“Here, sir, that Russell Brand says I shouldn’t vote.”
“No, Jimmy, you should definitely vote. It’s really important.”
“Who should I vote for then, sir?”
“Well, Jimmy, that’s not for me to say. You should make your own mind up.”
“My Dad’s voting for UKIP, ‘cos he doesn’t want immigrants bringing Ebola over ‘ere and nicking our jobs. I reckon I’ll vote for them.”
“Well, you should probably look at what all the parties say. Look at their manifestos.”
“Ah, that sounds really boring. I reckon that Boris bloke should be Prime Minister, he’s a right laugh.”
“You shouldn’t… look, you have a right to vote and that means a responsibility to vote for the party that you think are doing the right thing.”
“Yeah, but what’s that, sir?”
“If I give you five quid, will you fuck off?”
It’s hard knowing what’s right. You can assume that you’re just right about everything, or, assuming that you’re not quite so spectacularly arrogant as a politician, you have some homework to do.
You’re then faced with two choices. One is to do the hard work – do the background reading. You can learn some shortcuts and heuristics that will help you through the easy stuff and also equip you better to deal with the hard questions. The problem is that it’s hard work. There’s quite a lot of background reading and some hard thinking to do about what you’ve read. You may even end up having to ask your dad a question and listen to one of his rambling explanations. Ahem.
It’s tempting to not bother. The other choice is to go out and play instead of studying for the test and hope that you can see Sarah’s answers over her shoulder. The only problem there is that teacher might re-seat you all so that you end up sitting behind Nigel. Nigel is confident and kind of charming and he’s happy to lean to one side so that you can copy his answers. The problem is that Nigel’s a fucking idiot but if you haven’t done your homework that’s all that’s left to you.
It may seem like this is a thinly veiled swipe at UK political thinking but in truth, I think that our current merry-go-round of braying, wealthy crooks is a symptom. The political Type two diabetes to our intellectually indolent obesity. We’re equally culpable of failing to think about our personal morality, our conduct with others, our own personal philosophies are non-existent.
We can’t be bothered to do our homework. The problem with democracy in our comfortable nations is that it’s handing over decisions to people who are too lazy to make them so they go along with whatever decision stresses them out least. Believe what you read in the Daily Mail. Listen to the man on the television. Vote how your parents voted.
Anything except carry on rolling the stone.
Because the moral philosopher, the scientist, the rationalist – is Sisyphus. Each new achievement simply reveals a fresh vista of doubt and ignorance. There is no rest, no right answer, no point at which the testing ends and teacher says that you’ve passed the course. And that’s want it takes to be part of the solution and not part of the problem. Endless labour.
If you’ve got to the end of this article, though, you’ve done well, you may take a break to go out and play