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.
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.
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?Follow @grahamlithgow