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.    

Beware. It Lies (and lies) Within.

On the 11th July 1943 the polish inhabitants of the village Kisielin were slaughtered.

Kisielin massacre

This village was situated in the Volhynia region of central eastern Europe, a location around South-Eastern Poland, South-Western Belarus and Western Ukraine. This was not carried out by German forces. This was carried out by units of and sympathisers with the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), a nationalist group with a long and complex history.

Ukrainian Insurgent Army

And was the beginning of a genocidal campaign which would spread into Eastern Galicia and by the end of the summer of 1943 would have claimed upwards of 100,000 lives. The German authorities did not intervene.

Massacres of Poles in Volhynia and Eastern Galicia

(ask any military buff or WWII in Europe reader about July 1943 and they will probably cite the Battle of Kursk in Russia as the most important event of the time)

The events, the peoples and the organisation involved have only been chosen because today is the anniversary of what could be termed the start of one of the many slaughters of civilians during WWII; itself one of many wars renowned for such activity.

If I were so inclined I could most likely fill up the rest of 2020 with daily posts on the evidence of mass killings of civilians of one group by mobs or militias (much the same thing) of another group and present depressing but overwhelming evidence that:

Firstly: No one nation, people or society has clean hands when it comes to the mistreatment of another nation, people or society. We all of us have dirty places we would rather not have historians rake over, or if they do we get very annoyed and start hurling insults at the said historians and their ‘agenda’

Secondly: Nationalism or people ‘fighting for their freedom’ is not a concept replete with tolerant, democratically minded folk fired up with the urge to throw off a repressive government. History is depressingly full of examples when a people have gained their freedom  they (a) Start persecuting minorities within their borders (b) Start of civil war. Basically nationalist groups want things run their way by their people. 

Freedom is a word too often bandied around; so much so it becomes devalued to ‘I don’t care about youI ‘ want things to be MY way. Heritage and National History are also terms which can, are and will be used to cover up the nasty little back-stabbings, hypocrisies and excuses for dirty deeds which call into question the general moral compass of a people who when analysed can be shown to be just as intolerant as their previous masters.

The flaw lies not within one government (which ever ones happens to be the fashionable whipping boy of the time), there are plenty who can compete for that prize at any given decade. Although it is comfortable to blame one form of government for being lesser than another (ie ‘ours’) a brief trip around a nation’s sounding boards will reveal (again) no nation is spotless. Spare me revolutionary talk that’s for dreamers, malcontents and folk who’ve read the book or watched the film V for Vendetta and took it seriously,

Thought for the Day

George Orwell’s Animal Farm is the painfully accurate commentary. Anarchy may be fine for very small groups of easy going people who live far from anyone else.

The flaw lies within the person. Within each and everyone of us, the sometimes very small itch to scratch and blame ‘those people’  for being wrong and thus worthless, other times the frustrated anger to rage against anyone who opposes our views. It works like this:

I have strong views, based on earnestly thought out opinions and justifiable grievances.

YOU are narrow-minded and don’t comprehend. YOU might even be dangerous. ‘

We all do it, we all dash to judgement and ‘sound off’. Fortunately most of us vent it off to long-suffering friends or family, the TV or the ever voracious Social Media. Very few of us take to the streets waving banners suggesting ‘Someone Else’ is the problem.

And there is the tricky danger. There are manifold injustices and inequalities. Legion of issues which need reform or revaluation. The problem lies in when we start to focus those issues as being the fault of one section of society, when we parcel certain groups of folk up. True you can censure some for their Intolerance or Irresponsibility; but to pick on the whole section they come from? Might as well build a huge cage to lock us all in and fire the keys off on a journey to the Sun.

What happened on the 11th July 1943 in one part of central and eastern Europe is an indication and warning of when our flaws are left to fester down the centuries, when one ill-deed or one piece of ignorant is allowed to take root as a general and indisputable series of facts. Sure we can all cite the ‘Payback Excuse’, trouble is: there is Payback for Payback for Payback for Payback….you get the idea.

Never fool yourself into thinking ‘it couldn’t happen here’. Just look down your own history and not that many miles for where you live (even five hundred miles is not very far in global terms), there’s the warning.

And never think you would not be on the giving or receiving end of injustices; the circumstances which lead down those roads are always fearfully close, Six Degrees of Separation does not just relate to relationships of people; it can apply to circumstances.

When it comes down to it The Only Acceptable Intolerance is the Intolerance of Intolerance 

The rest is tragedy and woe waiting to happen.