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How To Explain Political Apathy


We all know that, in Britain these days, all methods of transport are riddled with problems and pitfalls. To get from A to B on the train takes longer than it did 20 years ago. This is the sad fact.

Of my last ten train journeys, not one has been without problems. Recently, to get from Reading to Northampton took 5 hours! Due to being sold the wrong ticket, train delays due to repair works resulting in the first train reversing and then going to London on the wrong track, and through general delays and incompetence, the journey was a total trauma.

But this was not unique - all journeys, or virtually all, are like this these days. Blair knows the quickest way to go from Manchester to London is to fly via Sydney, stopping off at Thailand and assorted other countries en-route.

The only thing that the train companies manage to do correctly is to charge you the fare - that they never miss out on. And, even then, they charge you a huge amount; with no discount, even when they know that their train is going to take twice as long to get to its destination.

Nothing seems to be done about it - there are false promises from the government, or just dispassionate lack of interest. This is the sad state in which we live these days. If we got stressed at this everytime it happened, we would all have had nervous breakdowns by now. If we care about the state of affairs in this country then we simply could not bear to live here.

Because of this fact, that is why I argue the best attitude to carry to life in Britain these days is the apathetic one. People are chastised for this, for low turnouts in an election, yet they are forced into this attitude by the situation that exists around them, through the interface with the world that they are forced to endure in modern day Britain.

I argue that apathy comes from the top down, and does not start at the bottom and filter up. It is an inevitable end result from the transition of politics from an artform that is dominated by those who engage in politics for the love of politics, and a genuine desire to improve conditions and see good done, to cooler, colder, more calculating "career" politicians, who see it as a job, like in any other company, where the goal is to keep the current party, or company, in power, without the regard to what happens in the country as a whole.

Politicians are, indeed, apathetic. They seem to have no true beliefs these days. This is sad, but also inevitable; since to belong to a major party these days is to allow oneself to be submitted to their rules - namely, you must not have an opinion unless it is that of the party. This is perfectly demonstrated by the modern New Labour party. There is no belief behind their politics.

Tony Blair - not by rail - is the worst perpetrator of this. He ensures that no-one in his party is allowed to represent anything other than his views, or at least that of his advisors. The problem for the electorate is that there is simply no alternative - who else can they vote for? All parties are losing political ground. The alternatives - still only really the Conservatives - are just as bad or even worse a proposition. Therefore if you want something done in this country, then there is nothing you can do. That is what it boils down to.

Now, if the politicians really cared and were there for love of country, then they would be more outspoken and genuinely campaign for what they think is right. But they do not, since they love their jobs far too much for that. They stay in the safety and toe the party line. They are apathetic, in short, about genuine politics.

Given this fact, what options are there for the individual who cares about the country, who is disgusted at the pathetic services that all taxpayers have to endure? Well, since there is no other party they can turn to, and since the politicians themselves are apathetic, there are only two options to the electorate. Option 1: he carries on caring, he writes to the Prime Minister, to be fobbed off by a bland reply from a secretary - sounds familiar? (unless he or she is in a pop group, of course); this person sees no fruit to their labour or caring but just gets more and more stressed and frustrated.

This, therefore, leaves option 2: apathy. This is pragmatically the best approach to take. When I was on that train the other week, I was so angry , and I have been for every train journey I have taken recently. Yet I know there is nothing I can do - no politician or party I can turn to who will do something about it. If I carried on being annoyed, I would work myself into the ground. Therefore the only option is to switch off, to not care any more, to be apathetic. If it makes sense, I am actively apathetic - I think it is the best attitude to have in modern Britain.

And if politicians or other commentators bemoan that no younger people these days are interested in politics, then how can they be blamed? They should look around them - the politicians aren't interested in politics, the politicians in power aren't interested in the public's wishes, and the public, in term, has nowhere to turn to get things done. They created my apathy. They must remove it.

By: Dan on Tue, Jun 11th 2002

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Apathy is the results of our inability to control our politicians.

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