Truth and Post-truth

Bloody hellfire! – “Truth” – a movie I’ve not come across before, that hubby spotted on the Sky menu and recorded for me. Robert Redford, Cate Blanchett and a host of others for whom my respect has grown enormously. The story about how CBS’s 60 Minutes programme uncovered President George W. Gump’s Texas National Guard scam to get out of serving in Vietnam and how, ultimately, wealth and power corrupted and destroyed the people, including Dan Rather, who tried to tell the story. 

You can always – always – tell when a story has got to me so much, made me so angry, so downright fucking pissed off, that I sit through the whole credits trying to catch my breath and I still need more time. There have been a few movies that have done that in recent years: Inside Job, Spotlight, The Insider, The Big Short, The Imitation Game and Margin Call to name six others. Then, of course, there’s Newsroom and Making a Murderer on tv. 

They are, for me, all about the same thing: disappointment. When people and organisations and systems and even whole countries, just don’t live up to what they could be. They’re all about little people trying to do things right, or correct things that are wrong, and being smashed aside by stronger forces than honesty, truth and natural justice. 

As we enter the post-truth age (a cliché, I know, but ever wonder how it so quickly got labeled as a cliché?) stories like this one really, really resonate. Because these days, when so much power is concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, they seem almost nostalgic in their innocence.

In “Truth”, Bush and Viacom are the bad guys. But these days, they’re minnows. With the likes of Murdoch, the Koch brothers, assorted Russian asset-thief billionaires like Putin and a few others making all the decisions and choosing what is true and what isn’t, these small stories seem almost insignificant against the global scope and ambitions of the new elite with their new truths.

I really believe that we have to all intents and purposes entered the end of days. The last chances that we ever had to work for the common good have gone. Trump, the ultimate liar and moron’s moron, is about to occupy the second most powerful seat on the planet, and his best friend, master and fellow multibillionaire Vladimir is in the most powerful. 

The media is controlled by a few people whose best interests are served by keeping people like them in place; the UK is about to piss off the largest trading bloc of countries on the planet, and our government is cutting social care budgets while campaigning to increase them all the while lying about how much of our money they’re spending.

And the voting fuckwits believe it all. They actually think that at the end of it all, they will be happier, wealthier and more secure. They think they will have more control without having the first idea what that word means. 

The cannon fodder is actually smiling as it’s being rammed home.

The whole of humanity has turned into a massive Whitehall Farce. Except it’s not funny any more. It’s Animal Farm, or 1984, but a thousand times worse.

After all, it’s not oppression if the people vote for it, is it?

Not a bang, but a wimper…

Referenda are *really* bad ideas

Referenda are *really* bad ideas. 

No average voter can possibly understand, or work out, the complexities of a situation like Brexit, or Scottish Independence, with sufficient clarity to make an informed decision. Not one. 

Both referenda suffered from exactly the same fatal flaws: the campaign people got hold of a few tasty soundbites and cranked up the rhetoric – on both sides – so that these trivial, unverifiable non-specifics became visceral and dominating aspects that defined absolutely everything. 

The Brexiteers were desperate for anything – absolutely anything – to avoid the xenophobic core of their campaign. So fluffy nonsense like “control” started to become talking points. 

The Scottish seperatists, desperate to avoid discussing things that they knew nothing about like EU membership, central banking, currency, debt and a hundred other things, decided on the same wooly concept of self-control as their core message. 

When the major thrust of a campaign is jingoism, then you know, with absolute certainty, that the public is being lied to, is underinformed and is in all likelihood, becoming the victims of massive fraud. They are being asked to make country-changing decisions based on no knowledge whatsoever. Situations like that are ripe for abuse, and abuse has happened on a huge scale. 

What, exactly, did the Brexiters vote for? Most don’t have a clue. Ask them what their estimated trade balance will be in five years, you’ll get a blank look. Ask them about exchange rates, trade tariffs, cross-border policing, environmental issues, replacements for massive EU infrastructure grants, military cooperation, agriculture policy and any number of other things DIRECTLY impacted by their voting decision and you will get a tilted head and a “huh?” But ask them if they want to take back control, and they’ll get all excited because you’ve used a sound bite that they recognise. 

The theory behind a referendum is great – people get to choose their own destiny. That is, of course, crap, because it misses out the most important word. Informed. Informed people get to choose their own destiny. If that happened, then great. 

But it doesn’t, does it? An informed population is a dangerous one. An informed population sees through bullshit quite easily and can’t be lied to so often. Nobody in power wants an informed electorate. They want a compliant one, an obedient one, a stupid one. 

The very best we can hope for in our system that pretends to be a democracy, is to elect someone every few years that we trust just enough to do what is right. Then leave it to them and hope they don’t screw up too much. 

No, the ideal political system is not democracy but a benign dictatorship. 

Democracy sounds great on paper, and you never know, if someone ever tries it, it might just work. 

But as things stand, at the moment, people are just too fucking stupid for democracy…

Those lovely folk, the Professional Mourners.

A few days back, something nasty happened somewhere and some folk died. No, I don’t remember what it was either, but right on cue, all the crocodile tears started flooding into social media, prompting this from me:

Ah, those lovely folk, the professional mourners. 

Risking life and limb in their headlong rush to they keyboard after every nasty event anywhere in the world to prove just how caring, worthy, moral and virtuous they are. Never flinching from the just cause of narcissistic self-promotion, the more people killed and in more gruesome ways – ideally on television in HD in a never-ending news loop – the happier they are. “Look at me, I can use the death and suffering of others in shameless advertising of myself and as a pathetic validation of my own existence”. 

They are the exact equivalent of the crowds around the gallows in a Hogarth painting; tutting and muttering about how terrible it all is, but wondering if they have time to go to the toilet before the next one comes along because they really don’t want to miss anything. 

Do they really care? Who knows? They certainly care about being seen to care, that much is clear. And as in so many modern things, image is everything and that must be protected at all costs, even if it is only a delusional self-image. 

To whom does all this sharing and caring make any difference? 

Does London give a shit that you’re “praying” for it after some “mass” stabbing? No, of course not. It doesn’t even notice. 

Does Nice or Paris or any other nice cozy Western town who has experienced an attrocity notice that you are Je Suis-ing at them with all your might? No, of course not. They are too busy clearing up, getting back to normal and working out how to stop it happening again. 

Does “Remembering the 96”, or whatever the number was that week, several decades after the event represent anything but wallowing in a much-missed tragedy? No, of course not. It just makes them feel better about themselves in a guilty and barely disguised “thank goodness it wasn’t me, that *would* have been tragic…” 

So what does all of this self-indulgent self-flaggelation actually achieve? 

Nothing. Nobody really gives a toss when the crocodile tears start to flow because they’re devoid of meaning and thought and use. They have no value, utility or merit. It is cheap X-Factor emotion, turned on and off at the flick of a switch and as genuine as Simon Cowell’s suntan.

Which says everything that needs to be said about those whose hobby is to demonstrate their humanity to disinterested strangers. It has no value. So stop it.

Boris still thinks he’s credible. How sweet!

Boris Johnson, in a fit of retrospective wisdom, has attempted to finally put some substance to his unexpectedly successful “leave” campaign in the EU referendum. See his text in the Telegraph here. My response went like this:

Oh, Boris. Bless you, sweetheart! It’s really quite lovely reading your substance-free rants against the left especially when, like this one, they’re so easy to decode and translate into the truth.

All this airborne spittle that your white heat of righteous indignation generates about Europe distils down to just one small thing: envy.

You have absolutely no problem with Eurocrats, you don’t mind their inflated salary and expenses packages, you have absolutely no problem whatsoever with their mostly imaginary lack of democracy and the formation of a federal United States of Europe causes not the slightest problem for your fake and jingoistic patriotism.

The only problem you have is that it’s them getting all this and not you.

You have absolutely no desire to see democracy, accountability and transparency made more widely available to us plebs down here. That would be utterly disastrous! You just want it for yourself. 

Because like a lot of over-entitled toffs that have been educated way beyond your intelligence, you think that what is good for you is, of course, by default, good for the country. What you miss, and what those clones of you like Cameron and Gove always miss, is that it simply isn’t true. It’s all just one great money and power-grabbing egowank on your part. 

We, the great unwashed whose sole purpose in life is to enrich the likes of you, get absolutely nothing out of it. 

So how about you do us all a favour? How about you and the other mindless cretins in the leave campaign take off your baggy union flag boxer shorts and just tell the truth for a change – that it’s all about you, not us. 

You have managed to convince a large portion of the population that their casual racism is actually a great patriotic battle for freedom and democracy plastered in blue woad and strapped to the arse-end of Boudicca’s chariot.

But having done so, you now have no idea what to do. Your five-point plan is as substance and truth-free as the entire leave campaign. 

So by all means, from behind the safe ramparts of the Barclay Brother’s propaganda sheet, feel free to mock those of us that see you for who you are. But always know that you’re not fooling us, and there are more of us than you think.

The Legacy of David Cameron

After Cameron resigned upon losing the Brexit referendum, I dropped a quick line to the Evening Standard:

Sirs,

That vast chasm between David Cameron’s ambition and his ability is what the entire country has now fallen into. 

This bumbling amateur, whose sole positive legacy after seven years of leadership is marriage equality, is a walking, talking role model for the difference between education and intelligence. 

This chinless wonder made the u-turn an art form so often that he drilled himself and his country into the ground. 

This embarrassing cypher of a man sums up perfectly the modern X-Factor / Big Brother / Geordie Shore / TOWIE / Jeremy Kyle-obsessed Britain: Full of ambition, full of neat little soundbites, full of the expectation that his “strategy” will somehow work out if only he can find someone with a clue about how to turn it into reality… but with a chronic lack of authority, ability and attention span. 

This Little Boy Blue, brought up with massive over-entitlement and equally massive ego, desperately wanted to lead the country from a very early age. Sadly, because he lacked peers strong enough to tell him to stop being silly and to go and do something a lot simpler instead, like banking, his ambition to lead has driven his country off a cliff. 
David Cameron is not so much Britain’s leader as Britain’s “Lemming-in-Chief”. 

His legacy is a country simultaneously laughing at him and crying. He must be so proud.

The irritation of the expectation of empathy

There are many things in life that irritate me – a list that is in no way shrinking as I get older. Fairly close to the top of that list is the expectation of empathy.

When did we stop being allowed to make our own mind up whether or not we cared about something, or if we do, by how much?

In a change that I presume has been brought about by social media, news organisations seem to spend far more time and energy these days telling us how we should feel about something than they do reporting actual news.

“Horrifying”, “tragic”, “terribly sad”, “national pride” and other emotional cue cards pepper the news output way more than any factual content these days. And there is no quality threshold either. The same lines get trotted out for refugee drownings, mass shootings in America or for the murder of an MP as some scripted event “suffered” by the Jendashians, those morons on that The Only Way Is Chelsea Shore programme, Big brother or anything with Simon Cowell in it.

Has the dumbing-down of the population reached its ultimate level now where we need to be told when and how to emote? Has the deliberate dilution of our education system finally reached peak moron, with the achievement of a completely pliable and compliant population of mindless drones?

When did it not only become rare, but almost forbidden to make your own mind up about things? When did independence of thought become an endangered attribute?

And when did minor achievement become a cause for celebration? A semi-professional performer wins a tv “talent” show, some Kardashian clone loses a few pounds, a British astronaut becomes the three hundred and seventy-somethingth visitor to an International Space Station that is positively worn out because so many people have visited, and we’re expected – demanded, even – to care about it. Why?

Someone dies. I didn’t know that person or anyone close to them and they made no impact on my life. I didn’t notice them while they were alive, why should I care when they die? No, that’s not allowed! We have to demonstrate that we are caring, worthy people by mourning this complete stranger. We are expected to praise their “bravery” as though drawing breath is a brave thing to do. Why?

Some narcissistic moron with a GoPro camera strapped to their nether regions and Red Bull logos all over their arse flies face first into a mountain at 150mph, or falls to their death because they were walking on the edge of a high building, or breaks their neck dicking around in waves on a plank and we’re supposed to praise their bravery and value their memory. Follow your first instinct to laugh and call them what they are – idiots – and you’re completely wrong and a bad person. Why?

When did we become so reliant upon group-think that it became the very measure of our self-worth? When did we only ever feel validated and valued when we followed the herd of unthinking drones?

Saying that this is a deliberate policy on the part of the media, corporate and political elite might (but only might) be a conspiracy stretch too far. But it is at the very least a serendipitous occurrence that they seem to be in no rush to fix.

It does, however, neatly explain the rise of UKIP and the other bottom-feeding traders in lowest common denominator thought processes.

EU Referendum: For all the right reasons, I want to vote out. But I just can’t do it.

I really don’t think I can do it. I really want to vote out – and for all the right reasons – but I really don’t think I can.

These days, this country seems to be overflowing with bigots, racists, morons and idiots of all descriptions. Senile old fools wallowing in an imagined nostalgia for an England that never existed, skinhead simpletons who need to be taught how to put a cross next to their UKIP or Britain First candidate and bleating Sun Sheep idiots who think that what “they” have over there is less democratic that what “we” have over here.

This country, with its lying, fraudulent political representatives and unelected & corrupt corporate and media masters, are the drunk uncle at the party who spoils it for everyone else. We do not remotely deserve a space at the adults table in Europe.

These days I am embarrassed to be English.

The European project is far from perfect. It is not even good. But it can be. In time, hopefully, it will be. It is certainly heading in the right direction. It needs help to get there, and the vast experience of a country like ours that has learned the mistakes of over-ambition some time ago would be valuable in that process.

But instead of being a positive and valued contributor, we are disruptive and determined to ruin everyone else’s good work. Instead of seeing Europe for what it is – a chance for this country to be a major part of something great again – we are petty, self-centred and small-minded.

I cannot make my mind up whether or not our lack of ambition is an implicit admission that we know that we are simply not up to the job.

I want Europe to work. I WANT Europe to have closer political and fiscal union. I WANT a United States of Europe. I want all of that and more and I want it to work well and I want it to be able to compete equally with the other economic giants on the world stage.

But with us sabotaging the whole process, it will never achieve that.

So in order for me to get for Europe what I want, we have to leave. I have to write my own country off as a stupid loser and vote out.

But… There’s always a but…

I just can’t do it. At the back of my head there is a nagging voice that keeps reminding me that before too much longer the ageing blue-rinse racists, bigots, mindless Little Englanders and knuckle-dragging UKIP simpletons will grow old and die. Their pathetic world view will become irrelevant and will finally achieve the meaninglessness it deserves.

At that time, our children, and subsequent generations, will have to deal with the fallout of the referendum decision. I cannot in good conscience deny them the only one bright thing in their future: membership of a strong, powerful union of countries.

So although Europe doesn’t deserve us, and despite my firmly held belief that at least for the next decade Europe is better off without us, for the sake of future generations, I will be voting to remain.

I just hope that Europe has the patience to wait while we do some desperately-needed growing up.

Over to you, kids. Please don’t fuck it up like we did.