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.