• theleftberlin

Law of Oppression

by Jacinta Nandi

Photo: Nathan Dumlao https://unsplash.com/photos/qDbnNDF2jZ4. The original photo has been cropped

“Think about what the law of attraction would say! You should do a full-moon manifestation!” My friend Mareike says to me about my flat-hunting woes.

Mareike is, like me, a single mum, but unlike me, she is fairly young – early thirties – blonde, white, skinny, in a full-time, okay-paying job, the daughter of rich West German parents and the recipient of Unterhalt from her two kids’ American baby-daddy. You know, I’ll never forget that week after Princess Diana died, the way the whole of London was full of wailing women – some were fat women, some were black women, some were Asian, some were cleaning ladies – but everyone was weeping and wailing “She was just like me!”

And she was you know. The word ‘like’ can do a lot of work sometimes.

“Oh, girl, I totally am!” I say. “I have my candles, I have my incense, I have my sage. I’m gonna manifest a fucking flat like a fucking pro. Positive vibes only!”

“The important thing is, you mustn’t have a victim mindset!” She says sternly. “So many single mothers have a victim mindset. That’s what holds them back, really. Germany is actually a great country to be a single mother in! I got my social apartment after just three weeks of looking!”

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again – Germany is basically a socialist paradise for middle-class people. All these educated white women who have enough money to survive and thrive – and get to live in social apartment buildings, send their kids to subsidized nursery schools and spend their child benefit on sushi and face masks. They find it so weird that other people find life hard here, when for them, it is so easy. They sit in state-subsidized luxury and get to decide who is a victim and who isn’t – basically anyone who is struggling is negative, and anyone who isn’t is positive.

“I know I’ll find a flat soon,” I say forlornly. “I feel it in my bones. Actually, I feel it in my ovaries.”

I do, actually – whenever I meditate and ask my ovaries for the ancient wisdom of all my female ancestors who’ve gone before me, they are pretty clear, to be honest: A LOVELY WBS-APARTMENT IS JUST AROUND THE CORNER. Still. It is disheartening and demoralizing and depressing and all that kind of stuff. You meet someone at a party, who just arrived in the country like 2 weeks ago, not speaking a word of German, and they’ve rented out this amazing loft space above Potsdamer Platz, and you have been living here for TWENTY years and your German is basically perfect and you can’t even get yourself invited to a Wohnungsbesichtigung for a H4-taugliche place. Sometimes I’d like to throw myself a pity party to be honest, complete with sad, deflated balloons and warm gin and everything.

I think about my lovely little friend Katie. Katie is in her late twenties, and she’s one of those friends who think that because you have a blog and a book coming out, you are basically perfect in every way, and then when you try to tell her about a problem you have, she just sits there in silence for a few seconds, blinking in confusion.

“But of course you’ll find a lovely flat for you and the boys!” She says. “Won’t the WBS people find you one?”

“That’s not how it works,” I say gently. “I still have to apply and everything. They still have to want me in their flat.”

“But why wouldn’t anyone want you in their flat?” She says. The blinking is starting. “You’re such a good person!”

“Katie,” I say, softly – but a bit stern, too – “I don’t think good people live in flats and bad people live on the street. That’s not how it works, not under capitalism.”

“Oh,” she says. Her confused blinks are getting a bit more confused – and a bit cross, too, to be honest.

“What are you trying to say?” She asks. “You think bad things can happen to good people?”

She sounds really angry at the idea.

“Bad things happen to good people, and erm. Good things happen to bad people, too. And capitalism sucks,” I say.

To be honest, and I say this as a fully-paid up member of the full moon manifestation meditation society, I think this whole Law of Attraction stuff is getting out of control, basically. It’s basically medieval superstitious ideas about the King deserving to be rich and the poor deserving to be slaves dressed up as spiritual self-development, isn’t it? Or do you really think – can you really think – do you all really think – that those poor fuckers who live under the bridge at Frankfurter Allee are ‘bad’ people with ‘negative’ mindsets while, I dunno, Ivanka Trump, for example, is a beacon of positivity, a truly positive person, full of positive energy, sprudelling out positive vibes?

There’s some truth in it, of course, It’s easy – or easier – to stay positive if you have enough money for sushi, candles, face masks, sage. Middle-class Germans and Ivanka Trump both have enough money for the little things in life which make it easier to stay positive – Ivanka gets money from Daddy and middle-class Germans get money from their parents and the welfare state, which in Germany is, let’s be honest, far more generous with the middle-classes than it is with people who are actually destitute.

I watched the cops moving the homeless on from under the bridge yesterday. They had to move everything in these kind of big supermarket trolley things, I think they’d stolen one of the ones you get from the Baumarkt. They had to put everything on there, soggy mattresses and all., The expressions on the police officers’ faces – tired, hard, passive – made me as sad as the faces of the homeless themselves – just exhausted. Tired. So, so tired.

“Police!” My son said excitedly.

“Yeah,” I said. “They won’t let the people sleep here. This is their home, because they don’t have a proper house, and the police say they’re not allowed to stay here.” It sounded nonsensical to be honest.

Keeping “positive” or having a positive mindset, keeping your vibes high is not actually more important than being a decent human being. Mareike lives in a country where the homeless exist, and the police, instead of giving them a place to stay, senselessly move them on from under bridges. People sleep under bridges so they won’t get wet in the rain, and the police move them on so they will. With all their worldly belongings on a trolley. It’s cruel and brutal and heartless and deeply, deeply unfair, and this is the country she lives in, she accepts this, she expects this, she ignores this. I don’t think she has a positive mindset. I think she has a negative mindset – but not a victim one – instead she lets other people suffer, not herself. I think, basically, and I mean this in the nicest possible way: I think, basically, she is a total fucking loser.

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