alea iacta esto

Britain: stuck in the wrong gear

It’s a ruinous policy to run a country on public opinion. To take power, yes, but not to run the country. As much as I believe in this thing we call democracy, I have come sadly, to see that the public is just too ill-equipped, too ill-educated, too ill-informed and, to speak frankly, too lazy to make the effort to understand any issue that requires more than two minutes of soundbites. We are a yeah but, yeah but, it’s like, it’s like, quick fix generation.

Throughout history the public were constantly fobbed off with games, free or subsidized bread, myths of gods and terrible retribution, mindless superstitions and the promise of jam tomorrow. Many of us are wont to think they were idiots who attended the old roman games pitching elephants against each other or lion against man or those who shouted jubilantly in the Nazi parades. It couldn’t happen here. Not now. Certainly, in all societies it’s been a surreptitious official policy to invent nationalistic jingoism or religious bogeymen to keep people cowed, tamed and obedient. There have been many revolutions for good democracies and freedom from rule by an entrenched elite but for one good reason they end in failure. In the one recent experiment to change society and put power in the hands of the people (communism), it didn’t take long for the same public to hand power to a tyrant and then also actively take part in obliterating anyone who did not agree with them. That experiment burned brightly for decades and then, like Icarus, crashed spectacularly. The good reason I think the public can’t be relied upon is as I’ve said before: too ill-equipped, too ill-educated ….

Europe has often led the way in wresting power from autocrats – Greek democracy, the Roman republic after overthrowing the Tarquins, the English Magna Carta, the French revolution – but after the illustrious achievements of our forebears (strictly, theirs for mine were in Africa but hey I’m a European now) what do we have? A 21st century version of the old Roman empire. Twentyfourseven television with 99% sports and/or crap and/or babble that counts as news, children who can’t add, adults who can’t spell, serious newspapers in death throes, and a public enchanted with a fantasy world of making a million, living large and lazily on the beach with a glass of champagne. This is in a time where we, in the West, face the biggest challenge to our collective economic future since the Depression.

This brings me neatly to the current European crisis. So here we are, trying to solve Europe’s problems and rather than Britain extending the hand of friendship and working together as best it can, what does our Prime Minister the uber privileged dunce from Oxford, David Cameron, do? He stands on a soap box and parrots selfishly about how everything the other Europeans do must be in Britain’s interest. Our way or the highway. OK, how are the French and the Germans and everyone else over there to take this fait accompli? Lying down? Fuck you they might say. We Brits have been fooled to think that our “special relationship” with America and the “special status” of the City of London will be the deux ex machina that rescues our ship. Well then, the public rabble are about to get their faces wiped off the shit that’s been blinding their eyes. Shit like this:

And this is from a Member of Parliament. It’s no wonder Brits are backing the Prime Minister in opinion polls. Too many people simply watch too many Battle of Britain re-runs on telly. We don’t take crap from Germany. We give it. While we were expected to forge a new Europe with the French and the Germans, instead, we have chosen to poke them in the eye.

It’s so damn exasperating sometimes.


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