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A beautiful day at the snail races

Examining the friction between a desire for an overhaul of oppressive hierarchies through confrontational direct action versus my other desire to sit in a dark room and sweat all the liquid out of my body.

Snail Races High Res

History is supposed to be a sluggish procession of mostly boring events, a calming day at the snail races. But lately someone’s had their thumb on the dials of the treadmill.

Whether it was the sub-prime mortgage lenders of the mid 2000s, David Cameron lowering the Brexit referendum cow into the piranha tank, the foreign secretary suggesting the leader of the opposition is going to embark on a second holocaust. Just keeping up has left me coated head to toe in a thick lacquer of sweat (mine).

I write this now as a passive observer watching it play out through a vast array of screens. My only tools for influencing the tides of fate are my very obvious opinions, like, “This is bad” and, “I’m tired”, that I say to my peers at regular intervals.

Even my window is reduced to a screen, playing a looping video of a middle-aged man being intimidating towards a young woman wearing a facemask, coughing on his hand, rubbing that hand on a dog that licks a baby which in turn is picked up and kissed by an elderly key worker just one day from retirement.

At least the internet varies the kinds of cruelty that gets pumped into my brain. This is barely better than the The Ludovico Experiment from A Clockwork Orange. You can’t blink, but you can change the channel.

The most obvious hope for upcoming change has been dashed quietly and mercifully. The Labour Party is now helmed by a haircut whose passing interest in anti-racism is as a fulcrum to destroy political rivals, and whose sole strategy for victory is quietly agreeing with the government so that any historians who happen to exist after the apocalypse agree that he was sensible.

Many people would tell you that the coming upheaval is going to present fertile grounds for change - just as your house burning down presents a unique opportunity to live somewhere new, like the floor or a hard shoulder.

It’s true that the world is more polarised and that polarisation requires new methods to achieve consensus. If someone thinks a cow is bigger than a horse I’d enter that debate without hesitation - I mean that. I’d be right in there, just try and stop me - but if someone thinks it’s good and correct to let migrants drown in the Mediterranean then what realistically am I supposed to achieve by entering The Arena Of Debate?

Am I supposed to believe that by supplying a few choice facts I can overturn a lifetime of racist zealotry? If someone drowned a dog in the canal, no one would suggest that this calls for a round table discussion. So why is it suddenly up for a quick chat when politicians do human murder using border controls and vast bureaucracies?

Why is it up to me as a perpetually tired, sweating shape to alter the hearts and minds of a generation that has wilfully pushed my own generation into a lifecycle of rising damp rentals, mental health breakdowns and interminable wage suppression?

Why do I find myself praying for a full-scale riot when all that my heart desires is a beautiful, quiet day at the snail races?

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