Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Counter Factual

Lies, damned lies and politics; it’s a brutal world out there right now... in people’s minds. The power of the narrative is not only demonstrable, but alarming... literally. And there is no requirement that any of the information received by supposed ‘high information’ voters has more than a passing acquaintance with fact. Old footage is being recycled and passed off as new; a short video from the Venezuelan mass protests was recently doing the rounds posing as an anti-Trump rally and was swallowed whole, despite the national flags, distinctly South American architecture and Spanish background chatter. And old photos of physical injuries are doing duty as reportage from the front lines, passed off as evidence of police brutality.

Twas ever thus. The left is telling itself that same old story; go on grandma, tell us again how you met granddad in the war. The folk tales and battle scars and anecdotes from the trenches are important in maintaining the illusion of unity. What is most important is supporting what they insist is the truth; that all aggression is from the right and all the healing from the left. They use the phrase ‘post-truth’ politics a lot, as if the notion of irony had been struck from their collective consciousness. If nothing else the rioting classes love a good slogan and like long words from indelicate mouths an illusion of intellect props up their bluster.

Thousands of distraught, fragile young things are imagining the horrors to come, denouncing them and self-harming like Billy-o. And people like the increasingly unhinged Michael Moore: urges insurrection from his bedroom, I mean Facebook page. (It's hard to remember that Michael Moore is actually a full-grown adult at times) Despite it being proven untrue long ago, the image of lemmings hurling themselves into the abyss is still the one which comes to mind; a fictional natural history illustrating a metaphorical suicide. Even a number of well-known UK rabble rousers are triggered to go postal on Trump, regardless of what he eventually proposes to do. Could it be they are basing their politics on the fact they just don’t like him?

On the other side of the battlefield, the rest of us – there is no ‘right-wing’ remember – are quietly getting on with business. Going to work, paying our taxes and accepting that our individual destinies are ours to command. And while we may look risibly down on the polemicists of the imaginary new order and cast a clout whenever it seems appropriate (which is mostly when it will be funniest) our regard for the mobs is more one of indulgent pity than the hate they tell each other we harbour.

Truth? If they want the truth about post-fact politics they could try looking again at that footage from Venezuela. They could ask the Cubans who have been fleeing their country in a steady stream ever since Castro took power. Ask the East Europeans who, having freed themselves from the Soviets, are currently horrified at what Merkel and her ideology driven maniacs are doing to the west they fought so hard to join. And the next time they sign on the dole they might want to ask where that money actually comes from.

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