The Dumb Dad Diary: The Red Pill or The Blue Pill?
Politics has continued to be a hot topic for months now. My dad barely alludes to politics and his alliance towards the home’s politics is non-committal. He does however seem to have unquestionable faith in authority. I recall a brief conversation to try and suss his affinity.
Location; Retail Junction Crewe. Date; Saturday 11th December. Time; 1:30pm.Purpose; Christmas shopping.
Me: I don’t agree that we should condemn working class people because they claim benefits dad, commenting that every shop now has migrant workers just because Britain’s working class are ‘lazy’ is unfair. It’s a variety of things; lack of jobs, expensive further education, relocation of industry and no new economic strategy to redirect skilled labour jobs to new markets, which you should blame Thatcher for. It’s easy to just demonise the underclass dad, but you have to understand that the working class communities from coal and cotton to steel have been completely broken with no other option offered by the government other than to move into city sky rises. Now we only have semi-skilled labourers who you can’t expect feel fulfilled by their work no matter where they came from. The government scapegoat the working class but it’s their neoliberal economic trickle-down theory that’s killing the working labour force. They don’t have a clue what they’re doing or they do and just don’t care. Don’t you think that’s obvious?
Dad: weeell, you say this and that but I think, erm well, they’re the government they must know what they’re doing.
Me: Dad, that’s the point. They don’t. That’s why we debate politics and philosophy all the time, don’t you listen?
He continues to gaze out the window and ponders for a response. He never looks you in the eye when we have a discussion beyond ‘where’s your sister?’ and ‘who’s going to walk to the dog?’ I’m suspicious of a clear lack of concentration.
He figures out an answer: ‘obviously there are things we don’t know and will never know so…’ That was worth the wait. I hold out for some clarification on where he is going with this but it ends ‘… anyway we going to get the next Christmas present?’ He eats a bite where four are usually needed, another race to win? So I still had my own lunch to finish. ‘I’m still eating’ He always ignores whether other people have finished or not, always on his terms. We spend the rest of the time in the car in silence before buying my mum’s knitting patterns from Hobby Craft.
From this very brief debate, I ask: why do dumb dads have a political disposition towards authority and traditionalism? Left politics are usually intellectual, based on equality, facts, humanitarianism and thrive in creative institutes which promote activism and engagement.Whereas right politics believes in ‘natural law’, mainly conserving tradition, but maybe more intrinsically it is a field of opinion, which simply reinforces a way of living for those who don’t need or want to think about the issues the left concerns itself with. Those people typically benefit most from an unfair system and avoid questions at any human cost. Sounds just like my dad!
This behaviour sits on the wrong side of history, it is against all that hippie hoo-har about civil rights, against that anti slavery bill which was very disruptive for free labour and against the anarchic anti-feudal market economy where all kinds of peasants not inaugurated could gain wealth. That behaviour now attempts to turn back the clock to days of nationalism, pro life and unequal marriage. The natural law is more of a ‘let’s-keep-things-the-way-they-are-now-law, works for me!’ It explains well the anti-intellectualism, racism, sexism and every phobia going in UKIP and the Tory party. In this regard the right have a hate for questions. Sean Spice, Donald Trump, Kellyanne Conway and Theresa May deflect them at every interview, press conference and PMQ. Here the right are not an alternative idea; they don’t actually care about tradition or the economy. They want whatever has fewer questions, whatever allows and reinforces them to get on with their Christmas shopping. They’re pro blue pill! Illusion in ignorance is not alternative politics. They are only regressive politics and that’s dangerous for us all. The alt right are not really a political opposition, it’s not a political opposition to say ‘gay people shouldn’t have the same rights as straight people’ It’s simply oppressive and needs to be acknowledged as such.
While my dad denies voting Tory he has a fundamental alliance with their cares. He believes in this despite the criticism he has against his own traditional authoritarian education. He hates the way he was treated in school. He resents the rigid allocation which placed him in mediocre ability classes. He felt misunderstood and the consequence is his own inability to question and understand. Why doesn’t the government appear to know what they’re doing? Why am I so traditional, did I really choose this or have I not questioned it? Unfortunately the right love these people who don’t question; it confirms their bias against truth. They’d hate the exposure of contradiction because it may mean that their free-market, -isms, phobias and self belief need to change.
This is difficult and tricky to think about. My dad’s behaviour and the patriarchy I criticise are not exclusive. The majority of people we know and love, the ditzy colleague or stuck-in-their-ways family friend are just living and letting life happen to them, which you wouldn’t blame. Their opinions could presumably be formed of memories they recall lessons from, jokes on the telly and bits of conversations they never really partook in the culture they exist. It is easier not to trouble yourself with in-depth analysis and theory, which only cause arguments at the dinner table. My grandma refuses to discuss politics and reminds me to ‘stick to the weather’ whenever I begin to open the discussion to the deep causes on topic.
I was going to write ‘we can’t blame those people’ but that suggests segregation. I was once the same as them, maybe more fraught with anxiety and questions that needed answering which I eventually sought, but I did feel part of them. After I ventured on my quest I found every reason to want to distance myself from the culture of ‘letting life happen to you’; the sexism, racism, homophobia, xenophobia, misogyny and patriarchy which is intrinsic to ignorant culture. ‘All that stuff just stirs up a lot of bad feeling and we just want to watch Eastenders’ I’d be told. The paradox is that, in gaining the intelligence to address cultural issues, I only ever feel alienated by the society which I ultimately want to and physically do belong to.
The trouble though, is that it is paradoxical, life. Making life happen, rather than happen to you, means facing the reality of truth. And that is the majority of the time contrary. I’m upset that Apple employees are throwing themselves from factory windows only to be caught in nets and told to go back to work but OMG how funny is this gif?!
Making life happen can be understood as making life balance. That is, being active in balancing your home and work life. As an artist,it’s finding a harmony in balancing colour and shape on canvas, or to a composer, the chords and scales of music. We cannot blame dads for wanting to remain dumb to worry but they are also remaining oblivious to the necessity of balance and the danger of its ignorance. Which is why we need to convince our sweet but blind dumbs dumbs to choose the necessary. The left are not elitist or snobs because we argue facts and morality against ignorance and inequality. We’re just pro red pill, what’s your dad?