This is our truth, tell us yours
In which Carter indulges himself with a certain angst, like a Labour MP contemplating his diminished majority.
It’s 25 years since the Berlin Wall came down.
Ten year ago I might have argued that the worst things to come out of the wall coming down were Winds of Change by the Scorpions, David Hasselhoff’s belief in his own achievements and Francis Fukuyama’s brief and entirely undeserved fifteen minutes of fame for the nonsensical claim that history had ended.
Today, though, if I had to name three really bad things that came out of the fall of the wall the answer would have to be Ed Miiband, Nick Clegg and David Cameron. The groupthink that market capitalism is the only solution has led to a version of democracy in Britain which most closely resembles a faction fight at the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Ideological disputes are scrupulously avoided, and instead we have the jarring nonsense of three men who have no experience of life competing to assert that they are entirely authentic, unlike the other two.
I miss the Berlin Wall, and the way it enabled a clash of ideas, a space where it was possible to choose this, or that, or something else. Instead we have three competing apparatchiks, and the comedy alternative of Farage, which is like expressing a preference for the KGB chief as compared to the party people.
I know, as much as I know anything, come Monday morning, I’ll be back to he political struggle of Miliband as the least worst option, and I’ll put my shoulder to the wheel. The doubts, the concern that I’m enabling a charade by pretending to believe in it, I’ll leave for those three am moments when the sodium glare of the streetlights washes across the ceiling.
What really keeps me awake though is the sense of my own impotence, my own inability to engender a debate about the fundamentals, the politics of human rights and of communities, a idea of society as something we make and create in our shared interests.
I miss the Berlin Wall. I don’t miss the nuclear clock, the idea that it was three minutes to midnight, the idea that we were just Airstrip One, but tonight and tomorrow, as we commemorate the thousands of servicemen who have died since we proclaimed victory over the Warsaw Pact and the end of the threat of World War Three, I can’t help but feel we’ve been sold a lie. Worse still, I fear I may have helped sell that lie, but I also know, with all the certainty of a junior Party official asserting that Comrade X would be better than Comrade Y, that I’ll be back to the struggle of asserting that we need a Labour government in 2015.
I’ll be right to do it too, but I miss the big ideas, the chance to say to someone with whom I disagree, ‘That was my truth, tell me yours’ instead of the constant wrestling match of the news struggle, with all three party leaders asserting that the other is a liar without ever having the courage to say the word. In such a world, absentionism would be wrong, but the struggle for marginal gains from supporting Comrade X against Comrade Y is profoundly unrewarding, as anyone can tell just by checking out the membership figures of political parties.
On Monday I’ll wish I’d deleted this blog, but I won’t, because I need reminding that if I have doubted, so will others, and they deserve to be won over, not merely dismissed for saying in daylight what I will only say on Saturday night.