Our Unfair Society (and Cavemen)

The current systems in place within our society do not work. They breed inequality, undermine democracy, and completely ignore important topics, such as the many environmental issues we face. We need change in a big way, but there are many obstacles in the way.

The main obstacle is ourselves. People are naturally resistant to change (ask anyone who works in HR). This probably stems back to instincts instilled in us when the world was a much more threatening place. Biologically, there is virtually no difference between us and cavemen. Born in the same environmental conditions, you and a caveman would be equals (the caveman would be a little bit hairier, granted). Cavemen had to live in a very specific way to survive in their world. Changes in their lifestyle could be fatal. Today, we still have that instinct that tells us, “if you are alive, you’re doing something right, so don’t change anything!”.

Just in case anyone’s reading this thinking “I’m using a computer – I’m way more advanced than a caveman!” – that’s due to accumulation of knowledge i.e. the people before us figuring things out and writing things down (which started with cavemen drawing on the cave walls). All I’m saying is, if you were dropped naked onto a desert island, how long would it take you to send an e-mail?

So, we are very cautious about disrupting the status quo, even if we can see, rationally, that we are being cheated. We feel secure when things stay the same.

There is also a well-established pecking order in our society, which provides another obstacle to reform. The powerful people at the top of the pecking order are constantly telling us that things are okay the way they are, and to change anything would be a big risk. But, of course, they would say that, wouldn’t they, because they’re benefiting from the systems in place.

The people at the top of the pecking order are the mass communicators too, so their voice is the loudest, and it resonates in our ears constantly. They tell us that the people who want reform are crazy, idealists, and troublemakers. The people benefiting from the systems in place are the minority, so they have to turn us against each other to maintain their position. They also have to make us believe that social reform is out of reach, an impossibility. But maybe it’s closer than we think.

The philosophy we live by doesn’t make sense. One person starves to death while another is born the Queen (two people who are both shaved cavemen). Since the philosophy doesn’t make sense, the supporters of the philosophy lose touch with reality or use their influence to suppress real-world issues. All we get are minor changes designed to appease the masses – we are seeing plenty of them in the run-up to the general election!

As it stands, we are not in control of our own lives; we are used by the ruling class. We need to pry our lives from the desperate grasp of the powerful in order to live in a fairer society.

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Political Centre

I was browsing the BBC News Website and found this:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-31973051

There is a survey on this article that asks you 5 questions, and it tells you how close you are to the “political centre” at this moment in time and previous years. Give it a go and see where you stand.

The outcome of my survey came as no real surprise:

Your answers place you on the left of the political centre in comparison with the overall population in 2014.

You scored 5 out of 25

A score of 5 is the furthest left and 25 is the furthest right. Your answers would place you a long way from the political centre in any year but you would have been closest to the centre of political opinion in 1995 and 1996.

So my views won’t win me any elections. But at least I am true to my beliefs. Meanwhile the current politicians we see on the news every day are scrambling for that “middle ground” where all the votes are. At what point does a person’s vision get distorted so much that it’s not even worth the effort any more?

More of that to look forward to during the next 40-odd days leading up to the election.

Bridging the Gap

Important decisions are made by the ruling class. Those decisions tend to affect under-class individuals the most. It’s obvious to see that this is a recipe for injustice and inequality. In order for policy and legislation to be fair for all people, there needs to be a fairer representation of different social classes in positions of power. That’s the only way we can bridge the socio-economic divide in the UK.

Are you comfortable with white male, Oxford educated, born-wealthy careerists making all your decisions for you? Because that’s what’s happening right now. Most people in positions of power fit the description above, yet they make up only a tiny cross-section of the society we live in. Even if they mean well, they haven’t got the same perspective as us, and therefore lack empathy with the problems we face. It’s like an accountant performing surgery on you. They’re great with numbers, but if you’re having a triple bypass you’d much prefer a trained surgeon with the scalpel.

In order to change things, we need the people who are most affected by social/economic issues to be heard. This is easier said than done. There are many barriers preventing these people from occupying positions of power, including:

  • Money issues: people are too busy trying to feed and house themselves to get into positions of power
  • Education: a person may know what they’re talking about, but if they don’t have the right piece of paper saying they know what they’re talking about, their voice can go unheard
  • Current Holders of Power: our current “leaders” have a death grip on their positions of power, and will try to keep everyone else down in order to keep the power for themselves
  • Culture: it is commonly believed that a select group of people are entitled to power and we are not (based what we see day in and day out from birth).
  • Personality Type: people hear the person who speaks the loudest. Good ideas won’t be listened to if they’re not put across in a certain way. Unfortunately, loudness and having good ideas are traits that seem to be mutually exclusive.

…And there are many more obstacles. But that doesn’t make it impossible for lower class people to gain positions of power, it just means we’ve got to work that much harder for it.

For working class people to make changes, we first need to change our own mind-sets and tell ourselves that A) we do know best and B) we are able to make changes if we put our minds to it. I’m not saying everyone should become a politician (although fairer representation in this area is DESPERATELY needed), but there are certainly actions that can be taken at grassroots level that can make real change in local communities, as well as lobbying and pressurising existing councils to make changes.

One advantage we have is strength in numbers. However, that doesn’t mean much if we let the ruling class turn us against each other (which they try to do constantly with regards to religion, race, gender, economic status). They tell us immigrants, or people on the dole are the enemy. That’s BS. The ruling class is the enemy.

With determination and unity we can all become leaders and make a difference.

Disadvantages of Being “Lower Class”

The following is a list of the disadvantages you will have to face if you are a member of the “Lower Class”…

You have to breathe polluted air on a daily basis.

You will have to work until you are dead – no retirement!

Mummy and Daddy won’t be able to get you an instant high-paying job.

You can’t champion your class without the well-off saying that you’re looking for a hand-out.

You are demonised by awful TV shows such as Benefits Street and TOWIE.

If you get into legal trouble you can’t afford a decent solicitor.

You are unable to walk around your neighbourhood without the fear of being shanked by a drug-addict.

You have to see a stressed-out, over-worked doctor every time you’re ill, and hope to God they diagnose you correctly.

You will never own a brand new suit (your uncle’s hand-me-down will have to do).

Your teachers are too depressed themselves to care about your education.

University is never presented to you as a viable option (“Have you thought about the Sandwich Factory?”)

Upper classes are surprised when it turns out you’re intelligent.

You will under the constant threat of repossession and homelessness.

You have to rely on privatised public transport to get you from A to B.

You are constantly judged by your accent and dialect.

You have no power or influence over the local politics in your area, and it is extra-difficult for you to make a change.

These are all things that you will have to overcome if you’re a member of the “Lower Class”. But when it all seems too much, remember this African proverb: “Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.”

Tuition Fees: The Lower The Better

Today Ed Milliband promised that he would cut university tuition fees by a third if elected and, crucially (as we learnt from Mr Clegg last time), this would be non-negotiable in any post-election coalition deals. There has already been a lot of cynicism in the media about this, and I am preparing myself for more of the same, but I think this cut in tuition fees would be a great thing.

A lot of the naysayers are saying that the promise is tokenistic, and that it wouldn’t make much of a difference to students. If a student takes a 4-year university course today, it will cost them £36,000. If they take the same course after the tuition cut it will cost them £24,000. They would save £12,000 (this isn’t taking into account other expenses such as accommodation). That’s simple mathematics. £12,000 is a lot of money. If a person doesn’t think £12,000 is a lot of money then they’re out of touch with the real world.

The universities are also saying that this is a bad idea (surprise, surprise). They seem to be concerned that they might not be able to function properly if the tuition fees are capped at £6000 a year instead of £9000. This is all talk. A few short years ago (as recent as 2010) fees were capped at £3000 a year, and they were coping just fine. Now, suddenly they’re horrified at the prospect of having to cope with 6k.

Lowering tuition fees is good for the country but, personally, I think the cap should be even lower. Ideally, I believe higher education should be free.

Up until the late 90s it was, essentially, free to go to uni. But for much of this time university was something that was only accessible to the more privileged, and it wasn’t generally considered an option for the working class. During this time it was acceptable for the taxpayer to foot the bill for higher education. When university became an option for most young people, even the working class, that’s about the time they decided that people should have to pay for university. If you see something wrong with that, then you and I are on the same page.

Why should the wealthy have more of a right to a good education than the poor?

The Nordic philosophy to higher education is what we should aspire to. They have always been strongly opposed to tuition fees. The same goes for Scotland. The difference with Scotland is that they are actually a part of the UK. I also live in the UK, but I wouldn’t get free tuition fees because I happen not to have been born in the right part of the UK. If Scotland gets free higher education I think we should all get the same privilege.

I feel privileged to have been able to go to university. I’m the first person in my family to have done so (in fact, when I got my first GCSE I became the most qualified member of my family, which comprises of coal miners and steel-workers). University is a great opportunity to develop, meet people, and broaden your horizons while in the pursuit of knowledge. I believe it has made me a better person, and I believe our country would benefit from it greatly…IF people didn’t come out of the other side of it with crippling debt.

Cuts to tuition fees would be a big step in the right direction.

Annoying Words/Terms in the Media

Thanks to the media, there are many over-used words and phrases that the British public are getting sick of hearing. Here are a few:

Austerity

A word used by people who don’t actually feel the effects of it. People who do feel the effects of it tend to say “Mum, Dad, I’m moving back in with you guys!” instead.

ISIS

They were the “biggest threat” to the Western World even before we’d decided what to call them. Also, when you see your sister in the street you can’t shout “Hi, Sis” anymore without getting funny looks.

TV Debate

This discussion is raging on. Basically, David Cameron doesn’t want a TV debate because he thinks opinion of him is as good as it’s going to get already. He was well up for the debates last time round…

Selfie

Narcissistic, but we’ve all done it. I remember when people had friends who would take pictures for them. Now everyone hates each other.

Long Term Economic Plan

The Tories know how to put the slow into slogan. Boring. Drab. Completely un-proactive. The deficit reduction has stalled, our debt has increased, and spending on vital services has been slashed. This plan is going to feel very long-term to the working class.

Fracking

This word sounds rude, and we’re going to be hearing it a lot more. Apparently there’s a “debate” as to whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing. In reality there is no debate. The people who want it are the people who will benefit financially from it. Everyone else thinks it’s a silly idea. But, of course, the big corporations usually get their own way in the end.

Can you suggest any more?

Cynicism

When I look at politics and society today it pains me to see so much cynicism.

cynicism

[ ˈsɪnɪsɪz(ə)m ] 

NOUN

  1. an inclination to believe that people are motivated purely by self-interest; scepticism

This cynicism didn’t appear out of thin air. Several things contributed to the current cynical zeitgeist in our society. The terrorist attacks on the 11th of September 2001, and the subsequent attacks since, are bound to sap people’s faith in mankind. The recession, caused by wreckless, selfish actions by banks and corporations, has had a negative effect on almost everyone – people are bound to be more suspicious of the world around them. In response to these things, the government has been making irresponsible decisions that hurt the vulnerable members of our society while protecting the wealthy and powerful.

The latter of these factors is the most interesting. The government has played a big part in causing this cynicism, and now it uses the cynicism to gain support. Basically, the government gave us a swift kick to the balls and then made us pay them for the ice to stop the swelling.

Here are some of the cynical policies the government wants to enforce:

  • No more benefits for drug addicts and the overweight. It’s all their fault, so why should everyone else have to contribute towards them?
  • Privatise the NHS. People are using it willy-nilly. Maybe they’ll think twice if they have to pay!
  • Stop people coming into the country. They’re going to sponge off of the system.
  • Bring back fox-hunting. Those little furry bastards are trying to take over the world!

The government is happy with the current unsettled, cynical state of our society because it gives them leverage to manipulate people. The government is able to turn hate away from themselves and onto others. Suddenly the government is providing ‘solutions’ to problems that probably don’t even exist, marginalising a few outsider groups in order to please the masses.

But the government won’t provide us with any real solutions, because that would improve the chaotic, cynical, unpleasant atmosphere we’re living in. And as we’ve establish, that’s the government’s leverage – it’s not in their interest to improve it.

Luckily, I think people are getting wise (or desensitised) to this way of thinking. The right wing parties that were enjoying a resurgence are now dying back a little bit. People are tired of hating. Greece have embraced anti-austerity (which is scaring the wits out of the EU). I think a change has begun.

However, the change isn’t in full-swing. The UK elections are only a few short months away: Will the public be ready to vote for change, or will we be stuck with the Conservatives again? Only time will tell. I only hope that the future holds less cynicism and more compassion for our fellow man.