A Young Person’s Guide to Political Extremism

A Young Person’s Guide to Political Extremism

Fascism won’t turn up dressed

In collar and tie or Sunday best.

It may be smart but not severe,

You won’t have anything to fear.

But it becomes your boring mate

Who only tells you what he hates,

Who’ll have you thinking he’s your brother,

Although he doesn’t like the others

Fascism won’t keep things clear

While ambiguity breeds fear,

So never will it waste its time

With explanations, reasons, rhyme.

Its three small words convey its gist,

In mantras of the populist:

“Take back control!”

“Get Brexit done!”

“Believe, Obey, Fight!”

“We… have… won…?”

Fascism knows all too well

That facts will take it straight to hell,

While lies go round the world before

The truth can lock the stable door.

A lie told twice is verity,

It’s hope and faith and charity,

So falsehood’s endless repetition

Tolls the bell for opposition.

Fascism will tell you

That the minor details must compel, you’ll

Feel it slowly crush your soul

By miring you in rigmarole.

You’ll have no time to contemplate

The force of its one-party state,

Its lickspittles, its liars, its whores,

Their laughing disregard for law,

Their crimes that bring society

Not anger but anxiety,

Invisibly eroding hope

Until you just can’t fucking cope.

Their crimes that grind your discontent

To grains of personal dissent,

Till what was solidarity

Is you hate me hate him hate she.

Fascism wields power without

Responsibility or account,

Or honour or integrity,

Or financial propriety.

It wanks itself beneath its clothes,

Tumescent on how much it loathes you.

Power’s bound to cost a lot

When every hour’s a money shot!

But Fascism won’t know the shame

Of hate that dares not speak its name,

Though maybe it’s already here,

In toxic clouds of doubt and fear.

If policemen can attack protesters,

Revolution may fit best –

May younger generations

Lead us all in blessed congregation.

Thank you for reading,

Mike Stoddart.

Staring At Beer

The only way to prove a small point to myself, it seemed, was to spend several weeks staring at a bottle of beer. It was not unbroken staring, you understand; indeed, there may only have been a few sly stares per week, but it was always the same beer. I had a suspicion that it was doing something other than sitting there quietly getting people hammered; involved, perhaps, in some low grade commercial drama. The shifty lager bastard. The beer I was staring at was in my cosy local supermarket, and cost 1.56 for a 66cl bottle, a fact announced by the smallest available price ticket. It enjoyed an unruffled life in the middle of the shelves, and for weeks it stood patiently with the other extras, waiting for Act One to come to a close and looking forward to big changes during the interval.

Sure enough, the evening came when Act Two began, and a merchandising shindy finally visited the continental lager stage. The old trouper that had held my attention had now joined a spotlit chorus of beers at the top of the shelves. Its script, for so long demanding only the odd mumble of “onepoundfiftysix,” was now trumpeted in the largest typeface possible: “Three For Five Pounds, or 1.99 each!” Typical. Yesterday an honourable mainstay of the supporting cast, today a cynical ham in a commercial pantomime. Boo! I asked one of the front-of-house staff, a good-hearted youth with a haircut that made him look a bit daft, what made this such a bargain, when yesterday it had cost 4.68 for three. He clearly didn’t have a clue, bless him, but at least he was game enough to burble on a little about increased supplier prices. It sounded like he’d heard some lukewarm gossip from a meeting to which he hadn’t been invited.

A lot of people going to the store in question would think that they were being offered a good deal. Indeed, for a fiver they’d be getting the equivalent of six 33cl bottles of something innocuously drinkable, the beer equivalent of switching on Radio Two while you do your chores. But the fact remains that the price had increased significantly before the “bargain” could be presented. As the customer doesn’t have time to spend staring at beer for weeks on end, he can find himself distracted by such bargains, real or perceived, rather than focussing on the compendious delights offered by the beer range as a whole, and the life-affirming joys of choice and growing knowledge. An hour of ELO or twenty minutes of the Clash and Charlie Parker followed by forty minutes of fulfilled silence? Don’t be duped into the former, it’s never a real bargain – ELO are fine for a while, but five quid’s worth, whatever the “real” price, is going to become background noise soon enough.

Although to be fair, I seldom get invited round to anybody’s house for a drink nowadays. Well, where do you think I find all that time to stare at beer..?