It doesn’t matter if you’re left or right-wing (although why we still only have two linear options to choose from in a world where even movies are 3 dimensional is beyond me), this roaring fire that devastated a community is an unwarranted tragedy, and one that could have been avoided. But I’m not just talking about the government report that was sat on for four years, and the failings of the refurbishment that did not update the tower’s fire safety; I’m not just talking about the government and its mistakes – I’m talking about our mistakes. Of the many things that happen that could have been avoided had we changed our attitudes earlier.
The government is not some evil, establishment run by robots. It is run by people who were born into this society and its beliefs systems; the government is not the problem, the government is a symptom of the problem that has taken roots in the homes of billions around the world. We get the government we deserve, and it’s time the liberal middle class stopped pretending to be so damned shocked by the acts of the government when it makes the same decisions every day.
I am from a middle-class background, I went to a private school, the door to a higher education was open to me and I took it gladly. As per most stories of education, I learnt through my peers more than my professors of literature about politics, social injustice and philosophy. I thought having this knowledge could help me change things, but I didn’t even think about my part in keeping ‘the system’ oiled. I didn’t want to.
All of us – especiallly the “highly-educated” are really fucking great at talking. Let’s take global warming, for example: How many liberals and conservatives are shocked by the fact people like Trump don’t think global warming exists? Fucking loads, mate. And yet, how many of them have read papers on the topic? And how many of them own cars and take planes? I’m guilty as sin of that, I take about 4 planes a year and I had a car so that I could get more jobs when I was a freelancer. Did I need the money? Well, no, clearly, because I had the funds to buy a car. But I whispered soothing words to myself about having more freedom and the good it would do me. Freedom? What do I know of freedom? Nothing, because I interchange the word ‘leisure’ with ‘freedom’ just to justify a selfish cause. I interchange the words leisure and pleasure and desire with ‘freedom’ because how could I truly know anything about a lack of freedom when I come from a background where all doors were opened to me and my social movement was not only expected, but entitled.
I am entitled – to the extent where I can swap in the words “I want” for “I need”. Most of my class are entitled, despite, perhaps, personal difficulties. This entitlement means I get the pick of opportunity and it means I get time to choose. It means my accent will never have me turned away from a job; it means I can categorise certain jobs as ‘beneath me’. The skin that I was born into entitles me to everything I need to advance. And yet, rather than using it to advance others, I want to save my own skin. It means I take from those who need it more in order to advance myself. That’s the real skin I was born into. The one many of us were born into.
How many of us hate that inflated property prices keep people from ever securing a place of their own and even dependent on council housing, and yet dream of being a landlord to have an ‘extra revenue’? How many of us vilify the government for cutting corners on Grenfell Tower’s refurbishment to save 1.4 million, and yet use chain brands and businesses at a discount rather than supporting local enterprise? How many of us think the government’s choice of spending that money to ‘prettify’, rather than secure, those homes is disgusting, and yet readily spend hundreds on our own image before giving a fiver to someone living on the streets? How many of us criticise the 369 million put aside for refurbishing Buckingham Palace compared to the 5 million fund for Greenfell residents, yet spend more money on gifts and treats for inner circles than donations?
How many of us hate the beast of capitalism yet fall to our knees before it?
The government’s not the fucking problem – we are the fucking problem: Us, society, the status quo that we maintain because the only way to find even a sliver of identity in this geo-palace of a world is in the eyes of someone else. The only way to find a glimpse of purpose when survival isn’t a stake is ideological babble. We are slaves to our fucking ideological opinions – so much so that we don’t even see our own individual hypocrisy. Hypocrisy that enslaves many more around us in far less safe positions – like 24 storey tower blocks that burn with a lust to rival even that of our own consumption.