the many other situations that would confront her in life, so I elected to take the peaches back accompanied by my daughter and I was absolutely shitting myself. We walked in and I quietly, and pretty much firmly, told the guy the peaches were rotten and we wanted them changed. The guy apologised and changed them, we thanked him and went on our way and had a lovely day. Had he made a fuss or got pissy, I knew I’d have had to stand firm and insist, until he did the right thing. My daughter was worth that kind of emotional and psychological effort on my part and she needed to know that she could resist and insist and expect and demand a result. I wanted her to know that you don’t have to scream and shout, just insist and don’t budge. Keen observers will note, I was also teaching myself, and had my daughter not been present, I almost certainly would have struggled to deal with the situation and likely not have and just thrown the peaches in a bin, but she was there and I found enough gumption to be a better parent to my girl and to my own inner self.

My daughter has grown up to be a strong self determining young woman who I am stupidly proud of to this day (natch) and smarter and wiser than I ever was at a similar age and at 67 I am still learning.

Over the last eight years I have learnt more than I ever expected to in life about resistance. It doesn’t have to be loud or violent, it has to be firm, determined, strong, persistent and patient. And I’d like to offer one other suggestion, it can be fun and enjoyable, coming from a deep well of humanity and care. It’s fine to be angry, enraged even, but that will not sustain resistance, resistance requires understanding, persistence and patience.

The government has broken its covenant with the people. When David Cameron said it is no longer the case that ‘as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone’, he was telling us that the government would act above the law. He wanted to get rid of the human rights act and Theresa May is determined to achieve that goal. No citizen in this United Kingdom of nations is required to accept or obey any action by government that puts them in harms way.

Obedience will only bring us more oppression, we learnt how to be obedient and we can learn how to disobey. Our minds are made for learning, just think about all the stuff you know. Everything in your head is something you learnt, everything. Give yourself a treat and learn to be disobedient, wilfully, with intent, with determination and with joy. Take pleasure in it, because that’s what looking after yourself and others is about, living a good, wholesome and rebellious life.

And what about all those who aren’t interested? Forget them, they’re none of our business, they’ll only slow us down and hold us back. And what they think of us? That’s none of our business either. Our business is to mind our own vital business and to find common cause with others who are minding their own vital business and mean business. The time for obedience really is over. We have a date with disobedience, feast on it.

KOG. 04 May 2018.

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