There’s Nothing New Here. Just Another Nation in Decline. (This time it is The UK in Brexit)

I am somewhat honoured that Keith of ( musingsofanoldfart.wordpress.com  ) has asked me to write this, following a response to a question he raised on Jill’s ( jilldennison.com ) blog

I would warn you, there will be no quotes, statistics or links, these by their very nature are selective and can be turned around by oppositions, often getting side-lined in arguments over the character of the provider of the quotes, statistics or links. This is an essay, or if you like a polemic. This is based on the readings of the Histories of Humanity and all their various accompanying  follies and tragedies. This is about something very old, on this occasion making its appearance in Brexit Britain.

Although shadowed by the world-wide pandemic, this lesser event will still have its ramifications even if many of the world’s population can be forgiven for barely noticing it; after all, what will it matter to someone living in a nation a few time zones away and more concerned with their own day to day struggles? Some in the UK so wrapped up in their myths and dreams would have you believe the entire planet will shake as the UK rises from some European induced torpor calling on spirits of Churchill, Thatcher, Drake and Arthur (King) to inspire our current political and economic leadership to gather the people together in a glorious endeavour bringing in the proverbial New Golden Age. And this will be our True Finest Hour. If you examine the headlines in the right-wing tabloid press and the comments of their readerships or have the misfortune to run into them on FaceBook you will see I am somewhat understating the rhetoric.

Each nation or community which would be a nation or movement has its own baggage of legends, myths and massaged history mixed into a heady brew which offers in a far more glorious vision than it deserves. Never look too deeply into your people’s past unless you are of thick skin, detached or objective for you will not be comfy. Many in the UK in 2015 to 2016 feasted too deeply of the Empire, Victors in WWI & WWII mythos rich stew without reading the warnings on the various contents’ packets, and to keep their sacred beliefs firm still partake.   

And whenever a collection of folk take the step towards independence or dominance you can be certain there will be the taint of outright or implied discrimination, for the collection of folk will have convinced themselves that all ills, and the end of the none-existent “Good Old Days” are down to interlopers and non-believers. So never mind the economic and legalistic arguments surrounding Brexit, Race and Prejudices played a major part in many a voter’s decisions. One of the two truths folk do not like to mention. The other being on the Left that without Corbyn’s lukewarm unenthusiastic campaign or the section which believed the EU was an adjunct of the multi-nationals the Right might never have won the referendum and subsequent 2019 General Election. Struggles are not just won by one side’s courage or tactical superiority; they require a degree of failure within the opponents’ ranks.

So here in the second decade of the 21st century  The UK is positioned. A collection of islands without their own independent mercantile fleets or major ship building trades. Other types of industries which for many years have been owned by overseas groups and now without the mutual protection of the EU. Whereas there are a large number of small ventures making herculean efforts, these are now all vulnerable to the unpredictable and savage storms of international climates of trade and politics along with another layer of avoidable paperwork.  Meanwhile the UK places some of its faith in a leisure industry which waits for Covid to be supressed and hopefully the tourists to return. And forgetting the financial hub currently residing in London can in these cyber days be moved with relatively little effort. The balm to soothe these worries is that the UK can make new vibrant and fresh deals with other nations outside of the EU; however the problem is these ‘Other Nations’ looking to make deals are by their natures on the rise or with a very strong base whereas the UK has been in a steady decline of nationally based infrastructure, services and industries since WWII, thus these Isles are negotiating from the lesser position with the give and take going in the other direction. It is hard not to view us as the wilful self-absorbed member of the family who has blustered out of the home to seek life on their own believing their ‘smarts’, determination and cherished fantasy masquerading as a plan will see them through. This is the character who ends up on the streets, a battered minor hustling supplicant desperate that the next day will bring ‘the break’ while looked down upon by the major players.

There is another facet, that is the strength of the nation as displayed in its military prowess. In some this is simply the self-defence capacity; in some it is the ability to operate outside of the borders. Questions are being asked of that capacity, and at a time where there is an undercurrent in the USA of questions as to the future of NATO and Russia’s the inevitable historical draw to surround herself with client states. Examples of the never ending tides of human action and reaction in the political world, a dance as old as communities.

And herein lies the evidence lain bear by Histories. Nations and Empires rise and fall the names, locations and components change but the tectonic that is Human activity continues. Thus worn out by a century’s effort and the shedding of a role too heavy to bear do these Isles suffer their turn in this cycle. The sensible, rational long term approach would have been to hunker down, regroup and reform within the security and stability of a Union. This is not the Human way, we must believe in our legends and our folk myths, we must live them, we must be seen to be independent with all the angry deluded stance of the someone Lear-like living their past glories, denuded now of past abilities  observed by predators looking on to take away the last vestiges of independence, dress that someone in their own cloth and have them dance to their own tune, for their profit. Look into Histories and read the runes, observe that Rise and Fall over and over again.

There is a large swath of the population who have seen the message and are not turned by the populist press, the self-important financially secure commentators and their political relatives. Sadly these have divided themselves into fractious groups busy blaming each other for the 2019 General Election debacle which allowed a previously nationally indulged self-serving jester to become Prime Minister, now having to grow up, fast. While they are reduced to self-aggrandisement, anger and bitterness on Social Media. Whether there will be a steady movement by the national groups of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland away from England and into some connection with The EU remains to be seen. It could be that the old Islands’ story of  infighting and opportunist accommodations with whoever holds Westminster will be played out again and all will once more bow before The Centre; nothing new there, despite what the Nationalists would have you believe. There again delusion and desperation have their own tectonic and a fragmentation with a nominal centre could arise. A mini-version of the Holy Roman Empire, nodding to someone, a nominal head yet with each region going its own way. And of course the fate others have suffered so often; Client state, something which happens in so many ways often without folk noticing. Or battered and ragged knocking on Brussel’s door the prodigal state returns, only this time there will not be one loving father with a fatted calf; there will be a clutch of judgemental siblings. 

The permutations and variables beckon with a skeletal finger as we stumble out into the storm, eyes closed and muttering invocations from a false religion.

One last salutary note. By all mean shake your head sadly at these Isles’ ill-considered venture. However do not walk away feeling secure. At some stage these tectonics will reach you. Be sure you are prepared for the shock and have a plan to prevail. For we have still not evolved beyond those first communities of villages and small towns looking to survive or dominate.    

The UK Labour Party…An Avoidable Tragedy. Commentary and Judgement.

Introduction

This is mostly for folk ‘Across The Pond’ in the USA; something to take your mind off of the Apocalypse Now theme which appears to be gripping your presidential election. And within lies the seeds of warnings for the struggles you will face in the aftermath in which not just Unity but Flexibility and Perception will be essential . This account includes a great deal of necessary history so is a long post.

SUBJECT: The suspension of the previous leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn on charges of Anti-Semitism

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-54730425

Now because this news has, is and will continue to generate a lot of glee, wailing, outrage, conspiracy theorising, told-you-so, etc etc from many sections of the UK here comes a declaration on my own stance: I am hard-left with an authoritarian streak mixed with what could be taken as either a pragmatic or Realpolitik outlook. No fluffy folk-lore, conspiracy layered tropes here. In my ‘book’ it is the duty, I stress that Duty of every member of the Labour Party to struggle, by all means necessary to work towards the goal that The Conservative Party does not have a say in Government. It is a very tough world and Compromise is not a Dirty Word (and by the way the State of The World….. it’s all Our Collective Fault (Humanity that is) no use blaming one side or another). Thus on with the commentary.

Overview and History

Corbyn comes from what folk like to call The Far-Left of the UK Labour Party and being of a post-war generation carries the baggage of that time. State ownership, antipathy to large commercial outfits, latent hostility to the Conservative Party (so far so good), suspicions of the USA, tendency to give Russia in whatever guise it is operating a second and third chance, anti-war no matter what and of course an urge for ‘freedom’ and ‘rights’. (by now he and I have parted company). Following Blair’s Bright Future being afflicted by Hubris, Brown left holding the bag but successfully navigating the near collapse of the financial system in 2008, one romantic wing of the Labour Party called itself Momentum, gathered itself together with the sole purpose of getting its man into the top job did that with commendable success.

The first thing it did, which is, to be fair classic Socialist/Communist style was to seriously discredit the predecessors, caste out those who would not tow the line, get its own folk into places of power, and start to intimidate any internal opposition. In this it was doing as would be expected (it’s what I would have done). It then ran out of ideas, the most important being on how to get into government in an essentially conservative (mood not party) nation, Nearly got there in 2017 through a mix of dislike of Conservative Austerity and possible hope placed in Labour, BUT thanks to the historic intransigence of Sinn Fein ( When it comes to politics They do things differently in Ulster) not taking their seats in the House of Commons Labour failed (‘Close but no Cigar’ as was the saying in the USA). And this is where it all goes wrong. When history, heritage and a lot of murky within the Human Nature start to play their parts.

Commentary

One of Humanity’s dirty facets is prejudice and it is no use denying that ‘you’ are not prey to it. Be honest you do judge some folk by labels and without knowing them dislike or are suspicious of them… Yes, yes I ‘know’ some ‘deserve it’….. See what I mean?. Anyway, one ingrained in European history, folk lore, warping of religious beliefs, social outlooks and politics is…The Jews . Oh, yes we have decided that they are so different and so inward looking, you never know what they are thinking…..actually if you had been persecuted, pogromed, vilified and mis-represented for several hundred years you wouldn’t exactly be going out into the world with a happy innocent smile on your face would you now? And not even the horrors of WWII have cleaned that stain out of our collective consciousnesses. Thus in every European there is a sensitivity to ‘The Jews’ . Where the toxicity was allowed to flourish on the Left was when it was the USA and not the USSR who got to support Israel. You see another prejudice in Europe, particularly on the Left is that the USA is bad. For instance -never mind that the majority of Americans voted against Trump, many on the left promptly labelled every American as stupid and White Fundamentalist Evangelical. Never mind that to be Jewish can leave you open to vilification in the USA, somehow Israel, Mossad and so all ‘the Jews’ were also behind Trump.

Thus to a section of the Labour Party be Jewish is to be associated the corrupt, and horrific Israeli government of now, and all Palestinians are victims, and let’s not go into what happens to those Palestinians who speak out against their own ‘representatives’ in Hamas. Now this outlook is an obvious weak link in the Party which espouses equality and claims to be opposed to discrimination, and something which the Conservative supporting media can work with. Conservative spokespersons can be ‘horrified’ about (while hushing up the Islamophobic tendency of its own ranks…nothing to see here folks…move along please).

Any half-astute hard-nosed operator within the true ranks of Socialism would have seen this happening, and knowing it was a problem would have confronted it by one very simple manoeuvre. Criticise the Israeli government and announce talks to affiliate with one of the left wing Israeli Parties : Meretz for instance who does have seats in the Knesset or Da’am Workers Party (very, very Left wing) to name but two without even trying. Embrace indigenous UK Jewish groups who are opposed to the Israeli government and its policies. Make it very plain to folk who are not on board with this policy to either get on board or quit Labour and set up their own little group (with a sub-text that such an outfit with be vilified by Labour by all means necessary). Tell all those fashionable personalities who raise their profiles by announcing their are boycotting this or that to shut up or also get on board. Although that would seriously annoy the Israeli Government and their UK supporters this would defuse the situation. So simple. All it needed was determination and a few threats to those who stood in its way. But no, the Party Split over the issue, it lost its traditional Jewish base and looked all kinds of Nasty in the media. And in defence of their Anointed many of Corbyn’s supporters took on the mirror image of the supporters of Trump, blinded to anything but support and visceral hate for those against them. Absolute bumbling, rank amateurism, blinded with prejudice and out-dated tropes of warped folk-lore. Although hard-left I am also a Christian and did often mentally cry to the Lord God ‘Give Me Strength Lord! Give me Strength!

You had it all. A divided unpopular weakened Conservative Party and you still failed, in fact seen to be failing. And all you and yours could come up with were excuses.

And now the proverbial chickens have come home to roost, and while all those who still cling to the notion that Corbyn is but a victim of a vast conspiracy do rend their garments and caste ashes this way and that, I can in all honest anger and reproach say:

‘Jeremy Corbyn by your own narrow-mindedness, inflexibility, adherence to out-dated concepts have played a major role in this unhappy collection of Islands being administered by the most inept collection of people in many a long year to sit around a Cabinet Table at Number 10 Downing street. In this I judge you guilty of that most major crime any socialist can commit you complied in allowing a Conservative Government. In the words of Oliver Cromwell to The Long Parliament on the 20th April 1653:

You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately… Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!

A Song as a Political Measuring Stick

Shearwater are an ‘indie’ band of the USA, originating in Austin Texas, and basically revolving around songwriter and vocalist Johnathan Meiburg, someone with a haunting and expressive voice, weaving evocative images on a myriad of subjects.

Shearwater

I have been a fan of their music since 2011 when I chanced upon their fourth album The Golden Archipelago

GOLDEN

Within Meiburg’s writings are expressed elements of concern about the environment, social injustice and politics and you can therefore guess a Shearwater album is not required listening amongst the followers of the current occupant of the Whitehouse.

Back in 2016 (pre-election days) was released Jet Plane and Oxbow Meiburg said he wanted to try and make a protest album which was not ‘dumb or preachy’… the latter wish being a difficult task since by its nature a protest song tends to the preachy anyway.

Preamble and Foreword

When I heard this first, we were still in the second tenure of President Obama and hoping that the Democrats could ‘swing it’ once more. By then I had grown into a role of defending the USA as not the Great Satan and cause of all the world’s ill, of course hands were not clean, of course the Iraq invasion had been a fearful blunder and any military intervention in Afghanistan is always a questionable move. My defence (British  spelling) of the USA was that to assail the USA for every mis-deed was to ignore what Russia and China, to name but two were up to. Indeed in those days it was almost an article of faith of the British Left that it could never be ‘Russia’ it had to be the ‘USA’ and let’s pretend Assad of Syria was only defending himself against The West (The Useful Idiot syndrome as beloved by all dictators- but I digress).

Anyway back to the album:

Arguably one of the most striking songs is ‘Quiet Americans’, a lament against American policies and public acquiescence in general. Whether Meiburg took Graham Greene’s The Quiet American  QuietAmerican

As a source for the title I cannot personally say.

I greeted the song with mixed feelings, but to give you a fair idea of what I am on about here is the very striking video and the lyrics.

Lyrics:

I can’t help it, if all the world is ending
All the life is gone while you’re calling up this name
Where are the Americans?

Your dim cultures, your hands and eyes that wander
Stumbling down the road
Or collapsing on parade

We’re lying alone in the Eastern land
Slipping in the morning hours, the only sound
From the lantern covered hills, the only light
From the day yet to begin, the only sign
Of the guns and silhouettes
The only sound, the only light

Only, only!

Done with silence, we’re disconnecting lives
Pull out the lightning dust
At the mention of his name
Wither the Americans!

Take the memories out, hide the evidence under
Piss on the world below
Like a dog, that knows its name
Where are the Americans?

I’m calling on the run tonight
Feeling the remaining hours, the only sound
Are the bells upon the hill, the only light
Are the lanterns in the wind, the only sight
Screams the rust off the rails
The only sound, the only light

Only, only!

The only light is the day yet to begin
The only sight are the lives in silhouette
The only sound is the rushing of the wind
The only light is not the only life

Only, only!

(Footnote: You may interpret the images as you see fit, many folk read many messages)

Commentary

So in that glow of the Obama presidency, the mockery of the Ridiculous Right and the hope that we were still progress, a light which shone and illuminated the intolerance and oppression within the other Big Powers Russia and China I was thinking ‘Nice song Johnathan I do like it, but give your nation a break. It’s not that bad,’

It is dreadfully embarrassing when even after 60+ years on this planet and 50 of them spent following politics and reading histories you can still be found to be naïve and dreaming.

Here we are in 2020. And the rational amongst us, with any sense of the necessity of a nation united if it is to survive hoping, even praying that even someone as not very charismatic or of visibly towing intellect such as Joe Biden can bring down that colossus of ignorance, vanity and ineptitude, the one who sits in the Whitehouse due to a freak of the USA’s voting system, Trump.

Trump himself is an individual of small character and even less ability. Put him in a room, alone, with no audience and just one person of average determination and intelligence and after a short while Trump would storm out with all the dignity of a four year old having the TV switched off or video game taken away. You see Trump is not the issue. It is the bloc of voters who have created a creature of their own imagination and wish fulfillment who loathe the opposite of their views so much, who were so angered by ‘One of Those People’ being in the Whitehouse that they would choose a most obnoxious and inflammatory creature to be their voice simply to get back at the opposition. And that is all he is, The Mouthpiece.

Thus when I look back at the lyrics of Quiet Americans and bear in mind there is still a vast swell of folk who are willing to tolerate this ridiculous state of affairs either by tacit support or self-isolation from the virus of ignorance and bigotry I have to say in all contrition:

Mr. Meiburg. I apologise. In my vanity I forgot, it is you  who are living in the USA, not I. Your comments are thus quite understandable. In fact in post-Brexit and the wake of the UK’s 2019 General Election it is possible to import your song and transpose ‘Britain’ for ‘American’…..Though I am still working on which word to replace ‘Quiet’ with.”  

 

Lamentations

On setting up my new blog I resolved the contents would be Writing, The Whole Writing and Nothing But The Writing. I would keep politics out of it.

This day 13th December 2019 the results of the UK General Election have broken my intention, just this once.

Now, it is an acknowledged fact (in my lexicon) that whereas no one can sing hymns or psalms like The Welsh when it comes to laments no one comes close to the Scots, thus for this day I have borrowed the following: