Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Brexit: arresting the decline

Brexit thus far has been an education for me. It has been a lesson in how low people can sink and how big a lie politicians are willing to tell. Just lately the sky's the limit. Nothing makes me angrier than those politicians and personalities in the Brexit debate who will continue to lie without responding to criticisms or inputs. Information is like water off a ducks back.

What sickens more more is how bovine and tribal people become in support of liars. It matters not how much effort one puts into learning how the the EU works and the limitations of our choice. Some are determined to impress their fantasies onto reality come what may. They are brazen in the way they do it, totally shameless and cynical to the core. I have never seen politics so lacking integrity.

This applies to leavers and remainers alike. Their narratives can turn on a sixpence without any explanation or evolution and they pretend they thought that all along. They do it because there's nothing there to hold them to account. Certainly not our media which has no institutional memory and no memory of events going back more than a fortnight.

Their behaviour is also increasingly foul natured - never ever addressing arguments, instead preferring character assassination and weaponising indignation. They cheat, they lie, they plagiarise and they bully.

A more recent development is even more troubling. I am often chastised for attacking certain individuals instead of what they say - but actually that's because they say nothing at all substantive. If they did I would have the material to comprehensively take them to pieces - but they are merely goblins flinging excrement at each other along tribal lines.

The one thing they all have in common, though, is that they are all in the sphere of the London media. It's no coincidence.

It would seem that most people do not follow the arguments, rather they choose people they perceive to be on their team and cheer them on. There is no strategic thought going on here. There is no defence of values. Each side may have their little scriptures and nostrums but they don't actually stand for anything or have any clear idea of what they want. they don't care what happens just so long as the other side loses.

This is what makes me the odd man out in that I think we, the public, lose if any of them win outright. I would no more like to see the Tory right prevail than I would Corbyn and his band of jew hating miscreants. Nominally that would make me a centrist but when we cast our eyes to the centre we find cowards just trying to stay out of the storm or self-serving, ideas free party clones with no talent, charisma or intellect.

A more cynical person might just say that this is politics as it has always been only social media brings us closer to the source under a more intensive light where we can see it warts and all. That much is true, and there have long been signs that our politics is dysfunctional but Brexit has unleashed merry hell.

The reason for this being that this political apparatus of ours is not usually tasked with accomplishing anything. Largely it is parasitic, distracts by trivia and only seldom manages to do something useful. The rest of the time it spends virtue signalling and grandstanding, passing ever more authoritarian and insipid laws, gradually eroding the fabric of our system of law while lavishing our money on their vanity projects and gesture bombing.

Brexit, however, requires them to focus and understand something to a greater depth than they are used to - requiring their full attention and engagement in detail. Ordinarily the civil service manages to keep things ticking over and limit the damage they can do, but this requires competent decision making based on quality information. It is simply outside of their capabilities. Our politics does not produce people capable of directing change or responding to it.

Partly the problem is the media and the think tank set who are no longer capable of producing quality information and wouldn't know where to look for it, not least because their horizons do not extend much further than Westminster and if they don't know something they cannot be told since they're arrogant enough to think they know it all already.

We therefore have a set of self-satisfied, self-congratulatory wastrels who consort only with each other, producing an inbred exclusive pool of squirming ambition and ego. Considering themselves to be important, swept away by the prestige and glamour of the Westminster life, they have no concept of anything outside the bubble and have no use for it.

It therefore festers, developing its own insular culture, driven largely by orally transmitted gossip, factoid and narrative. This is what produces the Westminster politico-media groupthink and this is why its invincible stupidity cannot be corrected.

Around this has gown an entertainment industry where there are many who think they engage in politics when what they actually engage with is politics as a hobby, not to achieve anything, but for self-gratification and entertainment. This is why we see the rise of the celebrity public intellectual. They become tribal chieftains and through their various media platforms project their handful of tropes to a willing audience who will praise them no matter how tired the narrative or how remarkably unoriginal.

Then of course each media vessel will have its own think tank de jour, and their favoured prestige entity from which to draw their "experts". Here is where we find flim flam artists masquerading as experts ever keen to tell those higher up the chain precisely what they want to hear. Then of course no think tank is complete without the must-have fashion accessory - a telegenic twenty-something girlie (of either sex) to parade on Question Time.

They will be bland, compliant functionaries not known for knowing things, nor valued for knowing things - rather their value is their availability, their low running costs and their willingness to regurgitate anything they are told. Since they have institutional prestige it doesn't actually matter that they are drooling imbeciles.

This cosy little set up has served politics well while under the dead hand of Brussels rule, where the real business of policy is dealt with by Commission technocrats negotiated between corporate lobbyists and NGOs. UK politics has no aptitude for policymaking because it never goes anywhere near policy. Their idea of policy is banning things and taxing things. They are entirely blind to governance systems and have no idea how one thing interacts with the next.

This is made worse by way of being anchored to dogmatic political philosophies, most of which are obsolete and impractical and entirely unrealistic. This has been kept at bay for decades as the EU has served as a technocratic backstop that keeps them from interfering with the running of things. One might very well argue that this is an attractive facet of the EU.

But then the longer term consequence of this is a political system entirely unfamiliar with the art of governance and statecraft which is why it has become so shallow, self-absorbed and intellectually exhausted. Without the EU as a backstop things very rapidly fall apart.

The problem with this configuration though is that the EU is remote, unresponsive and things do not change because the system is designed to prevent change. We therefore experience policy obsolescence without the means to address the problems and lacking quality institutions through which to affect meaningful change.

That is the root cause of the disaffection and the growing cultural gulf between the public and the politicians. That it the very essence of Brexit where the public have decided they will tolerate this no longer and are willing to stomach the uncertainty and turmoil in order to resolve it.

But this then leaves me at a loss to understand why those who voted for Brexit would lavish praise upon the chattering classes of the politico media set just because they opportunistically endorse Brexit. How hollow it sounds to hear Brendan O'Neill and Julia Dunning-Kruger droning on about the "chattering classes" when they're ever present on Sky News and write for The Spectator.

Now that we have voted to leave the EU it seems the chances of successfully extracting ourselves from this mess seem remote. Our politics and media simply isn't up to the job. It doesn't seem possible that they can learn, focus and grow as people to handle such an undertaking. It is little wonder that remainers are doing all within their power to avoid the inevitable fallout.

So it then because a more base question not of EU membership, rather it is one of whether you think we can simply tolerate degraded politics and degraded institutions or whether we need to go through this corrective process in the hope of arresting the decline.

I am of the view that this is simply something that must be done. The fallout, whatever that may be will either kill or cure. It has only a fifty fifty chance of succeeding. If we no longer have the mettle to make a go of self governance then in the end we will drift back to be subsumed by the EU (assuming it doesn't implode).

There is, of course, the other possibility, that the failure and indeed the collapse of our politics, will be the right catalyst for sweeping democratic reforms. The demand is certainly there and I do not see how this Westminster circus can carry on in its current form. With it being preoccupied by Brexit, councils will have to do more and do better and the public themselves will have to takes some responsibility.

Even with fifty fifty odds you can see why at least half the country thinks it is worth a punt. Culturally I don't think politics could get much worse than it already is. It is also why we cannot be persuaded by economic arguments of remainers. It's a question of whether we choose to be economic units grazing on the land, managed from afar and distracted by faux-politics which exists only to serve a a proxy for what we have lost - or whether we choose genuine democracy and the responsibilities and obligations that go  with it.

I am of the view that without functioning politics we cannot have a functioning society. Having hollowed out citizenship it is easy to see why the youth could so casually barter it away for a European railcard and freedom from roaming charges. I do not think though, that this is a healthy way for humans to exist. We are a community minded species, and it matters that we have our own politics, customs and ideas and the ability to express ourselves through our processes.

I don't ever envisage a time where politics will not be the domain of liars and other assorted pondlife but I think it within our grasp to make them responsible, accountable and answerable to us. If that is the ultimate legacy of Brexit then it will be worth whatever it costs.

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