I asked this question on Twitter recently. I wondered what people thought and I wish that I knew. The answer may be depressingly banal. Humans doing stupid things out of short term venal self-interest. But let’s just look at some of what we know.
The Cummings debacle
We’ll start at the end and work back. Why, someone asked, has the population become enraged by Dominic Cummings’ stunningly arrogant and inexcusable car trips up and down the country, whilst he was supposedly infected and infectious, when they weren’t upset by everything else he has done to the country to date. My answer is this: most people cannot grasp what he has done, disbelieve it because it is like the plot of a complex thriller or, for the best part, are completely ignorant of it. In some ways I don’t blame them. I find it pretty hard to process it all myself. In contrast, his latest known misadventure sparks a visceral, old brain reaction. Even very young children have a built in fairness detector and I’ll warrant that everybody, even Cummings’ purported supporters (whatever they said publicly) understood that he broke his own rules and that his reasons were utterly spurious. So the gut reaction of the Real People of the Glorious Kingdom of Brexitania, was, “Oi. That’s not fair! We’ve been doing what we were told.”
It did look like they might have got it wrong this time. Perhaps it is a case of collossal hubris. Playing with populism is like playing with fire. You think the People are under your control, but you only have to make one miscalculation and you can find yourself in the centre of a conflagration. Cummings certainly seems to think he had the malleable part of the British population doing whatever his algorithms dicatated and he is extraordinarily arrogant. Is that what this is? An actual mistake? The trouble with knowing that population manipulation has gone on in great measure, to the point of the destruction of a country, is that it’s easy to ask the question, ‘What is actually going on?” and to attribute incompetence or indifference to an actual Machiavellian scheme. Is there any possible truth in the theories that this is just part of the original ‘herd immunity’ strategy to cull the weak by manipulating them to break lockdown without actually telling them to break it? Or is it another of their interminable dead cats? Because it is true, that while this dominates the country’s social media circles and the media and possibly couch conversations at teatime, the other things that should be causing anger, still go on unremarked by the mainstream.
What other things?
This is where it gets difficult. It’s a brain-ache to think about the commercial deals, the carving up of resources, the selling off of assets that is part of the agenda and in which Cummings appears as a self-appointed mover and shaker. More robust commentators than me, present pieces of evidence on twitter and as I read them, my soul dies a little each time, much as it does with the statistics on Covid-19. Decades of watching the response to climate change has numbed me to the point where anger has been seething for a long time and new shocks don’t register much. The details of the evidence are many and complex with networks and covers and personal relationships and clandestine meetings that boggle my mind. Companies I’ve never heard of are given untendered contracts on vital services. Personnel within orgnaisations that receive contracts, turn out to have links with personnel in the cabinet. Huge amounts of money are spent on dead duck enterprises. It’s easy to fall into the trap of finding conspiracies and links, but what is frightening is what is not fake news. What is frightening is the actual visible network – the links between the cabinet, the current, parasitised Tory party, Tufton St, the Leave organisations and USA big business, Koch Industries, the Russians (who incredibly have bought British Citizenship without a word from the xenophobes), and Putin. Those are there and well-documented and evidenced. Sometimes I try to fathom how Tory voters square this knowledge with their belief that they’ve voted for the ‘People’s Party’ and that Brexit was about gaining some kind of freedom from unaccountable players. When I’ve talked to Tory voters about these links, the most common responses are “lol” or “I don’t listen to that bullshit”. So the answer is simple. Tory voters ignore what they don’t like and believe the story in their head. A story that may be implanted through the media, of course.
But what is actually going on, then?
The simple answer is that I don’t know. The political answer is that the rich and the powerful are empire-building as they have done throughout human history. They may use the notion of unfettered markets and assets may include virtual entitites, but these are still secondary, a means to an end in terms of real real-estate, physical resources, access to energy, food and water. And this is where I, and many others struggle and mentally or actually face-palm ourselves. In this neoliberal world, the rest of us appear to be expendible. Is it that they only need a small portion of the human world to carry on business as usual? How does that work in a capitalist system that relies on consumption? Or are they already thinking beyond that to the minimal requirement of the bunker? Can that be possible? It’s hard to believe that any normal, intelligent human being, (Is Charles Koch one?) is really a climate science denier in private and does not understand the impact that their continued business will have on the human species, including themselves and their own dynasties. So their endgame is unfathomable to me. Or maybe they really are just that stupid.