The late, great songwriter John Prine had an elderly character in his song Hello In There, despair that ‘all the news just repeats itself.’
His implication is that if you stick around long enough, the game of life becomes as predictable as Connect Four.
Much has been made over the last few years about how ‘unprecedented’ everything is.
9/11, Brexit, Trump, Covid have all been touted as proof that we are living in a new paradigm where the certainties of the past have given way to disorder and random happenstance.
Beneath the frantic bleeping of data and events in the Information Age, however, beats the slow, steady pulse of human instinct and, with all ideologies seemingly discredited, this is where we can begin to make sense of the interesting times through which we are cursed to live.
I don’t know how to break this to you, but The Guardian reports that Nigel Farage plans a return to politics in time for next year’s election. That came out of left field, didn’t it?
Who could have predicted in this mad, random world that the country’s foremost out-of-a-suitcase grievance pedlar might be planning to translate 8000 hours of primetime exposure on I’m A Celebrity into yet another lucrative thrust into the body politic?
His plan, whisper it, is to ‘make the election about immigration’. Such vision!
How could one man in a pink blazer embody the zeitgeist such that he were all men? Shape politics for us, Nige! What could possibly go wrong?
One of life’s greatest ironies is that the chief beneficiaries of cultural relativity, the apogee of late 60s left wing intellectualism, are right wing politicians.
When Derrida was smirking that the only reason you thought Beethoven had more inherent value than Dave, Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich was your utter capture by the value system of your oppressors, it wasn’t readily apparent that he was gifting wannabe Mussolinis a meal ticket for life, but here we are.
Whether Farage operates under the umbrella of Reform UK, or from within the Conservative Party, the message will be the same: curbing immigration is the panacea for our ills and anybody who disagrees is a mouthpiece of the ‘elite’.
Now, you might not feel very elite, my wardrobe, for instance, consists of eight ‘George at Asda’ T-shirts (one for best), and a treasured pair of Skopes moleskin trousers.
For the purposes of Nige and Suella Braverman, though, you are a proven member of the gilded intelligentsia by dint of reading this far into an article.
So, if we’re the elite, we might as well start acting like it. From our lofty societal position, we need to put down the grubby bloviating of our inferiors with all the terrifying authority available to us.
There is nothing, I repeat nothing ‘authentically working class’ about xenophobia, racism, or reflexive cruelty to those less fortunate.
Charities the world over will tell you that getting money out of the comfortably off requires pampering and flattery, whereas poorer communities donate far greater percentages of their resources and from a sense of genuine compassion.
I began by suggesting that the seemingly novel problems before us are simple expressions of human frailty that we’ve seen throughout history. Plagues, disputes and Farage-style spivs are, indeed, nothing new.
The internet, however, has seeded the ground for them. Echo-chamber online socialising has given the perennial large minority of poor-souled, miserly malcontents with whom we’ve always had to contend, the impression that they are, in fact, an overwhelming majority.
You will hear these people referred to, ad vomitum, by their ringmasters as ‘the people’.
Again, this is nothing new. One of their many illusory moments in the political sun was as Richard Nixon’s ‘silent majority’. That worked out well, didn’t it?
We have months of Rwanda plans, climate-science denial, gender scare-mongering and crackpot Thatcherite economic pipedreams to contend with.
Every time Keir Starmer pulls on his John Bull costume and starts banging on about how working class he is, we sink further into fantasy.
Trying to negotiate with positions you can prove to be both wrong and dishonest renders you a hostage to fortune. So, it’s up to us, the elite majority, to challenge them wherever we go.
When Uncle Dick starts getting lairy about some pish he’s seen on GB News at Christmas, go ahead and tell him straight. Give no quarter to idiocy, it certainly won’t give any to you.
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