The Luxury of not Choosing


Posted by in April's Magazine

Life used to be simple. We had three telly channels, lumbering public utilities and a choice between clear ideological positions in politics (Red v Blue for the most part). With the exception of the sclerotic dynasty of self-entitlement that characterised the latter binary choice, I liked the way the world was then. Not as a Luddite affectation. I genuinely liked having fewer choices in life.

Spoiler alert: flaky first world problem rant, if I start sounding like bloody Clarkson feel free to stop reading – be aware that I may punch you into next week for the sheer temerity (note to overpaid lawyers, yes I am suggesting that good old ‘Jezza’ is a boorish overrated establishment thug. Please direct all threats of action for defamation to one William Gould, Editor, The Leither).

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Back to the rant. First a qualifier, when I say I liked having fewer choices, I meant having the luxury of not having to choose as opposed to romanticising the very real poverty of choice faced by people living in grinding poverty and/or living under despotic rule. Ironically, articulating that is highlighting the false choice presented by the useful idiots who routinely defend the dystopic scam that is late-stage capitalism. Otherwise known as the “if you don’t like this, go and live in North Korea” brigade.

Eat their haircuts
To clarify, I don’t want to go and live in North Korea – unless it’s in the guise of a Giant Fire Pony who will eliminate the ruling elite in a righteous conflagration and eat their haircuts for good measure. I just wonder whether we are, certainly in developed western countries, at risk of fetishising consumer choice to the point where your entire existence is an exercise in customisation, personalisation and any number of other ‘ation’s (hey, you choose the one that fits your lifestyle).

To clarify further, there are some areas of life where choice seems an imposition by the slavering, unthinking advocates of ‘the market’. Right now, billboards are shouting at me to ‘be an energy switcher’. Why should I spend any more of my waking life than necessary fretting about whether I’m on the best deal, moving to another deal and then repeating the whole shebang over and over again – just to exercise my holy rights as an empowered consumer? It’s truly miserable.

People who know what I do for a living will be snorting into their beer right now, as the above will seem like near X-certificate hypocrisy. Nah. You can be a believer in promoting choice; it’s making it an obligation or worse still, a religion, that’s a right old pile of turd. Actually it’s not turd – you can grow stuff with turd. This is just a profoundly depressing enema for the soul. And that’s being kind.

(Weirdly, where the disciples of the market don’t seem to like the consequences of choice is politics. Which brings us to the hilarious clusterfuck that’s the forthcoming UK general election. It’s fast turning into an episode of Terry and June written by snakes on crack…)

Anyway, the election, yes. Well funny old thing democracy, like a snake on crack, it’s pretty unpredictable. And you know what? Dem’s the breaks. From fascist scum to japesters, they all have a right to play the democracy game; dangerous perhaps, but fundamental. So it makes the idea that – not unlike trying to control a game of blancmange Jenga – doing a ‘lockdown’ on the whole thing is ultimately futile. The possible eventualities here are a fluid as a virgin Caucasian arse on a trip to Madras (sorry Chennai). Yet to some this is simply not British. If you want democracy you must choose brand A or brand B. Two cheeks of the same airse as my grandfather may have said. Well heads up lads, it’s not happening.

The diddy parties
Nope, I suggest we go further than the great orgy of egalitarian assertion. Yes, let’s add to the 7 way split by starting any number of preposterous deal-making players to infect the mix of confidence and supply arrangements. Come on, the more the merrier ‘works’ for railways, utilities and other stuff, how about we give make this democracy lark a bewildering soup of empowerment?

I don’t mean the diddy parties like the Monster Raving Loonies, Natural Law, Save the Badgers or even, heaven forbid, the Lib Dems. I’m talking parties set up exclusively to make deals to secure some absurd bauble in return for their support. To that end, I’ve had a go at fashioning a list. It’s utter nonsense of course…but then again, is it? I give you,

The We’ll Support You If…

You Introduce a Les Dawson Day Party
You Make Urine Drinking Statutory Party
You Dress Like Huggy Bear on Tuesdays Party
You Laugh at My Dad’s Inappropriate Nun Jokes Party
You Stop Bullshitting Us and Believe in Something Party
You Just Shut the Hell Up or We’ll Spike Your Drinks (When You’re Least Expecting It) Party

Clearly, the last one is a bridge too far. But you get the picture. Choice is a wonderful thing.

Colin Montgomery

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