in reality, all of this has been a total load of old bollocks
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Just read this on FB - by Justin Sullivan (AKA Slade the Leveller of New Model Army 'fame'):
New Model Army Oh dear. It was not our intention to open up another screaming match which you can find anywhere anytime on the t'interweb but as it's started I will say this...
People are tribal monkeys. We need to feel that we are a ‘we’. We recognize that as individuals we are nothing, so we need to feel connected to a greater whole, a cause. It’s in our DNA. There’s an old quote from G.K. Chesterton - “When men choose not to believe in God, they do not thereafter believe in nothing, they then become capable of believing in anything.” So these days we are very susceptible to ‘cults’ of all kinds – conventional religions (and sects of those religions), political causes, identity politics – all of which are defined by an exclusivity, blind faith, resistant to scientific evidence and hostility to those outside the group.
If readers from outside the UK can bear with me, I will use the word ‘we’ for the British; I was born on this island (of partly immigrant stock – just like everyone else) and for better or worse, it is my home.
We all have loyalties (we’re not “citizens of nowhere” at all). Our loyalties usually begin with our families and the people around us, the people that we have known and felt closest to the longest. Then we have loyalties to our friends, to our street or village or neighbourhood, to our city or our geographical region, our nation-state, our part of the world; we have loyalties to our co-religionists, people with the same interests in music or art, the same football team, or to people from anywhere with the same political or social outlook. What I cannot understand is how loyalty to the nation-state (a relatively recent creation) is anywhere near the top of the list. For me, it exists somewhere but it lies at the bottom in terms of importance.
So we come to the Brexit fiasco, that has divided our little island approximately 50/50 (along with a massive constituency of ‘don’t know or don’t care’) and has brought a kind of terrible paralysis and bitterness to all political life here. The Brexit cause is fueled by all kinds of nationalist mythology. When I was a child I was taught about the 1914-18 war as being fought between Britain and Germany despite the fact that the Western Front was in France and the French (and of course Germans) lost many more men than the Brits. In World War 2, we are taught that we stood alone. While no doubt it may have felt like that, an idea ably exploited by Churchill, in reality we were supplied by mass convoys of ships crossing the North Atlantic at the cost of thousands of sailors’ lives (and a significant bill to be paid later which hampered post-war UK governments). We are not a self-sufficient island at all and never have been. I was taught that we ‘won’ World War 2, despite the obvious fact that it was won by the Russians and Americans. In the 19th Century, Britain was a rich country (on the back of an exploitative Empire forged by sea-power and slavery), even if those riches were not exactly shared, but wars eventually bankrupt all Empires. I rather like the humourist Marina Hyde’s observation that she believed that the UK was into a post-Empire hangover when actually it appears now that we’re just still drunk.
I remember well that when we entered the European Community in 1975, it was not for the reasons it was originally conceived – to bring an end to wars in Western Europe - but for economic necessity: by the early ‘70s, the UK economy was on its knees. Unfortunately British membership of the EU has largely coincided with 40 years of Conservative rule (the New Labour years not truly challenging their basic free-market ethos). And these years have seen a steady flow of money from public into private hands, a trickle-up economics, resulting in the current mind-boggling levels of inequality and the bitterness that this creates. And the declared intent of the highest profile Brexiteers is to accelerate the process. They are riding a tide of anger over what neo-liberal economics has done to our country whilst all the while promising a more extreme version: our beloved NHS is certainly to go (a process already well underway). These people love the winner-takes-all philosophy of America because if you’re already starting at the top, you have free reign to use your power and wealth to amass more power and wealth. This has nothing at all to do with the EU and everything to do with the deliberate policies of successive British governments. The ruling class have enriched themselves while selling the people a massive con-trick, blaming outsiders for the devastation, whether they be immigrants, refugees or EU institutions. Brexit is a con. If it does happen, yes, life will go on of course; there will be some disruption but planes won’t fall out of the sky, medicines will still be available, travel will still be possible, the water will still run out of the taps. But for the vast majority of people everything will get a little tougher and more complicated and more expensive and dreary, oppressive and cut-off. And all for what?
And all this takes place against a backdrop of impending worldwide ecological catastrophe. The most terrifying number I have read in recent years is that in my own lifetime, there has been a 40% decline of every other living thing on earth other than people. What a legacy! If there has been a time in history when the human race has to be united by necessity, this is it, and yet the opposite is happening. We are busy squabbling and blaming and building walls.
I don’t have all the answers of course - only to try to maintain a sense of scale and reality and compassion and not give into the mass hysteria of our time. The ‘we’ is all of us; it is the Earth. JS
I've been talking about writing a book - 25 years of TEFL - for a few years now. I've got it in me.
Paid anghofio fod dy galon yn y chwyldro
Paid anghofio fod dy galon yn y chwyldro