I’m no patriot, I always thought the quote that patriotism is the last refuge of a fool was quite true, but I’m worried. What’s wrong with my country? We are the sixth richest nation on Earth, we should be awash with money and yet our kids can’t read, write or add, our elderly are suffering in hellish care homes, our infrastructure is crumbling before our eyes, the UK is trillions in debt and yet our useless, craven politicians insist that it’s the best it’s ever been and we all go shopping.
I know nothing about politics and very little about most everything else, facts that this post may make painfully obvious, but I’m attempting to explain what I see going on before me, to come up with a hypothesis that fits, so as such, this isn’t a necessary explanation, just a sufficient one, so make of it what you will.
I’ve taken to watching a charmingly low budget, public access TV show out of Austin, Texas called ‘The Atheist Experience’, callers attempt to prove God’s existence and the hosts remain as yet unconvinced. A surprising fact I learned from this show is that there is a sizeable number of church pastors and associated people in the clergy, actively working in the church in the US who are atheists, they continue to do so because they have been raised in the church, their entire social support structure and family are church based and they simply have no where else to go, no other skills, so they continue to peddle the lies. There is even an ever growing support group for them now, called ‘The Clergy Project’.
What do the CIA, the AA, the author of this post and Hamley’s toy shop all have in common? I would say it’s the desire for self perpetuation. I have never heard of an organisation collectively stating that it is no longer required and voluntarily folding. Maybe it happens, but I have never heard of it. I’ve heard about organisations going bankrupt, being taken over or failing as a result of other factors but never just shutting shop voluntarily. I remember when the Berlin wall fell, MI6, the intelligence service tasked with foreign espionage matters saw the writing on the wall, budget cuts, redundancies, curtailed kingdoms etc and they began lobbying for an involvement in domestic terrorism and organised crime. The Empire must persist.
The Banality of Evil, from a book by Hannah Arendt, is a great phrase. One of the strange facts about many great evils in the world is just how well documented they were, these great crimes were not committed in entirety by cackling megalomaniacs in eastern european castles, they may have originated in the minds of these madmen but they were enabled and perpetrated in the main by civil servants. A bit of paper in the in tray, a signature here, a stamp there, drop it into the out tray and the cattle truck moves an inch further down the track toward the furnace. One only has to consider the obedience to authority problem illustrated by the Stanley Milgram electrocution experiments, where test subjects were prepared in some cases to electrocute a person to death if an authority figure told them to. With this in mind, putting a stamp on a form is nothing. Consider also the ‘diffusion of responsibility’ problem, often a fire or rape is not called into the police because people assume that someone else will already have done it. A 100 people may stand around to watch a crime, assuming that it is someone else’s responsibility to step in. You can see how a lowly civil servant in one of a 1000 offices feels no responsibility for the actions of the madmen above him. Very few people in such companies as BP would want to go and dip a sea bird into a barrel of crude oil for £5 but their collective actions amounted to this.
I see political parties as a religious organisation, or having many similarities at least. First and foremost is ‘The Dogma’, this seems to change in a glacially slow manner, lest a politician be accused of ‘flip flopping’. There is also ‘The Zealot’, he believes the dogma and thinks he has right on his side and is prepared to do anything to get the party into power and keep them there, bad things may need to happen but the end justifies the means. His party is better for the country and nothing will shake his belief in this so the sacrifice is worth it. The torturing priests of The Inquisition had read the sermon on the mount, they found some way in their minds to square these two apparently contradictory texts. The Party takes on an existence and identity of its own, just like a multinational company, the people come, they sit in boxes, the people go but ‘The Party’ endures, it will recruit only people who subscribe to the dogma and will help sustain The Party. The higher up the party hierarchy you want to rise the more you need to ‘believe’. Think back to a memory you have from 20 years ago, something you are sure of, there is not a single atom present in your body now that was there at the time, not one. And yet you are still you, this is a good analogy. At the top there may well be a cackling madman, one has to wonder at the sanity and morality of Tony Blair after the dodgy dossier, weapons of mass destruction debacle, maybe he simply craves power and respect and would happily rule over a kind of western North Korea without any moral qualms if he was given the chance. One has only to consider the catalogue of despots, dictators and abusers of human rights he has happily taken money from since he left office to question what kind of man he really is.
On some level, amongst the politicians I suspect that there is a degree of cognitive dissonance setting in, things are just getting too bad in this country, they can see it but simply can’t reconcile it with their belief in ‘The Party’ yet. They are gritting their teeth, squinting at the facts, kicking the can down the road and hoping that they can just make it to the next musical chair before the tune stops.
They just want the emperor naked for a little while longer, to maintain the fictions about our ever brighter children or generate new fictions about whatever social metric you care about at the moment.