The question I’m left with is: How do we speak to those who are so politically apathetic that they’ve become incapable of empathy or compassion?
How do we bring them on side?
How do we motivate them to engage in politics beyond moaning about “benefits scroungers”?
(1.) Political apathy
Far too many people don’t trust our government (with good reason) and don’t bother engaging with politics “because there’s no point”. Authoritarian regimes love political apathy.
(2.) Empathy deficit
The right-wing media has dedicated years (and who knows how many ££s) convincing the public that ALL receivers of “benefits” are scroungers, when only ~4% of ALL welfare expenditures are overpaid due to fraud or error. Too many of us enjoy punching down.
(3.) Systemic arseholeness
Thanks to 1 and 2, not caring about the needs of our (very wealthy) country’s least fortunate has become the norm. Inequality is someone else’s problem. Poverty is someone not working hard enough. Discrimination is an excuse. We all struggle, get over it.
(4.) The struggle is real
We *are* all struggling. That’s the problem. There are now more people in poverty in the UK than voted for our ruling party in the last election. We’re all tightening our belts, but our big companies are recording record profits. Something isn’t adding up.
(5.) Extremism is the easiest answer
It’s on the left and right but, if we’re honest, the right-wing branch of this extremism has become scarily mainstream. Authoritarian black/white, yes/no arguments have become the standard. Nuance and expertise are viewed with suspicion.
(6.) Authoritarian norms
Because of 1 and 5, authoritarian practices are on the rise. The Tories criminalised peaceful protest, made changes to how elections work which explicitly benefit their party, and tried to prevent citizens holding them accountable for human rights abuses.
(7.) Our democratic mindset is dead
Political trust is at an all-time low, trust between citizens is quite possibly even lower. The lack of a democratic political culture (@theEIU) and low approval of democracy (@BertelsmannFnd) feeds into low partipation and political apathy.
(8.) Anger without direction
Without legitimate channels of political participation (like protest) or comprehensive political education RE alternatives, we’re left with high levels of political anger but no way to constructively direct it. We’re easy pickings for extremists.
I know it’s not all bad. Strikes are a good sign of anger turning into legitimate political participation and professional protesters are rising up in response to successive authoritarian legislation.
What are you doing to get engaged politically? I’ll amplify where I can.