Wake up and smell the rise of rampant, unfettered capitalism.
There’s an all too clichéd expression which hails from America. ‘Wake up and smell the coffee.’ Have you ever tasted American coffee? It’s a travesty. Come to that, have you tasted a Hershey Bar? America’s sweetheart confection makes me eternally glad for the Quaker Cadburys and Frys. When it comes to coffee and chocolate (the good things in life) America can’t touch us. But when it comes to capitalism… well, another expression ‘follow the money’ tells you all you need to know.
So Donald Trump is to be president. Go figure, as they say. Well yes, why don’t we ‘go figure.’ While everyone is wringing their hands and wondering how it can be that the final part of the tales of the unexpected: Better Together, Brexit and Make America Great has actually happened, I suggest that it’s time we ALL woke up and smelled the obvious.
It used to be that everyone wondered how Hitler could have come to power. I think we have the answer to that now. In simple terms it’s because people don’t always tell the truth about their intentions.
I don’t know how to state it any more clearly, the thing no one wants to admit. Scotland is still part of the UK because MORE people in Scotland want to be shackled to it than want to be independent and self determining. The UK is about to leave Europe because MORE of the English want Brexit (and what Scotland thinks doesn’t count because, hey, we voted to stay too wee, too poor and too stupid to make our own decisions). And America is about to be ‘Made Great Again’ in the image of Donald J.Trump because WHATEVER people say they’d rather a billionaire business man with high celebrity status ran the country than a politician – especially if that president is either black or female. That’s the stark reality folks. We have got the results we wanted. And even if you or I didn’t get what we wanted out of them – we didn’t vote for them, right? – even so, the reality we have to face is that we are not in the majority.
This is the way the world is.
The Labour Party has recently been given a bloody nose because they didn’t wake up to the fact that more people in England (or the UK, who knows, given the parlous state of Labour in Scotland?) want Jeremy Corbyn as a leader. The Movement and the Party are at odds and the Parliamentarians need to wake up and smell their own reality. The will of the people when you let them out of their representative democracy box and put them into a participatory democracy box, or give them a pencil so that they can put an x in a box, will be to do what they want to do, or what they’ve been ‘bread and circused’ into thinking is the right thing –that’s the right thing for them as individuals, not the ‘right’ thing for all – to do.
The People have spoken.
But what about us? The right thinking minority. What do we do about it? This is where I suggest that we shouldn’t compare apples with oranges (or coffee with chocolate). While I think it is right and proper that the Labour Party should accept the will of the Labour Movement, I am a lot less happy about being told as an individual citizen to accept the political realities we are currently being sold.
Bandying the ‘d’ word around is intended to frighten us. You can’t be seen to be ‘undemocratic’ if you want to be a good ‘citizen.’ But what if the so-called democracy is corrupt in and of itself? What if that is the reality we should be looking to? Acceptance of the will of the majority is all very well – but do we all just become soldiers following orders? At what point do we stand up for something we believe in – like social justice, or self-determination – instead of kowtowing to some constructed version of a politics we can clearly see is corrupt to the core.
Where Donald J.Trump can sell himself as the champion of the working people, and they accept that, I suggest we have come a long way from having an intelligent electorate, or a fair and well balanced system (democratic or otherwise). And before we sneer at the Americans – Gordon Brown anyone? Plenty of people fell for that one. Nigel Farage? A pattern emerges.
In America where the right of free speech means exactly that – anyone can say literally anything to anyone else, however inflammatory - everyone also has the right to ‘bear arms,’ aka shoot to kill to defend themselves against another person who might piss them off. This is surely a completely warped moral code. It works fine where individuals are expendable and unimportant. Where people are valued only as human resources and human capital.
And here at home, surely we need to stop being so gutless and start standing up and being counted. Not in my name. Fair words but have we all become such social media fodder that we think that signing petitions and liking, or sneering, or trolling or meme-ing our way through life is a practical and positive way of protesting against a society that is going fast in a very dangerous direction? As a man who gave his life in the cause of social justice and freedom, not far away from ‘the wall’ Trump intends Mexicans to build with their own beaten and bloodied hands, (or the financial equivalent) Che Guevara said: ‘words that do not match deeds are unimportant.’ Whatever your view of ‘el Che’ I suggest this is a quotation we should all take to heart. Stop being soldiers following orders. Stop accepting things that you know are completely unacceptable. Stop being afraid that a morally bankrupt version of democracy will call you undemocratic. And stop talking the talk of social justice while walking the walk of individual consumer capitalism. In short – let’s all take a long hard look at ourselves and consider what part WE TOO have played in all this.
As Lenin, and Tolstoy before him both said ‘What then can we do?’
Of course there are those who are proud to think that racism, sexism, anti-environmentalism and for whom big boy bully tactics are something to be proud of, being the thing that will ‘make America Great’. All I can say is that like those who endorsed Brexit, it seems increasingly easy to get the turkeys to vote for Christmas in the modern world. I think the phrase ‘bread and circuses’ was invented for just such a situation as this.
The American Dream was sold on the ‘anyone can be president’ and these days it’s really true – with one caveat – anyone with enough money (and Donald J Trump has a LOT of money) can be President. So. The American Dream is alive and well, eh? It’s the best damned democracy money can buy. Believe.
In today’s celebrity, brand endorsed world it seems that any dream will do. As long as everyone keeps well clear of facing up to reality.
It used to be that the answer to ‘what can I do?’ was ‘add your light to the sum of light’ but the light seems to have dimmed so far now I’m not sure that’s feasible. The lights are about to go out folks, and not just on the future of the planet environmentally. The moral light is all but extinct.
One thing we can try to do is learn from the past. He who does not learn from his mistakes is, after all, condemned to repeat them. And that brings me to my own contribution. Gateway is a small, but I suggest valuable part in a battle being played out on social media which is a world away from TwitBook World. It may well be that Big Brother has walked away with the day. We maybe cannot win. Utopia is a dream after all. Social Justice looks to be going the same way. Democracy means Democracy but what does that mean? For me, all that is left is to declare ‘I will not love Big Brother.’ If I’m going down, I’m going down fighting. With words that are my daily deeds. I deal, after all, in words for a living.
I’m not into the words ‘good’ and ‘evil’ but I leave you with the thought that ‘all that it takes for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing.’ How much longer, my friends, are we going to do nothing? Please. Give generously. Do what little you can. Whatever that may be. Walk the walk, however crippled it makes you. Because words that do not match deeds are unimportant. And the future of humanity, currently on soma while the life-support is being disconnected, may just depend on YOU.
This month’s Gateway looks at Utopias. From which stemmed Dystopias. I don’t know what the word is for a post-dystopic world but I suspect if the world isn’t blown to bits in the next 50 years someone will find a good label for the world we live in. And it won’t be paradise.
To find past articles please use monthly archives.