Why Being Apolitical is No Longer an Option
Updated: Dec 15, 2020
Politics is everywhere whether you realise it or not.
Politics shapes the way we speak, the way we dress and the way we think.
Even choosing to be apolitical is a political choice.
However, being apolitical in today’s world can no longer be an option, and we are going to show you just how important politics is.
Being Apolitical is a Privilege
An apolitical person is defined as someone who is: “not interested in or concerned with politics, or not connected to any political party”.
However, what that definition doesn’t tell you is that being apolitical often means you are part of a privileged class, that the world surrounding you is made to benefit your interests and so you don’t need to be involved in politics.
Unfortunately, for some people in society this isn’t the case; the political shapes and constrains their lives. For them being involved in politics is a necessity, it is the means by which they can understand and fight injustice.
Just look at the Black Lives Matter movement where the politicised concept of ‘race’ has created individual and systematic racism for people with darker skin colour. For many black people and members of the BAME community, being politically active is a necessity to combat the injustices they face.
Now don’t get me wrong, politics has direct ramifications on all our lives.
However, some are disproportionately affected by it to the point where being politically active is no longer a choice.
Disclaimer: There is a big difference between people who are apolitical and those that are disillusioned. People can decide not to participate in politics because they have lost faith in the government, however this in itself is a political stance.
Daily life is political
Politics is interwoven into our daily lives.
Let’s start with where you live. Your economic disposition determines the type of neighbourhood you live in and whether the property is yours or rented.
Moving on to how you move around. The repairing of potholes and the collection of rubbish on the streets, the type and the quality of public transport are all the decision of the local government who you have elected.
Eating is also a political act. The type of food you have access to and how easily is all determined by the elected government. For example, if your morning coffee is fair trade or not.
Shopping is political. Whether you choose to buy things from local stores or chain-stores, whether you choose to purchase fast fashion or sustainable options, whether you look into how these things are produced and the working conditions of the people producing them.
Working is political. The hours that you have to work, the insurance that you have, in some cases even your wages, have all been determined by an elected government.
Our daily lives are made up of the political choices of the majority and being apolitical means that you don’t have a say in them.
Thinking is political
Our thoughts are shaped and influenced by the political state we live in, more specifically by the capitalist state we find ourselves in. Subconsciously, we are influenced to think in a certain way because of the political state.
Just think about your answer to the question we all got asked when we were young: What do you want to be when you grow up?
Most of you described a job, and this is because we see and interpret the world through the eyes of the capitalist state we find ourselves living in.
Thinking can also be political because the education we receive is internalised by us and thus shapes our thoughts. The quality and type of education we obtain is largely established by government policies including the allocation of funds to state schools. School curriculums are also established by the government - in fact, just last month in England the Department for Education ordered schools not to use resources from anti-capitalist organisations.
Ultimately, laws on freedom of expression are made by the government and these laws not only shape the way we think but also determine which of those thoughts we can express.
Vaccines are political
Nobody has been able to miss the news that there are now two coronavirus vaccines with high results of effectiveness.
The world is filled with optimism as a future with no masks and no more lockdown is on the horizon. However, not all of us should be celebrating, because not all of us will be getting the vaccine. Not immediately, at least.
Duke University’s Global Health Innovation Centre has found that high income countries have already purchased 3.8 billion doses. Moreover, they have found that these high income countries will: “be able to vaccinate their entire populations — and some will be able to do so many times over — before billions of people are vaccinated in low-income countries.”
Getting out of the apolitical mindset
As you have seen, politics affects everything around and within us. It affects how we think, how we see and who we are.
Once you realise the full effect that political decisions have on all aspects of our lives, you begin to understand how paradoxical being apolitical really is.
We are all contributors to the political system around us and this means that we have the power to get involved in it and to change it.
So, how to get out of this apolitical mindset?
The best way to start is here. Why not give the short articles and guides on A News Education a read (they're pretty good if we say so ourselves).
Then once you start getting informed, understand your political rights and exercise them. Go out and vote, join political movements and create change.