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.
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.
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.
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.
Rachel and I started the morning laughing like witches at this in the Washington Post. I might be frightened but my daughter thinks President Trump is hilarious. It’s hard to know how to top a first week that started with an inauguration speech that made Hitler look subtle and ended with him accusing John McCain of trying to start World War 3. The one thing I know about narcissists is that all accusations are admissions. Marie Le Pen has a clear lead in the French Presidential Elections and we are all holding our breath. The Washington Post says a bill might be passed that means we can’t have crazy bastard future Presidents, which is not reassuring given the US press is now stating openly they have a President who doesn’t know the difference between reality and twitter. The world holds its breath, sure that something can be done. A bit of me hopes that this can all be sorted quickly and we scared ourselves enough to say never again, but we sold politics to the rich and a crazy mantoddler billionaire bought the most powerful office in the world, I’m not sure how you get to never again from there without the large scale events that usually teach such lessons.
It’s been quite a weekend. The executive orders drafted by Steve Bannon and Trump have blown up, massive protests, a judge providing a stay. Abusers never ever jump straight into what they want to do, they spend some time testing the waters. See how far they can go, they see what resistance they are likely to meet. While most abusive relations are an extension of normal dynamics, with really nasty people there is a process where they check what will stand in their way. As a response to the executive orders that have been drafted, we have seen protests, we have seen lawyers and according to journalists who are watching this, we are seeing the differing responses of institutions. Will customs officals obey one body or the other. Who will act as a check and balance and who will do what the White House wants, even if if is unconstitutional. THis is a complex face off that will reveal how strong the institutional structure of the US is, how many checks and balances function. This is more important to watch than the protests. This is what will tell you and Steve Bannon where this goes next.
The war on women, ethnic minorities, and muslims is not new. Trump has just made what you enabled for decades undeniable. Your outrage is about distancing yourself from your own actions enabling this. Trump is not your rebirth, he is a sign your day is done because of what you enabled. Unless you stand up now.
Trump does not have absolute power. The US is not a country in the sense that France is a country, or Germany. It is more akin to a federalisation of areas the size of countries. It is a country in the way the EU is a country. The President is a figurehead over substantial and complicated machinery. The astroturf that has placed Trump where he is shallow, and relies on the visibility of the fringes of political lunacy in a digital echochamber formed around dying media organisations. It is a mile wide and an inch deep. The key difference between the astroturf generated by Trump, and that generated by Jon Lansman is that what Trump plugged into is deep. Racism and misogyny that runs right to the core of this divided nation and has defined their culture wars and the non development of their welfare state. The license he has given to those defined by these fissures is a danger. But it is still astrotturf. Even when plugged into his wealth and privilege, even when plugged into deep faltlines around race and gender, it is still astroturf. The office he has been elected to is that of a man placed above a vast and complex machinery, machinery it takes politicians years of skill to master before they rise. Steve Bannon, the fat sadsack who knows how to harness the fury of a million racist sexual inadequates, knows how to use that bile to disrupt but he doesn’t know how to operate this machinery. The executive orders Trump has signed may be drafted by Bannon but they are underliverable. His attempt to deliver them may even wake up democracy after a very long sleep. The bigger threat he may pose is in the devaluation of the office he holds. Making the US ridiculous at a time when global power relations are realigning. The creation of space for something else to fill? The devaluation of a nation. We have in essence seen the power of twitter and dissolving media power, place a toddler without connection to reality in the Whitehouse. The consequences of this could be more serious than anything that Trump does or intends to do.
It’s a strange thing to have to consider the unthinkable. Even as I sit at just after midnight, in a warm living room, watching Charlotte’s Web with a sleeping child. It’s a strange thing to be reluctant to let that child see the news, for fear of seeing statesmen behave in way that would terrify her. What is stranger still is knowing the world she was brought into, two years before the financial crisis will certainly not resemble the world she is an adult in. The certainties that defined my first 38 years all gone.
A chinese military official said war with the US could be a ‘practical reality’. No, I don’t believe war with China is imminent. No I don’t believe the words of one official mean that is what will happen. I do know the world order is being redrawn and China have power the US no longer have. I do know that power balances realigning require assertion of power. I do know that all that statement did was reassure me that there are bigger boys in the yard than Trump, because Trump is a bully and bullies don’t cope well with being shown up. So this post is here to mark that because it should be marked. World is changing quicker than any of us can keep up with.
It feels quite strange to know you are in the half space between an age dying and the new one being born, seeing the monsters Gramsci warned of emerging. Yesterday, Theresa May went to see Donald Trump with the air of a housebuyer who sold her house without considering she may need somewhere to move into. Trump made the most of the opportunity, and was careful to use the word special in the first press conference I have ever seen from him that was clearly designed to be on message. Boris Johnson said we are hand in glove with the US, it looks to me like we are agreeing to being fucked up the arse without condom or lube. The world is being told we are like these people and history will remember us as their reflections.
It feels like the end of the world but it isn’t. Yes, there are, as we speak, people stuck at airports with visas revoked. History is not yet written. A country where racism and misogyny run deep, awash with guns, have had their worst instincts validated by a President who spent his first days making sure women and ethnic minorities know what he means when he says those who voted from him got their country back. This is bad but this is not new. No abusive reflex starts with the first physical strike.
The systemic abuse of women and ethnic minorities in the US is not new, just as it is not unusual in the UK to abuse people because they are muslim, benefit claimants and anyone else the Westminster press decide are cockroaches this week. What’s new is we can’t pretend we don’t know where it ends.
Buzzfeed published thisreally interesting snippet, explaining that the UK doesn’t need manufactured fake news because our political press with their hateful symbiosis of far right and smug left flushed the truth away years ago. What’s new is that neo liberalism is dead and that war on women, ethnic minorities has led us down a road history tells us we should recognise. The cultures who sold this for years are falling apart and wondering how this crisis came to hit them. We can all see how they led us here.
Trump has only been in office a few days, he spent them writing executive orders that largely can’t be delivered, each order bashes him against the constitution and the machinery of the US state. And there are hopeful signs. Each order shows him as dangerous and out of touch with reality, but also out of touch with the machinery he has earned the right to sit atop of and now has to operate. Mixing up ambitions and capabilities is what defines abusive political reflexes and is what always leads to their downfall. Narcissists see the world as a reflection of themselves and lash out to maintain their false reality but their blindness is always their weakness. He will use his rhetoric to tell people what he is doing and how to deal with him, we just have to take him seriously and literally. Watching a narcissistic media culture develop strategies to deal with narcissism is almost funny.
Brexit caused an awakening in our MPs that we must rediscover a centre position that is moderate and allows consensus, the US appear to be realising the same. The ‘fake news’ mantra has made journalists reconsider the role they are supposed to play. Underneath the Trumpesque astroturf of Jeremy Corbyn, Labour are showing they still have a body of MPs who respect their office, respect parliament and wish to stand for something again. Obama had a message to the sycophantic media guppies who populate the liberal media- we need sceptics, not sycophants. We are hearing discussion of journalism that holds power to account, the request for sceptics not sycophants has not entirely fallen on deaf ears. We are slowly waking up to the importance of complex and developed institutions which hold power to account and temper its’s worst instincts, as we consider the consequences of a media democracy powered by commentariat. There is no chance of the Hadley Freemans, Jonathon Freedland, Owen Jones and Laurie Penny set reflecting on the way they have driven this, or of changing their behaviour. The Guardian cannot survive unless it culls the commentariat and starts investing in journalism again so it doesn’t matter and they don’t matter. And just as the last six years provided a demonstration of how they sell abusive policy, this will provide a demonstration we can learn from of how far it can go. That lesson will be important.
Moderate Conservatives are bridling against the swivel eyed right of their own party as Theresa May fights as a losing war with Brexiteers temporarily puffed up by Trump. Staffers, civil services, people across our institutions and those of the US, people who know the slippy slope was in the past, are visibly waking up. Labour’s strategy of being what Corbyn cannot be, means he is isolated, and his power has been shown to be a mile wide and an inch deep. A veneer that falls away when juxtaposed against a party who remember why they are in parliament and what the job of opposition is to be. Len McCluskey is fighting for his political life after escalating a war he can’t complete, Jon Lansman’s astroturf machine is falling apart at the seams after the Labour left spent the summer telling everyone who would listen this would replace parliamentary democracy. His main support here couldn’t win an election.
The past 6 years have provided an example of the symbiosis of right and left in delivering a toxic abusive reflex to a financial crisis, far right and left cultures who are rejected by everyone, managed to build a digital extension of their archaic architecture via twitter. They are now exposed, but this crisis has metastised just as the limitations of social media as inheritor to unspoken power of mainstream media become apparent.
3.5 million women marched last week and the toxic attempts to rebrand feminism as violent misogyny via twitter, were killed by a tide of women demonstrating that feminism is women standing together. The wave of liberal feminism as choice and identity, already dead in the water. This 6 years after equality was rolled back in the UK in way that demonstrated the link between financialisation and inequality, and after decades of a war on women fed by the same symbiosis in the US. The death of the liberal class is taking its time but we are at a crossroads.
This crisis needs people to understand that their response is them choosing who they are. What fights this is not about who can shout loudest, on twitter or generate the most retweets. Rejection of that narcissism is what will eventually kill this stone dead. The response that was needed post financial crisis never materialised, but there is evidence that changes are happening which and it could materialise here. While 6 years of post financial crisis world has given us Trump, it also caused a reconstruction in people’s understanding of power. This is generating more hopeful signs.
What Trump has attached his astroturf to is deep. White supremacy and the war on women and ethnic minorities is not new in the US, and has always been sold by those now making money out of outrage about Trump. The question is whether the rest of us can break that, not by getting twitter followers, but within institutions, in the actions we all choose as a response to this.
That is the only thing that has ever beaten fascism.