‘I am drily aware of how this article reeks of champagne socialism’DALLE-2

I’ve spent many hours recently thinking about why I tend to stay silent about my political views; why I seem to lose my voice even in debates among friends and acquaintances. I’m a leftist, but my inclination, evidently, isn’t to shout about it. Coming from a cushy background in the north of England, privately educated, and a first-generation immigrant, I could easily have become a conservative like my parents. Instead, I’ve undergone a relatively late political awakening and become a staunch supporter of the left. My arrival at university has exposed me to more types of people than ever before, and studying political thought for my degree has solidified my belief in socialism and a “political generosity” of sorts. However, if I enjoy the moral superiority of my views on an intellectual level, as well as when sparring with my parents, surely I should be making the same arguments outside my home. If I don’t shout about change, what’s the point?

Yes, I voted in last year’s council elections, and yes, I keep up with the news. I even did an internship at a public affairs firm last summer. But I’m not active in Cambridge’s political societies, and I doubt that many, apart from my closest friends, would be able to confirm/deny my leftist tilt. I feel much more comfortable speaking on the political happenings of my country of origin, India, which perhaps comes from a slightly perverse western saviour-type complex. Furthermore, as much as I’ve tried to combat the immediate joy I felt at seeing Rishi Sunak become prime minister (I am firmly against both his politics and person), I can’t help but think, “Wow, a brown man is leading my country”. I understand the pitfalls of identity politics, yet something innate within me cannot escape its appeal. I’ve sometimes considered chalking my political inaction up to a feeling of exclusion from the British political system. It is undeniably harder for a woman of colour to feel a sense of solidarity with the Labour party’s historically white working-class voter base. Furthermore, there is a point to be made that in an atmosphere like Cambridge, people of colour often get caught up in “side-quests”, defending their race and culture, their very identity, before being able to advocate for their political leanings. However, I’ve dismissed this as a totalising excuse, as it plays into a victim mindset of complacency. The current system works to uphold people in a comfortable situation like me, so I would like to take the uncomfortable stance of opposing it.

“I’ve tried to combat the immediate joy I feel at seeing Rishi Sunak become prime minister”

I understand being hesitant to publicise your political views. This article is not meant to guilt trip busy students who are just learning to manage life, let alone politics. In today’s polarised political climate, it feels almost impossible to take a firm stance on either side of the spectrum without alienating some people. While political opinions shouldn’t be dictated by their mass appeal, making the choice to cut off a portion of your peers is an inevitably unpleasant (yet necessary) decision. Especially at a university like Cambridge, where the radical left can feel almost persecutory if you express the “wrong” opinion (a form of moral superiority that I myself have been guilty of), it often seems like expressing political views is a form of social suicide. What I’ve deduced from the swathes of political theory I have been exposed to (an archetypal student leftist origin story) is that I feel a responsibility to rally for the leftist cause despite the challenges faced by the loud and proud. After all, I occupy a position of privilege, and I am lucky to have substantial academic and social resources at my disposal.


Mountain View

Corporatisation is killing our student-run bars – Clare Cellars is next

I am drily aware that this article reeks of the “champagne socialism” which Oxford and Cambridge are regularly, and rightly, accused of. My father made a similar comment upon receiving a first draft of this article, saying: “taking a leftist view is a luxury at a young stage, it typically evolves when the reality sets in of paying bills, a desire for a comfortable life, etc”. His point is a valid one, and is compounded by the well-known “Cambridge bubble”. The bubble is an echo chamber that further allows us to occupy a complacent position. We need to take a critical stance towards our own privilege and politics. I am not saying that everyone should have comprehensive knowledge of every political subject. After all, I’m not a politician by profession, nor a politics student. Nevertheless, this “responsibility” to advocate for those with fewer advantages than us survives. This feels like a pretty basic principle that doesn’t even require the rare intellectual social climate of Cambridge to comprehend. There is no expectation for us to have unblemished political understandings. Mistakes are natural, and part of the learning process we all undergo in becoming active members of society. My point is that we have an obligation to say these things, and make these mistakes.

Although our politics has become murky, alienating and distressingly polarised, there is a need for people of our generation to advocate for the things they believe in more openly. It presents a road of introspection that won’t be easy to traverse, and is one that I’m still travelling myself. Yet hopefully this article has encouraged some of you, and for me, this confession will be the start.