Defining Society

The UK has an absolute stack of massive problems. Social, economic and political. Some of them are shared problems affecting most other countries. Some of them are unique to the UK. All of them are either due to or made worse by an event in June 2016. The UK Prime Minister back then, David Cameron, asked the people if they wanted to continue to behave like grown ups in the big boys club, or do they want to listen to the lying bigots who had been throwing hissy fits since the 70s and leave the EU.

Sadly, 52% of the population told the PM, “We’re actually going to go with the lying bigots, Dave. Their bullshit is compelling”. They liked the sound of sunlit uplands, taking back control, exactly their same benefits, £350 million for the NHS. And they especially liked the sound of less brownies and blackies coming into the country.

And so here we are in 2022, with the latest of a string of appalling right wing governments, an imploding currency, destroyed export sector, collapsing NHS, a fiscal policy that closely resembles the last desperate fling of an alcoholic in a casino, a border through parts of the UK and – to rub salt in the wounds – loads of brownies and blackies coming into the country.

We can moan and whinge about politicians and media outlets until the end of time, but for the most part society is a product of the people that form it. And chunks of society in the UK has taken a turn for the worse since 2016. In the US too, methinks. The right wing thinks we’ve all become too intolerant. I suspect in some regards we became far too tolerant. There is a difference between permitting something to be said and permitting it credibility.

There has been a failure to push back against populist campaigns and slogans. Too tolerant of cleverly worded misogyny, disguised bigotry, covert dog whistles. Tolerant of fantasy and fiction replacing reality and truth. This has let folk like Farage and Trump and other populists to lead the debate.

It is not a coincidence that folk from the Brexit and MAGA camps jumped so easily into antivax conspiracy theories. It’s not a coincidence that they have embraced the tenets of extremist ideology. It’s no coincidence that they now turn out online to support Russian invasions. There are consequences to all this. People have become more confident to express racist views at work and in town. What was not socially acceptable a decade ago, is sadly commonplace today.

I’ve never parted company with someone simply because they hold different political views to mine, or voted Brexit or for a Republican. I have, though, disassociated myself from a fair number of folk who have taken the populist message to deeply to heart. Some would say that disengaging from those folk just hardens the divisions, and perhaps they are right.

But there’s plenty of people waking up each day to find they have friends who’ve crossed the Rubicon and sided with Putin’s fascist regime. They repeat Kremlin sound bites. They are ‘onboard’. In many cases, they are just about ready to goose-step. Have you got one of them on your Christmas card list?

We all have input into what sort of society we want to live in. I choose to exclude fascists and bigots. And I will continue to define what is, and what is not, socially acceptable in my life. We all have that choice.

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11 thoughts on “Defining Society

  1. If you live long enough, you will have put many people aside because they have become fools. They become drunks, or intolerant dolts, any number of truly annoying traits can send an acquaintance, friend or family member on their way-it keeps one sane for the long haul. I recommend keeping the miscreants at arms length or better-life’s stream is too short to muddy it up with people who have fallen in the water-let them sink or swim on their own, they are more trouble than they are worth.

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  2. We have tried to trim our contact list to leave out the White supremacists and outright loonies. A few we have kept in contact with because they are relatives or people who are otherwise rational and intelligent on other matters. And we just bite our tongue and avoid talking politics with them.

    As far as the State of the Nation, I do believe the U.S. might be in worse straits than the U.K. because a good chunk of the American population now refuses to accept the results of elections unless they win. It’s like playing football and one team beforehand announces they will only accept victory, otherwise the game is rigged.

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    1. The Grand Wizard of Patzcuaro cut himself off from most non White Supremacist discourse some years ago. It was no surprise to see what direction he took when Russia invaded Ukraine. It was a disappointment to see that his Bostonian apostle so warmly embraced fascism, of both Trumpian and Putin varieties. But then if a chap feeds his brain with conspiracy theories/hard right media, then what does one expect? I have no time for these folk at all. A pox on them…

      The US and UK have similar issues. Related issues, even. But they have been expressed differently. Socially, the US has the tougher time ahead. You’ve a largely domestic problem. The UK’s most intractable difficulties ahead lie in our relationships with Europe and the world.

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  3. At one time, the Grand Wizard of Patzcuaro was a force… witty, a little wild, fun and folklorico. Alas, a red-hatted false prophet succeeded in fueling the fantasies of the wizard’s revolutionary alter ego. Consequently, that character disappeared, once and for all. From behind the moon, the old vaquero’s bon mots degraded into a vicious tirade of populist paranoia. Until finally, one day into this year’s spring, the old fellow hung up his sombrero, settled in for a siesta, and to my knowledge, has never been heard from again. I’ve not read the gospel of his Apostle from Boston for some time either. A blessing, I guess. Nonetheless I do miss the days when I could click my way through blogspace for insights from all over Mexico and beyond. What has happened to us all? Has our sense of wonder been completely commandeered by a planet obsessed with the power and the glory?

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    1. I do remember his pre-Grand Duke days. He was entertaining. Affable, albeit slightly aloof. Although it was the election of Obama that sent the old chap over the edge, not Trump. Someone who knows him personally put it best: he just didn’t take well to a black man taking up residence in the White House. His Bostonian Apostle did the full flip with Trump. But he’d been embracing some pretty paranoid conspiracy theories for a while before then. It can become difficult to have rational conversation after they go past a certain point, especially when they only engage with their pet topics.

      I do miss the days before 2015/6, when politics was just politics. Not something that defined us and consumed us. And with Trump and Brexit, demeaned us.

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      1. I’ve never met the Wizard of Pátzcuaro so I don’t know his views on the subject, but I think a large swath of the American population couldn’t stomach the concept of a Black First Couple living in the White House. And Trump played up to those prejudices.

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        1. He made his views plainer than he likely intended on his blog.

          But you are right. A lot of folk found having a black family in DC too bitter a taste to swallow. The whole ‘birther’ conspiracy theory is evidence of that. One of the most vocal proponents of which was, of course, Trump.

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  4. I agree with you about how politics define, consume and demean us. And yet so many won’t even engage in debate about REAL concerns. Pervasive violence, the energy crisis, a looming major recession, climate change… need I continue?

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    1. I don’t think there is an unwillingness to debate those topics. But it’s hard work debating with someone who has disconnected with reality. Where do you go with someone who insists 2+2 is 5?

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