It set me thinking of my own experience of being bullied, way back in my early teens in the early 1960s, nearly 50 years ago. From the age of about 9 I went to a boarding school that was the junior partner of two schools. The school was in the middle of the Hampshire countryside. The discipline was not intensive. Most of my memories of it are of the many hours spent in the woodland around it, climbing trees, building huts, making bows and arrows. It was a happy time. I was friends with everybody in my class. More or less everybody was friends with everybody.
Then I moved to the senior school, and everything changed. At the senior school, the rules were much stricter. A lot of the rules were petty. No running. No hands in pockets. That sort of thing. Classes were longer, and there was a lot less free time than at the junior school. There was a much stronger emphasis on sport and athletics. And on religious services. Games became serious business. And so did ordinary schoolwork. Every week or so, the marks of each pupil for the previous week would be read out before the whole school, and those who had done particularly badly were sent to be caned. Some poor chaps would be beaten every week. It never made them any better at Latin or History or whatever. And when pupils weren't being beaten for poor marks, they'd be beaten for being caught smoking, or for running away, or for any number of other things. There was, even at the best of times, a slight climate of fear about the place.
Shortly after I'd arrived at the senior school, I found that all the friendships I'd built up at the junior school began to dissolve away. From being about the most popular boy in the class, spindly little me gradually became an ignored and despised member of the class. And then the bullying started. It mostly wasn't physical, but instead psychological. Anyone who was in the least bit vulnerable got picked on, and humiliated and insulted by a clique of other boys. It was a process of remorseless reduction. My winning friendly ways, that had stood me in such good stead at the junior school, were no longer any use. I didn't know how to fight back. My self-esteem began to collapse. I began to fall in on myself, becoming smaller and smaller and smaller. I began to face a psychological crisis. And there was nobody to help me. Nobody at all.
In the middle of all this, one night I remembered a little cartoon story I'd read in a comic a few years before. A peace-loving civilisation on some distant planet had found itself being invaded by huge war machines against which it had no defences. In desperation, the planet had appealed by radio for help from someone, anyone. And the radio message got picked up on Earth, and a team of generals was set to work to consider what to do. And the generals, after considering the situation, advised the besieged planet to flood low-lying areas, block roads, demolish bridges. In this manner, they gradually managed to force all the huge war machines into one small area. And here they were eventually destroyed. As the radio communication with the planet faded out, the planet's grateful leaders said that they would be indebted to their helpers "for eons."
The story was just like what was happening to peace-loving me. I was getting crushed. I had no defences. It seemed to me that what I needed were my own generals. And so one night I sent out my own Mayday message: 'Help! Generals needed!'
The next night, the imaginary generals showed up. They were old and haggard veterans of WWII. They wore dusty trenchcoats. And they listened gravely to my schoolboy story, and they asked a number of questions, and they said that they would consider the situation, and return the next night. And the next night they returned, and they told me that I was retreating headlong before overwhelmingly superior forces, and there was no quick solution. But they said that I didn't have to retreat quite so quickly as I was. It didn't need to be such an utter and complete rout. They advised me to drag my feet a bit, to put up at least token resistance. They said that they would return soon to review progress.
And so I began to take their advice, and began to run away more slowly from my tormenters, and to put up at least token resistance. And night after night, the generals returned to review the situation, and to urge gradually stiffer resistance, day by day, week by week. For I found that the tiniest resistance on my part emboldened me to resist a tiny bit more the next time. And after a few weeks and months of steady application, I eventually found that I was no longer retreating at all. I no longer felt like I was being utterly crushed. I was managing to hold the line. And then, having stopped the rout, the generals turned to the attack. My tormenters were too numerous to be confronted all at once, they said. So they were to be taken on individually, one by one. I was to look for any signs of weakness in each one, and attack them in their weak points. First in small ways, and then in larger ways. And in this manner I gradually got to be quite good at attacking my tormenters. One by one I reduced them to silence.
By the time I left the senior school, I had gradually transformed myself from being a friendly, outgoing boy into an aggressive, wary creature who would get his revenge in first. I was a veritable war machine. I was at a bit of a loss for a few years after leaving school to find that the people I came across in colleges and at work were genuinely nice, friendly people who weren't trying to crush me. It took years for me to lower my defences.
I don't know quite why the senior school was such a nasty place. Perhaps it was the discipline. Perhaps it was lots of adolescent boys all under one roof. But I had to fight a war the entire time I was there. A war that I started out losing badly, but which I eventually won.
But now, in modern Britain's Bully State*, I feel like I'm back at school again. There are the same petty rules. The same smoking ban. The same injustices. The same draconian punishments. The same climate of fear. There is even the same jogging and football and athletics everywhere. And I'm getting defeated again. I'm getting crushed again. I don't know why it's like this. All I know is that is how it is. And it's getting worse all the time.
But this time I have a much better idea what to do. And it's pretty much the same as before. First stop fleeing so hastily. Stop being such a nice guy. Learn to resist in small ways. And then in larger ways. The resistance must be continuous. There can be no slacking from the effort. Little by little, mounting resistance will stop the rout. And then it will become possible to turn upon the tormenters, and crush them one by one.
We know who they are. There are plenty of them in the EU.There are 646 of them in Parliament. And there are lots more in local councils up and down the land. And in fake 'charities' like ASH, and CRUK, and BHF, and RCP. There are quite a few in the courts and the police and the medical profession as well. There are Labour bullies, and Conservative bullies, and Lib Dem bullies, and SNP bullies. They became bullies because they met with no resistance from nice, friendly, open-minded British people. And because they met with no resistance, they were encouraged to become ever more bossy and oppressive and interfering. They have been feeding off each other, and they now vie to outdo each other in infamy.
Bullies must be resisted. If they aren't resisted, their numbers multiply, and they become ever more oppressive. They are always testing the limits of their power over other people, and always taking the 'next logical step' of increased oppressiveness whenever they get an opportunity. It requires personal determination to face them. It requires personal commitment. And people don't want to do that if they don't feel they have to. But they are going to have to. There can't be any half measures about it. Resisting, defeating, and destroying the bullies has to be a full time personal commitment. Because nobody else is going to defeat them. Nobody's going to come riding in on a white horse to drive them away. The army of bullies that has descended on this country is going to have to be defeated by the men and women of this country, as they individually and privately and personally become determined to be rid of this pestilence. It doesn't require heroic action. It doesn't require martyrs. But it does require a personal commitment to resist, even if it is resistance in the smallest of ways. Because it is with resistance in the smallest of ways that all resistance begins.
P.S. There is a book, The Bully State by Brian Monteith, available on Amazon.
ED: Who are the bullies these days?