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.

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