Would the 17.4 million please stand up

Johnson, Gove et al appear to be engaged in some political limbo challenge. How low can you go? Hey I can go lower than that. So we are being shamed almost hourly by the ridiculous sabre rattling, the aggressive speeches, the threats against those who oppose them and their dangerous alt-right fuelled dreams.

I say shamed, but terrified would be more accurate. How many of you saw the Leave poster yesterday? It’s been taken down now but I may be able to find it on the web to show you. Well that didn’t take long, you can see it here.

One of the backers of this campaign is Arron Banks. Not the man you’d like find moving in next door. All the hallmarks of fascism are stamped over both Leave and Johnson’s government. The playbook is lifted from the rise of the Nazis. We are constantly told leaving the EU is the will of the British people; that to ignore the result of the 2016 referendum would be undemocratic, would let down the 17.4 million who voted in favour of ‘going it alone’. Never mind that the population is more than four times that number, that quite a few of the people who voted are now dead, and every poll shows most people want to stay in the EU, that large numbers of those who voted Leave are horrified at what is being done in their name. No, the tail must wag the dog and pull us all down. It would be nice if the 17.4 million stood up now and told the government to stop. It may only be if they do that the madness will end.

I have written before about language and how it is used by the government. No wonder this piece caught my eye at the weekend. One paragraph made me raise both eyebrows. This one:

“The right in the UK has only recently fired up the war metaphors, ramping up the notion of violent conflict and the associated notion already used against the EU of uniting against an ‘enemy’,” says Thorne. “Now it’s a little different – the enemy is here at home and is anyone who disagrees. The left’s vocabulary is more varied mixing jokey derision – melt [moderates], unicorn [impossible dream] – with more savage descriptions such as pathocracy [leadership by people with personality disorders].”

It was the words “Now it’s a little different – the enemy is here at home and is anyone who disagrees.” I’d say that’s more than ‘a little different‘. To be regarded as the enemy within because you oppose Johnson is only a step away from the one party state. Will I know when the moment has come (if it does, and I sincerely hope it doesn’t) where it is wise to get out with whatever I can carry before my home, my assets are seized and I am kicked into the gutter, my patriotism, my citizenship denied because it isn’t nationalistic?

When I first saw the film Cabaret many years ago now, there was one scene that really struck me. This one:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FN7r0Rr1Qyc

Salman Rushdie wrote in Shame, published 1983, how the military dictatorship used the language of religion to sway and confuse people.

“So-called Islamic ‘fundamentalism’ does not spring, in Pakistan, from the people. It is imposed on them from above. Autocratic regimes find it useful to espouse the rhetoric of faith, because people respect that language, are reluctant to oppose it. This how religions shore up dictators; by encircling them with words of power, words which the people are reluctant to see discredited, disenfranchised, mocked.
But the ramming-down-the-throat point stands. In the end you get sick of it, you lose faith in the faith, if not qua faith then certainly as basis for a state. And then the dictator falls, and it is discovered that he had brought God down with him, that the justifying myth of the nation has been unmade. This leaves only two options: disintegration, or a new dictatorship … no, there is a third, and I shall not be so pessimistic as to deny its possibility. The third option is the substitution of a new myth for the old one. Here are three such myths, all available from stock at short notice: liberty; equality; fraternity.
I recommend them highly.”

Spot on. And notice how he leaves us with the possibility of redemption. Here he is on migrants:

“All migrants leave their pasts behind, although some try to pack it into bundles and boxes-but on the journey something seeps out of the treasured mementoes and old photographs, until even their owners fail to recognize them, because it is the fate of migrants to be stripped of history, to stand naked amidst the scorn of strangers upon whom they see rich clothing, the brocades of continuity and the eyebrows of belonging..”

It’s a book I need to reread. The book I am rereading is Anil’s Ghost by Michael Ondaatje. I could quote extensively from it too, but at least this evening I’ll refrain. I’ll limit myself to saying his writing, which is beautiful, makes this painful novel about a society that has torn itself apart in civil war, readable. He doesn’t bludgeon you. Horrors are described not sensationalised.

It’s almost time for the news, so I shall stop now before I learn what new depths my government has stooped to, and if Trump has been certified insane yet. His behaviour has become increasingly erratic; his language increasingly bizarre and grandiose. It sounds very much like someone having a full blown manic episode. He needs help. If he has reached the stage where he has been standing naked outside the White House I just hope they don’t show it on the news.

5 thoughts on “Would the 17.4 million please stand up

  1. I am STAGGERED by this image. I’m just completely outraged. I like the posters in which Angela Merkel is replaced by Boris or Nigel, but the idea that anyone would consider that image acceptable in any context whatsoever is atrocious.
    I love the idea of the Pathocracy – adopting this term immediately.

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