I grew up afraid but with nothing to fear – or better afraid of the wrong thing. This fear characterised my environment, a quiet Manchester suburb where we conformed to a way of life – a way of wage-slavery. But it was better than war – the second world war, so I soon learned to understand where that came from. I live outside the UK now but when at uni my friends went abroad – I was afraid. As I hit bottom and came out of the conditioning and the fear, travelling was still not the answer because of this fear. But I was developing as a person working on the fears created in the UK. When I was 40 I moved abroad and never turned back to the UK environment that is so dominated by fear.
This fear explains so much that is wrong with the UK, including the racism that underlies Brexit; I am sure it explains Trump but I don’t know those people well enough. Whilst I grew up afraid I grew up feeling a sense of being imprisoned – repressed. This was what my environment did to me. For a long time I saw the problem as being my father, but whilst there are individual characteristics there – that it is not appropriate to discuss – my focus on him at the time was not justified. It was the fear that came from the suburban environment. You can understand it. The parents were all people who had been involved in the war, their adolescence was as children in a country at war. In my house it was never discussed but the fear was there. Wage slavery was just accepted because it was better than war.
When I went to uni it was as part of a generation who were questioning. At uni I don’t remember questioning much as my life was dominated by the bottle, but I suppose I must have because after 18 months of the world of work I hit bottom. And never looked back. I have always seen that hitting bottom as breaking out of conditioning – the academic mindset, but it was more. It was breaking the restrictions that fear had put on me. I carried that fear with me a long time even after I had hit bottom. But hitting bottom was the beginning of breaking through the fear.
What did that fear do to the UK? I grew up surrounded by racism, sexism and violence. At teacher training college I went to a fancy dress ball in a dress for some reason – I had some strength having hit bottom three years previously. A trainee teacher who was a rugby player touched my dick that was showing through the tight dress, I touched his back in a blasé way and he thumped me – I walked away; I was not a fighter and he was bigger than me anyway. Why was he violent? At the same place another teacher promised to buy a bike from me. We agreed that I would leave the bike outside my house and he would collect it and pay me some money. Maybe he was drunk, maybe he didn’t want it – that is not my point. A year later I was teaching so was he. He was living in a squat with a colleague. She told him what I said, he told her if I ever told her the story again he would come and hit me. Fear breeds the kind of violence these two teachers showed. They grow up with fear, and then defend themselves by being violent. I chose those stories because these people were teachers, the violence amongst less educated is worse. Violence is not an acceptable way of life but it is created by systemic fear and is integral to western way of life. For me this is a significant part of Britain, and why I don’t live there.
But the violence that is British is not unique in the West, nor am I saying that it is uniquely western. But what is the excuse for such fear now? My parents had grown up during the war (I am 64), so they had fear. My generation grew up with that fear but actually had nothing to fear. Yet the fear continued. Why? Conspiracy theory; remember conspiracies like this just develop, not some idea from a smoke-filled room. Fear worked to create profits. My parents, my environment, was an excellent place for profits. Through the 50s and 60s the fatcats made huge profits based on a compliant workforce, and why was the workforce so compliant? Because of fear of war. Look at the history. Slowly in the 50s and 60s began to fight off the fear that was repressing them. Violence dogged that breaking out because that was the fatcats holding onto their post-war profits. Young people expressing themselves brought out that fear, and arms of repression, police and others, jumped on them. For 20 years the fatcats made huge profits at the expense of a low-paid workforce. During the 70s the workforce sought their due recompense and the fatcats refused to budge and closed the country down. This increased people’s fear, and with the media defending the fatcats people turned that fear on themselves – against the unions, and voted in Thatcher. Thatcher then fostered that fear in other ways, and so on until the present day.
In British society what is there to be afraid of? There is no second world war that parents had lived through. But there is the fear and violence that has been fostered ever since my childhood. There is racism that has been built up by the media. Fear of losing jobs to immigrants, a fear that is not borne out by statistics. A fear that is fanned by the media which is the PR arm of the fatcats who will do anything for a profit especially not pay fair wages. There is however a legitimate fear that is rarely discussed because it would affect the fatcats’ wealth, the fear of blowback from all the wars for profits; this is not a fear recognised by many.
How I would experience that fear if I was growing up in Britain now I do not know. But what I do know is that that fear is manufactured by the establishment to maintain a compliant workforce – to maintain the fatcats’ profits. That fear is so strong that the equivalent environment to the one I grew up in voted Brexit. Now I am not a big fan of the EU as I am an internationalist and don’t like Fortress Europe (against the USA). But for the people of my background to be voting for Brexit shows how bad that fear still is. And yet that fear has no legitimacy, it is created by the divisions the fatcats through the establishment impose on society in order to increase profits.
In Britain we now grow up with fear because they want us to be afraid. That is a reality we should know. How you deal with it I don’t know, after all the bully boys the system creates still are violent – however educated.