Tuition fees, immigration, Nick Clegg’s hair. There are any number of reasons to support a particular political party, ranging from the rational through the bigoted to the absurd. But, supposedly, one of the most “scientific” ways to find out where your true political allegiances lie is the “political compass” test (http://www.politicalcompass.org/index) which asks you a series of questions and then places you on a two-dimensional chart, showing not only how economically left or right wing you are but also how authoritarian or libertarian. Much to my surprise, I came out as a rabidly left-wing libertarian. Now, I have always fancied myself as a centrist, if anything tilting to the right. But the conspiracy thickens. Nearly all my friends who took the test also came out as left-wing libertarians. All this confirmed one of life’s self-evident truths, namely that the student population are much more left wing than the population as a whole. Even Ed Miliband is classed as right wing authoritarian.
Perhaps it is unsurprising that students are more left wing than most – the combination of youthful idealism and a lack of personal wealth surely account for that. So, what is my point? It lies in the fact that, despite our supposed tolerance and well meaning, we show no tolerance towards right-wing people. People who support lower taxes are automatically selfish, just as people who are worried about immigration are automatically bigoted. Defence spending is a jingoistic extravagance whilst Gove’s education reforms are a barely-disguised attempt to disturb the comprehensive ideal we all hold so dear. Right-wingers, in short, are horrible people.
Such an attitude completely misunderstands the psyche of the accused. Right-wing people want the best for their country. Honest. They support lowering taxes because they believe that lowering taxes will create the right economic conditions to promote an improved standard of living for all. Michael Gove believes that it is only through his reforms that an equal playing field will be created as it is only through them that the state sector has any chance of catching up with the independent sector. Even those attitudes that we hold to be bigoted and nationalistic, such as being anti-immigration or pro-defence spending, are results of perfectly understandable, if not commendable, feelings. People are scared of the unknown, they are scared for their economic welfare and they want to sleep safe in their bed at night. We are all, for the most part, strong young people who are better suited to coping with this world than old retirees, subsisting on a small pension, often living in neighbourhoods experiencing constant flux.
I realise that I am conflating being economically right-wing here with being authoritarian but students at Oxford seem to have remarkably little sympathy for either. I am not arguing that you should support their views – indeed I myself oppose many of them – just that we should respect what they have to say. Whilst OUCA might not be the best advertisement for right-of-centre views, it does not necessarily follow that all right-wingers are bad. In a culture where we celebrate difference, is it too much to ask that we accept other people’s political differences too?
Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat
Just how sociable is ‘going out’ anyway?
Sweaty people, sweat-ridden floors and loos caked with liquids one could only wish were sweat. What more could Oxford’s nightlife offer? After all, it is only in establishments as august as Wahoo or Junction that one truly makes friends for life. In a straight up choice between actually getting to know people better by talking to them or shouting incoherently at them across the dance floor, I know which one I would choose. The latter. Obvs.
OK, fine, I admit it. Going out night after night is not my idea of fun. One night a week definitely but the whole time? A humanities degree is, academically at least, a lonely experience – apart from a couple of contact hours a week spent avoiding the tutor’s gaze, it is just me, a book and some high calorie comfort food. Sure, you can work in the library or in someone else’s room but at its very essence the work is of a solitary nature. In light of this, it strikes me as bizarre that people decide to spend their social time in a room where the only people they can hear are themselves.
Undeniably, the occasional night out can be great fun. Getting drunk, having superficially deep experiences with people you have just met and dancing like you can when you really can’t – the world would be a worse place without it. Yet, it is when going out become the primary form of social experience that I get worried. For starters, look at the terminology used – ‘going out’, for example. Going out to buy some milk, going out to have coffee with a friend, going out to have a drink in a pub – ‘going out’ could mean all these things and more. It is absurd, therefore, that its usage is restricted to nightclubs. I get that using the term ‘clubbing’ makes you sound like an eight year old on a sugar high, but at least it is not so generic as to be meaningless. When I tell someone I am going out to the pub, I have to say, ‘not out out, just out.’
Similarly, ‘pre-drinking’, or worse ‘prinking’. Call me old-fashioned, but whatever happened to plain old drinking? There is no reason why it has to be a precursor to anything. After all, in my very scientific, snap poll of my staircase, a large number said that ‘pre-drinking’, alongside the Hassan’s trip on the way back, are the best bits of ‘going out’ anyway. What a surprise – those are the times you can actually talk to people.
All in all then, the actual ‘going out’ bit of ‘going out’ is as anti-social as writing this blog post. Talking of which, welcome to my blog -In true amateur form, I have no idea what my blog will be about or even, at this moment in time, what it will be called. But, suffice to say, it will normally involve a good self-indulgent rant. And on that note, remember one thing. There is more to life than to eat, sleep, rave, repeat.