I think there’s only one thing I really struggle writing about, and that’s myself. It’s an awkward battle to avoid cliché, while bouncing between narcissism and self-deprecation. This is, so far, my best attempt.
I’m somewhat of a ‘jack of all trades’, as they say. I’m currently working on a new business serving mission-style burritos to the streets of Leeds. We’ll be implementing an ethical supply chain and, as we gain employees, working towards democratic control with a totally flat, equal pay system. The hope is that once we have a non-trivial amount of regular staff, we’ll transfer the business to a worker cooperative foundation. This is partly just me wanting to work in food rather than tech, and also a chance to get hands-on with micro-economics.
When I’m not at the day job, I try to find time to write. I don’t get paid for it and I release most of my work for free use. If my primary goal with writing was to make money I’d keep feigning fascist opinions and go work for the Daily Mail. As it stands, if someone wants to buy a book, they can, but it’s not exactly pop-lit. I’ve also started speaking publicly at a few local events in Leeds. I’m a rationalist and relentless sceptic, feminist, and libertarian socialist; so I disagree with most people on most things. I can live with that. In the words of — of all people — Margaret Thatcher:
“If you just set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything at any time, and you would achieve nothing”
I grew up in Boston, in Lincolnshire. That’s the original Boston, outgrown somewhat by its newer American namesake. I don’t like to generalise, but if you pushed me to do so, I might say it is a town divided; with a large population of migrant workers from elsewhere in the EU, along with a local population that is typical of rural England: conservative, xenophobic and generally backwards. Most of the economy is agricultural and that was even more true twenty-odd years ago when I was born. The attitude of the locals was understandably fed by concern of losing their jobs to migrants, along with the general struggle of the British farming industry in the face of cheaper imports. For most of the migrants, there was more work here than at home, so the choice was simple. They weren’t there to cause trouble, just to work hard and get paid. Obviously, as a child, I didn’t understand any of this; all I knew was that the people who looked like me and spoke the same language as me were angry at the other people about something.
My parents elected to send me to a Christian primary school, something that I don’t blame them for, but would never have done myself. Still, it proves interesting to look back on now, because it raises the question of why I was able to escape from indoctrination on that front so early. It could not have been long after I rejected Santa Cluas that I also rejected “God” or the very idea of a “supreme being”, never mind the personal Judeo-Christian God. Yet, the same was not true for many of my peers. I quickly noticed that the issue wasn’t clear cut; there were those who believed, those who believed that they should believe, and those that believed that they believed. I found the paradox of those who identified as “Christian” when asked, yet said they did not believe in a god. Somehow, they considered themselves a part of a religion, even if they did not actually believe any of its teachings. In many ways, it was frustration with these people that drove me so strongly towards scepticism and rationalism. I still wonder however, why I became the way I am, instead of what I might have become.
I don’t believe I’ve ever been truly moderate, politically. In my experience, people like me rarely are. There’s something about my psychology that demands an answer one way or another, pursuing it to a logical end and not settling with moderation for moderation’s sake. I’ve considered myself apathetic, but only through feeling disenfranchised by the present political system. I realise now that any time I did not consider myself to have an opinion politically, I simply had not realised that the things I had opinions on were political. I didn’t have the framework to express of identify how I aligned myself. Unfortunately, the microcosm in which my teenage mind evolved gave me a distorted view of the world. I found a set of answers that shallowly satisfied my questions about the world, but I stopped short of fully questioning those answers. Between the anecdotes of bitter old men and the propaganda of the Daily Express, I found myself wrapped up in a world I now know as the far right.
I dropped out of sixth form after the end of lower sixth, taking my first job in IT. The next few years were a learning curve. I learned a lot about programming, about business and about people. I went through a small company, freelancing, a corporation and a national museum. At some point along that road, I learned that most of the things I had previously learned were wrong. I also learned that I was wrong about what I wanted to be. I learned that my personality, while making me a good programmer, also made the corporate world intolerable to me. I came to understand the exploitative nature of capitalism, the shallowness of consumerism and came to hate the corporate world that I had once aspired to be a part of. In just a few short years, my entire perspective on the world had been inverted. Although looking back, I know how wrong I was before, I don’t regret the journey or where it started. It has equipped me with a first-hand knowledge of how people in every corner of the political spectrum think. I know first hand that the people I now oppose in every way are simply products of their environment. Given the right opportunity, I believe that everyone can have such a change of perspective.
My mission now is to use the skills I have to learn, educate, and to develop our theory further. The left has seen a great deal of stagnation, but there are now exciting developments in left-libertarianism that I hope to contribute to.