Saturday, 4 February 2017

Civilisation as We Know it is Ending


The ascent of Donald Trump to what he appears to view as a medieval throne has signaled the end of civilisation as we know it. Whatever happens, if he goes or stays, the world will not be the same afterwards. This blog is lucky enough to be kept on archive by the Australian National Library, and so, following the extraordinary story of Trump insulting and slamming the phone down on the Australian Prime Minister, I thought I'd better try and gather my thoughts in a blog post for posterity. Major historical events are occurring, there is no doubt, and future readers might find it a bit weird if I didn't mention it (although Jane Austen gets away with it...)

Brexit was bad enough, but it was just the harbinger of things to come. It seems that the Occupy folks were right all along. The world's financial markets have been manipulated for years in order to benefit the rich so they get richer and more powerful, and the poor have got poorer and more and more trapped in poverty. No surprise really, but people like me just didn't realise how bad it had got. Simon is so exercised by the situation that he has joined a political party (the Liberal Democrats, who with the Greens, seem to be the only people talking sense and not selling their souls). He spends his days fulminating, sharing stuff on Facebook and creating a digital three dimensional model of Preuilly in the 18th century as displacement therapy.

Unfortunately for my peace of mind, I decided to open a Facebook account in December. On a daily basis I am bombarded by and bombard in turn my circle of woolly minded liberal friends and contacts. None of us are particularly politically active, and many, like me, are not very good at big picture stuff. The echo chamber effect of FB gets overwhelming. We are all bewildered and outraged, sharing the wise words and investigative reporting of those we admire who are out there closer to the coal face of the political action. It's all so unpredictable, in a sort of depressingly predictable way (or maybe all so predictable in an alarmingly unpredictable way). The ban on certain nationalities entering the US caused me to feel as if some sort of magic trick was being performed. I was being distracted by this outrageous and almost certainly unconstitutional policy, whilst some sleight of hand was used to perpetrate something (as yet unknown) even worse.

The lack of self control displayed by the American president is deeply shocking. It seems like a small thing to complain about given recent events, but how is it possible that anyone respects such a man? He is an egotistical bully surrounded by a team of manipulative power crazed fanatics.  Can the rest of the world stop him? Will some good come of it? It's obvious the world needs to change. Do those talking about universal incomes and a more equitable society have the tools to convince the desperate and exploited that what they offer can work?

We are gearing up to go on the march scheduled for 25 March in London. I'm ambivalent about marching and I won't be marching to protest against Britain leaving the EU. Frankly I've got to the stage where I'm so frustrated that I'm willing to let Britain go stew in its own stinking mess. Whatever happens I'm not moving back there (and Simon is reluctant even to admit he was born there, let alone even visit - the march may be the last time he sets foot in the country). At least we still have some choices (staying in France as a long term resident, moving back to Australia, maybe emigrating to New Zealand...). We will have to do a load of annoying and very expensive paperwork, but we are luckier than many. Some people are stuck in limbo in foreign countries, genuinely refugees, and no one will let them in to a new safe country to rebuild their lives.

No, I will be marching because I don't like what I see happening to individuals. My life is about to be turned upside down. Others already have been. The racists, bigots, misogynists and corporate exploiters are all out in the open now, having been given permission to put into action what they really think. The Americans had the chance to make a real change in a positive way, with the emergence of Bernie Sanders as a potential presidental candidate. Certain elements of his own party and those who benefit from neo-liberalism betrayed him and ensured he did not get the nomination. Now the Democrat party has collapsed in on itself, and with the rise of Trump, the Republican party is in no better shape. What an opportunity lost (and gained by others...)! Here in France, old school hard leftist Benoit Hamon has emerged as the Socialist Party candidate, but there is no united party to back him. Marine le Pen and her eminence grise Florian Philippot are licking their lips and ready to pounce. 

In the meantime, I'm keeping an eye on what Elizabeth Warren, Paul Krugman, Dan Rather and Naomi Klein are saying. I'm reading my favourite science blogs and trying (but not succeeding) to maintain a regular routine and normal life. I'm not logging on to FB every day. And occasionally I swallow my bile and watch Nuttall, May, Trump, Spicer or their supporters to see what they are actually saying. I'm interested that very few of their so-called grassroots supporters read newspapers, watch television news or use the internet. I'm not quite sure where they do get their information but they clearly live in a different world to me. Goodness only knows how we bridge the gap or how long it will take.

Is it OK yet to say we're nervous? Let's hope the old order ends with a whimper and not a bang.

And by the way, I want universal free at the point of delivery education and health care as part of the new world order. I think those two things alone will just about cure the world's problems.

13 comments:

  1. I completely agree with you and I'll spare you a rant in approximate English!

    Let me just say that the Women's March in Washington, D.C., not even a day after Trump's enthronement, is ominous of things to come.

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    1. Several of my clients marched in Washington. Go the pink woolly hats!

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  2. Doing my bit from Grand Pressigny. Voted for Sanders and marched on Jan 21 in Paris. http://videos.leparisien.fr/video/a-paris-les-femmes-en-marche-contre-donald-trump-21-01-2017-x5990m3

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    1. I, too, voted for Sanders in the Virginia primary because I like his ideas, but mostly to push Hillary to the left. I voted for Hillary in the general, because Sanders' very ideas are much too much to the left for the swamp of indoctrinated deplorables to understand were their well-being really stands.

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    2. I couldn't make your video work (my security settings, not your link, I suspect), but I am guessing you are Connie B. How come we have never met, btw?

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    3. I thought "Unknown's" spiky Liberty hat was the bees knees!

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  3. Last night's judicial decision to invalidate the administration's cancellation of all those visas has caused chaos. Let us hope the higher courts will confirm the decision. As for education and health care...headed on a collision course. The Republicans in Congress will put up with the stupidity of Trump just as long as they can get the changes they want to those two essential rights and also lower taxes for the wealthy. One can only hope it all blows up in their faces.

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    1. Can taxes for the wealthy get any lower!?

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    2. Susan, the answer is yes..... firstly to zero.... and then to a 'bonus' for being wealthy...

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  4. I too supported Sanders & am sickened by the 1st days of this presidency....it's gonna be a long 4 yrs ....

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    1. Do you think he'll make it through a full term?

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  5. It's very strange here now. I'm doing what I can to stay sane. There are a group of Syrian refugee women who are starting small baking groups to sell their sweets; they give me hope. Some of my "friends" who are his supporter have gone quiet the past 2 days, others are even more vocal in their support. I will strike on Feb.17. I will march for science on April 22. I will keep annoying "friends" on Facebook. Universal healthcare? Not in the US for a long time to come, I think. Mary

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    1. I don't know which would be weirder -- my situation of not knowing anyone who would vote for such a person, or yours, where people you know would and did. At least you have some chance of gaining a real insight into their reasons.

      I remarked recently to Simon that it is interesting how often immigrants integrate by way of presenting their food to their new community. Often they make a great commercial success of it. Food is a lot more important than we sometimes realise, and a significant bridge builder.

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