“The opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.”
— Niels Bohr
When I was a kid, I was poor, and smart, and could talk. Boy, how I could talk. Hardly did anything else, so I very nearly became a barrister. But then, being smart, I realised I’d rather not be trapped into that kind of world, because once in the only way out is through the dock. 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.
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, and female. What I am is increasingly frustrated with public debate in Britain, not merely for its content and its occasional absurdity, but because it is framed in the wrong terms. Too much of our modern understanding of politics is actually factionalism. It’s easier to understand Us and Them than it is to understand enlightened self-interest, or compassion, or hope. The future-minded and socially liberal are being forced into defensive coalitions against the racist and the religious-fanatic factions. Whose team one is on is often considered more important than what one thinks. Dogma has replaced debate.
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 grew up in the Third World, which means I have been an ethnic minority and an immigrant worker. 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.
My challenge is to explore these will-o’the-webs and from them draw a (hopefully faithful) map of modern socio-politics. The readers’ challenge is to pull back their viewpoint far enough that we’re all looking at the big picture. That way, we can get to figuring out which bits to paint over.