Life of Riley: The August 19th movement

October 23, 1996

Life of Riley

The August 19th movement

As I write it is all of two months since the doors of parliament shattered in our hands. The month in which our strength was briefly marshalled — the angry, rapturous, in-your-face furore that overtook us — has settled. I feel strangely, almost savagely, empty.

Now in the 10th month of this horrible year of repressed discontent, how can I describe my present state? Like some spent swimmer who drags himself ashore after breasting the torrent, I can only look back on an ocean now calm that was once briefly turbulent — and sigh.

Now, with my naked chest rudely exposed to the elements, a cold chill overtakes me. I shudder and groan with foreboding. The energy that was mine to give and for the comfort of others to summon from me, has been dissipated by anguish.

Grievously lacerated by this rejection, my wounds — if they had but mouths to speak with — would accuse those who would judge my actions and spurn my plea for justice, of being liars, fakers, gutter rats, bullies, lackeys, nincompoops, wimps, and gutless wonders.

From within the distant comfort zone of their very own citadel of democracy they can afford to turn away and address business as usual.

But I cannot. Caught within the only world I know — an existence passed onto me by the legacy of circumstance — it is so hard to muffle my anger. Damn you. Damn you all. May you fry on the hot seats you represent. And take that Hanson person with you when you burn.

Phew! That feels so much better. I gotta vent occasionally. Let off steam. You can't keep it all bottled up inside. You gotta let it out for a run. Otherwise you'd go potty.

I'm not one to allow myself to rot in my own self pity. Nor am of a persuasion keen to look after number one alone. Hell, we're all in this together aren't we? One for all. All for one. No show without punch. That sort of thing.

Underneath we — as distinct from them — are all the same.

So when I get upset or briefly dejected I fall back on these three: Struggle. Solidarity. Socialism. Home and away, they're my guiding stars.

But, I hear you say, everyone's gotta struggle? That may be true, but you don't have to be so darn passive about it.

But, I hear you say, I am not my brother's keeper? You'll be stronger if you are.

But, I hear you say, socialism is dead. And I say bullshit.

Aren't I smug. "Bullshit" is hardly an argument. But you gotta be able to step out of the everyday, take in the long view and see the full promise in the wind. Otherwise what's the point? Alone you are just a blip in time. And together — the way I see it — we have a world to win.

Anyway, back to the harangue: We are so clogged up with your dead ideas passed from generation to generation that alone even the best of us don't know the way out. Every man for himself. Each his own millionaire. Worker against worker, group against group, in happy mutual robbery.

On August 19th I was angry. I am

still angry. Both your houses are infected with gratuity, so a plague on both of them.

Dave Riley

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