Archive | November, 2016

Dig Two Graves..

14 Nov

The dust is taking time to settle on last week’s historic political explosion. Millions of words have been spoken and written. Words of jubilation, desolation, fear, excitement, hope, anger, betrayal, vindication,  acrimony. Words.

Here’s another word: revenge. Think of many of those who voted for Brexit here, for Trump over there. They have been variously categorised as forgotten, disenfranchised, disconnected from the political elite, working class unemployed men, the redundant manufacturing classes, indigenous non-immigrant and so on. The Remainers and Clintoners are metropolitan, moneyed, liberal, immigrant-friendly, multi-sexual, anti-nationalist and so on.

Both factions are indentifiable – although neither Cameron, nor Clinton quite managed to get their message across. To some extent they were dealing with forces beyond their control. Specifically the politics of grudge. Those with a grudge, a gripe, that has wormed its way into the core of their being are resistant to argument, to any other persuasion. And in this state of ear-clasping, all noise – other than the white noise of self-serving or barmy charismos – is drowned out. What the people want is revenge. when do they want it? Now!

Strange that the socially deprived, the rural forgotten – middle America or middle England – don’t lurch to the left (US: Obama Care, social welfare reforms, higher taxation to provide better services. UK: Corbyn’s agenda – renationalisation, support for traditional manufacturing, extension of welfare, social housing) – no they leap dramatically to the right, lapping up the Farridge and Trump rantings. Those who shout the slogans of envy, discontent, blame and revenge most loudly, win the day. Next stop fascism?

It is predictable that Trump’s early moves will appear conciliatory. His praise of Hilary seemed not to stick in his throat after months of vilifying her. When he met Obama he was like a little boy in awe of Santa Claus. He will keep some of the main planks of Obamacare; a fence is the same as a wall; some Muslims are beautiful people.. Either he is learning what real politics is all about or, he is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Or in his case, a wolf’s clothing.

However he tries to soften policies here or woo friends and foes there, his legacy – and one that will come back to bite him – is of a campaign run on the high octane mix of hate and lies. The litany of promises, falsehoods and unsavoury revelations perpetrated during his campaign won’t be forgotten. When he can’t or doesn’t deliver on his many promises to the ‘forgotten’ white working class males, they will turn to revenge as they did in the ballot box this week.

As we remembered those fallen and damaged in conflict yesterday, Andrew Marr’s big interviewee was not Jeremy Corbyn but Marine Le Pen. Europe could well be Brexit Plus, Plus, Plussed in the coming months. Revenge is in the air – and when that happens  the language of integrity, the rule of law and moral compasses all go haywire.

When revenge become a mass movement societies become unhinged. Confuscius said: ‘Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.’ Revenge uncivilizes us. Examples are strewn liberally through history. Check out the conflicts around the world.

Markets plummet. The value of truth has never been lower..

9 Nov

As I watched Donald  Trump, quite graciously accept his victory and offer generous words of condolence to Secretary Clinton, I pondered how the currency of truth has fared on both sides of the Atlantic these last six months.

Are we in a post-truth era where falsehoods have more traction than truths? When the actor Alec Baldwin mimicked Trump on Saturday Night Live, he joked with the stooge interviewer that she was a ‘Lez’ with Hilary. When this ludicrous suggestion was vehemently denied Baldwin/Trump’s riposte was :It doesn’t matter because I said it. Now half the country believes it!

On this side of the Atlantic the tabloid press accused senior High Court judges, our highest protectors of truth, as being enemies of the people. It may be true that many of those who voted in the referendum- on both sides- struggled to make complete sense of complex issues. It was certainly true that lies played a significant part – and there was a will to believe the lies. Bright people write for the Express, The Mail etc. They know the difference between a truth and a lie. The judge are neither liars nor enemies of the people. They have no alternative but to uphold the rule of law – and tell the truth.

How do the supposedly great democracies of the UK and the USA retrieve the situation? What would the Founding Fathers have thought of the presidential candidates on offer to the great American dreamers? Politicians are in the dock, seemingly everywhere. The political elite of America has been dealt a huge blow. Whatever truth that Hilary Clinton conveyed about her character and her emails, the majority of citizens in Florida and Ohio, most crucially, decided that they would decide on their own truth, not the version peddled by career, wealthy politicians.

And over here the political elite wrestle with the post-truth era. Even Farridge, Pouty Gove and Boris the Spider have been taken aback by the success of their lies. And a moderate Conservative administration has been replaced by  hard-Brexiting, neo-UKIP Tory privateers with Mother Theresa-Maybe-Thatcher going over the top for them.

Let’s get back to truth. The multi-billion facts which are internetted each day need to be trusted by us –  and the generations which follow. We must have a culture that reveres truth, seeks it out and demands evidence. If we believe lies then we are likely to follow those who tell us their own convenient truths. Of course we want to hear that great prosperity is around the corner, that our ills will be remedied and all will be well.

Donald J Trump will find the Oval Office a very different place from the Campaign Office. Will the value of truth rise in his estimation when he gets there on January 20th? The jury is, of course, out.

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