As my millions of readers will be aware, okay, all three of you, I am not only interested in writing adventure fantasy with a strong realistic political element but also playing the guitar.
One of my favourite artists, and I use the word properly here, is a man called Jon Gomm. To see the sublime skill of this man have a look here, ‘Passionflower’. Placed on YouTube in September 2011, it has over 17.5 million views as at October 2020. I go back to it every so often just to listen to the music, the words and I continue marvel at the man’s passion, artistry and skill.
So why am I mentioning Jon Gomm? Well, as at 15 October, 2020, he has a new album out, ‘The Faintest Idea’, one of the tracks is called ‘Dream Factories’. The quote below resonated on a number of levels which, once you’ve read it, you’ll understand.
About Dream Factories: Gigs are my safe place. To be in a room with someone giving their most direct expression of their secret selves. Sharing that with an audience in blissful, reverent communion, whether of peace or chaos. It’s sacred.
Pop Idol. The X Factor. [Your Country]’s Got Talent. The Voice. I hate them. They take my place of safety and love and reduce it to a place of fear and judgement. They take a kid who loves to sing. Tell them – You’ve got 60 seconds to make your dreams come true. Fail and it’s back to irrelevance. So they sing, eyes wide with terror and hope. And a celebrity hands down their judgement, like some spoiled, bored god.
It’s the perfect example of how everything is commodified: Not just music, but us and our lives, our dreams – it’s all taken, remade and sold back to us. Whether or not you enjoy this pop song, appreciate the fact that nobody told you to.
Now, let us just define a couple of words.
Commodify (in British English), to treat something inappropriately as if it can be acquired or marketed like other commodities.
Democracy is a system of government in which people choose their rulers by voting for them in elections.
Let’s consider what is happening to democracy, to our politics. Let’s consider the commodification of politics, the lies, the showmanship of these spoiled, bored gods, masquerading as strong leaders. Instant media, (lower your heads in shame, Twitter and Facebook,) are undermining democracy by commodifying it. They are enabling populists to create ‘a place of fear and judgement’. In fact, a world of fear and judgement.
Democracy should not be treated in this way. Our hopes and dreams should not be treated in this way. One day, people will realise they have been lied to, commodified. Once this happens reconstruction of democracy needs to take place, repaired, made relevant. No matter the cost, repaired and made relevant it must be. First on the list is a proper voting system.
Not First Past The Post as we have in the UK, (December 2019 Election: 43.6% of the vote – 80 seat majority.)
Not the Electoral College as they have in the US. (Three million more votes won by the ‘loser’ in 2016 than the ‘winner’ of the Electoral College.)
Making democracy real means making everyone’s vote real. That these systems need a reboot is without doubt if democracy is to mean anything. It cannot and must not be commodified. Ever.
‘No one left behind ‘
J J Mitchell.