Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Moving beyond mere survival in 2017

In a year of utter lunacy, where six months have been spent in an ever-more febrile combination of disbelief and shock, the temptation to retreat, to disengage and to watch the unravelling of decency from a self-defined redoubt becomes increasingly tempting.  The inner emigration was how the less-vulnerable opponents of 20th century totalitarians maintained a level of equilibrium and self-respect, and it has a place in a world where there is a closing-down of the values that have underpinned respect.  In 2017 this is understandable, but the final admission of defeat.

Defining everything in terms of the Brexit vote is a concession to the demagogues and cynical manipulators.  It remains the immediate crisis in the British Isles, but it is the tip of an iceberg of darkness.  The real challenge remains how to respond to it and to escape the narratives of hatred, contempt and fascism that the hard right are attempting to blame anyone who dissents from their control and their interpretation of events.

There are two principles that we need to bear in mind.  The first is that traditional political boundaries and definitions, while important to those who are engaged, do not either reflect the reality of the challenge nor the means of providing credibility to the vaguely-progressive cause.  Tribalism and personal vendettas do not serve anyone other than the hard right, as it creates the impression of division and squabbling.  Anything beyond coming together to face down the forces of reaction and control is the kind of self-defeating delusion that results in a skewed political system and leaving the field open to those with whom we have nothing in common, while denying the communal interest.  This is not just an issue for leadership groups but for the politically-engaged.

Apart from anything else the second principle is that the politically active assume that everyone is as interested as we are.  This is true on both "sides" of the current crisis.  There is every reason to go on calling out the fascists and the idiots who are the majority of the echo-chambers for the sinister backroom purveyors of the hard right message, but they do not form the basis of those who voted to leave the EU.  It is the majority of that side who need to be persuaded of the folly of the current course, and we need to be clear that there were reasons explicable and honourable for many of their votes, as well as the tissue of lies and vile idiocy that fed the campaign.  The aim has to be to continue engaging with them, and to channel their anger when they realise that they have been played for interests even further removed from their own than those of the demonised "elites".

2017 will not be easy, but at least the terms of dissent and engagement are clear.  Whatever evil goes on, we cannot lose values and momentum that reflect an approach to the world that is not based around either control or displacing hatred.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.