Out Of The Way

I tuned out, I dropped in. I'm a naive, wide-eyed sell-out

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Fat Trot makes me write long explanatory post

So, briefly, I can’t remember what I’d said to deserve the label, I can only remember where I was standing in the admin department of Britain’s leading daily Socialist newspaper when a fat bearded Trotskyite (many thought him a spook) called me a libertarian humanist.
Actually I wasn’t even standing I was half-sitting on the edge of the desk, so for the briefest of moments the fat Trot was slightly above me. It took me a few seconds for me to realize that I wasn’t actually a libertarian humanist, but it was about a milli-second to realize he was belittling me. This was six or seven years ago, and as you have no doubt gathered, it still bothers me.
I’m going to work out why.

On a simple level, the Fat Bearded Trot (FBT from hereon in) was a self-satisfied patronizing twonk, who would often offer lifts home to the younger office staff and journos so that he could groom them with Trot prop or pump them for ideological tittle-tattle. I got in his car once and vowed never to do it again. Apart from anything else he was fat, it was summer and he sweated. FBT had already incurred my wrath by scoffing at me for not knowing what focaccia was (I’m from the north and had at that point only encountered three types of bread – white, brown and French). Bah! So I was in no mood for his smugness.
Mainly, though, I think that denouncing someone for believing in positive things is lousey, cynical and pompous. Smile, shake your head and say “Idealist” by all means, but don’t sneer, guffaw and denounce. That’s just bad.
So, yep, liberty is great. And the line of thought that says that people have significant intrinsic value – that’s good, it really is. To be a libertarian humanist would be a fine thing, so my last point is horrible. I’m not one.
Why not a libertarian? I think there’s too many necessary compromises to make to make life at least bearable and, at best, good. I always thought that the credo of the conscientious anarchist was pretty pointless: “Freedom to do anything, as long as it doesn’t infringe the freedom of anyone else”. That rules out almost everything except walking round with a anarchist badge on your satchel – but best be careful where you walk, and how fast (you wouldn’t want to hold anyone up)(but then again if you walked too fast you might bump into someone). Turn your music down, don’t put your feet on the seat, you need the window open? you’d better ask me, stop swearing, you want service then stand in line, wait till you’re asked, get off your mobile, who asked you?... and on and on. There’s so many little checks and balances, rules and manners which make life slide along that little bit more easily, I could never give them up. Respect for other people is an easy thing to say but it means a thousand different things. Nope, not a libertarian.
Humanist? Hmm. Kurt Vonnegut said that the saddest thing to admit is that the world would be a better place if a load of people had never been born. And I think he’s right. That’s why people call Vonnegut a moralist not a humanist. But good old Kurt would never make the leap to say that once that terrible birth has happened that it should be reversed. The really sad thing is, I would. It’s not a fact I’m proud of and I don’t, like a lot of people I’ve known, say it with swagger. Nor do believe in any authority that I’d trust enough to make these decisions – I can only say that there are people who do not deserve to breathe another breath because of the misery they mete out and there are many more who should not be made to endure any more misery.
In short I think life is mainly sad and doesn’t have any inherent value – we have to add that.
So not being a humanist is basically to be depressed.
But hey, don’t worry, we can make things better. Because I’m not a libertarian means that I’ve got impeccable manners, always willing to help and will do my best not to annoy you (except Reidski who enjoys being annoyed by me).
Because I’m not a humanist means that I’m always struggling to give stuff meaning and value, that I worry that you might not be having a good time and that life isn’t enough in itself – you have to live a good one and bring happiness to people’s lives.
Hey I might have banished some demons there. Excellent.
So great, I’m not a libertarian humanist, and if you call me one don’t scoff (or be a FBT).
Next time: living in the south or Mark E Smith?


At 11:54 AM, Blogger Moo said...

Defo living in the South!!

"you have to live a good one and bring happiness to people’s lives" what good advise, its a shame that not everyone has the same thinking!

At 3:05 PM, Blogger Reidski said...

Oh, Voroshilov, I want to run to you and give you a great big hug - what an excellent post. But now people know you are no longer a satellite of my pishy blog but rather you are a planet, a galaxy, a milky way even of literary goodness.
And who the fuck is FBT? You must e-mail me the name - and we must get together for a pint one of these days or nights!

At 1:15 PM, Blogger Voroshilov said...

Moo – living down south, it is then. And the lifestyle thing is, I guess, easier said than done. The only nice thing I seem to do consistently recently is help people with bags and prams at large mainline stations.

Reidski – you are too kind. If I knew people would be so positive, I would have obliquely recommended the death sentence more often. Yes, we will meet, even with my ridiculous restrictions (we’re doing the World Cup at work at the mo’ which is somewhere between horrendous and glorious – Southport would be a fair comparison), but I’ve got a spare ticket for John Fogerty if you’re interested (though the only other Creedence fan I know of is Jeff Lebowski). FBT is the man who thought he was (w)right but was always wrong.

At 2:04 PM, Blogger the lorider said...

you don't know what FOCCACIA is!?!

I'm outie!!!

At 2:17 PM, Blogger Voroshilov said...

Lorider - no i didn't. I had a working class upbringing - meat, two veg etc. It's just a fact. I'm not going to wave it in anyone's face to prove how much more down to earth I am - it's just the truth. I know what it is now, but mainly cos this fat guy thought it was amusing that i didn't (he might have even twiddled with his tie in some smug Oliver Hardy-style fashion).
I could list various other points of my life when I didn't know stuff, if you like.

At 4:53 AM, Blogger The Fatalist said...

I'm broadly on the left, but don't fall for no label. I couldn't care less about who/what the ideologies of Stalin/ Trotsky/ Marx/Lenin are. If I was that interested in selling newspapers I'd have my own newsagents!
In a nutshell being on the left is being decent. Being on the right is being greedy, and sitting in the middle is just being a two faced cunt!
In my teenage days I was in the Labour Party Young Socialists, who were split into factions, torn apart by infighting from Socialist Organisor & Militant. Now I sided with SO, not because I believed in their ideologies, but because I was mates with some of them. Yet I still chatted to some of the Millies! As a result neither group totally trusted me, and some sut up when I walked in, but I was probably the only person in Peckham who knew how they were fighting each other! I never told either side what the other thought, I didn't really give a shit!
Loved your description of bread! I remember once, many moons ago, I was staying over at my brothers & his very middle class wife. She had some fancy poncy sausages from Sainsburys. You know the ones...with tomato, leek, asparagus, whatever else crap chucked in them. Now call me old fashioned but normal bangers have meat and grizzle in them. I asked her if she had any proper sausages. She asked what I meant. I said: you know, like Walls! I can still picture her face of horror today!

At 8:56 AM, Blogger Voroshilov said...

Bah, bloody factionalism - it's more like a hobby to most people I think. Gives them more to say.
"I'm a Marxist-Leninist, with hints of Luxembourg, a twist of Mao, and, if you catch me on a Tuesday, a touch of Jeremy Beadle."
But thanks and welcome fatalist.

At 8:41 AM, Anonymous matc said...

No Che Guevara or Sub-Commander Marcos, then??

At 9:34 AM, Blogger Voroshilov said...

Hey Matc. No sorry, none of that. I'm sure there's plenty of blogs out there dealing with those guys (y'know drawing parallels between working in high finance and fighting counter-revolutionaries). I think I'm through with wearing fatigues now, except when doing DIY ("makes me feel like I'm a man). As for Marcos, ummm, I like his pipe.

At 5:47 AM, Blogger The Fatalist said...

Hmm...when I do 'DIY' I just make sure I have a tissue handy ;-)

At 2:21 PM, Blogger J.J said...

Reidski told me some more stories about Fat Trot today. He may be fat and a prat, but can have the consolation of knowing he has become a great source of amusing tales told at his expense.


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