This post is part discussion, part confession. We’ll get the confession part out the way first: last Tuesday, I went for a flight in a private jet.
Specifically, I took off from Leeds Bradford International Airport and flew for about half an hour in an aircraft that would have set the buyer back by £3.6M. I didn’t pay for it: it was a very generous (and amazing) gift from GlobeAir, but one that meant I could get a glimpse of a multi-millionaire’s lifestyle, and certainly made me feel just one degree more removed from the kinds of people my politics serves to do justice to.
So, whilst eating complimentary snacks and admiring the idyllic views over the Yorkshire countryside, I was well aware that the reality of my circumstances didn’t match up to the ideological self-portrait I’m putting up for others to see. In fact, the irony is so great it’s almost blatant hypocrisy. Sorry if it ruins any puritan image you had of me.
But then again, if this makes me a hypocrite, then I’ve always been a hypocrite. I’m spreading the word about equality and justice by writing on an iPhone 5S that was most likely built in a sweatshop. I firmly believe in redistribution of wealth, yet live a very comfortable life within the confines of my centrally-heated home. It’s easy for me to raise issues I have no experience with, yet I do it anyway. Does that make me a hypocrite? Possibly…
But I’m going to at least acknowledge this irony. If I live in a capitalist country, I lead a capitalist lifestyle, and as a beneficiary of this system, that means I lead a very privileged one. I’m not saying that there’s nothing I can do about it, I’m saying that I’m too lazy/ignorant/selfish/all of the above to break out of the mould that’s been cast around me. So I think that this acceptance is at least something; I’m not pretending I’m exploited; I’m not claiming to be a victim of capitalism; I know very well that I don’t represent the revolutionary cause, but I’ll continue to serve it in this way all the same.
The same can be said for many in my position, and I think just ‘talking the talk’ is a common strategy among those who recognise that the world they live in is wrong, but have spent all their life enjoying it’s privileges. Karl Marx was a journalist and the son of an affluent family. Friedrich Engels, a man with a direct insight into exploitation, came from a family of factory owners. Lenin was a lawyer. Trotsky was the son of one the wealthiest farmers in southern Ukraine. Even Stalin, son of a cobbler and something of a working class-oddity among the Bolsheviks, trained as a theologian. It’s a trend I’m copying, not one I set, but I’ll nonetheless admit to this dishonesty. Without giving up the kind of the live I live, that seems the most decent thing to do.
At risk of making myself look like Donald Trump, here’s a photo: