Philip Atkinson was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, on the 7th June 1947, the result of a wartime marriage between a state registered nurse and a Captain in the Royal Army Ordinance Corps. His father had been educated at Cambridge University before working for some years for the foreign office in Africa. The head of the house was an ardent supporter of George Orwell and so a socialist, hence after winning the position as lecturer in History at Kings College, Newcastle, planted his family among the proletariat, the heroes of Nineteen Eighty-Four. This meant his middle-class wife and three children lived for the next fourteen years on a new council estate in the company of resettled slum dwellers. And this action, inspired by inverted snobbery, had a lasting impact upon his spouse and offspring, especially his middle-child.
Like all children, I wanted to be accepted by my peers and be part of the gang of small boys who lived in the street. They were my heroes, I hung on every word they said, and did all I could to win their approval. Their contemptuous treatment of me I accepted as only natural because I was the youngest and weakest. They were tough and clever, while I was puny and inexperienced. But one day this all changed. To my delight, a boy smaller and younger than me moved to the street, and I knew that it would only be a matter of time before I could demonstrate my superiority to the newcomer. And when the gang resolved to have a boxing competition, I felt that this was my chance. Previously I would have been omitted from such a competition as being too weak to match in a fight, but now there was a possible partner, and as the gang split up into matched pairs I was pitted against the new boy. And when it was our turn to box, I gently, but firmly, displayed my clear superiority. Alas, when the judges, the oldest boys, declared the result, it was not me, but the new boy, who was deemed the winner. I was stunned.
For some time afterwards I struggled to understand this decision. I knew that I had won the fight, but this was not enough; it was not my stature nor strength but some innate personal quality that condemned me. It was clear that regardless of what I did, I would never win the respect of my peers, so I stopped trying. But I also knew the judges had lied, so to understand their motive I started to look closely at my erstwhile heroes and began to see their undeniable flaws. They were not rational; they had rejected me out of prejudice. While they were all larger than me, I found they only presented a threat as a group. Alone, they not only left me in peace, but seemed a little nervous at my presence. And in games that required strategy, I found it was easy to best them. My esteem for my peers became replaced by contempt, and planted the seed of suspicion in my mind that my whole community was of the same calibre—foolish cowards. A notion that experience rarely confounded but often confirmed, so insensibly I became a social exile.
This was just as well, for in a declining community any citizen who retains respect for the truth must become alienated from the majority of his fellow citizens because they hate the truth. Inevitably I could only ever be a social outcast, but being freed from the need to win social approval also meant being freed from social prejudices, and being able to see my community more clearly; a detachment that is essential for any student of society.
As an adult it is easy to understand why the other boys in the street hated me—I was from a different class. My father was an honest, educated man, who didnʼt smoke or drink, and would never dream of striking his wife, but he was surrounded by drunks, thieves and wife-beaters. Our family enjoyed money, comfort and stability, unlike many of those around us. Not only were we the only family in the street to have a car, but also we were the only family in the whole suburb to have tea on the lawn. Everything about us was different, and we were naturally resented. While the neighbouring adults never confronted my father, their children were delighted to bully his children. My siblings and myself became social half-castes, accepted by no class and despised by all. The result in my case was an initial bitter resentment of my community, along with the traditional notions that I should pursue a university education then a career; so I dropped out of school to take a job as a bus conductor. And to escape this dead-end job, I emigrated, arriving in Australia in 1969, aged 22, with a pregnant wife, two small children, £30, no job and no qualifications other than an incomplete public school education.
With determination, skill and a little luck I forged a career in computers before being forced into retirement in 1991, a fate that brought as much relief as anxiety. No more salary, little chance of ever getting a job … but no longer having to pretend that the community and its administration were sane. And I was fortunate that my second wife, an Australian by birth, was happy to work so her husband did not, and for the first time in my life I was blessed with leisure. Not only did I not have to toil, but also I did not have to worry about paying the bills, which is another essential qualification for any student of the community.
Of course I could have restarted the education that I abandoned in my teens, but by then the true nature of universities had become obvious: they were no longer centres of learning pursuing truth, but centres of profit pursuing customers. Inevitably striving for popularity with youth has made universities bastions of Political Correctness, and full of the kind of people who wanted to burn Galileo for daring to question that the sun circled the earth. So I spent my enforced idleness applying the skills acquired as a systems analyst to discover why my society is disintegrating into delusion and impotence. An effort resulting in a simple theory which outlines the process of communal rise then decline, an explanation that seems to have eluded mankind despite the regular and inevitable cycle that has always been present.
In January 2000 I became an Internet publisher, placing a variety of books ‘online’ at my own expense, in an attempt to preserve some of the vanishing wisdom of humanity.