Succession

So President Trump has turned out to be a comedy show. Tragedy as farce. The question now moves on. Noone gets their ‘Ding Dong Witch is Dead’ moment.

Outcome 1: Trump resigns/is impeached/melts and Pence becomes President.

He is much more competent than Trump with the added bonus of being just as batshit. Hard to see how the GOP don’t see this is as the ideal outcome and hard to see how it will be avoided. The office of POTUS being devalued is not an option and everyone feels relief that the incompetent man baby is gone and Pence enjoys a strengthened mandate. Women are fucked. Ethnic Minorities. LGBT community. Politics as usual.

Institutional resilience test of Trump serves as a warning to those with power and we all move onto a toxic new normal. While the liberal left scream vindication at Trump leaving.

Power

Power. Every great economist, every great political thinker, has reflected on power.We don’t reflect on power. We don’t reflect on the complexity of the power relations that shape our lives, Suzanne Moore said you’d be better getting married than reading Foucalt if you wanted to understand power. It’s easier to reflect on power when you are powerless and looking at what is shaping your life than it is to reflect on power you exercise. Power corrupts, or so am told, and I can quite believe it. Social work is one long reflection on power, unequal power relations equal violence, oppression and abuse. That type of reflection is necessary to stay sane when you are intervening in people’s family life, or dealing with the vulnerable. You have to be aware of how you are shaping situations and how your presence is impacting what you can see. I don’t imagine that is easy when you have power over millions.

When I joined twitter it was notable to me that the people in this stupid little chatroom were the people who made and shaped policy felt by millions. Watching their reactions to mixing with the world now they didn’t have elite institutions to protect their isolation at the top of a hierarchy. It’s no secret how it turned out. Media figures abusing and defaming people, and the christening of a chatroom as the future of media. What if the problem is bigger than the centre left abusing those they disenfranchise?

THis is a generation of political class who only really understand exercising power without reflection. Who are used to being detatched from those whose lives they shape. It was easy in the first four or five years on twitter to make your point direct to those with power, to interrupt their narratives. Focus E15 gained prominence because their occupation of a housing estate was publicised on twitter during party conference. I was able to write for the nationals and to generate a list of enemies who really shouldn’t know my name. If I wanted something in the papers, there was usually a way to get it there. What if the consequence of media power moving to a digital environment are more serious. If they can’t reflect on power they have, how do they know when they are giving it away? How do you put a genie back in a bottle?

My gut is that the astroturf of the alt-right and hard left is shallow. An inch deep and a mile wide. But the revelation of the culture underpinning media, politics and policy makers wasn’t just open to us. We don’t exist in isolation. If this culture cannot even reflect on power they are giving a chatroom, and feel personally injured by people whose reality impacts their identity, what have other world powers been seeing? If a gobshite single mum from Todmorden,  or a group of housing activists in London can disrupt media narratives, is it really a surprise that social media is the ideal tool to disrupt an election?

If these people can’t reflect on the power they hold, how will they know when they don’t hold it any more?  Will they be like Merovingian Kings wearing the empty robes of power as it falls out of their hands? Who will inherit what they lose and how will it be used?

I really don’t think the policy and media culture outraged at Trump on twitter understand what they have done. The way the power they had can morph and pass to someone else. They have been insulated from it forever. They don’t even know how to reflect on this, the chances of them doing so are slim. Inequality is a euphemism for power. Dynamics between groups, between nations, between individuals, institutions. An inequality crisis is one where unequal power relations are driving crisis. The economists and political thinkers who have reflected on power have usually been given the opportunity to reflect on power by crisis. That crisis would appear to be here.

Trump: The Long Fart

For the world’s scariest dictator, noone is afraid to mock or ridicule Trump. The fears of 1984 are overplayed. Doublespeak and that level of control requires people to buy into that system. That isn’t happening. While we are looking for our 1984 moment we are ignoring that this is 2017. Trump is incompetent, vain, stupid, and doesn’t appear to know how to operate the machinery he sits on. While every liberal this side of the universe is shouting about resisting Trump, the real problem may be much bigger.

The best strategy with Trump may be to sit back, use him as a test of institutional resilience and let him fuck himself over. The problem he poses is not addressed by this. He is President of the United States and every test of institutional resilience has to undermine that office and isolate it. Resisting Trump means the office has to be devalued.

I am not one to share posts from Conservative Home(although I read it occasionally) but it may be time to differentiate the passenger from the driver.

We have international crisis played out as dinner theatre, facebook pictures of the guy who carries the nuclear codes, and the endless stream of twitter stupidity. We have gamergate in the Whitehouse and Putin is delighted. And I doubt he is the only one. While this office is made ridiculous a space opens up for power to realign and resisting Trump is what will create that space.

There is no choice but to limit the power of a man baby in that office.

The question of whether you are in conflict with someone doesn’t depend on your participation or awareness. I don’t want to type the words but the Catch 22 Trump represents is uniquely dangerous.

How long can Russia be at war with us, while we pretend it isn’t so? How long can we pretend that Europe is not bookended by threats and how long can we pretend that the vacuum created by a narcissistic man baby as the first twitter president(and his lefty mirror image as leader of the opposition here) is not dangerous? Obama was not a saint. Obama did not understand the threat Russia posed and I wonder how long before we are dragged from slumber to recognise the situation we are in.

We have a political class who by their nature cannot reflect on power dynamics, and those dynamics are changing rapidly. How long before we realise the situation we are in? And how long before they do?

The first Conservative on the role of an MP and his relationship with public opinion.

Edmund Burke;

‘But his unbiased opinion, his mature judgement, his enlightened conscience, he ought not to sacrifice to you; to any man, or to any set of men living. These do not derive from your pleasure; no, nor from the law and the Constitution. They are a trust from Providence, for the abuse of which he is deeply answerable. Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgement; and he betrays you, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion’.

Quebec Shooter, lone wolves, and radicalisation of angry white men

The Quebec shooter was not a lone wolf. He was another angry, white, male terrorist, radicalised online in a network solidifying and branding itself as the Alt-Right. This is an organised network, which has been growing in power for years. It has culminated in Steve Bannon in the Whitehouse and can be seen online and has been experienced by most women using twitter. They work in symbiosis with the hard left who are characterised by the same angry, white, male misogyny and racism, and who rely on the same techniques. Even though the medium through which they organise is new, and the structure of the organisation has changed, it is time to call it what it is. When Islamists do this, we have no problem naming it and radicalisation of young, male, muslims, relies on the same misogyny. This is toxic and organised masculinity, and it is evident and can be seen. These are not lone wolves. This is organised.

Dear Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell,

I watched you on Peston virtue signalling about Trump, and I read your tweets discussing opposition to Trump. How fucking dare you. You are currently aligned with Trump and deliberately and wilfully enabling fascism for your own gain. You deliberately undermined the campaign to Remain in the EU, at huge cost. On the day after the Brexit vote John McDonnell used the chaos to summon thousands of people to Parliament Square to send a message to the world you were using Brexit to take control of the Labour Party. Over the summer you told the electorate loud and clear that astroturf owned by Jon Lansman was a replacement for parliamentary democracy. That you believed you had the right to replace the complex and competing mandates an MP had, with bullshit astroturf. You actively encouraged abuse of women, including your own MPs and behaved like an abusive spouse, terrorising your own MPs, like Trump you called it a movement. You have threatened MPs to force Brexit through, even as it has become clear it could push the UK into being the source of a fascist coalition that tears apart Europe and the World. You have formed a protective seal around our democracy, actively preventing the Labour Party from functioning as parliamentary opposition. You have actively and visibly undermined MPs like Keir Starmer as they have tried to protect democracy. You have denied us an essential parliamentary tension as we descend into the worst crisis we have ever seen. You have supported Trump in this way every step of the way. Your communications director, like Trump, is firmly aligned with Putin. You, like Trump, are surrounded by anti-semitism and the Labour Party ceased to be safe for jewish MPs because of you. You are currently deliberately and wilfully enabling Trump, just as the astroturf you generated was entirely the product of whitewashing consensus on austerity that we desperately needed to discuss, while women paid. An MP your supporters are trying to deselect, Peter Kyle, was the ONLY MP to stand up for those women and the work of Jess Philips and other MPs on this has not seen a single iota of support from you.

How fucking dare you paralyse our democracy to enable and support a man like Donald Trump, lock us into a Brexit that pushes us into his arms, and then wave a fucking placard and pretend you are opposing him. You go on about the ‘right side of history’. History can see you wilfully enabling and aiding fascism, and we will not forget. You are a disgrace and if it was not for the solid work of MPs you are threatened by and threaten, we Trump would see no opposition in the UK. When you have renounced astroturf and pretend movements designed to usurp democracy, systematic abuse of women, and cease preventing opposition to brexit you get to say you are opposing Trump. Until then history is watching you both. You are despicable and we will never vote for you.

I don’t want Trump banned from the UK

Reasons

1-We cannot afford to be allied against the US right now and they remain our major ally. It would be suicide. We are not Canada.

2- I want Donald Trump to see the scale of revulsion the British people feel for him and to understand we are not supine and we are not Theresa May. I want him to see the democracy he cannot control.

3- The Queen does not need to be spared embarrassment, she is an experienced head of state, and just as when she drove King Abdullah and told him she was a mechanic, is more than able to deal with Donald Trump.

 

Record of thoughts: 30/01/2017

THis crisis is metastisizing quickly, and I think the coming months will see events develop very quickly. Today I was supposed to be shutting my twitter account and I ended up ranting about this. Mainly because am frightened. Austerity didn’t scare me like this because I knew that while the crisis generated would be unpleasant, and while I was in the middle of it, it would end. Because I understood what was being attempted. This is not the same. The thing I learned at LSE last year more than anything else is that we do not have a single solitary academic discipline or institution which understands how the different aspects of our political economy work together. The thing people do exceptionally well is generate crisis which give us the opportunity to address intractable problems, but social work taught me that the way we do that is far from pleasant. Especially when the crisis is rooted in unequal power dynamics.

The day of the referendum I watched happy smiling people going into a polling station, voting leave or remain, and although I felt the outcome was a significant act of self harm on a national scale, I also accepted it. Because I believe in democracy. But this crisis has metastisized and when democracy is used to open the door to fascism, we have to be vigilant. I have never believed a second referendum was wise, now I feel it is necessary.

We don’t understand geo politics in this country, we haven’t had to for a long time and the post war settlement meant we kept the trappings of Empire on the basis of our stability, and our geographical function as an island bridge between two powerful allies. Europe, ad the US. And yes I count Europe as a single ally. A single body, even with the complexity of the EU as a set of institutional arrangements. I have watched in horror as the pursuit of EU integration has led to a consolidation of financial power that threatened democracy itself and truly believe the EU is a fragile and flawed institutional arrangement which requires reform. I also know that many of the flaws in the EU are not intentional, not designed, and that Europe as a union as as much about geography as owt else. There has always been a two tier EU, we have always been treated as top tier players and we have never had to submit to the things other partners have submitted to. We have always maintained our own borders, we have a fucking sea around us, and we have our own financial system and currency. THis was a bargain and I may be loathe to admit it but that bargain is partly because of the swivel eyed right who have ensured that anything else is political suicide. Difference is good.

What people did not vote for, whether they voted to leave or remain, is fascism. We didn’t vote to be allied to fascism, we didn’t vote to become a lynchpin in a fascist coalition, and fascism likes democracy until it doesn’t and then democracy becomes unimportant. I spent some time in Cambodia, as a tourist, not in any important capacity. I took my step kids and we spent a month there before we went to Vietnam and it was one of the most disturbing experiences of my life. A formative experience. It is a beautiful and friendly country with a history that predates ours by thousands and thousands of years. It is fertile and the countries complex agriculture relies on a lake that subsides yearly. People discuss the US bombing of Cambodia like it was at the root of what happened there, but the truth is more complex. The crime against Cambodia was undermining their ability to remain neutral in a complex war of two great powers, and that led to the conditions emerging for the Khmer Rouge. It is strange to be in a country that seems devoid of old people, or where their friendliness to you(and it is hands down the friendliest country I have ever visited) is born of desperation and a gratitude that a nightmare is over.  Genocide tourism still existed while I was there, you could blow up a cow with a bazooka, or walk in the Killing Fields. I did neither.

We don’t understand geo politics in this country, we have not had to for hundreds and hundreds of years. We have imposed our will, then hung on the coat tails of greater powers who could impose a will that benefited us. We have never, as far as I can see, been in this position. What s happening in the US is alarming, and it would appear that significant forces are at play and something toxic has emerged that makes them a serious threat to Europe. Which is now being explicitly stated. Le Pen is leading in the Presidential election and everyone is happy to place the brexit referendum as the source of the Dickhead Spring. We will not survive this as a country. We can’t undo the referendum or many of the consequences. Our reputation was about stability, our prestige was about our stability. It is gone. It is not coming back. But we cannot afford to be an Atlantic Bridge in these circumstances. We cannot afford to take sides. We cannot afford to be a threat to Europe and we cannot ally ourselves with a fascist coalition. Or be its source.

We cannot afford to lose our major trading relations and any carrots offered which tie us to fascism have huge consequences. The many sources of instability we have contained at Canary Wharf alone make deliberately generating instability unwise. I am rarely truly frightened. With austerity, the status quo frightened me more than any possible change. Now this crisis has metastised the question has changed. We urgently need the grown ups back in the room. We urgently need the centre position to reform around the moderate wishes of the majority of people and we need to address the toxic far right and far left who are driving this, and the digital extension they have built onto their irrelevant and nasty cultures. Jeremy Corbyn is currently aligned with Trump on the need for astroturf to undermine our institutions, on Putin and crucially he is threatening MPs to push Brexit through. Theresa May, without an adequate opposition is weakened and her politics and the poor choices she has made of Brexiteer Ministers for Trade and the Foreign Office, are dragging us down a road we cannot turn back from. We need cross party coalitions and we need the grown ups to get back in the fucking room.

I have never been so frightened for our future as I am at this moment or by this situation. And I do not scare easily. We need a discussion that isnt twitter, that isn’t the toxic tribalism and we need to get the clever people in rooms away from this madness to discuss our future and to make decisons that will not tie us to this. I don’t think this post makes sense. Frantic typing before teatime to get something out of your system generally doesn’t.. So for future me, this is my thoughts as the Brexit crisis metastisizes around us on 30/01/2017.