“A person without imagination is like a teabag without hot water.”
Now the last thing I want to do is write a meta-blog post about a meta-blog post, not least because Tim Worstall coined the frankly hilarious ‘meta-meta-blogging’ conudrum at the weekend, and I do not wish to be shouted at, again. Suffice to say it was pleasing to see Sunny include a post of mine, among others, in his first contribution to Comment Is Free, the Guardian’s new superblog.
What interested me about the post was how the opinions of several people had contributed to the meat and substance of the piece. I was reminded of a great article by Nosemonkey at The Sharpener:
In some areas it’s already almost turning into a Britblog hive mind…
Whether this truly captures the nature of blogging I am not sure, since ‘hive’ seems to imply one homogenised idea, rather than the diversity we see online. I am reminded once again of ‘democracy‘ in the proper sense of the word: Not the vote-every-four-years kind, but true democracy, where a diversity of opinions and ideas are thrashed out in public, and everyone can have a say, play a more active part at every level, from war policy to whether the so called ‘Green Parking Zone’ outside my flat is a good idea (and in case you were wondering: no it most certainly is not).
Blogging – change the world it won’t.
I am not so sure, Sunny. Ministers, and MPs are increasingly realising that the medium simply cannot be ignored.
What can be ignored apparently, is politics. All of it. This is the analysis of an astonishing 17% of the electorate, who said that they ‘did not want a say’ when questioned. The Third Audit of Political Engagement by the Hansard Society and the Electoral Commission, also found that 14% of people were ‘not interested in politics’.
The report of course links lack of political engagement with wider social exclusion, and points out the need for better political education and communication to widen this gap. Nevertheless, even with these measures, there will be a proportion of people who, regardless of their upbringing or social class, will still describe themselves and ‘not being interested in politics’.
I have infinite tolerance in the general case. But in the individual case, those people I actually meet and interact with, the one thing I cannot and will not abide is “Oh, I don’t do politics.” I will not patronise them by suggesting it is merely down to social exclusion, because most of the people I meet would not describe themselves as such. No, these are people who proudly announce they are ‘not interested’ and revel in knowing more about Big Brother 6 the TV programme, than whether the government’s ID Cards bill is a surveillance too far. I invariably challenge them, and an argument ensues.
Being ‘interested’ in politics is not like being ‘interested’ in sport, the arts, gardening or cooking. Politics is not simply about the Reds or the Blues at Westminster, but about the interaction between the State, groups and the individual. Unless one retires to a hermitage and lives in total solitude, you will interact with society, and you are therefore a political animal. If you drive a car, you are political. If you turn on a tap, you are political. If you buy food, have a bank account, go to school, use a telephone, you are political. To suggest that you are not is actually antisocial in every sense, and those who do not engage, though they have the capacity to do so, are every bit as liable for an ASBO as the hooligans who kick over wheelie bins.
Apathay devalues every decision taken by every government: Voter-apathy means that decision makers are elected by a tiny minority; and issue-apathy means that decisions are not subject to proper scrutiny, not made with enough public debate.
So to the fourteen percent, I say this: Your lack of engagement affects me in a very real way. I would go so far as to say that I have a human right to hear your opinion. Denying me that right is an abuse of your own human capacity for rational though, but more importantly, it inconveniences me a great deal.
To say “I’m not interested” is to be the tea-bag without water. It is a ridiculous and impossible position, and I will not stand for it. Moreover, if people start asserting their right to disengage, to be apathetic, then other people will soon start trying to deny them the vote, which we cannot condone.
So please, Mr and Mrs Fourteen Percent, I’ll make you a deal: Start engaging in some way, any way… and will I promise to stop droning on about my blog.