I recently undertook a self-imposed sabbatical during the month of December, not because it was needed but just to take a step back and look at things from the outside in. With the new year approaching I decided to give it a week to see what we would see. Did I learn anything? Yes and no. What is sure however is that you quite literally could not make this shit up.
Firstly Nelson Mandela died, the world mourned and so did those who would have previously hung him for being a terrorist. Being on my sabbatical it was easy to focus on Mandela for his life, what he stood for – what he still stands for in death, and his achievements in the face of great adversity. Not getting sucked into comments highlighting how these people, who climbed out from under their rocks to shower praise on him, had previously turned their backs on him or how they took pointless ‘selfies’ with pretty blondes at his funeral and claiming that he helped shaped not only their politics but the politics for the generations. Even wet Ed Miliband saw fit to use the same words he used to eulogise Margaret Thatcher to capture his feelings on Mandela.
The man who shaped politics for generations they said and to “never forget.”
Never forget; the words used when discussing the Holocaust but of course we did forget, which is why apartheid happened in the first place. Never forget; used after Mandela was released from prison after almost 30 years and yet still we forgot which is why we have the Israel/Palestine apartheid happening, why Sudan and Syria is happening. Here in the UK we have let poverty and austerity take hold, strangling the working poor and watching, as our liberties get siphoned away – because we have forgotten the lessons of the past. “There is never a final victory” said Mandela, the fight is eternal.
Then came the new year, 2014 and I witnessed posts claiming it would be the ‘year of love’ but we have seen the sale of chemicals from the UK that form the basis for the very agents we almost went to war over in Syria, Fallujah has fallen into full-blown civil war and there was the announcement that 2013 was the bloodiest in Iraq for almost 10 years with nearly 30 people a day dying. Not a single name reported however, just a body count. Just yesterday, we saw the confirmation that being shot dead whilst unarmed, in the case of Mark Duggan, will be ruled lawful, setting dangerous precedents for the rest of us. The police have now stated in light of this incident that they intend to consider the use of cameras for armed police units to film events. We will of course of clamour for the additional security this will provide us as citizens, there is no risk whatsoever that anything will go wrong with the footage is there? There is also the new Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill being rushed through effectively making it illegal to protest or to be a nuisance. This will result in spot fines and bans from “localities” what ever a locality means, the definition has not been set yet.
So we are a week into 2014 and the story seems much the same, focus on benefits streets and scroungers whilst we are quietly dismantled from the inside but there is a change in the atmosphere. More people are awakening, sharing information and importantly talking to each other about these injustices. The next step is to get active and move beyond the confines of the social media and on to the streets, peacefully connecting these dots – making art, questioning everything, before the law makes it illegal and try to take our ability away from us to stand up for our rights and freedom. In doing so we will gain something much more worthy, unity and the realisation that there is no justice, there is just us.