Politics has always been a game of one, one candidate, one self and one ‘ism’ to represent the masses. I believe ‘isms’ are dangerous, childish and profoundly the playground of those who are fantasists. They are not radical, they are for dreamers, they are a catch all, a white wash to what is, and always has been more complicated situation, what it means to be human. I do not see myself as a Liberal, I do have Liberal beliefs but then on any given day, in any given moment of anger, irrationality or love I can say that I have socialist and conservative ideals. A liberal in a car jam can quickly descend into right wing thoughts after the second hour of being stuck behind a white van beating out dance music. Likewise, a Conservative can strike a deal with a radically opposed viewpoint to gain power as can a Socialist. We are then back to the politics of the self and the selfish. The problem we have, and has always had, is that we still believe that politics is black or white, left or right, for or against and we roll in the ‘isms’ to substantiate a political system that is flawed. I think we have to stop planning our politics for the short term, for four year policies, the bust and boom economics and the desire to please all whilst pleasing no one. Politics can teach us something, that all of us have a desire to survive in the worst of situations even when grasping at straws or spin doctors. All of us have to take responsibility to plan for the long term. To plan not as individuals, not for the self, or for nations (which is flawed, as geology shows us that there hasn’t always been an England) or as voters (though so few of us bother as we seek only the self). We all have to embrace the very thing we have yet to embrace, our humanity. I am not talking about some wishy-washy, touchy-feely idea but to really begin to understand our collective strengths and weaknesses, from the ability to pull together against adversity to our ability to breed too much. Until then we will continue to pigeon hole ourselves in ‘isms’, call ourselves Liberal, Conservative or Socialist when we should be humans, more than the sum of our whole parts, more than the self or the politics of the self. Maybe then we can develop social and political models that will aid our development not for four years, not for one hundred years but for millennia to come. If we want to continue to be intelligent, then we have to think about our long term beliefs and where we are going to be a thousand or a million years from now as a species. Until then, we won’t even be able to label ourselves even as human.
Andrew Oldham’s poetry has been published in The Times, Transmission and Ambit. His first poetry collection was Ghosts of a Low Moon (Lapwing, Belfast 2010). A forthcoming pamphlet, The Anchor will be published by Glass Head Press in 2012. His poetry has been broadcast on BBC Radio Four's Poetry Please. Andrew's website can be found here.