As a hippy, back in the sixties, I had my awakening to the awareness of war, nuclear weapons and mutually assured destruction (MAD), the horrors of the Vietnam war, and I became a self declared (ignorant) pacifist – a peacenik.
I faced a, then, common question to pacifists, “What would you do if someone was raping your mother/sister?” As an ignorant youth that was the kind of question I needed (hated) to be asked because it forced me to think about it. I tried to fudge it by saying I’d try to restrain them, which led to an inevitable mockery of my ill thought out pacifism.
What I didn’t realise at that time was that pacifism doesn’t mean being docile or inert, involving the pacification of my natural anger and even rage. Pacifism has a very specific target, war, and even more specifically, wars of aggression: the subjugation of others for self serving gain. The finest example of this I can give is not, as some might think, the two world wars we’ve fought against Germany and Germany’s ambitions of empire, but the British invasion of nearly 90% of countries across the world and the building of the British Empire. (1)
It is part of British mythology that the British Empire was a force for good in the world. It wasn’t. Britain, and specifically England, is unique among nations for the successful global brutality of it’s ruling elites and the countless millions who have suffered and died at their hands. (2)
Still, today, challenging the myths of empire is seen as unpatriotic and disloyal. The success of the British Empire wasn’t just conquering the world, but the conquer and subjugation of it’s own people, the success of which can still be seen in, what is called, the deferential vote, poor people voting for the rich people who oppress them. A modern, and recent, example of this was George Osborne’s introduction of the “national living wage”, which was, in reality, a rise in the minimum wage and a deceitful rebranding of an hourly rate of pay that was still less than people actually need to live on (3). It was typical slight of hand by an over privileged, self serving, entitled, elite, playing politics, serving the rich whilst betraying the poor and, shockingly, Theresa May managed to hold on to power when she called a snap election in 2017 despite the most pathetically dismal election campaign in UK history and her record of hostility towards ordinary people. (4)
Since Theresa May’s DUP sell out and selling out the nation I have never felt such extreme anger in my life except for just one occasion when I was accused of a crime by the actual perpetrator of the crime and the police were complete bastards about it and I thought I could be going down for years. The perpetrator eventually got 8 years, but until the case against me was finally dropped I used to walk the streets stomping out the rage that threatened to devour me along with the terror of the loss of my liberty. I received no apology from the police and their attitude was summed up when the investigating officer told me (as a parting shot) to hope I never heard from him again. I asked why and he said that it would mean they would be arresting me. That’s a sweet turd to dump on anyone’s life.
The presumption of innocence may be enshrined in law, however this and subsequent experiences have shown me that this is not the case in practice. Raising it at my most recent brush with the law, I was told I was ‘one of them’. Although they did not specify what ‘one of them’ was, it was clear they thought I was some kind of liberal ‘politically correct’ idiot. At no time in legal proceedings have I ever come across anything other than the real and present attitude of ‘guilty until proven innocent’, and even then being found innocent just means being an object of unproven suspicion: not innocent.
It is right to be angry.
Anger is a time bomb and an energy bomb, it’s a call to immediate action. Physically, it involves a massive chemical release, and whatever you do or don’t do, you have got to deal with that chemical flood coursing through your body.
Smoking is an anger inhibitor. I have no idea how that works, but I do know I have spent 57 years of my life experiencing its practical application and effects in my life. The number of instances when my body has screamed out for a smoke since I gave up nearly 6 months ago, have been almost constant, daily and brutal. Therein lies the hidden world of the addict, you can get rid of all those things you are addicted to and yet find your body just screaming louder for an escape. Even in your dreams. For me addiction is as much about my deeply repressed feelings as anything else.
Why? Because anger is as natural as breathing, anger and violence are part of the human condition. Flight or fight are perfectly natural responses to threats to our life and well being. Frustrated anger, repressed anger, ignored anger, is desperately dangerous to us and yet the ability to deal with anger in the modern world is ever more denied us by those who most abuse us – this Tory government.
I am still a pacifist at 67, but in answer to the question, “What would you do if someone was raping your mother/sister/friend/anyone?” I would take them out by any means at my disposal, such that I would not have to repeat the process.
KOG. 27 November 2018.