When I was 17 I was head-hunted at school by one of the Inns. I very nearly went to the bar, as well; I have a facility for both debate and library work that would have served me well, and I have an enduring fascination with England’s law and governance (though I’ll admit the most interesting bits happened before 1688).
But I didn’t do that; I did a whole bunch of other things instead, and now the bar I look across serves a range of real ales. I like the view much better across this bar: less wigs, more laughing. The people I hear discussing Marx vs. Trotsky or Poll Tax vs. alcohol duty or Faith Schools vs. City Academies are talking about things which materially affect them and their children. Their opinions are not fettered by the academic orthodoxies I see so often in party politics; mind, their analyses are often rendered uninformed by that same lack of academic training. But ask any teacher which is easier: to inform or to re-educate. They are not insulated by wealth, power and the Old School Tie from the long-term effects of today’s policies. They still tend to be short-term thinkers, because our entire society tends that way, but until we remove old age from the list of Natural Causes we, as a species, alway will be.
Al Murray is a comedian. I am not: I’m a publican. Other things I’m not include a party politician, a pure-bred Englishman, female, or entirely Western (having spent a considerable portion of my formative years in the third world). What I am is a person with a vested interest; I and more importantly my children will have to live in the society that we create today for, even given Moore’s Law, a minimum of a century. I have a stake in this country; thereby I have a stake in the Occidental civilisation, and I (like the internetworked generation who helped sweep Barack Obama to power) will not go gentle into that good night.
I and my generation are re-discovering an older truth: when the institutions of previous generations fail, we will not be able to change them fast enough to help ourselves, and so we need to work around them. We are better equipped to do so than any Western generation since 1848; and unlike our Chartist forebears, we have the examples of Ghandi and King to inform us. We have both the fastest and the most secure communications available to the general public that there have ever been. It’s never been easier to organise yourself, and to circumvent the Establishment. It has never been easier to be a free-thinker than it is today.
As my name suggests I have both British and American heritage, and I see the world from a viewpoint which is restricted to neither. I will discuss with equal freedom gun control laws, politician control laws, and drug control laws. I will not apologise for any of the above.
In the long term, what I say here will be irrelevant. The only thing that could make it more than emphemeral is if my words and thoughts cause actions; in my readers, in the trolls who love to hate me, and in myself. But the cost of entry into the Doing Things market is still very high (though steadily dropping, if temporarily, at the moment). The cost of entry into the marketplace of ideas has never been lower. None of the things that need doing can be done by one pub landlord; and so I’m going to need other people who have ideas to join in. This is how we meet each other; this is where we find out whose ideas are worth trying, and this is where we start to build the future.
This post is for context. From here on in its content all the way.