International Men’s Day

samaritansrightnumber     It’s International Men’s Day so, in that spirit, it’s time to talk about some men’s issues. Not the turgid crap MRA’s or Meninist twerps bang on about, which is always, *always*, the lack of availability of sex, but actual men’s issues. You know, the ones that the above groups never bother actually talking about.
    Depression, for instance. Suicide is the leading cause of death for men under the age of 45. We’re bad at opening up, at sharing our feelings with each other. There is a cultural problem, especially in Britain, with dealing with men’s mental health. Among other men we’re hard wired to feel embarrassed if anyone begins to speak about their difficulties. If there is a man in your life who’s having a hard time or who has been a bit withdrawn, try speaking to him. Ask if he’s okay. Ask what’s up. Discuss it over a coffee or a beer, encourage him to open up in a safe environment where he will not be judged.
    Secondly, and this is the one that’s probably easier to deal with, men are much more likely to die of preventable diseases than women. The reasons for this are, again, cultural. There is still a cultural pressure to ‘tough out’ illnesses or minor health complaints rather than attempt to go to a doctor. Men need to be much more willing to get health complaints dealt with because that strange lump or that recurring headache might develop into something much, much more serious. This is a hard barrier to break, mostly because it’s self inflicted, but it *can* be broken. If you have some niggling health issue that simply won’t go away then make a doctor’s appointment on Monday and be prepared to talk about it.
    Thirdly; violence. It doesn’t take a philosopher to figure out that violence is undesirable and should be avoided if at all possible. It also doesn’t take a demographer to figure out that men are more likely to be victims of it than women (though the figures are out there and they’re deeply depressing). I don’t need to say it but I will; don’t indulge in violence. Men are better than that.
    Finally, chauvinism. Chauvinism does not empower men, it never has. It unquestionably has worse social effects on women but it also reduces men to brutes who cannot control their urges. I, for one, reject the chauvinist view that I am a violent rapist in waiting. I, like all men, am more than capable of reason and sound judgement, of controlling my body. I am also capable of drawing a distinction between a woman who wishes to have a conversation and a woman who wants to sleep with me.
    There are men’s issues and they are both real and urgent. We have to remember what they are and not slide into an insipid, reductive view of masculinity. If there’s a man in your life that you appreciate then let him know, if you are a man then try to remember that privilege comes with both a cost and a responsibility. You owe your brothers the support and solidarity that seems so often to come so naturally to women, and you owe it to yourself to be the best man you can be.

March of the Victorious Scum.

Or The Complacent Suicide of the Stagnant Left.


I despair.

It’s too late, in case you’re wondering.  If you’re one of those people who believes themselves to be reasonable and restrained and you’re looking at President-Elect Trump with anything less than bitter, seething fury then you haven’t been paying enough attention.

And if you’re looking at the leaders of the left with anything less than total contempt you haven’t grasped what’s going on either.

So what’s happening?  We’ve had Brexit, we’ve got Trump, Marine LePen might well be President of France, Viktor Orban is in charge of Hungary… the world is voting against its own interests and embracing racism, homophobia and isolationism while rejecting political correctness.

It’s not difficult to see the appeal.  In the poorer parts of the west both cities and countryside have been systematically let down by successive governments for decades.  When the credit crunch hit in 2008 and the financial sector was bailed out the wealthy and the middle classes were saved from the pain of recession, but the poor were not.  They plunged deeper into poverty, look at rise of food banks in the UK to see the proof, and poverty breeds anger.

The traditional right didn’t care.  They still see the world through a skewed lens, one which focuses on economics and does not see human beings.  Human beings are complex and unmeasurable, but in their eyes as long as the economy is doing well they will be looked after so they ensure that it grows at any cost.  The traditional right still clings to trickle-down economics even while the rest of the world can see clearly though that absurd fantasy.

Of course this doesn’t mean everyone defaults to the left, though most left wing people seem to think it does.  The far right saw the collapse of the banks and the desolation of the rural west and have been licking their rotting lips with glee.  Their entire philosophy hinges on pouring into the gaps left by hopelessness, by pointing at something tangible and saying ‘look!  That is your enemy!  That is the cause of all your ills!’  It doesn’t matter to them that it’s not true, they need what Mosely called a ‘hate platform’ to hide that their entire creed is power and strength.  True fascists, the ones who run the far right parties and actually do well at it, aren’t generally truly racist, they simply use it to secure their route to power.  This isn’t to say their followers aren’t racist, a mob needs a target or it breaks apart.  Last time the target of the mob was the Jewish people and Slavs, now it’s Arabs and Persians.  And the specific aim of Islamist terrorists is to make the west hate them enough to leave them the hell alone and let them conquer their neighbours.  This is why the far right is winning, because the discourse the terrorists have been violently thrusting into western thought is one which plays right into their hands.  Fear is a great motivator.

So what of the left?  Why do I blame them for this catastrofuck as much as anyone else?

Let’s start with Clinton, a woman who was a fine candidate and a shit campaigner.  I could have beaten Donald Trump, and I am far from a practiced politician.  She was given the gift of the worst candidate I can remember for any office in any election for an opponent and she still managed to make a bollocks of it.  There was no specific incident (‘basket of deplorables’ notwithstanding), no moment which cost us all the world, just a consistent, total failure to address the poor, disenfranchised voters of America in any way whatsoever.  What did she say she would do for the mouldering countryside towns?  How did she plan to help those stuck in miserable decrepitude after being ignored, beaten down and lied to for decades?  She pretended the thriving cities were the whole of her country, and that fantasy might have handed America to a man who believes climate change is a Chinese conspiracy.

So what about Bernie Sanders?  Well, what about him?  He wasn’t there.  He was damned quiet after bellowing his way very close to the candidacy of the democratic party.  He lost though, and a lot of his followers refused to forgive Clinton for that.  ‘Oh but there were irregularities, and she’s corrupt,’ you say?  So what?  If you’re reading this and you didn’t vote for Clinton because Bernie lost to her then fuck you, you’re as responsible for the ‘grab them by the pussy’ President as anyone else.  Sanders might have been okay, he didn’t seem like a bad person, but the predictable, ongoing, childish infighting of the left after his loss cost Clinton the election as much as any other factor.

What about Corbyn?  Well he’s doing the same thing Clinton did.  He’s not a different kind of politician, he’s brilliant at campaigning when he’s talking to people who already agree with him and awful at speaking to the poor.  What’s his plan for the north?  Some vague nonsense about impossibly reindustrialising it?  It’s rubbish.  It’s incomprehensible drivel compared to the creed of the far right; ‘no more immigrants, then you will all have jobs.’  It’s a simple message, wrong in every respect, and waffling like you’re at a university seminar isn’t going to combat it.  I’ve even spoken to people who hope for a general election right now because they think Corbyn would win, not realising that May would romp home with no difficulty because he is terrible at getting his point across to the people who need to hear it.  He’s now spent so long avoiding the press and treating the media as the enemy that the left wing fears of the mainstream media have become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Meanwhile the left wing people I know, who I agree with for the most part, have spent so long arguing over tiny, pointless details that they’ve rendered themselves completely incapable of taking on the right.  I’ve seen people post crap about teetotalism being a vital part of feminism, about trying to evacuate all the animals from war zones, about ethically sourced food somehow being an LGBT+ issue.  Nobody living in a dying town or rotting council estate with no job prospects, no income and no way to move to a nicer place gives a tu’penny fuck about your naval gazing whining and there’s absolutely no reason that they should.  They have problems of their own and those problems are life and death.

And that’s the situation we’re in.  That’s why the far right are winning, the left aren’t a movement with ideas and goals and a philosophy anymore, we’re a self-regarding crowd of elitists screaming the pointless minutiae of fringe beliefs into the echo chambers of our social media accounts, blocking anyone who disagrees with us for fear we might not like what they have to say rather than engaging them in any kind of reasoned debate and feeling smug about holding superior values to the poor, parochial running dogs.  We don’t talk at length about foodbanks, about how to reinvigorate the north or take in refugees, we’ve laboured under the arrogant belief that our views are self-evidently correct and not bothered to defend them for decades. The right wing press call us all elitists, and they absolutely aren’t wrong.