New cans; old worms

Global or local, big or small picture, humans are politically riven with both justifiable and manufactured agendas. Whether as bolsters to old conflicts or newly perceived correlations, contemporary symptoms become the causes of tomorrow, especially when they are misunderstood and mishandled. There and here brews a god almighty convergence of violent complaint. New cans; old worms. History’s harvest.

Some people are still actively relishing the disturbing fragility of our times; they have waited so long, worked so hard for the potential of such days as these. They are the nihilists and the dispossessed, seeking retribution for the state of their lives, real, imagined and relative.

So they pour scorn and claim betrayal as a means to myriad, dissonant ends and invest in the cathartic revenge pictures and nebulous promises of restitution painted by charlatans and incompetents who take the righteous, justifiable indignation of the Commons and genetically modify it with conspiracies, ideological wishes and expedient scapegoats. Free-market patriotism.

Their default strategy is blanket blame by demographic whack-a-mole. They lump together all the characters, functions and effects of establishment, class and information in much the same paranoid, misinformed way as people who think that all drugs are all the same – just BAD, man. Their solution, the Brexit/Trump effect, is no better reasoned than cutting off your right arm because it might make the left one stronger. They turn creative destruction into throwing out, not just the proverbial baby, along with the scummy recycled bath water but also the actual bath.

They became those for whom no proof was either possible or necessary, even in the face of indisputable facts. Until, suddenly, it is. All that certainty was merely prologue to their next sense of betrayal, delivered, wholly predictably, by the capriciousness and ineptitude of their own brokers. And Hell on Earth hath no fury like a co-saboteur scorned.

The sane world watches, nervously, holding its breath.

But what is the UK to be, now?

The identity of the UK is in a crisis of much longer-standing than the disgusting populism that currently discerns it by such criteria as your socio-economic influence, what colour your skin is, whether you lean Left or Right, what religion you might practise or where your parents were born. Politically, that is as much about how certain people so badly need to mark or choose our personal identities for us as it is about how we might or might not identify ourselves – because finger-pointing and division serve their social comfort and agenda.

Also apparent, particularly since the first Scottish independence referendum, is the severity of the identity crisis of the UK, itself, which, post the Brexit result, is now a direct, overt and rather urgent matter. We should all care, whether petty tribalist or sincere patriot; scapegoated or scapegoater.

Unionists, Nationalists, Independents and Federalists; centralisation, devolution, globalism and localism; Brexit-Remain; Left-centrist-Right: somewheres and anywheres: we’re all being stitched up, in whichever part of the UK we live, howsoever we identify or have been categorised.

Conflict within and between our individual and collective identities are not recent phenomena. Anyone who reads history and/or literature, has lived long enough or just pays general attention to human nature knows there has always been friction and tension between the micro and macro. At this point in our timeline, though, when malice, mischievous tinkering and authoritarianism are determining the future at a confluence of circumstances, it behoves us to think more deeply, sensibly and bravely.

What and who and how is the UK to be, now?

One big country with one central government (beneficial democratic reforms notwithstanding)? Four separate countries joined in equal union? I said equal. Four co-dependent states under a mishmash of overlapping powers and inconsistent arbitration, secretly content in their mutual aggravation?

Or are we four ideologically disparate nations, who merely happen to share a lot of history, mostly by quirk of geographical proximity but who should just call time and separate? Or is it too easy and too terrible to think that? I hope so.

Whichever we are, we need to decide. And fast. If we can’t even negotiate and co-operate with each other – with ourselves – with mutual respect and for mutual benefit, then what of our prognosis, with the rest of the world?