Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category

Apocryphally an ancestor of the family, Sir John Disbrowe was an important figure in the overthrow and execution of Charles I, becoming very close with Cromwell’s family and exercising power as a leader of the short-lived Commonwealth.

An attorney, a farmer and a soldier, John (son of James) married into Cromwell’s family, marrying Oliver Cromwell’s sister (Jane Cromwell) in 1636. As a result of his close relationship with the Cromwells, John was made the quartermaster of a cavalry troupe and later a captain in Cromwell’s revolutionary and elite Ironsides.

He rose through the ranks throughout the English Civil War, acquitting himself well as part of the New Model Army and fighting with distinction at Naseby, Langport and the Siege of Oxford. Despite his accomplishments and his reputation as a pious and courageous man, the Royalists parodied him as a braggart and a bully, the ‘Giant Disbrowe’, carry a cannon in his hand.

Throughout the ensuing chaos, Disbrowe – despite being portrayed as a loudmouth and a bully – was an important intermediary between the grousing veterans of the New Model Army, and the increasingly imperious Cromwell. His unique position allowed him to negotiate, while still proving his loyalty in putting down Royalist uprisings.

Despite being instrumental in the Civil War, and close to Cromwell, Disbrowe was assigned to govern Yarmouth during the execution of the King, and thus escaped the very worst of the reprisals after the end of the Commonwealth.

Remaining loyal to Cromwell throughout the trials and tribulations of the Commonwealth he was granted many different duties and remained a right-hand-man to Cromwell. This culminated in his position as the first of the Major Generals to be appointed, his practice in opposing religious extremists and ruthlessly suppressing royalists with a combination of military and civic power providing the model.

Disbrowe was outspoken against the offering of the crown to Cromwell, and may have been the deciding factor in Cromwell not becoming Oliver the First.

With Oliver dead, and having supported Cromwell’s hopeless son, Disbrowe lost his political capital by 1660 and was even more widely satirised and derided. As Charles II was restored to the throne, Disbrowe was disallowed from holding any office of governance. He fled England for the Netherlands, forced to return when he was accused of being part of republican plotting against Charles II – something that may well have been true. While under suspicion he was held in The Tower for a year, before being released.

He died in 1680 having spent a great deal of his life in the cause of republicanism, parliamentarians, the modernisation of the English army and unflinching loyalty to his men and to Cromwell. By 1680 virtually all of that had been undone, though the Civil War left an important legacy of a weaker Monarch and a stronger Parliament.

A complicated figure, whose narrow Puritanism I do not share, but no – since you ask – I won’t be celebrating the Jubilee. I’m very much on John’s side when it comes to that institution.

It’s a trick, get an axe.

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Not OK

I have severe, clinical and ongoing depression with suicidal ideation and intrusive thought, crippling anxiety issues and DPD. I have had these conditions since 2007, am considered disabled and am unlikely to ever get better.

In December I discovered that my PIP (Personal Independence Payment) had been stopped (In October), without warning or communication by the DWP (Department of Work and Pensions).

Apparently I’d hit the time for reassessment, but because I hadn’t contacted them (because they hadn’t contacted me) my payments had stopped.

So I couldn’t restart my old claim, oh no, I had to reapply from scratch. A process that took over a year last time I had to apply.

I was getting PIP and ESA (Employment Support Allowance), both on the basis of a tribunal appeal on my original claim. Tribunal is the third and last stage of appeal, quasi-independent of the process and able to overturn earlier decisions. Something like 80% of claims rejections are overturned on appeal. That goes to show how bullshitty the entire rest of the process is.

PIP only accounts for about £240 per month, but it’s money that can really ease mental stress and strain, pay for takeout when you can’t cook, a taxi when you can’t face the crowds on public transport and various other little things that make for a more secure income and better life when you’re struggling with mental health.

Of course, over a year that’s nearly £3000, a not inconsiderable amount of money and for many people in a worse situation than me, a lifeline.

Being on disability-related benefits is not easy. Applying for this help is stressful, humiliating and ultimately unnecessary. Your GP should really be the one making the decision, not this clumsy and hostile apparatus that has been created, purposefully to deny people and put them off applying.

It’s hard to explain quite how humiliating it is. We all have illusions about ourselves, or make conscious and subconcious accomodations of our disabilities. In this process however, you’re allowed no pride, no illusions, you must reveal every weakness and trouble that you have – to a total stranger – who will then, like as not, reject your claim. So you’ve done all that, bared your soul, stripped yourself bare, for nothing.

Needless to say, this is horrendous and horrible, and weighs heavily on the health and mental health of those of us who have to jump through these hoops to get the slightest of help. Needless to say, this has been linked to a great deal of self-harm, suicide, and hardship.

For what?

Benefit fraud accounts for ~1%, and that’s all benefits. 99% of people are put through this wringer – and many people denied the help they need – for thte sake of one person. Perverse, but that’s how absurd people seem to be. They’d rather see 99 people unjustly treated for the sake of the 1% of actual cheats.

I think this hits harder, this time, because of recent arguments in my creative community, where people seem dead-set on denying that disability is limiting, on corroding escapism, and denying my disabilities simply because I disagree with them. The ‘wrong kind’ of disabled, which, ironically is a big part of the problem with getting help.

People suck, they really do – disabled people as much or as little as anyone.

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Enough Already

I have a reputation at odds with the reality of who and what I am.

This is peculiar, depressing and confuses a lot of people, perhaps me most of all.

So, how does a left-anarchist, wildly progressive (in the proper sense), libertine game designer – firmly ensconced in the bottom left corner of the bottom left quadrant of the political compass – get a reputation as TurboHitler? I wish I knew.

This stuff blows up with somewhat random regularity, when something slips through the social media echo-prison I’ve been put into and I become aware of it. Usually this takes the form of some cnidarian arsehole slurping out of the depths to spread an increasingly mythologised bunch of nonsense about me.

The nonsense varies, sometimes more serious than at other times, but what it all boils down to seems to be that I disagree with people and they can’t separate their opinions from their quintessential selves.

Other high crimes of mine include:

  • Practicing tolerance, rather than just talking about it.
  • Disagreeing – from a left-wing perspective – with Critical Race Theory, Intersectionality and ‘Grievance Studies’.
  • Treating people equally, which they say they want, but actually seem to want special exceptions based on identity category.
  • That I’m racist/sexist, somehow. Usually because I’ve called out bad actors who happen to be women or racial minorities, almost all of whom have turned out to be abusive and/or creepers in the fullness of time.
  • Writing comedy books nearly 20 years ago.
  • Writing adult content RPGs (especially Gor) and playing adult content RPGs (Tabletopless).
  • Writing a blog nearly 10 years ago, in defence of free speech.
  • Supporting an anti-censorship, pro-consumer movement the same way I dought The Satanic Panic, Jack Thompson, The Vampire Panic etc. Gamergate this time.
  • It goes on, up to and including an accusation of sexual harassment/assault which appears to derive from mistaken identity, and was originally put to bed back when Google+ was a thing.

It’s all either bollocks, misunderstanding, mistaken identity or – seemingly – wilful attempts to mislead and misrepresent. None of the positive stuff I do is ever remembered.

What can one do about any of this?

Very little, other than vent.

If you ignore it, the rumours and myths spread unchallenged.

If you challenge it, your counterarguments are blocked, muted, deleted or somehow taken as evidence that you’re guilty (what?).

If you keep your head down and keep doing good things, like you always have, none of that gets traction and people you’ve never heard of are primed to hate you.

If you make do with the friends you have left, who have different beliefs to you but who you can tolerate and get on with, you suffer from guilt by association.

If you sue, they band together, pay off whatever you’re awarded against someone – with interest – and carry on collectively slandering you.

I’ve been harassed, abused and slandered by these sorts of people (conservative prudes and insufferable pseuds) since 2010 or so. Isn’t ten… fucking… years long enough to hold a misinformed grudge? There’s people who have put more effort into harassing me, harranguing my friends, sabotaging my projects and charity work, than they have their own relationships. This is not justified or healthy behaviour, and there’s nothing I can do to stop them.

The sense of betrayal and the unjustness of it all, the helplessness in the face of it, has driven me to the edge of suicide before now. If not outright betrayal, the cowardice and the lack of spine, the lack of benefit of the doubt from people I’ve known more than half my life. At the same time I’ve seen the harassment that people who do defend me or call themselves my friends suffer too. Some of that cowardice and betrayal is understandable – even if I’d never do it to anyone.

If you’re of the right identity category it seems you can leverage the slightest bit of harassment (or simply that status) into success, worthy of it or not. Yet a decade-long campaign of hatred against me counts for nothing, because white, cisgender, male, heterosexual etc.

It’s just not a ‘sexy’ story because of those things, and mental illness and disability don’t count when they’re in proximity to the badness categories.

Is it reasonable to harass someone for ten years straight?

To kinkshame?

To send them hate-notes and razorblades in the post?

To demonise them for their friendship with sex workers, and imply that friendship is untoward?

To take the time and trouble to create multiple email and social media accounts to harass someone?

To browbeat their friends into disowning them?

To pretend to be them on social media?

To force them out of anthologies of fiction?

To try and petition companies to never employ/publish/print what they make?

To sabotage their charity efforts to memorialise their dead friend?

To review-bomb everything they do?

To ‘warn’ potential new clients, customers and friends and to share blocklists so they don’t get the opportunity to talk to me themselves?

To lie about something so serious as sexual harassment or assault just to smear someone?

To call someone labels that are 180 degrees from who and what they are?

To belittle and question someone’s mental illness?

I’d say no, but what the fuck can I do about it; other than whine occasionally for a scant scintilla of catharsis?

I’m genuinely asking. I seem to be expected to just lie back and let it happen. Whether or not I try to be calm and pleasant, or I lose my temper, it seems to make no difference. I think I’m allowed to be angry after ten years of this bullshit, don’t you?

Why doesn’t the hell I’ve been put through by these cunts mean anything?

How do you fix it?

Apologse? I’ve done nothing wrong, and that would violate my principles (an apology should be meant, heartfelt, and you should have done something genuinely wrong to apologise for). Nor do apologies make any difference.

Violate all my principles and standards to get along with people?

Keep my trap shut, until I can’t stand it any more?


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My friend Tamora often posts things that are challenging, mental health resources and ideas. I find her posts interesting because we are so different in so many ways, yet I feel a connection to her beyond our relatively few direct social interactions. We’ve both had a rough old go of it, and our coping strategies are somewhat different. Our perceptions of the world around us are also somewhat different, and she lacks the misgivings about intersectionalism and deliberate cognitive bias (standpoint) that I do.

She recently posted this graphic, and the accompanying Youtube videos, and given that it’s World Mental Health Day and given that I continue to flouder around looking for ways to process and understand my mental health issues, I thought I’d work through this as a self-examination.

I don’t get on with self-help for the most part. Positive-thinking feels like ‘woo’, much of what is taught and done feels self-indulgent, selfish and seems to encourage those attitudes in people, while excusing it.

Letting Go

Letting things go, changing behaviour in any way, seems virtually impossible. After all, we are who we are and we fall into our habits involuntarily – for the most part.

Conscious effort is constantly and consistently required to form new habits, and that’s exhausting. This also goes for letting things go. If it is in your nature to ruminate and agonise, how are you supposed to let it go?

What People Think

No man is an island, and as social creatures we do have to care about our reputations and the people around us. This is especially true if you rely on reputation and attention for a living. This is the case, to a certain extent, for everyone these days.

To an extent it’s necessary that I care what other people think of me, and it’s a source of constant frustration and heartache. I know who I am. I spend more time than is probably healthy in self-reflection and critical self-analysis.

To have a reputation at odds with who I know I am, much of it entirely, or very nearly, spurious and fictional, is a hard thing to cope with. I think I find this so difficult because I am a professional communicator, and yet it seems impossible to communicate who I am to certain people.

I should just write them off, but it feels like the failing must be mine.


Anyone who regularly watches my YouTube channel knows that I fairly commonly say ‘you will make mistakes’, buy that it is worth the effort to try and be kind, to try and steelman the positions of your opposition, to try and put yourself in another person’s shoes.

I am very fond of a series of quotes from Diamond Age about hypocrisy, even though it is one of the things that I really can’t stand in most people. I have a particular problem with hypocrisy when it comes to moral grandstanding, shaming and judgement.

If someone characterises themselves as anti-racist, but then is egregiously racist and tries to excuse it by redefining racism, I find this enraging. Small scale things I can forgive, but not in myself. It’s not so much perfectionism, as this unforgiving attitude – at least towards myself.

I feel like I am striving to do my best (and failing), but that others aren’t even trying to be consistent.

Numbing and Powerlessness

Getting numb was my survival tactic for many years. I would be resilient, stoic. I would don my emotional armour and not let anything touch me. By the time I opened up again and allowed myself to feel again (well into my twenties) it proved to be a mistake and I just ended up getting hurt again.

Since 2007 I have had a diagnosis of chronic depression, general/social anxiety disorder and dependency disorder, several suicide attempts, several incidents of self-harm and a great deal of helplessness. That cannot help but make one feel powerless.

It’s not just the state of the world that makes me feel powerless, I don’t feel like I can steer my own life. I am at the mercy of unpredictable chemical changes in my brain, a severe and ongoing depression that will either kill me or be with me to the end of my days, ruining everything.

It’s hard not to feel powerless in the face of that.

Scarcity and Fear of the Dark

I have a few powerful memories from when I was very small. I used to sleep in a room just down the hall from my parents, and quite often, at night, I would get out of my bed and creep through the hall to where they were. On the same wall as my door was a small toy cupboard, where my building blocks and so on were.

One very dark night I crawled out of bed and made my way across the floor to what I thought was the door, but it was the cupboard. I shut myself in, and in the pitch black I couldn’t find the knob and couldn’t get out. Crying for my mum and dad until they found me.

So I am, actually, afraid of the dark. The pitch dark, at least. When there’s no light at all.

That said, that’s not really what this about. Scarcity and fear of the dark refer to fears of uncertainty, insecurity, catastrophisation and mental modelling of worst outcomes.

That part I do, a lot. I churn everything over in my mind constantly and it’s not entirely unhealthy to engage in analysis and decision modelling. I do it too much though.

Need for Certainty

I think this plays into the previous section. For me it’s not necessarily about certainty, but about minimising risk. When you have a long-term, debilitating illness you can’t take anything with certainty.


How can you not compare yourself with others? That’s a guide to figuring out how you’re doing, relative to them. Sure, success for you may be different to success for them, but as a yardstick, comparison is all we have.

I have not really had the success I want, or even feel like I deserve. Meanwhile I see people elevated for terrible work, inferior work, or because they meet the ‘right’ identity categories and it’s hard not to feel resentful. This is not a very flattering thing to admit about oneself, jealousy isn’t really the right characterisation, injustice – perhaps – is.

Exhaustion as a Status Symbol & Productivity as Self-Worth

This is more of an American problem than a British problem, and more of a British problem than a European one. My problem is, primarily that I am exhausted all the time without the being productive part.

As a result, when I do have energy, when I do anything, I feel it has to be productive and worthwhile. I hardly ever do anything that is entirely for myself. It has to make money, or hone a skill, or be a gift for someone else to be justifiable.

All I have for myself, is sleep.

Anxiety as a Lifestyle

I have anxiety, this doesn’t seem assailable in any really meaningful way. Things like ‘mindfulness meditation’ attack the symptom, not the cause. This is a dysfunction that may well be neurological, rather than psychological, so other than ‘cope’, I don’t know what to do about it.

Self-Doubt and ‘Supposed To’

I am riddled with self doubt and I find it impossible to accept compliments.

I know I have competence, am even good, as a writer, creative, Games Master and games designer. However I only know this intellectually, I do not feel it.

I need affirmation, but self-affirmation is not effective and my doubt and low self-esteem prevent me truly accepting affirmation even when it does appear. This leaves me forever hungry for affirmation, afraid to solicit it, wary of being a burden and conscious of people’s loss of patience with my constant need to be shored up.

I need something that I can’t accept, even when I get it, and hate myself for soliciting it or fishing for compliments. On the opposite side of that, every criticism, every piece of bile that is flung my direction hits hard, no matter how stupid or incorrect.

Cool & Always in Control

When you can’t control much in your life, you tend to focus on the things you can control and – at least to an extent – that leaves you with self-control.

To the same extent that I have survived by creating a layer of emotional armour, intellectualisation and distance, so I have also clung to the idea of control. It’s a way to survive, something to hold on to, and while I have torn down these walls a little in the last 13 years. I have tried to be more open and vulnerable, there’s always something holding me back because this was so necessary to live.


These are things that you are supposed, apparently, to do more of, as opposed to the previous things, which you’re supposed to try and minimise. I’m not sure about them, but as with the previous, it’s more about – for me – analysis.


I have been trying to be more authentic for a while now. To be more open about who and what I am and refusing to be shamed or guilted for it, but it’s not easy.

Sometimes the pursuit of authenticity can be contradictory. I embraced my wilder fashion choices and my ‘look’ because I was disappointed in the appearance and example of other game designer when I met them. I didn’t want to be another schlub in cargo shorts and a faded t-shirt. I wanted to look the part. So in a way, that choice was inauthentic, but it presented an opportunity to be a more authentic person and to express more of my true personality in how I look.

The fear, when you are authentic, is that people will reject and even hate the real you. You won’t have the protection of knowing it’s a facade or a mask, a false front that people react badly to. It’s the real you.

That can be insurmountable, and we all have (and need) secrets. To be authentic, and vulnerable, is to invite harm, right to your core. In the online world, much like the schoolyard, to show weakness is to invite bullies. To bare your belly is to invite a gut-punch.


Can’t do it.

I can be very forgiving and understanding of others, but the more of that I have, the less forgiveness I have for myself. If all I can control is myself, then I demand a lot from myself, besides, I ‘know’ I don’t deserve it.

A Resilient Spirit

Reilience is stoicism, at least to me. This seems to be in contradiction with earlier points. Perhaps what is better meant is anti-fragility. To grow back stronger each time, rather than to resist all damage.

Gratitude & Joy

I have tried keeping a gratitude journal, but I have so little to write in it. I did this because this is one of the few self-help techniques with real, scientific backing to it but for me, just as with CBT or other positive-thinking exercises, it had no discernible effect.

As for joy, ‘anhedonia’ is a common side effect of depression and the drugs you take to treat your depression. Anhedonia is the inability to feel pleasure, let alone joy.

How can I find joy and pleasure with what may well be a neurological problem, preventing me from experiencing it? I’ve almost forgotten what it is like to feel happy, or joyful, the closest I can get is mere satisfaction, and even that is fleeting.

Intuition & Faith

Intuition is poorly tuned to modern life. Our instincts are honed by biology to tribal groups of 100 or so on the plains of primordial Africa. Our instincts are maladapted to modern megacities or the Internet. Our intuitions are only useful in small-scale, human interactions.

Faith, belief without evidence, is worse than useless. Whether it’s unfounded belief in an ideology, a religion – or indeed anything else – is dangerous, almost beyond imagining.

I do not trust either of these things, and to place any emphasis on them as a guiding light in your life feels like the worst kind of folly. To me, at least, the absolute worst example of this thinking is ‘the serenity prayer’.

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

– The Serenity Prayer

You don’t know what you can change until you try, it is not brave to enact change if you know that you can, and the only way to discern the difference is to try. Prayers like this, attitudes like this, encourage the bad form of pacifisn and passivity and allow less… serene people to have free rein.

Challenge, combativeness, argument, confrontation – these aren’t necessarily bad things in and of themselves, but people treat them like they are.


My whole life is tied up in creativity and, when I can’t be creative, it is like I don’t exist. What else do I have to offer? If I’m not making something, who – or what – am I?

Rest & Play

I rest when I sleep, when my brain lets me. My play is also my career, even when I’m playing games rather than making them, it’s all meat for the beast.

I am never at rest, I always have to be doing something, partially because of that pressure and sense of identity tied up in what I do – rather than what I am – but also because if I don’t keep myself occupied my brain starts to eat me. It’s like starvation, if you don’t eat your body starts to break itself down to keep you alive. If I don’t feed my brain, it starts to devour the rest of me.

Calm & Stillness

See above. Only sleep is a break.

Meaningful Work

I tell stories and I make games.

Intellectually I know that creative enterprises are meaningful and special. That life isn’t worth living without creativity, without art.

Emotionally though, again, this doesn’t land. What I do is frivolous, undervalued. Some of this is cultural, our culture doesn’t value art or artists as it should any more (and some of that is the fault of artists). Some of it is just that creeping self-doubt, and that constant comparison with others.

Many would define what I do as absolutely meaningless. Many of the same people who spend their lives shuffling small green pieces of paper from one place to another and pocketing a commission.

Laughter, Song & Dance

Anhedonia is a bitch, and I don’t dance.

It’s important to me to be open about my issues, to help people understand them, and me, and if that means a metaphorical boot to the groin from time to time so be it.

In the end, the only person’s opinion you have to be able to live with, is your own.

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England and Wales School Guidance on Lesson Materials

Banning things, silencing people. There’s a lot of that going around these days.

Barely a day goes by without the shambling, animated corpse of the left being puppeteered into calling for someone or something to be cancelled or excised. Usually for spurious reasons. The older amongst you will remember the censors tending not to come from the left, but the right.

Conservatism has never had a particularly strong relationship with freedom of expression or freedom of speech, save when its own use of these rights is threatened. The left, traditionally did have. After all, it was through the strenuous use of these rights that art, culture, politics and so on were pushed forward. It is through these rights that the battles around liberation and civil rights were won, especially those around LGBT issues.

It is painful, and perverse, to see the ‘left’ being behind so much of the censorship push these days then, people who seem to have forgotten the value of the rights that helped win all their victories, and now only seem to understand that they hold the whip. A similar problem can be seen in today’s feminism and ‘anti-racism’, both of which seem more about revenge than justice – at least in the WEIRD countries.

There has begun to be a bit of a fightback, sadly coming from the right, dressing itself up in the clothing of free speech and free expression, but not really meaning it any more than the pseudo-left does. This just means we’re going to be caught between two sets of arseholes and called either problematic or degenerate, depending which one it is having a go at you at the time.

Two things have happened now, that exemplify this problem.

On the one hand Trump has banned a loosely defined ‘Critical Race Theory’ from being promulgated in federal departments and contractors. Doubtless his motivations are sketchy, or stem from senility, but this may be one of the few decent things he’s ever done.


Because it’s bollocks.

Implicit bias training doesn’t work, racial and other sensitivity training tends to worsen work relations, not make them better, and it’s a steaming morass of terrible scholarship, fake peer review and ‘laundered ideas’.

Still, banning it rather than demonstrating it to be worthless (or even worse) doesn’t seem like the way to do it, and it’s hypocritical to be claiming to be defending free speech, free expression and the marketplace of ideas while banning discussion of something, even though it’s bollocks.

Not to mention, this is coming from a political party tied to even worse unscientific bollocks – religion.

Then we come to the UK guidance, which has been lauded, but which is even worse. Education IS the place to explore these ideas, and to expose them as being terrible, misguided bollocks (Sokal Squared being a prime example).

They’ve amended the text a couple of times now, but even so, much as with the attempted ‘Porn Ban’, which would also have banned ‘esoteric’ and ‘politically extreme’ material, this is vast overreach and rather comedically contradicts itself by simultaneously saying you shouldn’t teach XYZ while also claiming to be protecting free speech.

“If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for those we despise, we don’t believe in it at all”.

– Chomsky

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Again, I’ve altered the text but hopefully not the meaning, to avoid people going looking, unbidden.

Do you know how far I have had to internalise racism?

Do you know that you behave around me in a way that makes me a ‘coconut’?

Do you know that I ‘act white’ to keep everyone comfortable?

Do you know that I put up with abuse from white people and BAME people because I ‘pass’ and ‘suck up’?

NB: ‘Coconut’ is like ‘Oreo’ in American slang, ‘white on the inside’, whatever that even means.

Do you know how far I have had to internalise racism?

No, because that’s your own internal thought process and I’m not telepathic. I’m also not sure I buy ‘internalising’ racism (or misogyny etc) as I think it denies people’s agency and self-understanding. I’ve never been too fond of the idea of ‘false consciousness’, whatever the context, despite its occasional utility and even rarer accuracy.

Assuming it’s mean in the same way that ‘internalised misogyny’ is mean, it doesn’t seem – from the outside – as though you have. You don’t seem to accept it, or have racist attitudes about yourself and you seem to resist them in others (and that’s not a new behaviour). You even, gratifyingly, in this set of questions, acknowledge racism in the BAME community.

Do you know that you behave around me in a way that makes me a ‘coconut’?

I don’t think I have that kind of power over you (or anyone else for that matter). You make yourself who and what you are. I treat you as I strive to do anyone else, as an individual human being.

Helen Pluckrose, academic involved in Sokal Squared, put this well recently:

I refuse to attach any social or moral significance to race and I think I largely succeed at doing that. I also oppose people who do attach any social or moral significance to race on ethical grounds.

I don’t treat you as ‘white’, because I don’t believe there to be such a thing as ‘whiteness’, nor ‘blackness’, nor ‘brownness’ nor any other similar thing. I dare say I have much more in common with you than I would with someone from a Wolverhampton council estate or a Sussex manor house, colour be damned.

Do you know that I ‘act white’ to keep everyone comfortable?

No, and I don’t think you could if you wanted to, as there is no ‘white’ way to act. There might be a ‘British’ way to act and there’s a ‘middle class’ way to act, but there’s no single ‘racial’ way to act. If you are trying to be a pantomime ‘white person’, please stop!

Do you know that I put up with abuse from white people and BAME people because I ‘pass’ and ‘suck up’?

The wording is a little confusing here, making it sound like both BAME and ‘white’ people are both giving you shit for ‘passing white’ and being a suck up. I can believe that, given the ‘absolute fucking state’ of middle-class ‘white’ activism these days, but it’s unclear whether that’s what you mean, or more conventional racism.

The racism you get from BAME people for not being BAME enough, that I believe 100% and it’s the aspect of all this I find absolutely the most wearying and disappointing about the whole thing. The hypocrisy of the racist anti-racists. I mean, you (hopefully) read my previous post about my friend from Guyana, that whole ‘colourism’ thing is dumb as heck.

I’m more interested in culture, because differences are fascinating. When I meet someone I like from a different culture I try to learn something about it. The food, a few words of the language, a few concepts unique to that culture, whether it’s pepperpot stew from Guyana or the concept of ‘sisu’ from Finland.


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I’ve altered the wording a little so people can’t go looking for it, hopefully I’ve not foxed the meaning in so doing.

A lot of you are not racist, but realise racism exists. Some of you make posts in support of BAME problems, but you’ve never talked to me about them. Why is that? If you know I experience racism, why are you surprised when I talk about it? Can you understand what it’s like to experience something all the time but to have people act surprised?

Hopefully I am long-term enough friends with this person that they can see the honesty and earnestness in my reply. I’ve decided to do it as a blog, so as to be able to tackle it in a more long-form manner, less prone to misinterpretation and with enough space to make my points in a more complete manner.

Let me break this down into sections a bit, as there’s a lot of explanation and clarity and personal experience to put into this…

Not Racist, but Know Racism Exists?

I’m not even slightly racist, but a lot of people have that impression of me – somehow – and confusingly, that seems to be because I couldn’t give a tinker’s cuss what race anyone is.

That used to be the goal, what people now derisively call ‘I don’t see colour’, but it has been a trial, and a lot of effort to get to a place of not giving two tugs of a dead dog’s cock what shade someone’s epidermis is.

I didn’t grow up in a city, I grew up rurally. Non-white faces are so rare out here that I can distinctly remember the first time I ever met an Indian (a Sikh, going door to door selling T-shirts after – I think – fleeing South Africa or Zimbabwe). That was a positive experience, he was a lovely guy who left a good impression.

My first experiences meeting people of other races have not been good.

My first experience meeting a black person was an horrendous bully who liked to pick on a disabled kid (who was also bloody awful the first time I met him, as it happens). My first experience meeting Asians was drug dealers selling to schoolchildren.

When I did begin to visit and stay in urban areas, my direct experience was not much better. A black man stripping an AK47 in the back of a car, drug dealers, gangs, racist abuse hurled at me for being white, racist abuse hurled at me for hanging out with blacks. Friends getting beaten up for being white in the wrong area. Romani aggressively going door to door or trying to push ‘lucky’ heather, drunk Poles and Russians starting fights.

I could go on.

Basically, it’s a fucking miracle that I’m not racist, but that’s in large part because, even fairly young, I recognised something else was going on and I saw much the same – almost identical – prejudice being directed at the poor kids. The poor kids also lashed out in much the same way, and in a similarly racist way to the BAME kids.

Huzzah for being a precociously socialist tween!

And that’s still where I’m coming from when I look at things going on.

I look at racism, which exists between all races, in all directions, and I see a lashing out because of deprivation. I can understand the rage of a black nationalist, and the rage of a white supremacist, but I believe both are misdirected and that class, not race, is far and away more important as a problem to tackle.

Solve the class/wealth issue and you solve most (not all) of the racism issues.

Of course, that may just be my old-school Socialist blinkers, but the statistics seem to confirm my suspicions.

Why do I not talk about it?

I don’t talk about these things much, save when it’s inescapable (like right now) because these discussions are destructive to friendships and many people take my second and third order thinking to be dismissive of their personal experiences and pain, rather than as an attempt to get to the root of the issue and find an actual solution.

Many of them also, knowingly or otherwise, express racist views themselves, which I find repugnant. ‘White privilege’ for example.

Others, as mentioned previously, take my personal choice to pay no attention whatsoever to race/gender/sexuality as being dismissive of their identity. Whereas it’s really me refusing to engage in identity politics, which I consider to be corrosive and divisive.

I’m also, constantly, like many other melanin-challenged people, told that it’s none of my business, to ‘shut up’, to ‘stay in my lane’ and not to ‘whitesplain’, or similar hostility. Even if I don’t WANT to shut up (after all, for social change they need to convince people like me, and a hell of a lot worse than me) this is all offputting and requires additional emotional energy.

Why get involved when you’re not wanted? When anything other than total and absolute agreement gets you thrown in with the handful of actual fascists?

I also don’t talk about it, because I don’t think it’s the real source of the problem. I see it, as I mentioned, as primarily a class/wealth issue and so long as we don’t tackle that (and in a race neutral way) this will all continue to fester.

Fixating on race, and terminology like ‘white privilege’ is regressive, not progressive.

Thought experiment.

Imagine a hugely deprived area, no jobs, little opportunity, poor access to education. Poor blacks, poor whites, poor hispanics, poor everyone. Then you parachute in a bunch of grants and money for BAME citizens in the area, but not the poor whites.

What sort of effect do you think that will have on that community? What sort of attitudes do you think will become prevalent in that poor white community? What sort of politics and prejudice might take root there and what kind of politicians and groups might capitalise on that?

What’s been happening? Why do we have Trump and Bojo? Why have the far right, despite still being relatively tiny, made such inroads?

Why are you surprised by racism?

I’m not, save that I almost never encounter it any more (at least from white people towards BAME people, not so much vice versa).

I used to, certainly. I recall kids (who, to be fair, didn’t know better at the time) singing racist songs in the playground.

There ain’t no black in the Union Jack, so send the bastards back.

Not so much any more.

I do encounter anti-white racism near constantly across social media and in meatspace. Largely uncommented, unpunished, without pushback. It’s not the only form of acceptable bigotry I encounter, but it is a big one.

This is another arena in which the far-right is making inroads. If racism’s not OK, it’s not OK. Full stop. It shouldn’t be any more acceptable, in even a more minor form, against white people than it should be against BAME, but some have even sought to redefine the meaning of racism to exclude their own bigotry.

That’s a breathtaking violation of principle.

Hypocrisy has always been something of a personal bugbear, and it’s intensely distressing to see people who should know better, indulging in racism.

That’s not progress.

Can you understand what it’s like to experience something constantly, but have people be surprised?

I’d, frankly, love to have people be surprised rather than hostile.

Try discussing men’s issues.

Try to bring up that 3/4 of the homeless are men, 40% of IPV victims, or the lack of male mental health specialists and provision, the lack of male primary teachers, the sentencing gap, the life expectancy gap, male genital mutilation…

Surprise would be a welcome alternative to dismissal, accusations of misogyny, inceldom and so on.

These are all much bigger issues in the UK, and even the US, than racism is. Same with class issues, but the left has forgotten its class-oriented roots, demonised the working class and nobody cares about men.

The men’s issues are in large part class issues as well (men are more likely to be impoverished), but nobody really talks about the class issues. Corbyn for all his old Labour pageantry seemed to end up captured by identity politics and wokescolding the working class and, well, look what (predictably) happened.

So yeah, I understand, but even when it comes to the men’s issues I care about (having been on the sharp end) I see those issues in broader, deeper terms of class and wealth.

I don’t think you can solve racism with more racism (or any other *ism with more of the same *ism), and so I choose to live my life with as little regard for these things as is humanly possible, and to try and find actual solutions.

This leads to no end of hatred and heartache, weirdly.

I think race issues are primarily class issues, and some societies tend to conflate the two. America particularly. I look at the way council estate hoodies are treated, and the way tower-block black youths are treated and stereotyped, and there’s virtually no difference.

It’s class.

I have a friend from Guyana, and from what she has related to me Guyanese society demonstrates this confusion and conflation even more than American society.

The way she tells it Guyanese society is extremely ‘colourist’, with lighter skin being associated with the middle and upper classes and darker skin being associated with the lower classes.

This is, of course, nonsense these days. It’s a holdover from colonial times and the settlement there of whites and south asians as well as west indians, but it shows how even without the presence of whites in any significant number, people end up conflating race and class.

Of course, she, as a Canadian ex-pat of mixed heritage causes enormous confusion both in Canada and in Guyana because she doesn’t ‘fit’ either set of preconceptions.

It’s class.

Playing the race game, playing the intersectional oppression olympics only serves to divide and conquer.

I’m not OK with that.

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[i] s o l a t i o n

I’m watching people reacting, badly, to the forced isolation they’re being put into.

I’m hearing them tell of the strain and mental health harm they feel is being done to them through it. I’m seeing the resentment they seem to be feeling towards being forced to rely on social media and other distanced communication.

It’s hard not to feel… well, I don’t know what I feel exactly, but it’s not pleasant.

This is my life you’re living.

I live it all the time.

So many of you seem to consider it almost unbearable.

I live out in the sticks, so I’m physically isolated and too much trouble for people to take the time to come see me. It’s also more trouble for me to get out and see people, especially combined with other things.

My anxiety and depression make me unreliable to get together with people in the best of circumstances, and not the best company when I can get together with people.

I try not to whinge and complain too much, it’s tiresome for everyone, but maybe people will be a bit more sympathetic without me having to now.

I’ve been trying to find things to do that help people who are isolated. I’ve been commissioning more work, trying to host RPG games online, shifting my schedule to make accessible, cheap, helpful things first. I’ve always been proud of the gaming and writing communities for the way they come together, but it just doesn’t seem to be happening so much this time around.

Maybe we’re too divided over everything now, and even a pandemic can’t bring us back together.

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The Conservatives have romped home to a thumping majority with nearly 60% of the seats in parliament, despite having less than half of the votes of the country. Over half of the people in the country voted for Remain or Second Referendum parties. Even so, we’re going to get that damn Brexit, good and hard.

Why did people vote the way they did? Brexit seems to be the primary factor, though Corbyn’s peculiar unpopularity appears to have also played a significant role. This along with people’s scepticism over Labour’s manifesto, despite it being relatively modest in a European context, and despite the Conservative manifesto being laden with threats.

I’m no real supporter of Corbyn. Still, it seems to me that a well-meaning far-left government is, by far, the lesser evil compared to the Conservative Party. A Conservative Party that will continue to drive away hardworking immigrants. That will starve the poor, sell off the NHS, mistreat the sick and disabled and reshape our democracy into an authoritarian bully-pulpit.

I wish that were hyperbole. Read the party manifesto. Look at what they’ve done in their nine years so far. If we’re lucky, they’ll kick us in the bottom rather than the balls from now on, but that’s not exactly an improvement.

I live in a relatively affluent area. If you pinned a blue rosette on a donkey, it would get elected here. My vote has never meant anything and likely never will mean anything, especially after the triumphant Tories gerrymander the boundaries (read their manifesto).

People assume because I have a relatively plummy, middle-class accent, that I’m somehow well-off myself, or ‘one of them’.

I’m not.

I’ve been poor, I’ve been better off, I’ve been on unemployment, and I’m currently on benefits due to mental health issues. I’ve held down jobs, and I’ve set up in business for myself. I’ve lived in a shared rental, I’ve inherited property. I’ve lived, for more than a year, out of a single room, with most of my possessions in storage.

It took ten years from my mental health diagnosis to overcome the shame and judgement and to seek help. Getting that help took over a year, and I was fought every step of the way by the unfeeling and uncaring DWP – and this was before Universal Credit was rolled out in my area. That financial support has removed a tremendous amount of stress from my life, but I still feel the shame. Many people never let you forget it.

I have crippled friends, I have friends with mental health issues. I’ve lost people I have cared about to drugs, suicide and health conditions. I know people in crushing poverty and people who live on the edge of suicide, a temptation that still whispers to me almost every day.

People are going to die thanks to this government’s lack of empathy. That’s not hyperbole either, an estimated 130,000 people have been killed, unnecessarily, due to austerity and hostility.

Our social fabric – what remains after Thatcher savaged it – is going to dissolve. Even before they carve up the NHS, we’re already at the point where I have had to run a charity fundraiser to get a good friend a wheelchair they desperately need. This is all thanks to hostile and inhuman bureaucracy.

Expect more of that to come.

At school, I was horrendously bullied for many years. I learned, quite quickly, to suppress my feelings and upset. If you show weakness, you just become more of a target. You can only contain it all for so long, however, and by the time I got to college, I suppose I had my first breakdown.

Rationalisation, detachment, objectivity, suppression, endurance and stoicism are how I have survived.

Sometimes things smash through. A bad break up, a parental divorce, a particularly savage beating from a bully, or waking up to realise that half of your country are ignorant bigots.

Hold your horses that is not prejudice. That is ‘post-judice’ (if there is such a thing).

You’ll have to excuse me if I’m out of patience. After five years of trying to find common ground, trying to lay out the facts and trying to correct misunderstandings. Well, I don’t think there are any fig leaves left to hide behind.

I have tried, imperfectly but at least attempting to bridge this divide and to inform and correct. To caution the increasingly unhinged pseudo-left and to debunk and soften the inhuman attitudes on the right.

What has been my reward?

Slander, attack, high personal and professional costs. I have been caught in a crossfire between two increasingly polarised camps and punished for trying to understand and respect their points of view, while also deconstructing them.

I don’t know that I can do it any more.

I can’t stay detached and respectful while children are going hungry, while our country is impoverished, while our NHS is being carved up and sold off. I can’t stay detached and respectful while people who claim to be progressive engage in the most egregious racism, sexism and other prejudice.

I’ve tried to understand, and I can’t. There has been no payoff from it, other than the life lesson that people are shit. Facts don’t persuade anyone, empathy doesn’t convince anyone. So what’s left? Nothing. At least nothing I find morally acceptable in this calculous.

Raising money for my friend’s wheelchair made me think that maybe things weren’t so bad after all, that people could be kind, considerate and loving. Well, aren’t I just a bloody idiot? I was so wrong.

I can’t stay detached and rational when a young couple I know have to break off their engagement because we won’t be part of the EU any more. They’re artists, they’ll never get settlement rights without Freedom of Movement.

I can’t stay detached with starving friends in ice-cold flats, facing down the winter.

I can’t stay detached when disabled friends lose their benefits for five weeks at a time because the DWP phoned the wrong number, or not at all.

I can’t stay detached when what you have done, by voting for this shower of cunts, threatens my life and my income.

It’s personal now. My defences are overwhelmed, my emotional armour is reduced to scrap. I just don’t have it in me any more to try and fight. What’s the point when people don’t care about what’s real, can’t be persuaded and consistently take up arms against themselves?

You tell me.

We need a new politics, a new ideology, a new approach. Damned if I know what, or if it’s up to me though.

It’s remarkably little comfort to know that the people who voted for this are going to get the worst of it.

All I do know is that if we don’t hang together, we shall most certainly hang separately.


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Full launch Tuesday.

Narrative Attack is a podcast, hosted by Rachel Haywire (futurist, writer, artist, musician and presidential candidate), alongside James ‘Grim’ Desborough (author, publisher, videographer, analogue game designer and cynical old gothabilly).

Together they’ll be offering interviews and commentary on modern culture, politics, technology and esoterica, with a cynical and jaundiced eye.

Join them!
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