Monday 9 June 2008

How I See My Life Now

This post wasn't originally planned as part of the series.
It was actually asked for by Crashie.

And it contains two parts.
First, is my granting of parole.
And secondly, what life has meant to me since.

Everybody told me that I should tell the parole board what they wanted to hear. That I felt really bad about what I'd done, that I believed I deserved my punishment, that I'd learned, etc, etc.

I tried a different tack.

With so many prisoners in our gaols these days, only extreme cases actually before the board. In most cases, a dossier consisting of various representations is made to the parole board.
In my case, all these representations were favourable.

There were only two grey areas.
One was that I had, during the two years, tested positive for cannabis on one occasion. The dossier referred to this as an 'isolated lapse when living with a very difficult cellmate'.

The other was how favourably the board would respond to my exact statement when asked by the reporting probation officer on how I felt about the offence.

I'm going to reproduce as far as is possible that section of the interview;

Probation Officer: How do you feel about your offences now?

Crushed: Now this is a very interesting question isn't it?

Probation Officer: Why do you say that?

Crushed: Because there are two answers. The answer I'm supposed to give to ensure all the boxes are ticked, and the answer you know I'm thinking. And we both know those answers aren't the same.

Probation Officer: (Pondering, flummoxed) Would you care to elaborate?

Crushed: OK, if you're asking me, do I think I deserved to waste two years of my life in gaol for buying Ecstasy in bulk and selling it to friends and colleagues, no, of course I don't. I think the law on this topic is completely ludicrous, you'd have thought people had learned from America in the twenties. Legalise it, control the trade, stop people buying crap that actually MIGHT do them harm, bring in money in taxation, stop criminalising otherwise law abiding people. Do I think I'm a criminal? Morally? No.

Probation Officer: (Not writing, thinking. He doesn't want to write this) But by supporting a drugs trade, you also support a whole crime structure. Serious drugs, guncrime, prostitution.

Crushed: I know, and I admit I never took that into account. Any more than people get all more moral when they buy stuff that says 'Made in China' on it. Again, legalise it. Don't put people in that position. In this case, the LAW creates the crime.

Probation Officer: (Brightening) Your work as a Listener must have made you see the downside of drugs.

Crushed: Too damn right- Heroin, Crack, curses. A blight on our inner cities, people choosing to poison themselves. Yes, these things are curses. Yes, I have seen first hand what they do.

Probation Officer: I'll put THAT bit in...

Crushed: Look. Here's it straight. What you REALLY want to know, is am I likely to do this again? What you want to know, is the risk of me re-offending. Let me put it this way. If I get caught again, in a situation that suggests I'm dealing, if I get caught with drugs on me, I could be looking at ten years next time. That's five years AT LEAST wasted. Do you think I love it here so much I want five more years? Do I strike you as being a stupid person? I wouldn't take the risk- I've had two years of my life wasted, that's more than enough for me thanks. I know when something isn't worth it.

Probation Officer: (Thinking) Yes, I think you do. In your case, I think that's probably enough. Your answer's good enough for me.

Well, they gave it me.

And believe it or not, I was scared.

For so long, that had been my sole goal. Get out for the World Cup. There was no beyond. No beyond that World Cup. All I wanted was to be in the Star, pint in one hand, Embassy cigarette in the other, wearing an England top.

And now that was going to be real.

I remember my last day in there saying to the Chaplain 'Do you think I'll be all right?'
And she said 'You'll be all right.'
But there was apprehension on her face too.

Because she could see what I was feeling, what I truly feared.
I had become so very driven, almost a workaholic. After a life essentially spent coasting, of never really believing in anything, of essentially using my talents to have an easy life, I had now become intensely cause driven.

And how would I handle that?

In my early twenties, I had been a political activist. And at a superficial level, I believed my party's creeds. I say superficial, because what I had actually done was to CHOOSE a creed. I never believed it my heart. I wanted to change the world, for the sake of changing it.

Not any more. Now I had actually formed opinions on the basis of real observation, really thinking about the world about me and concluding, it doesn't need to be this way. This system is failing, failing to deliver in terms of human happiness.

Part of that relates to me. Now, you can accuse me of everything you like, having been reckless, foolish, irresponsible- those who don't like drugs would say immoral.

But like it or not, I'm not a stupid person. And I also have a very vibrant, personable character. A society that effectively put me in the situation that I CHOSE to be it's enemy, is failing somewhere, failing in the social contract it offers.

This, it seemed to me, was the key. The social contract is failing. It no longer offers the people a good enough arrangement. The bulk of the population do not get out of it a proportional return, and in their souls they feel it.

And I knew why. Because we are in the decay phase of the capitalist cycle, as predicted by Marx.
The fact is, the symptoms are all there. However you try and hide it, QUALITY of life, gets worse. The technology gets better, the throughputs get bigger, the houses get bigger- for some, but overall, the overall amount of happiness in the world continually decreases.

Why do you think so many people resort to drugs to escape that truth?
And in drugs, lets include alcohol.

And they try to chase imaginary ills; Terror networks, drug dealers, the loosening of sexual taboos, but that's just so we don't spot the obvious.

If life IS no good, then it is the way we are living that is the problem.

It is half of us working like slaves to enjoy the benefits of our throughputs, whilst the rest live in houses made of tack, poisoning themselves on heroin, because apparently, we don't need their contribution.

The system we have of producing and distributing just isn't doing the job. It is turning us against eachother and making life nastier and nastier by the day.

And those that are running this aren't going to address the problem. Because to do so, means they lose their tidy little niche.

No one gives up power unless they have to.

So there's only two ways it can go.

ALL western countries are being slowly turned into police states.

Because they know that when the REAL credit crunch comes, the system is going under.

My regular readers know exactly how convinced of this I am. We are facing a global crisis, out of which will come REAL, GLOBAL, INGSOC (unless we blow ourselves up first).

Or- and this is the ONLY alternative- we really will have a revolution.
A global one.

Out of which will emerge a new world.

Ever since I walked out of those gates, this has been the driving focus of my mind.

I care about this, in a way that makes everything else pale by comparison. There's nothing they can do to me, that they haven't already done. I wasted two years of my life in vain, shut down all sense of pleasure and pain, basically, because I was a reckless twat as a youngster.

Yes, they changed me. I've seen into an abyss most of you never have to look into- and what I saw made me determined that it's worth doing something about. It's worth being responsible. My thoughts MAY not be right, but they may be, and if they are, it's a battle worth fighting.

I think my priorities have changed. I don't think I really care too much about my own material comfort, or finding love or any of that. Yes, these things are nice, but for myself, I see them largely as an affordable luxury. They are expendable. I CAN live without them, I HAVE lived without them.

There isn't much I can do, not on my own. But I like to think that even a little thing like writing this blog every day, CAN make a difference, because it adds to the pool, hopefully sometimes, at least my posts at least get people thinking, and really I'm not asking for much more than that.

But yes, if you must know I regard it as probably one of the most important things I do in my life. I have a definite worldview, I believe that we, the people, can sort all this out. And I think the answer lies in us all communicating.

WE can change things if enough of us demand it, and the solution is to disseminate knowledge, disseminate thought.

My priorities in life? Stay alive. Earn enough money to stay alive. The rest? It doesn't matter much.

But when I do finally depart this earth, I want to feel in my heart of hearts, that maybe I may have had some contribution somewhere along the line to guarantee that mankind's trajectory heads to Utopia, not Oceania- or mushroom clouds.

Lofty ideals?


This is what I stand for, this is what I live for, and ultimately, it's what I'd die for, in principle.

And that, really, is what this blog is all about.


Anonymous said...

You did learn a very hard lesson and I'm sure you learned it well. Not easy to write, not easy to read, this series.

Anonymous said...

Would you have paid tax on your drugs earnings ?

In truth I don't know enough about 'soft' drugs. Perhaps there is a case for legalising and making some available over the counter.

On the other hand I don't think it would alter criminality - these people would diversify into other areas of crime, their raison detre is to exist outside of legality.

Anonymous said...

On the other hand I don't think it would alter criminality - these people would diversify into other areas of crime, their raison detre is to exist outside of legality.

I disagree with above comment. For many of the 'softer' drug users, that is their only crime, using illegal drugs. Not all drug users break into houses or commit other crimes to fulfill their habits. People choose drugs, drugs do not discriminate which class of society they belong to.

Anonymous said...

You covered alot of ground in this post Crushed. I liked how you handled your probation hearing.

I agree with your view of what's happening in the world, but I'm rather doubtful of a good outcome in the end. The human race is too greedy, power hungry, and violent to come together for the common good. I really wish I could believe otherwise though. And i'd love to be proven wrong in this case...

Anonymous said...

I find it intriguing how you were able to play the game so very well, yet you came out with more of an idea of why that game needed to be overthrown. Demonstrates some great flexibility, at the very least.

And ditto on the parole board hearing. You are a charismatic bastard, aren't you? ;)

Anonymous said...

you might enjoy my recent experience with jury duty, where these same issues became a topic of discussion.

excellent work, and buena suerte...

Anonymous said...

Yes, I think that everyone should be educated and then given the choice to pursue happiness in whatever form they like. The people currently in power would like to keep the majority of people unaware of the failings of the system, and it's going to take a long time for people in our position who can see what is wrong with society to educate other people. It's going to be a slow process, but hopefully we'll get there.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. In the US, I don't think parole boards care whether or not you offend again, because, frankly, you most likely will. What they want is the grovelling, the show of remorse, the guilt the tears. It validates the claim that the system works.

But throughout this series, you've given us every reason why it won't work. Sure, it worked for you to some extent. You didn't do much time, and you aren't claiming PTSD. Still, it took something from you. For most of the others, it seemed to take considerably more.

Another thing: a first offense for this type of transgression usually gets a suspended sentence or probation. Perhaps the authorities realized you didn't belong there.

Anonymous said...

What I was interested in was how this experience has effected you, and changed you. Couldn’t have been easy, but it bring me hope to see people can rise above it and actually lear something. Not everyone have a purpose in life I’m afraid – most of us are just following the corwd.

Loved the clip… so tell me, was the pacific as blue as in your dreams? Or in your case, was the football field as green as in your dreams ;)

Anonymous said...

Another very interesting insight as to how it all works and also how it affected you.

I agree with you the system is going under it is only a matter of time. I am not quite sure how or when it will happen but it will do.

Anonymous said...

jmb- It was a hard balancing act in the writing. On the one hand, I wanted to try convey the never ending air of, well, being stamped on, that comes with it, but also the vast reserves of genuine humanity people DO show eachother.

To me, it was like our whole civilisation, with the velvet glove removed.

E-K- Well, let's face it, inflated drug prices are created by the market.
If you taxed them the way tobacco is taxed (though I don't actually agree with how highly we tax tobacco, it would be a LOT of revenue. About 50 million a wek on Ectasy alone, at least, I guess.

I'm not sure I agree, most dealers in 'recreational' drugs- Ectasy, Cocaone, Amphetamine, areessentially people in their 20s/30-s who use it themselves, but are mostly professional white collar workers by day.

Nunyaa- This is why I hate the tern drugs. Drugs IN THEMSELVES don't cause crime, and arguments such as 'gateway drugs' are pants. By the same token its almost certainly true that if you never take up alcohol, you probably will never smoke cigarettes either.

Fusion- Well, my hope is in what I believe.
I believe that the laws of thermodynamics actually preclude randomness.
I believe the universe MUST end as quick as it can.

So the universe ITSELF selects the best path.

The path that uses most energy up quickest.

And for that, we need to survive.

So everything happens for a reason :)

Princess P- What it DOES force you to do, is knock your brain up a gear. You just can't afford to let slip, for an instant. You do learn to be really on the ball, you learn to watch everything.

I was glad I pulled off that parole- the idea of going in and saying stuff I didn't believe didn't appeal to me.

You can't always be 100% ingenuous, but it always struck me that was a 2+2=5 moment.

FC- Juries. My brief actually said that drug cases are often the worst sorts of cases FOR juries to handle . Mind you, from my observation, half of them aren't really listening anyway.

And I think, unfortunately, they DON'T convict on 'beyond reasonable doubt'. I still think probably about one in six convictions is a bit ropy.

I know of one case where a murderer admitted he'd done it, but the weapon they held up in court COULDN'T have been the one he used. He'd destroyed it.

Vanessa- And here is the best place to start. One of the things I really think we can do here is to USE this as a direct democratic debating forum. A bit less petty backbiting, a bit more open mindedness, maybe we can all discuss what we want, and try find solutions.

X-dell- Well, it proves the success of the conditioning. But is that really what we want?

I think i did have, and sometimes under moments of stress, expwerience SOME synmptoms of mild PTSD- I can get wound up to a point of almost hysteria. And I still get dreams I don't much care for. But I weathered it better than most, I guess.

It takes, because it takes away self belief. That's what it takes, and its hard for people to feel they're worth something again.

Well, the screws often said that to me. Possibly why I got D cat so easy.
Then again, I'm not sure what proportion of the 80,000 people sitting in gaol today BELONG there. Not sure what good much it does ANYONE.

Crashie- I think you learn things every day. Not always stuff you straight away realise is useful, but it is.
We ALL have a purpose- even Gollum, remember? :)

Well, the beer was as malty as I'd remebered...

CherryPie- Well, there are a number of permutations, but the principles are the same.

I'm stating no earlier than 2020, no later than 2050, but I'm inlinced towards the earlier date.

It really depends on when that moment hits that total money existing in debt is greater than or equal to, total money in existence.

Once that point comes, really, just one card in the house of cards needs to get knocked a bit.

Anonymous said...

I agree sooner rather than later. It just remains to be seen if something happens to force things along before the collapse...

Anonymous said...

Engrossing, as usual .... hmmm.... I'd say I'm glad you went to prison; it's what happened, and who knows where your life would have gone, if you hadn't had something to jolt you into thinking...