The kids are alright – they’re only trying to help

Believe it or not, when I was a mere whippersnapper, toiling away through the rigours of an aimless teenage existence, I nearly took part in a protest on school time – in the school itself no less. I wasn’t the only one either – many students, imbued with self righteous rage and inadvertently inspired by an ethics based class on the merits of non-violent protest, planned to take to the school field, refusing to budge an inch until the tyranny of switching up the form groups was revoked.

Alas, we didn’t succeed. Most likely because in the end absolutely nobody bothered. Nothing was ventured and diddly squat was gained in return, our youthful apathy proving our undoing.

So, with this in mind, seeing the scorn that has greeted students, who dared be sufficiently engaged in the world around them to a degree in which they’re willing to speak out against a looming danger in the very future they selfishly wish to enjoy, has been a most curious experience indeed.

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There’s being misinformed, there’s missing the point and then there’s Toby Young.

Climate change has become one of those peculiar issues in which, despite the overwhelming scientific consensus that humanity isn’t just a key contributor to but also set to suffer greatly from its ramifications, in remains a danger which simply fails to resonate with many – specifically amongst those who will conveniently be dead before its impact will be most keenly felt.

As such, it’s easy for eminently unqualified simpletons like Toby Young to bat away with around the same amount of effort in which it takes him to condition his hair each morning.

Though rather than offering even the faintest semblance of insight into detailing how the protesting students were ideologically mistaken (quite possibly because he can’t), Toby instead opts to derisively sneer, characterising them as indolent pipsqueaks who simply couldn’t be arsed going into school.

Indeed, this is a narrative that pretty much all detractors decided to spin.

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It’s of little surprise that Daniel Hannan is so cynical, his only experience of the outside world is via Google Images.

Bloody kids, eh? What do they know? Those obnoxious rapscallions should know their place, specifically locked away in a modestly furnished bedroom for their 5pm curfew. That’ll teach them to have the temerity to accompany their presence in our realm with disgracefully obnoxious opinions, any line of inquiry being an unforgivable lack of respect for their more experienced and therefore wiser elders.

Or at least, you could likely understand if that was the disdainful message any young activist were to take from the snide reaction their work received. They might believe in their message, but the wizened world around them doesn’t care – to the extent that they don’t even have the inclination to address the argument, choosing instead to dismiss it out of hand on the basis of the messenger sporting a bumfluff moustache and uncontrollable acne.

It’s a concept which seems to be prevalent across the globe, rather than the ignorance simply being confined to our shores. Check out the contempt ostensibly respect worthy elders have for school shooting victims for example, responding to not only legitimate, but actually realised concerns about being murdered in school with a disparaging snicker at a survivor’s grades:

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Context – David Hogg was somewhat peeved about his friends being murdered.

Not exactly behaviour worthy of respect, is it? Though there is a common thread to be grasped at here. Whether it be gun violence in America, or climate crimes worldwide, the greater the failing of the ruling generation, the more urgent the desperation involved in deflecting the spotlight.

While you can’t deny there’s merit to be found in a lifetime of experience, as there is valid critique to be made of the naivety of youth, seeking to stamp out the inquisitive nature of a largely untainted mind is to the benefit of nobody, save for the guilty attempting to elude the grasp of considerable shame.

Besides, when we’re dealing with problems the current crop of middle aged Earth dwellers were unable to solve, it’s the subsequent generations we’ll be relying upon to find the answers.

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Hell hath no fury like a liar called out

While we’re all still struggling to decipher what was actually meant by “Brexit means Brexit”, given that the narrative from propagandists jarringly shifts depending on which Brexit induced calamity needs to be spun as something people supposedly voted for, the prevailing mood behind its victory has always been painfully apparent.

It was a simple enough concept. Certainly succinct enough to cultivate a considerable bandwagon, ready to steamroller it’s way through the foundations of our political structure and shatter the complacent zeitgeist.

Pride. Specifically national pride – manifesting itself as an unshakeable belief that we are Britain and absolutely nothing, not even reality, can stand in our way from achieving global dominance on the back of a foundation of glorious, self governing independence.

At least, until somebody says something a bit mean. Then we lose our fucking minds.

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Not quite sure what Freud would have made of this, but chances are it wouldn’t have been good.

Soon both the press and social media were awash with indignant invective. Politicians, pundits and citizens alike were incandescent with rage towards Donald Tusk, with many on the Brexit side of the fence indicating that the unfathomably disgraceful slur he’d unleashed upon our innocent nation showed exactly why we had to leave. I mean, how dare he?!

It’s quite easy to get caught up in the hysteria, not least when your homeland is being slighted from afar.

Unless of course, you bothered to read what Donald Tusk actually said:

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Satan speaks. Apart from not really.

Not so bad when you take a look at the actual quote. In fact you could go as far to say that he’s bang on the money – the debatable existence of hell not withstanding of course. Further to this, the only people who should have taken any degree of offence to this were the duplicitous, cynically populist chancers his comments were directed towards.

So naturally – duplicitous, cynically populist chancer Nigel Farage was furious.

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Farage went onto claim that this kerfuffle proved that the EU are scared of the UK leaving without a deal. Why? I have no idea. Answers on a postcard.

Though none of this fallout was the least bit surprising, at least not from the hardline Brexit camp. A propagandist is going to do what a propagandist is going to do, seizing upon the slightest slither of controversy and discontent and twisting it to suit their agenda. Beyond recognition if needs be.

However this wilfully disingenuous indignation wasn’t limited to the obnoxious bluster of plan deficient hucksters – portions of the mainstream media were all too happy to fan the flames of confusion with curiously broad summations of what Donald Tusk actually said.

Namely the BBC:

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Which bit sticks in your head the most? The large font of the heading? The bold typeface in the subheading? Or what he actually said in the tiny lettering right at the bottom?

Just why the BBC chose to present Tusk’s comments in such a way is a matter known only to them, but if you were to say it was a cynical ploy to attract clicks and potentially stoke up a feeling of anti-EU sentiment ahead of Brexit D-Day, you might not be a million miles away from the truth.

In any case, such slack reporting was an absolute gift for Theresa May and her faltering government, gleefully¬†pouncing upon the dominant narrative and allowing them to further craft an “us against them” dichotomy all of their own – presumably with the aim of snuffing out any lingering remain sentiment amongst the populace.

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Ironically enough, “Widespread Dismay” would be the perfect tabloid style headline to sum up Theresa May’s entire stint as Prime Minister.

You could argue that perhaps Tusk was unwise to be so blunt, especially given that he was acutely aware of how it would be spun over in Britain. It was certainly no slip of the tongue, though one suspects he was long past the point of worrying about optics. It’s not as though the British press have ever been especially complimentary to those “bloody unelected eurocrats”, apparently holding them in a similar disdain as they do the truth.

Not to mention that, even leaving partisan media establishments to one side, British politicians haven’t exactly been exemplars in courteous diplomatic relations either.

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I wonder if Mike Godwin ever receives royalties for this?

Ultimately this entire shambles caused by one comment, as laced with scythe as it may have been, has provided a timely object lesson in how easily a deceptive narrative can be spun. It matters not that the actual quote is easily verifiable to anyone who has ten seconds spare to check Google, a scurrilous seed had been planted and the rot wasn’t far behind to overwhelm the discourse with bitter cries of vexation – all over a simple, justified comment aimed only at a small subsection of the most deserving.

You can’t help but wonder how this verbal skirmish will be perceived in the decades to come. It’s often said that history is written by the winners – and at this point the side in the ascendancy is riddled with unscrupulous liars.

 

Why Project Fear continues to fail – even as it comes true

As a species, we’ve always had a curious fascination with the idea of a dystopia. Just take a cursory glance towards the entertainment industry and you’ll find your eyeballs immediately swamped by all manner of irrevocably ravaged, near desolate wastelands in which the last remnants of humanity scrabble for survival, feverishly gnawing on the remains of Noam Chomsky as the light of civilisation ever dims to near imperceptible levels.

The reasoning behind this phenomenon I’ve never quite been able to pin down. Perhaps the soul crushing mundanity of our eternally structured and tiresomely cyclical existence in which nothing of interest ever happens gives way to an opening, in which indulging in the unrelenting misery of a constant battle for survival while trapped in a fractured and crumbling society becomes a heady method of escapism.

In any case, justifiably or otherwise, such an absurd idea can’t help but intrude in my thoughts when I see people gleefully clamouring for a no deal Brexit – apparently without the slightest concern as to whatever dire consequences our current reality is increasingly demonstrating.

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What 17.4 million people voted for. Maybe.

Of course, entertaining the possibility that huge swathes of people knowingly voted for their own nation’s demise is subconsciously facetious at best and would understandably be dismissed as pro-EU hysteria bypassing my sense of perspective. However, it remains a mystery that I continue to ponder over – just why are some people so impervious to what’s undeniably happening, as so called “Project Fear” ever the more develops beyond a mere prediction into a tangible problem?

Curiously, even the most prominent and allegedly hardline proponents of Leave have began to waver – albeit in an indirect manner characterised by pitiful cowardice. Jacob Rees-Mogg now places a fifty year timescale on Brexit yielding any benefit whatsoever, Liam Fox describes a no deal as “survivable”, apparently unaware that we’d have to rely on International Trade Secretary Liam Fox to secure new trade deals, while David Davis is currently attempting to claim that the Brexit benefits he’s never been able to substantiate have conveniently vanished into the ether.

Yet the average, hardline Brexiteer on the street remains unswayed, steadfast in their believe that a managed WTO Brexit is the way to go – irrespective of the cost and dearth of understandable logic.

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Given that Leave Means Leave events charge for tickets, these chancers have turned being fundamentally incorrect into a profitable enterprise.

Such unwavering dedication may be bewildering to the detached outsider, though stubborn tribalism exists on all sides of debate. Nobody likes to choke down on those bitter morsels of pride and admit that they were mistaken – not least if they’ve invested so much in their cherished rhetoric that it becomes a fundamental tenet of their own identity.

However the crux of Project Fear’s failure to penetrate runs deeper than a cultish obedience to a deeply held doctrine. Put bluntly, it simply isn’t relatable – to pretty much anyone.

As a nation we’ve been spoiled in recent times – utterly spoiled. Sure, we’ve had our ups and downs through the years, suffering along with the rest of the world through the global financial crisis and, despite our prosperity, have been utterly pitiful when it comes to eradicating poverty and homelessness – but when viewed through the lens of comparative objectivity, we’re not doing half bad. Every citizen is entitled to healthcare, the supermarkets are always sufficiently stocked and, even though there are sporadic ripples of civil unrest, our society remains just about stable.

Owing to this, your everyday Joe simply cannot comprehend what it’s like to spend each day mired amidst a country which has been brought to its knees, with the very fabric of what allows a nation to function breaking apart at the seams. No matter the credibility of the oft dismissed doomsday scenarios exponents of Remain decide to present, their chances of resonating are hopelessly slim. Personal strife and localised troubles aside, while the framework of a generally operational state continues to tick along, the very notion of being greeted by empty shelves at the local Tesco, having just recovered from the shock of being denied a prescription upon which you depend earlier in the day, seems patently ludicrous. Peacetime breeds a sense of complacency that stability is here to stay – you almost can’t blame those who greet the idea that we should stockpile with derisive laughter. It’s simply a world they’ve never experienced.

Not to say that many haven’t experienced hardship, having found themselves beaten down by way of rotten luck and their road to happiness being forever closed off by the very same austerity we’ve been assured no longer exists, though harrowing warnings of economics collapse aren’t likely to have a market with this particular demographic. When you’ve got nothing to lose a gamble which constitutes a seismic upheaval of an entire country doesn’t seem especially high risk. Hell, it may even seem worth a punt. Who cares if it’s being sold to you by an anthropomorphic pork scratching who’s seemingly spent fifty years squatting in an ashtray? The status quo hasn’t been much help, so why support its continuation?

Yet that’s ultimately the key betrayal of Brexit. It’s often said that Leave snatched victory owing to their appeals to emotion and playing on the fears of the most vulnerable. That’s the modus operandi of a confidence swindle after all, right down to victim not coming wise to the grift until the unfortunate consequences are dumped unceremoniously upon their doorstep – and the swindlers in this instance have got all they need to keep you entranced in their spell until they’ve scarpered beyond the sunset to the nearest tax haven.

Specifically the claims of their opponents being so far detached from what the majority have experienced, they couldn’t possibly be true.

Could they?