Shall we blame Foreigners ? Oh yes, let’s. It’s all those Eurocrats and Asylum Seekers. Those Ukranians. Those Poles. Those Australians. Those “ethnics.” Foreigners are all liars and criminals. Well, let’s pretend they are, anyway. It’s comforting to feel under siege. It makes you surer of your ground.
And shall we blame Poor People too ? People dependent on a benevolent State ? People in a weak position ? Oh yes, let’s. They’re all skivers, all workshy. That’s a lie, of course. But so what ? It’s comforting. Let’s grab the lie and wack ’em with it. Let’s make them foreign in our minds and give ’em a kicking. It will cheer us up. It’ll make us feel surer of our ground.
People outside a particular and familiar ring. People beyond the pale. Easy targets. Let’s get ’em. Then we few can feel that we’re all in this together. In a ring and under siege. Hitting out at the besiegers.
Or shall we blame the politicians who should fix everything, but do not ? Who should speak to us from the heart but merely mouth their lines at us, treating us like children, treating us like the enemy without, treating us as just fodder for their sleek and poisonous propaganda ?
And then, after treating us like children, they behave like adolescent hooligans themselves, squealing yah-boo in public in ways that we would punish them for if we were their parents. And they in turn join the blame-game, in their adolescent way, turning the House of Commons into a poorly supervised school playground :
Mumsy, it’s not me. It’s him. It’s Them. The international financial crisis precipitated by the misbehaviour of certain banks around the world was all Gordon’s fault, Mumsy. Blame him. And Ed. And Ed. Them others. Not me. I’m a good boy. So is Georgie-boy. And him over there, on the other side, he’s a waste of space, Mumsy. Love me, not him. I’m the one for you, Mumsy. Just look at the way I point at dead fish in foreign places in the Summer-time. It proves I was born to lead, Mumsy. Throw me your favour.
Once upon a time, people burned witches. Especially in times of heightened anxiety. Especially along uncertain frontiers. It was comforting.
In some aspects we have advanced since then. These days, for instance, we can sit a space-craft down on a comet. In other aspects, it seems, we have advanced not a millimetre. Our children will pay for that.
In our anxiety we retreat into a ring of anger and look to make someone outside it pay. As if that will solve the problem. As if that will magic away the cause of our anxiety.
In my own ring, I find myself raging at my country’s political leaders to the point of hatred. My contempt for Cameron et al is already leaking into this piece and I have to ask myself, am I not just joining the witch-hunt ? Where The Express seeks to whip up prejudice against foreigners, where the Mail seeks to whip up prejudice against people it calls “the Workshy” and where Davey-boy blames Gordon in a sustained attempt to blind people into supporting the Tory cuts and Austerity policies, leading them away from the facts and away from their saner selves, am I not equally scapegoating Davey-boy – for things over which he actually has no control, things which, even were he a far better and more honourable statesman and citizen and human being than he is, he could not do much to ameliorate ?
And I have to answer, yes, probably, to an extent. The extent of the intensity cannot entirely be due to the man and his actions. I yearn for his defeat in May, and for everything he apparently stands for, but under a different less smoothly loutish and socially divisive and destructive group of political leaders, will the world be that much safer ? Will humankind be any closer to salvation ? Will our futures look significantly more redolent of hope ? We are who we are and maybe in this generation we are merely discovering that who we are as a species is a hopeless case. Davey-boy, Head Rude-boy of Blingland, is just a reminder of a wider cause for despair. He is who we deserve, maybe. He is us, maybe. He occupies a space that we have left for him. It is finally our doing that at this juncture the high office of Prime Minister of the UK is occupied by a sleek sociopathic salesman of rotten cabbages whom significant numbers of us continue to find plausible, against the evidence of five years’ worth of harm he has done to this country, to its structures and to its soul.
And here I think is my justification. In the circumstances, I am looking too much to a mere political leader to rescue us, to have all the answers, to work miracles, to be genuinely inspirational ; and I have no right to blame that leader for what is actually human nature, the limitations, frailties and fallibility from which none us is free ; but in our present situation of tumult, fragmentation and uncertainty, conditions which call for the best and wisest and most generous in all of us, I am justified in blaming that leader for seeking as often as the present one does to work on and encourage and ride upon the worst in all of us, for his own benefit. And the lies keep coming, carefully coined, smoothly delivered. The lies alone signify a contempt for and distance from the nation he keeps lying to, that makes him dangerous to it. Each new lie is a further drop of poison in the reservoir of our democracy and our community. Neither democracy nor community can survive without trust. And as any parent will tell any child, lies destroy trust and make speaking in words pointless.
So, in the circumstances, I am looking for worthy political leadership with greater need and expectation than perhaps is quite justifiable ; but what the present leadership has provided for the past five years is an attack across the board upon all the values I hold dear and on all the ties which in my opinion hold us together as a Society and are the soil and spring-board for any real recovery that we might hope for. A vacuum has grown and grown. The words we seek continue to fail. The ways forward we reach for keep failing to materialise. The present leader has not led. He has merely postured and kicked out. There has been no recovery of anything of worth. He has merely shown us, time after time, in himself, what the problem is. If we were in doubt before of what we stand for and where we are going, we are in utter bewilderment now. Values have been thrown to the winds. As a nation in 2015, we stand for nothing we can be proud of, only self and self-seeking, deceitfulness and greed. We have been spun into utter emptiness and delinquency at all levels. Our own children have cause to be very frightened of us.
How can we ever fully understand ourselves, the tides and currents that swirl in our systems ? Perhaps also there is a kind of well in me which has been breached, concerning people who are vulnerable. Connecting with the vulnerable, the outsider, is a kind of well-spring for me and explains much of my working life. This government has laid into the vulnerable virtually from the start, making political capital from something unworthy and destructive in human nature which it had a duty, as the government of a civilised country, to oppose. Instead it cultivated the fissure, encouraged the misinformation, indulged itself in the prejudices of its natural supporters, and moved in and began to bully, claiming virtue in so doing. There can be no excuse, no justification. I see it as a criminal offence.
One more line of thought : politics can arouse passions and for all its limitations can have a massive impact on many people’s lives. Witness the Bedroom Tax. This is Caesar’s world, after all. Caesar can kill in all manner of ways. Give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s due.
But where is God in this ? Or religion ? Or the faith that goes with both ?
Are the worlds of God and Caesar so very distinct ? There is much that can be said in answer, but I shall limit myself to a few thoughts and then I shall offer a couple of names for a new god.
Faith which is normally associated with religion can also be applied to secular movements, to political means and ends. Thus, people can believe in certain politics, certain governmental policies and ideas and creeds, with religious fervour. So those ventures become something other than mere human constructs and rational attempts of the possible. They become Right (or Wrong) ; they become Good (or Bad) ; they become attempts to correct (or corrupt) human living. They become objects of worship. They attract devotees, some of whom may be fanatical.
And my name for this new god is Me n’ Mine. Another name is Number One. In turn, this god reminds me of other false gods I have heard of – Baal and Moloch. They occur in the Old Testament and are associated there with idolatry, enemies of the chosen people. They are also associated with child sacrifice. Devotees propitiated the god by sacrificing to him their own children. Flaubert gives an appalling description of one such imagined ceremony in his novel “Salammbô”. The children were burnt alive within the brazen statue of the god.
Come to think of it, Number One is not such a new god after all. Mammon has been around for quite a while, attracting devotees, enjoying his creatures.
But this false god, however we name it, is not just our own figment, our own blank canvas. It has reality, real force. It works upon and within each one of us, strengthening the worst in us, weakening the best. Some of us become its creatures, its orcs, wholly overwhelmed and overtaken. I think it originates in fear.
But only in this generation has the worship of Mammon actually threatened the next generation of humanity with death from global burning. Maybe this is another reason for the intensity of my hatred of the present government. It is a government of faith. Its creatures worship Me an’ Mine/”Number One”/Mammon/Baal/Moloch. Their faith is blind. And they are dangerous.