Saturday, 12 November 2016
Who would have guessed that when the Twin Towers collapsed on September 11th 2001 that we were actually witnessing the complete and utter defeat of the Western world and that militant Islam had already won? How could this have happened despite all of our military hardware, all the bombing and invasions and after all the years we had spent patting ourselves on the back for defeating Communism? How could such a resounding victory have been so easily achieved? The answer is quite simple. Our enemies simply knew what buttons to push because they understood how fragile our democratic institutions and how threadbare our high-sounding democratic principles actually were. They knew that despite our overweening pride in ourselves our feet were made of clay. All it took was a few years of low-level terrorist attacks, a gentle push and we toppled over. Who would have believed just a few years ago that a British government would be able to punish the poor, the disabled and the homeless simply for being poor, disabled and homeless? Who would have believed that in a country seemingly dedicated to family values that a billionaire tax-avoiding misogynistic serial philanderer and well-known bully could possibly be elected into the White House? Al-Qaeda and its latest offshoot ISIS obviously did and they have roundly and completely defeated us simply by standing by and watching us tear each other to pieces. Looking back over the last 30 years it's easy to see how we connived in our own demise. We allowed our politicians to wreck our economy with neoliberal mumbo-jumbo and create a unequal society ripe for revolution. We allowed those same politicians to blame the innocent victims of this inequality and punish them simply for existing. We stifled debate by making some subjects such as immigration unmentionable and effectively outlawed free speech. We allowed our media to fall into the hands of right-wing crazies who hate everyone except themselves. We allowed our enemies to separate us from our real friends simply because they too were foreigners. What was once our democracy, the democracy of Roosevelt's New Deal and Atlee's Welfare State, has now been so completely subverted that people actually believe that buffoons like Donald Trump and Boris Johnson are our only hope. Once we reached that stage we really were lost.
Friday, 11 November 2016
How did this happen? How did this utter idiot become President of the most powerful planet on Earth? It wasn't because he's the most popular man in the USA since he failed to gain a majority in the popular vote. The Presidency was delivered to him by the arcane electoral college system which has, once again, handed victory to the loser. Trump did, however, poll just under 50% and the question arises as to why so many people would vote for a bombastic egocentric racist bully after the eight years of a Barak Obama Presidency. How could the USA go from the grace and decency of Barak Obama to the utter ignorance and prejudice of a man like Donald Trump? Frustration would seem to the the answer. Frustration that Obama could not deliver the change that he promised. Yet that frustration was caused by the obstructionism and cynicism of the Republican dominated Republican Houses of Congress - the very party that has now been propelled into the White House. Some say that Trump isn't a real Republican and that they never really accepted him as their leader in this Presidential campaign. There is some truth in that but, nevertheless, Trump voices many of the brain-dead nonsense that the Republican party is often reluctant to say openly and in public. He dared to say the things that they were thinking and won. Trump is nothing more than a demagogue, voicing the prejudices of Americans and promising whatever simplistic solutions were needed to gain the White House. Trump has promised to break international agreements, ignore the threats to the environment and to commit criminal acts to assuage the fears of the largely ignorant and bible-thumping electorate that put him into the Oval Office. This is the triumph of ignorance over reason, of prejudice over reality, of irrationality over rationality and it might just mark the end of western democracy as we have understood it.