Saturday 20 January 2018

Falling off a cliff

The stats for my blog have fallen off a cliff. No doubt this is because I have ceased running on the treadmill that kept them going. It had become something like an addiction watching the number of readers increase and fall each week. I would scramble to get next week’s blog ready. Sometimes I would leave it late and would wake up early on Saturday morning and write the whole thing out, check it through once and then go. Other times I might have something prepared.  That is if events didn’t make it obsolete.

 I started academic life with two rules. Don’t respect great people too much and never repeat anything found in a book. How can you write any sort of critique of someone else’s views if you think revere their greatness? If you repeat what you have found in a book, a newspaper, a lecture or in a conversation, what would be the point of anyone else reading what you write? Reading is not pointless nor are great people, but unless it is possible to in some way go beyond what they say it is not really worth saying anything at all. But saying something new every week is like feeding an addiction.  Sometimes it is necessary to have a dry December and then a dry January etc etc.

When you stop and have time to look around and reflect there is the chance to think more detailed thoughts. I haven’t been writing, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy. Ideas have been developing. Some of them may one day be written.

I no longer have any desire to write about the weekly events of politics. Most of it is disposable and of no consequence. I am almost equally disgusted by Government and Opposition. Some of what I have read about the Prime Minister and her advisors makes me long to kick her Government out no matter what the consequences. If Theresa May is incapable of thinking for herself, why is she Prime Minister why indeed is she in Parliament? Is it just a matter of ambition? But then the whole thing has a Lady MacBeth quality about it. Are you trying to wash your hands Mrs May? It’s not a good look.

Let us then have a few years of Labour. Let them do their worst and we can all then start again perhaps with something a little less sordid. But then again what a mess Labour could indeed make of things.  Still perhaps every few years the electorate once again has to relearn the lesson that socialism doesn’t work. The trouble is that you don’t always get the chance to kick out socialists once they gain power. Beware.

Scottish politics is not worth writing about at least until there is another election. Politics in general revolves around the issue of equality. Those who make a god out of equality are winning. If you believe in freedom and free markets don’t let them. This is the only issue of substance. People are different. They have different abilities. Men and women are different. The attempt to make them the same leads to nonsense. This is what I attempted to write about in the last few months of my blog. Perhaps I will try to turn some of these ideas into a longer piece.

The problem is this. Writing no longer pays.  There are exceptions of course. Some fiction pays a lot, some famous columnists in newspapers make a lot. But nearly everyone else scrapes a living and would be far better off doing something else.

For every blogger who makes a fortune there are millions who get paid essentially nothing. If I reflect on the hours I spent writing versus the amount earned it would amount to perhaps one pence an hour. Far from this being minimum wage it isn’t even enough to buy sweets. Why do it?  Eventually it looks awfully like feeding an addiction to get readers. But it doesn’t matter how many readers there are because none of them click the adverts, because all of them have ad blocking software and think that they can forever read for free. There won’t be any newspapers in twenty years’ time. If we are not careful there won’t be any books or any writers.

I don’t miss the way I would write something on Twitter and then a few minutes later check to see if someone had read it or best of all retweeted it. This too is just feeding an addiction. Start with a few days. You may be tempted to go back, but stick with it. After a while it feels awfully like those days before Twitter even existed.

I began blogging because I wanted to campaign against Scottish independence, which was something I considered a threat even when most people I knew thought it could never happen. It could still happen. Anything which is supported by a significant proportion of the electorate can happen. But strategically the best thing to do is to ignore the SNP. If we attack them, then many Scots get angry and support for nationalism increases. If we tell Scots they can’t do something, or that it would make them poorer, some of them want to do it all the more just to show that they can.

The reality, as I have long argued, even if it still surprises some commentators like Mr Massie, is that leaving the EU is liable to unite the UK. Ireland’s hissy fit since Brexit is down to the fact that it will massively hurt their trade. Being in a different trading bloc to your neighbour who speaks your language and thinks almost the same way as you do is not a good idea. Poor Ireland. Strategically a wrong turn was taken over one hundred years ago. Hatred of the Brits means that the difference between being a region of Germany and being Munster looks minimal. Irish independence doesn’t much look like independence after all. Unless Scots are very stupid indeed, we won’t be fooled into going down the same route.

But just let this message stew. Don’t bang on about it.  The psychology of Scottish independence is that it becomes less likely the more it is ignored. If it should ever become necessary, I shall come back to fight the good fight. I may in a few months or even a few weeks, when I am less tired come back anyway. Or I may not. But for the moment I am learning Polish. Russia is no longer really safe. I am planning a novel about how to murder someone in such a way that it is impossible to be caught. I have found a way, but I lack a means to solve the crime and so any detective I might imagine is as stuffed as I am as a writer. Never mind I will keep thinking.  I have found the time to read Zola’s Earth, which is extraordinarily brutal and explicit for a nineteenth century novel. I work, I am well and I am no longer addicted to writing each week. For the moment, I have nothing further to add.