What exactly are we rebelling against again?

I've not seen it (obviously as I don't watch TV) but I have read that Johnny Rotten got pecked by a load of ostriches the other day for the amusement and ridicule of the nation. The figurehead of The Sex Pistols, and at the forefront of the anarchic British Punk movement he stood for years as the epitome of anti-establishment resentment, embodying an ideal many disaffected young people held.

Reduced to a clown on a reality TV show.

But wait. What's this?

According to Virgin Megastores, sales of the Pistols? 1977 album 'Never Mind The Bollocks' have risen by 20% - around a thousand extra sales in under a week.

"It?s a great way for Lydon to reach a new generation of fans who?ve been force-fed punk pretenders such as Sum 41 and Busted. Music buyers, especially ?the kids?, are keen to find out what the fuss is all about when people talk about ?Johnny Rotten?."

At the root of this it seems that Mr Rotten has had to concede that in a free market economy, change is not always effected by outright impedence of market forces but by subtle redirection of those forces. In all his wisdom he continues to subvert the system he initially set out to destroy.

From around the age of 13 I have wanted to be seen as an individual that stands out within society. I have wanted to achieve one aim and to do it independently without the meddling of higher powers that may distill my vision. Essentially nothing has changed in my base philosophy since then and my aim is simple: I want to save the world and be a generally nice guy that is loved by everyone as a result. I love people and want to be loved, and I think I can put my education and training to good use where those skills are in short supply. Simple and easy philosophy and that has been the core of my life for as long as I was aware of having any direction.

At the beginning of consciously taking on this task I concentrated on the idea of independence and this showed. I wanted to be known, and in a way it was as though I wanted what I wanted for personal recognition rather than for the altruistic motive that my aim really is supposed to be based around. Most things I done when I was younger were with the focus of drawing the attention to me and as such, I grew up with a latent resentment of the powers that be.

Those in power seemed to be conspiring against me, and as such the figures in authority, or the establishment was something that was there to be smashed, not a framework that was there to provide stability to facilitate the process of my development. Warwick was the final manifestation of this resentment.

But times have changed. I'm out of Warwick and I can look back with untainted eyes at a period of my life from which I did actually profit significantly, although it perhaps could have been better. In retrospect I could and should have done a lot more myself while I was there and it was very much on my head to make those 3 years what they were. Although I didn't have the greatest time in the world there it wasn't the worst time in my life.

From my new standpoint as a teacher and police officer in training I feel like I've grown and matured somewhat quickly in the last 6 months, and some essential truths have become clear to me. Society serves a purpose and established organisations come about by a collaborative desire for individual improvement (even though some may well serve the opposite function as we have seen)

As much as I came to resent the Warwick 'accountant factory' aspect, we have seen in the last few weeks that the 'marketisation' of education was inevitable as the demand for a skilled workforce grows and it just so happens that Warwick got in there before everyone else, thus being the first British university to be run as a business. As a result our facilities there were all pretty good, as they were paid for by the corporations dollars. This business aspect did lead to some ugly scenes at the beginning of the university's history when, in order to satisfy the demands of the corporations the university denied some students entry in case they tainted the universitys reputation (read Warwick University Ltd by E.P. Thompson for more details on this issue) and they probably still do, but then don't all educational establishments have the right to deny students entry if they do not fit in with the ethos of the establishment? In a way it's better for both sides who would otherwise be at odds for the whole of the course.

It is this sort of thinking I have been going along with lately. The idea that the succcess of the individual is brought about not by merely standing up in opposition of the system, but by being the system. I have no more resentment for Warwick University as it is clear that really it was my choice to go there and if I had done my research before (and members of my family didn't die while I was there) I would have chosen a path that would have suited my needs a little better.

It is by the effective matching of establishment and personal liberties that real liberation is obtained. In a free democracy with freedom of speech we are of course entitled to say what we like but to talk rhetorical crap seems a waste of that freedom. As such, it is actions within the framework of society that define the man, not the words he speaks. If everybody is free to speak then speak he will, but it is not what he says it is what he does that makes the difference to peoples lives. Use your freedom not merely to speak but to make a difference.

Surely this freedom that we have of expression is a powerful tool to effect change, but what really needs to be changed about the way we live at the moment? Of course it is in our hands to change some of the policies made from above we are not slaves to the system, but on the whole in our everyday life it is up to us to develop within the framework of society that is in place. The act of moulding a new framework without actually realising whereabouts you wish to place yourself in that new unfamiliar framework is like trying to reclaim land from the sea just for the sake of it.

It is our duty as citizens of the state to achieve as much as we possibly can within the framework which we currently live in, pushing the boundaries as we do so, but with purpose. Rhetorically slating "The System" and complaining that it is biased against you is vacuous ranting that really doesn't add up if you have not strived to achieve anything within it. The broadening of the system begins with the expansion of the individual, for it is only when the individual lights the way can the state follow.

As a teacher I see kids every bloody day who see me as the system and therefore something that needs to be fought against. What they don't see is that as 'the system' I do everything in my power, I utilise every single fibre in my being to try and enhance their future. Far from being their enemy, 'the system' is actually doing all it can to help them achieve their aim.

As a police officer, I seek to maintain the sort of peace that allows this system to function and evolve unimpeded. Contrary to what is believed by some the function of the system is not to keep things static but provide a system within which it's inhabitants can grow and develop. I want to see change because it shows progress, lawyers constantly have to review legislation to accomodate the changing landscape of society.

In conclusion then, as I have matured I have come to realise that my aim can be achieved through working with the system, or more specifically to BE part of it. Only when I am the boundaries can I change the boundaries, by changing myself.

Andy 2004

PS - Not all lawyers or teachers or police are nice people. A lot of them (especially lawyers) are fuckin scumbags
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