The 2017 General Election was a really strong reminder of a phenomenon that sprang into my mind first during the 2007-08 recession.
When an event takes pace that engages the whole of the country like a recession, a referendum or an election it causes a strange move in the collective mood – for good or for bad reasons – of everyone. Social media and the internet definitely accentuate it but you can feel it by talking to people , watching TV, being at work. It’s almost like something in the air.
During the recession there was a constant feeling of doom and gloom everywhere you went. The media told us that the economy has stayed slow and the public are scared to spend money. As a result of this the public were, indeed, scared to spend money but, I feel, for the majority of them (myself included) they were only scared to spend money because they had heard that everyone else was “scared to spend money”. People didn’t know why, they just felt it even though fear of job losses and credit crunches were not even a reality for many of us but we were still part of the collective consciousness of paranoia and worry. This same thing is being felt in the other direction now with Jeremy Corbyn’s “successful” election result and a feeling that we have all banded together and derailed the Tory hegemony. The mood of the people seems notably lifted now. A feeling that we’ve all banded together and actually achieved something against the system. Again though, for the majority of us there have been no real changes in our lives or our wealth or our communities, it is just a nice ambiance of positivity that seems to feel visceral whilst having no actual real-time benefit for most of us.
I like it. This idea that if we need to we can act as one consciousness, one feeling shared among many. It’s almost like we all become one like when The Power Rangers’ Zords all merged to form one big Megazord. The sad thing is it never seems to last. We all seem to quickly separate into separate Power Rangers and go back to our individual ventures as quickly as steam dispersing into the air. Maybe nationally it’s too big a thing for us all to hang on to with everything else we have to turn our attentions to. This is why I am a firm advocator of devolving into smaller groups and communities and organising ourselves that way. Maybe if we work to achieve things collectively in smaller groups these feelings could be a lot more real, a lot more long lasting and a lot more productive. I think people crave that group mentality. We all want to feel involved, necessary, functional, liked and, even, loved. Smaller communities bonding together to achieve together may even create a stronger adhesion on a national scale as we would be asking, already active, groups to bond together rather than just large numbers of totally unattached individuals.
I know that this is already done with local politics but it just doesn’t seem to make any real engaging impact, only really addressing things like where a new car park should be or the lack of a lollipop lady outside the school. Boring! It needs to be larger more weighty issues with real feelable consequences for the participators and, as a result, participation increases, more people get behind the same goals and this lovely feeling of being a real cog in a functioning machine will stay and be physical rather than psychological.