Naively, I believed that things would ever-improve as time moved forward; after all, when I was born in 1974, the great war of modern times had been over for nearly 30-years and advancements had been seen in almost everything. Medicine, music, air travel, space travel, technology, television, movies, food, hygiene, heating, football and the birth of the computer age. Nothing escaped progress, and nothing diminished my beliefs as I grew up through childhood, and then in to adulthood. Through rose-tinted glasses I lived a happy existence. I was happy because I had a good home to live in, good food to eat, and all the modern conveniences one could ever want or wish for.
Now, in my fortieth year, I am starting to think that life, and everything we know of it, isn't what we believe it to be (or ought to be). In actuality, it's all a bit of a lie; or at least a dressed up version of one. Our existence is manufactured. Nothing is really progressing; if anything, things are going backward and getting worse.
Instead of working on the 'novel' and making 'shit' up this week, I've been 'over-thinking' all the things that's going wrong in the world today. I could probably write a blog every week (or day for that matter) for the next two years on all the terrible things that is happening around us, but I don't need (or want to)... you could read a newspaper or turn on Sky News for all that. Instead, I thought I'd highlight the main problem, as I see it, in today's society, and use the humble Mars bar to illustrate it. Bare with me, I shall explain.
It's not the influx of immigrants taking all the jobs, filling up all the school places, putting a strain on the NHS and claiming all our state benefits (pretty much stripping the treasury bare) that is the most damning problem - although that is a major issue, and one worthy of debate. No it's not that which is going to spell the end of life as we know it. It's not even the threat of global warming or the fact that our island is slowly sinking into the sea (on average by an inch a year). It's something far more sinister and much, much, more worse.
Capitalism. That's the scourge of the modern age, the thing that is slowly shifting the majority of us back into the dark ages. Greed breeds greed, and over the past 20 or 30 years, as a minority of people and companies have grown richer, a minority of people and companies have grown greedier. Always looking for ways to manipulate any given situation to gain a profit. Capitalism has been driving all the major decisions which dictate our every-day life, from what we eat and drink, to what we watch on TV. This in turn manipulates us in to what other purchases we make, from clothing and consumables, to the things we use for entertainment. We are just pawns being manoeuvred by some very clever people.
I always cringe when I hear reported in the news that 'advisers' or 'people in the know', recommend to the government something, to help cut this, or help reduce that. No longer are the masses trusted to make-up their own minds, they have to be manipulated in to making 'the right choice' by policy makers at Westminster who claim to have our best interests at heart. The health profession lobby MPs to increase the price of alcohol in the disillusion that it will save lives and reduce the NHS bill. Utter nonsense. If someone wants to screw their liver, they'll drink no matter how much a unit of alcohol will cost. All this is doing is hitting the consumer in the pocket. The government think-tanks are told that sugar should be reduced in food. The capitalists rub their hands in glee... to meet said requests all they need do is reduce the size of the products; they're not reducing actual sugar content whatsoever! How many of you reading this has seen the size of a Mars bar today? I used to swear that a Mars was bigger when I was a kid, and people would tell me that it wasn't so, it just seemed that way because my hands have grown bigger since then. It's not the case at all it's 14-grams lighter! If the capitalists and the government have their way, not only will they be able to reduce the size of their products, they'll be able to increase the price with extra taxes as well, increasing profit, etc. and helping the majority get a little poorer. You might think I'm a bit mad, maybe it's the heat, maybe I saw something with Russell Brand in it - but I am right. I do the weekly shopping and I'm a bit anal as I go round comparing prices against previous weeks, and checking packaging weights. My wife often rolls her eyes at me when I do this (and as I complain quite loudly, embarrassing her immensely, seeing as she works for the supermarket chain we shop in).
And then this got me thinking about how great life was before the capitalists started taking over our lives; when Mars Bars were three times bigger than my hand. How shops and businesses were content with making a modest living, rather than fleecing us for every penny. How simple and easy life was without the internet and computers and mobile phones. We didn't need to worry about the sugar and fat content in our food because we were so physical having to get off our arses to do stuff, our bodies could burn it off. Kids could play outside without fear of being snatched, raped and murdered by a paedophile. You could leave your front door and windows unlocked, and your milk-money in a small pot on your doorstep. I'm not saying people didn't get killed and mad things didn't happen, but people didn't have their heads cut off in the middle of a busy street back then (still thinking about you, Lee Rigby), and kids weren't disappearing every other week and turning up in pieces the next.
I don't have the answers or the solution, I'm just a writer. But you have to stop and wonder, where is this all going? If in 20 - 30 years, things change as comparatively, how much more are we going to give to the capitalists? And, more significantly, how small is a Mars bar going to be?