Monday, June 12, 2017

Q is for Quotidian Fluctuations in a Teacup



Here in the UK, things have been a little weird over the past week. People have red rings around their eyes and they get angry at the slightest provocation. You may have heard that there was an election, and that the result was somewhat unexpected and confusing. You may have seen some news about it and experienced a fleeting sense of bewilderment, wondering whether it was relevant in any way to your own life. And then, deciding that it wasn't, you will have instantly forgotten about it. But if you're even a wee bit curious as to what is afoot, here is an explainer of sorts. I will summarise the election twice. The first summary will be incredibly brief. In fact, it will be one sentence. Should your curiosity be piqued, the second summary will be a bit more in depth.

Summary 1

Nobody is in control and the politicians are running around like headless chickens emitting a strange gurgling squawk from their neck holes as they hold up banners saying 'Situation Normal - please carry on shopping'.

Summary 2

Okay, take a deep breath and get ready to shake your head slowly from side to side whilst quietly muttering "And these people once ran a whole empire?" For clarity and understanding I shall proceed in bullet point format.


  • So, the prime minister, Theresa May — a vicar's daughter who was never elected to lead the country and only promoted to the position after David Cameron resigned following the Brexit vote — called a snap election a little over a month ago.
  • The prevailing logic was that her party, the Conservatives (Tories), would prevail in a landslide, thus cementing her authority and enabling her to follow through on some of her most favoured pledges, such as breaking up with the European Union (which, ironically, she was opposed to in the vote), bringing back grammar schools, taxing people with dementia so that their homes can be stolen, and re-legalising fox hunting for the 1-percenter chums of her investment banker husband.
  • Political analysts boldly stated the Tories would win a landslide because May's only viable opponent, Jeremy Corbyn (leader of the opposition Labour Party), was completely unelectable, despite being very popular with the non-elite.
  • Corbyn, it was said, was 'completely unelectable' because he was a bearded socialist who rode a bicycle to work and spent his down time growing organic vegetables rather than chasing foxes with dogs and selling weapons to Saudi Arabia. In short, he was 'crazy'.
  • Much was made of a statement he made when he said he wouldn't want to start a nuclear war and kill millions of people, which was seen as hopelessly idealistic and weak. What a loser!
  • And the fact that he once spoke with representatives of the IRA (remember them? The Irish Republican Army) to try and get a peace deal. Clearly a friend of terror!
  • A smear campaign was launched by the media, with just about every publication, including so-called progressive outlets, such as The Guardian and the BBC, saying he was not fit for office.
  • Pollsters predicted that the Labour Party would be wiped out — possibly for generations — and we would enjoy a prosperous future governed by the Tories, whose main objective was to privatise everything and share out the spoils among the top 1%.
  • But not everyone loved the Tories. In fact, anyone not under the spell of the media smear campaigns, or under 60, hated them. With bells on.
  • They hated them so much that some of the other progressive parties, such as the Liberal Democrats and the Greens, even bowed down and told their supporters to vote for Labour.
  • This made some of their supporters angry. They didn't like the idea of tactical voting. "It will end in tears," they opined.
  • But young people were quite keen on the idea of getting rid of the Tories and electing Jeremy Corbyn. He had promised them a long list of things, such as abolishing tuition fees for students,   halting austerity programmes and taxing the rich more to pay for public services. Oh, and he was not going to privatise the National Health Service, which the Tories wanted to do.
  • Fighting between the two sides was bitter and acrimonious. The media stooped low, very low.
  • And it began to work. People started to call Jeremy Corbyn 'the terrorists' friend', Jezbollah and Red Jezza.
  • As all this squabbling was going on a young Islamic fanatic walked into a pop concert in Manchester filled with teenage girls and children and detonated a suicide bomb, killing 22 innocents.
  • Everyone went quiet for a few days until Theresa May popped up again saying she was the only one who could be trusted to keep Britain safe from terrorists.
  • But then people with a memory longer than the average goldfish remembered that in her previous role she had axed 20,000 police officers as part of an austerity drive. The police themselves said that would probably have caught the terrorist if they hadn't been so underfunded and resourced.
  • Some of the right wing newspapers began to turn on Theresa May, although they made it clear that the still hated Jeremy Corbyn even more because he 'supports terrorism' and doesn't like war.
  • Theresa May, who enjoyed war and said she would be more than happy to nuke entire nations, tried to fight back. But there was a problem. All she could say was "I am strong and stable" over and over, like a robot that had been programmed by a 10-year-old using BASIC and was stuck in a recurring logic loop. People began to call her the 'Maybot'.
  • She came across very badly in media appearances and decided not to turn up to a televised debate for party leaders, which looked bad.
  • Then, for some reason known only to her and her team of advisors, she stated that she was going to confiscate everyone's houses when they got old and infirm. This didn't go down very well with a lot of people.
  • The gap between Labour and the Tories began to narrow as the election approached, sending several newspapers in paroxysms of terror. All the stops were pulled out in smearing Corbyn and his party. 
  • But none was more terrified than The Guardian, which had been knifing Jeremy Corbyn in the front for the past two years and suddenly realised he was in with a chance of winning. The editor decided to completely reverse position on Corbyn, ordering all leader writers to do a U-Turn on the man. Up until then the progressive organ had advocated a Blairite ideology of free market capitalism under the guise of 'socialism lite'. The spectacle of journalistic slithering and backsliding and was enough to upset a delicate stomach.
  • And then three Islamic fanatics attacked central London on a Saturday night, butchering people with kitchen knives and slitting a waitress's throat before they were killed in a hail of bullets by police.
  • Everyone went silent, again. It was only a week before the election. A few liberals could be heard bleating about extending the hand of love to Jihadis, but otherwise it was quiet.
  • In fact, things were pretty quiet right up to the day of the poll, other than a constant low level murmuring on social media about tactical voting.
  • Nobody mentioned the almost £2 trillion (and rising fast) national debt, or the precarious state of energy reserves. These were issues that are not considered important enough compared to, say, Jeremy Corbyn's fondness for growing his own vegetables, or the fact that he once rode around behind the Iron Curtain on a motorbike. 
  • On election day, every online British news site declared that the Tories would win by a substantial margin, meaning that Corbyn supporters might as well just stay at home. A suspicious person would almost think that there was a coordinat ... oh, never mind.
  • Polls closed at 10pm and then it was revealed that there was a SHOCK EXIT POLL which showed that Jeremy Corbyn could potentially WIN!
  • How could the opinion pollsters have got it so wrong, gasped the public. I mean, they never get it wrong, do they?
  • Corbyn supporters went wild with excitement for several hours as the results began to come in, most of which showed the Tories being savaged by the electorate, even in supposed 'safe seats'. For the second time in less than a year, it seemed people were lining up to plunge their daggers between the ribs of an out-of-touch government.
  • A Tory bloodbath ensued and by the next morning it looked like the government was DOOMED... 
  • BUT there was a major catch. Something which would take a while to sink in for Corbyn's supporters...
  • The Tories had still WON, albeit by a margin not large enough to mean they could be declared fit to form a government.
  • A HUNG PARLIAMENT was declared.
  • Which does not mean suits dangling on the end of lamp posts (yet) but simply means there was no overall winner and  a caretaker government would have to be put in place until another election could be scheduled (and we're getting pretty sick of elections, I can tell you).
  • But Labour supporters (and many others) STILL saw it as a victory and started drinking beer, even though it was a Friday morning, and they should have been drinking tea instead.
  • And then Theresa May, who should have been dead at this point, TOTALLY KILLED THE PARTY!
  • She went to see the Queen and told her she was forming a new government with the DUP. Queenie said "Okay, Mrs May."
  • "The DU what?" said everyone.
  • The DUP — Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party. They had enough elected Members of Parliament to form a viable majority with the Tories.
  • Everyone frantically Googled the DUP to see who they were and what they stood for. When they found out there was much gnashing of teeth and renting of hair.
  • The DUP, it turns out, are an Irish version of ISIS. As Presbyterian fundamentalists, they define themselves by what they hate, which is Catholics, gays, single mothers, sin, Catholics, modernity and gays. What's more, many of their supporters wear black balaclavas and paint murals on the sides of houses depicting them holding machine guns with words such as "Never Surrender" and lines of scripture.
  • These people were now potentially our government.
  • And Jeremy 'the terrorists' friend' Corbyn was still free to spend plenty of time down at the allotment watering his pumpkins.
  • Progressives fell into a profound pit of despair as something beyond their worst nightmares had come to pass. Their strategic voting hadn't worked, and the smaller parties, such as the Greens, having voluntarily acted as doormats, had lost credibility.
  • But it wasn't all bad news from their perspective, at least now EVERYONE hated Theresa May — including her own party. For she has taken a party that was telling itself to get ready to rule for several decades, if not forever, and brought it to the much reduced point where they had to cosy up to people who wore ski masks in the pub.
  • She'll probably be killed off for good shortly and replaced with Boris 'the buffoon' Johnson.
  • And she didn't even get to re-introduce her favourite blood sport, which must hurt.
  • To further confuse things Scotland voted FOR the Tories, rather than their beloved Scottish Nationalist Party — meaning the Scots wanted to be part of Britain and rejected the SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon's desire to break away from England BUT surrender to the EU. Confused yet?
  • Meanwhile, the pound fell on all the uncertainty, and the whole process of Brexit has been thrown into confusion. And the EU just sits there, thrumming its fingers on the desk and saying "Well, are you leaving, or aren't you? Make your mind up."
  • But the DUP don't like the idea of Brexit (which must be sinful, in some way) — despite once stating that Europe was run by the Antichrist — and seeing as they have a very big bargaining chip they might insist on either staying in the EU or watering down the terms of leaving it — most probably in the form of keeping the borders open.
  • Meanwhile 'unelectable' Corbyn is down at his vegetable plot fertilising his brassicas, a wry smile on his weathered face. Not only does he now have a large army of fanatical supporters, but he has some major chunks of the media begging for forgiveness. And if another election were called in the next couple of years —which, let's face it, is looking very likely — he'd stand a good chance of winning.
  • So, to recap, the Tories won but they 'lost', Labour lost but they 'won', the Scottish Tories won for Britain but lost for Scotland, the Northern Irish Presbyterians, who could never have dreamed of winning, have won the whole UK, UKIP has disappeared but might appear with a vengeance if Brexit is threatened, the Green party got thrown on the compost heap and the Liberal Democrats simply annoyed everyone — all clear?
  • And still nobody mentions the debt or the energy entropy time bomb ...

So there you have it. I imagine it looks like a storm in a teacup from an international perspective — but it sure feels uncomfortable when you live in the teacup.

And the winner is ...





12 comments:

  1. Hi Jason,

    A thoroughly enjoyable study of the situation and I personally have been very entertained by the recent goings on up your way. You may find it interesting that we have had the same shenanigans going on down here in Parliament for a while. The inescapable conclusions to me is that:

    a) the media is certainly not being listened too by the general populace - otherwise how could they get it so wrong. They look to me like the mage that believes their own spells; and

    b) if the Parliament is anything like the monkey business down here, then clearly they are not doing their jobs of governing and sooner or later someone will point that out.

    PS: Really got a laugh out of the: (yet)!

    Cheers and good luck!

    Chris

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    1. Hi Chris. Oh, yes, it's pretty much all monkey business at this point. As for the media, well, the joke's on them. Even older people are turning away from the established newspapers as they've too become hooked into the social media vortex. I personally know a 70ish year old man who has been a lifelong Tory supporter and is now 100% against them.

      I'm sure a thousand PhDs could be written on the effect of the electronic and social media on people's state of consciousness ....

      We don't produce an awful lot of useful stuff these days, compared to when we were coal-powered and could export wherever we liked. Since the 1970s we've been moving towards a service economy backed by fiat currency and asset bubbles. It's amazing that this kind of magic trick could have lasted so long but it seems that it is caving in on us and all sorts of political groupings are scrambling to claim the largest chunks of debris. If and when people realise how bad the situation really is I'm going to put on my tin hat and move into the basement until the shouting stops. If it ever does.

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  2. As a sign of American exceptionalism. We manage to create the same insanity with only two parties. I do admit we first learned empire building and bumbling from the mother country. More importantly we are beginning to learn to brew a half decent ale. Unfortunately I learned to drink in London so I developed early onset alcoholism and have not be able to enjoy our micro breweries. Life is humbling if you pay attention!

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    1. Hi Dennis - brewing ale is a key skill in a civilisational collapse scenario. There can be no bleaker image of the future than a bleak image of the future without a pint of craft nettle ale in your hand!

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  3. Hi Jason,

    You know, I have been wondering for a while - and you may have more thoughts about this than I - whether the problems in the media are because:

    a) the concentration of media ownership has reduced in recent years;

    b) the number of journalists employed by that media has reduced (incidentally we apparently have more students studying journalism in this country than there are even jobs available - how does that work?) in recent years. Job security in that industry must not be good as a consequence;

    c) I reckon that paid articles must be on the rise because it is hard to maintain the same level of output whilst at the same time reducing the number of employees producing said output; and / or

    d) The whole social media thing is a bit of a chicken and egg argument. Which came first? Or is one the cause of the other, or is one the effect of the other?

    Dunno, but to be so consistently wrong must ring alarm bells for them? Maybe that is why the shrill tone has snuck its way into the discourse?

    Thanks for taking the time to write your synopsis and if it means anything to you, I'm also very impressed with the efforts at the ever expanding the money supply. It really is quite an impressive feat. It would be distressing for the people having to press the print button. Surely they must know that they can't get off the carousel?

    Cheers

    Chris

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    1. Hi Chris - yes, I've been trying to figure this out for a number of years as well. I know people like to blame media barons for the poor state of the media, but I think there's more going on than that. I really do think that human being as narrative-driven animals, and whoever gets to control the flow of narratives we are being fed, also controls how we think, feel and act. John Michael Greer wrote about thaumaturgy (magical mind control) a while back, and it seems very plausible that the media, along with the advertising industry, really is shaping the human narrative to their advantage.

      The internet may well have kicked that door down good and proper and woken people up to the fact that we can create our of narratives and ways of living in the world. This must be truly scary for them and may account for their business model circling the drain. This can only be a good thing.

      Young people want to get into 'the media' because they think it will be exciting and glamorous. In my experience there isn't much truth in this. Most of them will end up being interns for years before eventually moving onto something more profitable, such as window cleaning or street sweeping. The ones who 'make it' will mostly be the sycophants, although good, talented journalists do still exist in isolated numbers.

      Most journalism, however, is crap. One of the main reasons it is crap is because intellectualism is discouraged. The modern journalist has to produce articles at a breakneck speed, meaning there is only time to scratch the surface of the subject. To meet their targets they must copy one another and not get bogged down in twee details, such as whether it is true or not. There's a saying that "99% of journalism is plagiarism" - and that's an old pre-internet saying too.

      That's my very potted take on it, at least - but it's a huge subject and there are no obvious answers.

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    2. Coincidentally ... someone just sent me a link to this article about what's wrong with journalism and how to fix it. It's written by Nafeez Ahmed, who you may know is a kind of collapse writer and blogger, but is also quite well known as a decent journalist. I haven't read the whole thing yet, and most of it seems to be his life story, but it seems like it could be interesting.


      Journalism's Next Frontier

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  4. This post is best read, IMHO, while playing the theme to the seventies sitcom "Soap" on a repeating loop.

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    1. Ah yes - the perfect background music!

      Either that or this.

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  5. Don't blame you for doing the recap as bullet points. Thing are so convoluted and illogical, a linear narrative would turn in to a surreal novel. Bullet pointing the last hundred days here in Trump's reality show would be a large depressing task.

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    1. Yes - if I wrote it all out in prose it would be several thousand words long!

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  6. More satire, please! It is satire, isn't it?

    'Life's a jest/ I always thought it/ Now I'm dead/ I know it!'

    The author of that inscription had it nailed.

    The contortions of the hypocritical Guardian regarding Corby are a delight, and also their posturing on social housing -I remember how snooty the rather wealthy Polly Toynbee was in the office lift, having to share space with the peons......

    Delighted you are writing again.

    Xabier

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I'll try to reply to comments as time permits.