A two-year-old child explains why we can’t “just leave”

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This week we begin a new series in which guest bloggers, representing a range of voices less commonly heard in the mainstream media, give their opinions on the issues of the day. Today Maya, aged two, considers a “no deal” Brexit.

As a toddler, I understand the impulse to, as many British people have put it, just leave the EU without arrangements in place that might serve to ensure the country’s survival. However, I’d like to offer an analogy which will explain why I think it may not be the best available option. Leaving, it turns out, is often a mite more complex than one may at first assume.

Across the road from our flat in London there’s a park. An amazing park. With a bendy slide, literal swings and actual roundabouts, parents speaking what sounds like quite a variety of grown-up languages, fellow toddlers  babbling away incoherently as we are wont to do, the odd individual adult gulping down a delicious-looking beverage apparently called K Cider, and what seems to be an endless abundance of flowers and grass and pigeons and trees and mud and bins and leaves and twigs and stones to put in those bins. There are also DOGS! Doggies!! Woof-woofs!!! And a dinosaur! (I am not making this up. There is a dinosaur!) Sometimes I look out of the window and the sight of the outside world triggers thoughts of the park’s bountiful and tantalising treasures. Seized by the impulse to be OUTSIDE, I rush to the door, but unfortunately, I’m too tiny to reach the door handle*. This turns out to be just the first of very many complications.

Leaving the house to go to the park is no, as it were, walk in the park. One issue is that I am, how can I put this, linguistically challenged. I have the verbal sophistication of, well, a two-year-old. Further complicating matters is that (shock! horror!) one of my parents (I think it’s the female one) comes from another language background, so I’m often struggling when it comes to expressing my wants and needs. For example, if I decide on a  bit of a whim that I don’t actually want to wear THAT hat, not the one with the dinosaur on it that sometimes makes my head feel a bit hot, but another one that I vaguely remember that might on proper reflection belong to another child at nursery, or maybe one that I definitely possess but which, following my own peculiar proclivities, I have chosen to put in the washing machine or the oven, I can’t put my wishes into words and sentences. Or I can, but sometimes my thoughts and feelings come out all convoluted and lacking in coherence**. Babbling, as I mentioned earlier. Added to this is the fact that I’m not yet totally expert at regulating my emotional state, which leads to impatience and frustration on my part and, as a consequence, on that of my parents. In such a state I’m prone to repeating at increasing pitch and volume the word ‘pak! PAAAAAAAAAAAK!!!!’ to little avail. For there are always parental precautions that have to be taken before we leave. This being the “winter” period***, it’s not just a matter of needing to wear a coat, hat, appropriate footwear (i.e. not that of my parents), and a scarf (I HATE scarfs); there are also mittens to be located, suitable parental garments to be selected and donned (with, I have to say, a measure of assistance from yrs truly), plus often a debate as to whether not I get to bring my scooter, because my passion for putting leaves and twigs and stones in the bin means I haven’t always got a hand free to carry it with, which means that someone else (but who??) needs to do so on my behalf.

So something that might seem straightforward turns out not just to be complex but actually complicated. It’s never just a case of opening the door and merrily toddling my way to the lift. The whole process takes time, patience and energy and demands careful preparation and supervision. It is often intensely frustrating and sometimes, for example if one of the parental people happens to notice that it’s actually raining outside, it may not actually result in success.

Now, I’m aware this might be seen as a poor analogy. Getting a child ready for a trip to the park is not nearly as involved a procedure as preparing a country to leave an economic and political union after several decades. But that’s kinda my point. In evaluating the need to make careful preparations, it’s essential to give proper consideration to the consequences of not doing so, in all their potential horror. Allowing a very young child to charge out of the house straight into driving winter rains and traffic coming from all directions, with no coat or shoes, no means of getting back home, lost and helpless in a world suddenly become infinitely more terrifying and lonely, would be something only a true psychopath would do. Especially if they knew there to be child snatchers in the vicinity.

Here, then, we might be able to divine a connection with the dilemma currently faced by the UK. After all, the grown-up world is immensely complex. It operates in ways that would not only befuddle your average nursery-age infant, but would also place incalculable demands on huge teams of experts working to tight schedules over a period of very many years. Just as I struggle to make sense of the complex procedures involved in nipping out to the local playground for 20 minutes or so, the average beflagged twitternaut is underequipped to understand the delicate ins and outs of the EU withdrawal process, and may not have thought through the impact that leaving the EU in any form will have on the future provision of things like well-equipped and safe parks for children to play in, basic regulations to make sure external doors are child-safe, and essential foodstuffs like bananas, tomatoes and cans of K Cider for kids to enjoy in those parks when they get a little bit older.

As I say, I can certainly relate to the impulse to kick and scream and (let’s be frank) poo oneself in the messiest of ways in order to realise one’s immediate life goals. But I’m also acutely aware that my own vision of events is limited to a considerable extent by my puerile desire for immediate gratification without regard for the wider consequences and my infantile apprehension of the scale and complexity of any given set of circumstances. Put simply, I get tantrums. But even as a two-year-old child, I can see pretty clearly that leaving the EU without a deal would not be in the interest of me, my generation or indeed anyone but those whose mentality and worldview are considerably more selfish and less well-informed than your average toddler’s.

Right, that’s the word count met, I’m off to watch me some Teletubbies.

*I am now able to reach the alarm button in the lift, though. Yay!
**I suspect I may have inherited this characteristic from my male parent.
***By the way, those who claim that the climate is getting warmer might like to consider that just a few short months ago we were on something called a beach and it was warm. Now most days we don’t even walk to nursery. You do the math.

‘Tonight thank God it’s them’: Brexit, food, resentment and inequality

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I once taught ‘Business English’ to the owner of a hedge fund in Mayfair*. It turned out he’d started his company in the year 2008. That’s…auspicious, I remarked. Once I’d explained the word and helped him do a cost benefit analysis on whether it was worth committing to memory, he dismissed my suggestion that a financial company might have suffered the effects of a massive global financial crisis with the words “We’re above all that”.

Reflecting over the course of the last Midwinter Shopping And Stuffing Your Face Festival in its present form, I’ve been struck by the thought that Brexit represents something of the same order in relation to food. My mother grew up with rationing, and possibly as a result tends to overprovide at family gatherings. She’s lucky to be able to (just) afford to do so; anyone who’s been near the Department of Social Security of late knows that rationing exists again in the form of government-mandated food banks. The calculated humiliation involved may well have helped cause Brexit**, although anyone tempted by the ultraleftist notion that widespread suffering after March 29th will inevitably lead to revolution should be warned: people who’ve had the shit kicked out of them are less likely to fight back, in much the same way as no dead person has ever won a major boxing title. (Muhammed Ali doesn’t count, as although he did win some of his titles under a different name, he wasn’t dead when he did so.)

It was partly a seasonal internet kerfuffle in response to this tweet by an ardent Corbyn supporter that set me thinking about food, resentment, inequality and Brexit. Corbyn probably won’t be among the worst affected by food shortages, as he famously has an allotment. In, I will argue, much the same way, ‘people’ (or at least cartoon characters) like Rees-Mogg have enormous estates which could easily and profitability be farmed by the idle poor, so they’re more likely to see mass starvation as an opportunity rather than a threat.

As the fog clears around Brexit and reveals itself to have been steam on a ever-freshly replenished mound of shit, certain themes become clear. They are gathered and explored in Fintan O’Toole’s excellent book ‘Heroic Failures: Brexit and the politics of pain’, which details how this particular stew of self-aggrandisement, self-pity and resentment of others was concocted, and how it’s led to everyone on HMS Shit Britain looking, if not queasy, then certainly depressed.

Food snobbery is one of those themes. Only an outside observer could have noticed our ongoing pathologies in our relationship with food and our attitudes towards others’ eating habits. O’Toole recalls Boris Johnson’s championing of cheap, popular food in the form of Prawn Cocktail crisps and his sneering at metropolitan liberals’ taste for Italian peasant cuisine while he himself continued to enjoy the very best that Tuscany has to offer. Class resentment and the manifold hypocrisies it entails found expression in the fetid burp that was the Brexit vote. Just as Johnson would not dream of even sniffing at a Turkey Twizzler, Rees-Mogg has no more set foot in a Tesco Metro than his ancestors sacrificed themselves for glory little more than a century ago. Brexit embodies not so much the spirit of the Blitz as the loud, clear echoes of the sacrifice of the Somme. An upper-class version of British history may exhort us to sacrifice ourselves pro patria, but it’s the martyrdom of others further down the scale which tends to result.

Just as a century ago ruling class generals boasted of greater glory and honour while casually tossing away millions of lesser lives, failed negotiator David Davies appeared on Question Time in December 2018 talking of a so-called “no-deal” Brexit as the country’s “Destiny”; much as crowds lined the streets in 1914 to cheer the soldiers off to war, Davies’ vainglorious appeal was greeted with wild applause. I also heard loud, clear echoes of Mussolini. The line between the hard right and the far-right is an increasingly thin one.

At our family Christmas, conversations (thankfully) steered clear of Brexit, revolving instead around food: various tropes which involve bitching about what our neighbours in the supermarket queue are and aren’t consuming. In his book ‘The Chinese’ Jasper Becker identifies Chinese peasants’ dreams of abundant food as the main ingredient in Chinese history. The murky gravy that is ‘British identity’ always seems to contain several lumps of resentment of and scorn for others’ eating habits, and even the fact that they get to eat at all. There was a telling moment a while back when Michael Gove started raging that China had refused to take any more of our plastic and burn it for us. For the leading Brexit conspirators such as him, the fact that those Chinese peasants nowadays gorge on cheap chicken and pork and can no longer be forced to consume British opium seems to fuel their righteous fury.

This mentality, that it is our god-given right to make others suffer for our own benefit, can be traced back at least easily as far as the Irish and Bengal famines. Ironically it was a pair of c*lts (Bob Geldof and Midge Ure) who created the modern hymn to this aspect of Empire. That high priest of celebrity sanctimoniousness Bono didn’t write the song, but he did caterwaul the most obnoxious line, sounding while doing so like he was off his face on piety. Viewed in emotional sobriety, the lyrics embody a certain strain of Catholicism particularly prevalent in the Ireland of the 1950s-60s: nuns collecting for little black babies, for the godless barely deserving of the life that we may, in our infinite charity and mercy, deign to grant them with.

We might look kindly on the original audience for the song given its very 1980s commodification of pity, its witless neo-Victorian platitudes and staggeringly offensive generalisations in an era characterised by the ‘late failure of radical hopes’. But it struck me that its continued popularity (even, I’d venture, increasing prominence) speaks of resentment, of celebrating the suffering of others. Bono’s line ‘Tonight thank God it’s them, instead of you’ put me immediately in mind of O’Toole discussion of the concept of ‘sadopopulism’: the willingness to inflict pain on oneself on the understanding that by doing so you are making your enemy suffer more. You might think of it as cutting off your own nose to spite your neighbour’s face. In another echo of Empire and of slavery, it recalls Ta-Nehesi Coates’ explanation of the racism of poor whites in the American South: as long as they had someone else to look down upon, they felt secure. Upon seeing a black man in the White House they revolted against their reduced status, and Trump was the result. Similar dynamics operated in the UK with regard to the loss of Empire, and the result was not just (contrary to what Paul Gilroy argued) mere melancholy, but the bigoted fury of Geoffrey Bloom, the woman on the Croydon tram and many (but not all) of those who voted to leave the EU.

Thus does Brexit represent a case of (chlorinated) chickens coming home to roost. This is exacerbated in the case of those who know they won’t suffer, in the proud British tradition of offering up others’ lives for sacrifice. One TV survivalist stated openly on Twitter what Farage et al must surely be saying off-camera: that maybe a period of intense poverty and suffering will teach ‘us’ a valuable lesson. (This might give us pause to think, post-Bros documentary, about the relationship between celebrity and fascism, but for the fact that, as Labour’s purported Brexit strategy somehow fails to acknowledge, we don’t have much time.***)

At least Thatcherite self-interest as an ideology had a logic to it, whether that involved the famous boats of grain being dumped in the sea to ensure that failed Ethiopian consumers didn’t buck the market, or young people eventually smashing shop windows to simply take that which they had long been tormented by their (individual, always individual) failure to obtain legitimately. But in essence Johnson and Rees-Mogg are not neoliberals. They don’t actually believe all that Raabian horseshit about buccaneer entrepreneurship. One might call them neocons, in that their primary dedication is to preservation of their own wealth and power. I find it more useful to think of them as elitists. One wonders what Thatcher (pbuh) would have made of Johnson’s ‘Fuck business!’ comment. Capitalism is after all only one means of preserving elite power. Farage’s equally underreported line about dressing up in khaki points to an as yet unquenched desire for hard rather than soft power. Tragically, Labour (and Owen Jones) chose not to see that Tommy Robinson failed the shock troop audition. “3,000 racist internet trolls” is the eloquent answer to the question of how well prepared the far-right is to maintain order.

*           *           *           *           *

As things stand now, on the 6th January, there appears to be an overlap between Rees-Mogg and the Labour leadership’s desire to make Brexit happen whatever the cost. In the current climate it’s not impossible to imagine Corbyn being photographed sneaking out of Rees-Mogg’s Mayfair apartment late at night. I made the then-barmy prediction that Rees-Mogg would somehow end up Tory leader, but I didn’t  foresee that their interests would align. (If only I was better at thinking dialectically…). It would be nice to be able to dismiss out of hand Nick Cohen’s very-Nick Cohen-esque argument for Corbyn as an ultraleftist looking to exploit social breakdown to storm the Winter Palace, but that word ‘climate’ reminds me that one of his closest supporters is someone who may well have sat round the same family table for the Christmas nutroast: his distinctly undigestible brother. Not only does Piers have a day job providing hysterical weather predictions to the Daily Express, he also takes money from climate-lying organisations to turn up to events related to climate change to barrack those trying to save the human race. He’s very much in favour of a no-deal Brexit, and he also thinks Jeremy would make an excellent PM. Reflecting on this makes me fear that if elected Jeremy’s first act would be to appoint David Icke as Minister for Lizard Eradication.

I don’t know whether Corbyn has studied in anything like sufficient detail the reports of what will happen in the event of a no deal scenario*****. (For the record he says he finds the notion “absolutely unacceptable”, but then he hasn’t come with a meaningful alternative beyond popping back to Brussels and renegotiating the whole thing in the space of two or so weeks. I presume this means he doesn’t mind offending the intelligence of everyone including those Labour voters who voted to leave.) He is a romantic rather than intellectual, one who gives the impression that after reading ‘The Mask of Anarchy’ in 6th form he thought, right well that’s all I’ll ever need to know about the world. When I was living in Rome I never got round to visiting the Keats and Shelley house, but I will have time to do so if we end up moving back there. Even Italy’s madcap government of criminals and clowns isn’t evil and insane enough to starve its own people out of pure ideological zealotry.

Anyone who doesn’t understand the stakes for the UK economy would be well-advised to reflect on how many Just Eat signs they see on failing fast food establishments interspersed with boarded-up shops on their next promenade down the nearest rapidly-running-down high street. Or consider the amount of people employed in food distribution and services compared to the number employed in agriculture. No external food supply means no economy. Britain’s is a consumer society based, as the caption on a Modern Toss cartoon once eloquently put it, on everyone eating like a fucking pig all the time. What is in prospect makes Trump’s years-long government shutdown seem measured and sensible. And it makes those who actually argue for a so-called “no deal” (final) solution look distinctly like Pol Pot.

As with climate breakdown, the only thing that matches the scale of the crisis in store is the extent to which almost everyone one meets has absolutely no intention of doing a single thing to prevent it. Like Chinese peasants after Jiang Zemin, we now have more than enough winter provisions of conspiracy theories, consoling fairy tales, fireside folk narratives to stave off the (actually, for some reason, not all that) cold and keep us over-entertained. If there was an in-out referendum on WiFi or food, I’m not all that sure we’d make the right choice. Do you want a stable climate or an iPhone? Would you prefer Netflix or death*****? At least if we can get online we can gorge on resentment, even if we have nothing left to eat.

The latest news about Brexit is that we ‘may’ be short of such rare delicacies as bananas and tomatoes but that’s okay because mid-spring is when so much excellent and bountiful English produce comes into season (instant fact-check: it isn’t). 40% of what we eat comes directly from the EU: everything else we import comes via it. The “no deal” plan is to stop trading in food. It is a no food scenario. This is shock doctrine as anorexia. Maybe Corbyn, who has yet to utter in public the only word that currently has meaning (revoke!) is under the impression that, like him, everyone in the country has access to an allotment. Perhaps his brother convinced him over a vegan mince pie that it’s going to be a particularly warm early spring for no discernible reason and that prize turnips and supermarrows will abound in Brexit Britain, before the whole family joined hands for a rousing rendition of ‘Do they know it’s Brexit?’.

Whatever happens, here’s a prediction: there won’t be any charity songs in the UK next Christmas time. The only gift we’ll get next year is…fuck knows. Some bananas and tomatoes, hopefully. “Where nothing ever grows…”. My mum grew up without bananas, but my baby daughter loves them. As for tomatoes, I’ve kept a few extra tins to hand so I can throw them very hard at anyone who still supports fucking Lexit.

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* That’s right: I’ve wasted my life and we are already in hell.
** It’s unlikely that Daniel Blake would have voted to stay in the EU.
*** Seeing as this piece partly addresses the psychological phenomenon of displacement activity, it behoves me to mention that I’ve actually got two actual essays to write.
**** I’ve been enjoying the series ‘Sunderland til I die’, I think partly because there is viele Schadenfreude in seeing a city which voted to leave the EU then get ejected from the Premier League and then the Championship in successive seasons.
***** I’d also be quite curious to know whether or not Jeremy Corbyn watches, as well as appearing on, Russia Today. I can imagine him enjoying Slavoj Zizek’s new chat show, which I’m not going anywhere near as my Youtube suggestions still haven’t recovered from the time I watched eight or nine seconds of David Icke-enthusiast and aspiring Beppe Grillo Russell Brand’s interview with J*rdan P*t*rson. Russell, if you’re reading this, read a fucking book for a change; and while I’m at it, if you happen to work for Youtube, no I’m not interested in even more racist videos, thank you very much.

Ps Just in case anyone thinks I’ve overegged how fucked up this country has become, here is a photo taken in Manchester today of people protesting against…Jesus it’s too depressing to even finish this sentence

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Will Whatsapp help bring about the return of “tropical fascism”?

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I recently went back to using Whatsapp, which like many people I find preferable to the puerility, seediness and unbounded fury inherent to Facebook. Plus Whatsapp is less vulnerable to the spread of black or grey propaganda and to the diffusion of fake news.

Or maybe I’m just not part of the right groups.

After all, while Facebook has introduced tools to report and remove bullshit news, such measures would not work on Whatsapp. It’s encrypted, for a start, so there is no way of flagging up dodgy material. It’s also more likely that participants in a Whatsapp group are acquainted with each other personally, so may be less prone to challenging one another’s opinions and risking the cohesion of the group.

Its relatively hidden nature makes Whatsapp particularly well-suited to political organisation among like-minded people. Not only is Brexit allegedly being coordinated via the app; according to a journalist who investigated it in some detail, the recent (and massive) Brazilian truckers’ strike was largely organised via Whatsapp. Its also very widely used by drug gangs to conduct and boast of their business dealings – between 2015 and 2016 judges blocked it three times in response to Facebook’s refusal to share information with state authorities. Its popularity (93% of mobile phone users are said to use it) that it may play a role in the upcoming presidential election, exerting an influence much harder to monitor and measure than that of Facebook or Twitter.

Following the successful intervention of fake newsters in the cases of Brexit, Trump and Grillo/Salvini in Italy, there is one candidate who will benefit enormously if similarly insidious tactics are used in Brazil: the far-right populist Jair Messias Bolsonaro. This ex-military man, supported by huge numbers of hyper-conservative evangelicals, is exploiting popular fury at corruption, unemployment and spiralling violent crime to prescribe extreme repression of all the usual targets: gays, feminists, supporters of affirmative action, liberals, the Left, “vagabundos” (criminals). He has repeatedly praised the military dictatorship which ended in 1985, and has said that “you can’t change anything in this country with voting and elections”, which is why he has repeatedly urged and practised the acts of terrorism in order to forward the interests of his “community” (the military).

Under relatively normal circumstances sch a character might remain marginal; with Brazil’s beloved former President Lula in prison on partially trumped-up charges, his successor impeached and what can euphemistically be described as a “technical” government in power (one presided over by a man whose own records of corruption and present conflicts of interest make Donald Trump seem like Caroline Lucas), Bolsonaro stands a very good chance of winning. He is currently second in the polls, which are led by…Lula, who can’t actually run for office, for fairly obvious reasons.

How does this relate to Whatsapp? Well, shortly before the US election of November 2016, a story went round social media claiming that the Pope had endorsed Donald Trump. By November 8, it had picked up 960,000 Facebook engagements. How does that relate to Brazil? Well, according to Lucinda Elliott of the Times, 8% of those intending to vote for Lula think that when his candidacy is (as it inevitably will be) annulled, he will give his endorsement to…Bolsonaro. It’s worth mentioning that an attempted terrorist attack on Lula supporters in Curitiba was carried out by someone shouting ‘Bolsonaro Presidente!’. The two men are at opposite ends of the spectrum. Lula was even jailed under the military regime that Bolsonaro seems to want to go back to.

So why would some wannabe Lula voters think that they were allies? Well, maybe they get their news via social media. Perhaps they ignore whatever journalists and media commentators have to say, and obtain information about current affairs from their friends on Whatsapp. It’s certainly not hard to imagine a faked video or statement circulating in the run-up to the vote in which Lula appears to lend his support to Bolsonaro.

Of course, it takes resources and expertise to conduct such misinformation campaigns. Elliott went to interview Bolsonaro’s son, and saw for herself that their campaign is currently being run on a shoestring. Until recently, at least, the Bolsonaros didn’t expect or even intend to win.

I’m not an expert on Brazilian politics. I’m no journalist and I don’t live there. Some of what I’m reporting here I’ve found online, some derives from a (fascinating) discussion this week at Canning House between Lucinda Elliott and the former FT Latin America bureau chief Richard Lapper, and what follows is what you might call informed conjecture.

In a range of countries around the world over the last few years the far-right has risen to (or close to) power. None of these cases has happened in isolation. For anyone who is still paying attention, the links between key elements such as Russia Today, Wikileaks, the Kremlin, the Mercers, and AggregateIQ, trace thick lines across the map of the world, from the UK to the US to Italy, France, and beyond. We now know for certain that one way in which the machinations of the global far-right alliance operate is via the enticement of hate-rich but cash-poor politicians such as Salvini and Le Pen into the megalomaniac pretensions of (most obviously) Vladimir Putin and Steve Bannon and his backers. Where the objective is not to actually seize power, it is to cause maximum disruption to the stable order of liberal democracy.

I wrote somewhere here last year that Trump is the sort of deranged demagogue which for many years the CIA imposed on Latin American countries, a central casting character from a magical realist novel, and thus his victory could be seen as a case of chickens coming home to roost. Those chickens have now let the coop and are flying round shitting all over the place and making enough of a racket to wake up the whole farm.  Bolsonaro has even been described as a “Tropical Trump”. If Trump’s backroom buddies around the world haven’t yet noticed what’s going on below the equator, it can only be a matter of time before they do so, and if they haven’t yet realised that Whatsapp, by far Brazilians’ favourite form of social media, represents a more powerful tool for election manipulation than Facebook and Twitter, then, well, I guess I’ve just pointed it out for them. Remember to give me appropriate credit at the end of October.

A couple of caveats are obviously necessary. Firstly, I’m not an expert in any meaningful sense. I’d be happy to be set right on any aspect of this. Secondly, there is also a chance that the Left (ideally, Marina Silva) could, Obama-style, use social media to its own advantage – Silva’s party is, after all, called ‘Rede’ (Network). I suspect, though, that the attachment that we progressives have to an increasingly forlorn institution formerly known as the truth might limit the effectiveness of her viral appeals.

As someone smart pointed out at last night’s event, who would want to be Brazilian President at this moment in time, with the economy sluggish as a midday cachaça drinker sleeping off a hangover, and staggeringly violent drug gangs taking over where the state has failed? It would appear to be a poisoned cálice. Maybe even only someone who wants power for its own sake, another Duterte, could relish the challenge ahead. hat said, Brazil’s situation is not all that different from Mexico’s, where at least the leading candidate for the Presidency is not, for once, and for all his faults, a violent reactionary fanatic. If AMLO should (and is allowed to) win in Mexico, that might change the international picture somewhat. He could conceivably turn out (very unexpectedly) to demonstrate some of Lula’s trademark political acumen, and there could be a limited repeat of the wave that bought Morales, Correa and Kirchner to power. None of those names exactly inspire confidence in 2018, but anyone remotely progressive would surely any one to a man who would make Donald Trump seem like Carmen Miranda. Personally, for what its worth, I think Marina Silva would make an ideal Brazilian President. Whether news of my endorsement will set Brazilian social networks alight remains to be seen. It’s worth remembering, to be fair, that my powers of political prognosis são uma bosta.

(P.S. I now see that someone else (a professional journalist working for an actual news organisation, no less) has had much the same idea. Maybe, er, read that instead.)

Twitter hot take on Trump’s (ahem) “summit”

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Should the UK close its ports to stop the Italian immigrant invasion?

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The sixteen or so months that my wife and I spent living in Rome (September 2016 to February 2018) was an exceptionally happy period of our lives, with all the exhilaration you would expect to result from our having just brought a whole new life into the world. It was a particularly special experience because Italians love babies. Almost everyone we passed while pushing the pram peered into it and cooed delightedly, welcoming our daughter into the world with open arms.

We appreciated their enthusiasm, but occasionally reflected on how it contrasted with the reception granted to other, more socially and intellectually developed newcomers. After all, our daughter isn’t going to do anything productive for the next few years. She’s not going to get a job, and used up a fair share of Italy’s precious healthcare and garbage collection resources without giving anything in return. She couldn’t even speak a word of the language after almost a year living there. Nonetheless, no one told her to go back where she came from, or insisted that the country was full, which are sentiments you do hear expressed rather a lot, especially if you watch the TV news, where xenophobic politicians were given free rein to spread any amount of misinformation in order to whip up hostility towards outsiders.

The joy of parenthood aside, we didn’t much enjoy living in Italy. The work situation was abysmal: low pay, long hours, alternately absent and overbearing management, and a near-total lack of professional development. That’s if you were lucky to have any sort of paid work – shortly before leaving I saw a handwritten advert in a decrepit shoe shop window for a ‘stagista’ (intern). Plus the struggle involved in getting around the city was immense, particularly with a pushchair, and there wasn’t really anywhere decent for a child to play and make friends. Of course, there are the museums and galleries, but you have to get there somehow, and public transport in Rome is so bad that even when the bus finally turns up, there’s a good chance it’ll blow up before it gets 50 metres down the road. On those interminable boneshaking journeys on the 170 from Piazza Venezia to Viale Marconi, the baby would often give voice to her frustrations, expressing at full volume the very feelings being repressed by the other passengers. Porco dio.

The prospect of returning to London was not free of qualms, with the stench of Brexit starting to infect many aspects of national life. But when we announced our imminent departure to friends and acquaintances, few expressed any misgivings on our behalf. If there’s one thing that Italians love more than babies, it’s London. So powerful is the attachment to the UK capital that among the floral tributes to the two young Italian architects who died in the Grenfell atrocity is a note from one of their relatives saying that London is the dream of all young Italians. Emigration has always been a safety valve for the Italian economy, and now more are leaving the country than ever before.

Hence, Italy needs new people to replace those who are dying or emigrating. That’s why the government has run a series of campaigns promoting fertility (including a much-ridiculed ‘Fertility Day’). The birth rate has collapsed, and the country is falling into a demographic hole.

Thus, Italy needs the enterprise and energy that immigrants provide. Italians may work long hours, but they don’t work very hard, and they don’t share the work around among newcomers, whether immigrants or new graduates. It’s unusual to meet someone in the 20s with a proper job related to their field of study; it’s also rare to see a black person gainfully employed, even in retail jobs. Enterprising immigrants make their own opportunities, where they are allowed to. Pakistani and Bangladeshi sell everything everywhere, from trinkets to clothes to pizza, but the only seem to be actually employed as overworked and underpaid waiters. In desperation, some young Africans in bigger cities have taken to sweeping the streets in return for a few euro cents. Some young women suffer a more degrading fate. It doesn’t mean that immigrants are not profitable per se – mafia groups have for several years coined it in from running reception centres little better than concentration camps. It’s just that the newcomers whose initiative and energy Italy so desperately needs are used as the object of trade when they are bursting with economic energy which could be made far better use of.

It might seem strange that so many think that the reason for Italy’s economic stagnation lies with people who have never even set foot in the country. To blame someone who’s just escaped from an Isis torture camp in Libya for record youth unemployment, rather than fingering the successive generations of corrupt business owners and politicians, might even seem irrational. Unless, that it, you’ve been exposed to the aforementioned racist propaganda on the news. Italy’s fascist movement has never gone away, and has seized on the active scapegoating of dark-skinned migrants to promote racist aggression, culminating in a series of terrorist attacks on visible immigrants. The most noteworthy was a few months ago, when a candidate for the anti-immigrant (and, while we’re at it, anti-Italian) Lega shot at groups of Africans in a small town. The attacks were excused by Matteo Salvini, who blamed them entirely on the victims themselves for existing in the wrong place. He also made no apology for the fact that the terrorist in question was an avid reader of ‘Mein Kampf’.

Just as in the UK, where Farage boasted that the referendum was won ‘without a shot being fired’ despite one of his supporters having murdered an MP, the Italian far-right and its fellow travellers in the ragbag alliance of former leftists, internet trolls and anti-science nutjobs that is the 5 Star Movement reaped electoral dividends from the attacks, and only a few brave journalists and politicians openly condemned them. Although Salvini has never publicly called himself a fascist, his political ally, the Putin-admiring Farage-befriending trickster Beppe Grillo, leader of the Movement, has been open about his indifference to fascism. Hence a movement which few would have suspected a few years ago would have called proto-fascist voted overwhelmingly to support a government programme which makes the #MAGA phenomenon look rational and fair-minded, kicking off with the mass expulsion of Africans.

Luckily we escaped from the increasingly fraught and fetid atmosphere, moving back to London at the start of February. We became, after a fashion, Italian emigrants (my wife is actually Italian but holds a UK passport, while I’ll have my own Italian (and hopefully EU) passport within a few months), joining the exodus to the promised land. Given the huge numbers of Italians in Hackney, very many of them recently arrived, it feels a little like we’re still in Rome (although here there are parks for the baby to play in and the public transport system works, on the whole, wonderfully).

A few months ago fascist posters in Rome were screeching about an ‘immigrant invasion’. As I walk around the area where I live, it’s clear that the slogan was mistaken. What is going on in London is an ‘invasione emigrante’. (Or possibly exvasione emigrante…) Now, as far as I’m concerned, all those newcomers are very welcome, but, to be fair to myself here, I’m not the one who has a problem with immigrants. Having smuggled a whole new human being into existence and then moved her from one country to another so very recently, it would be hypocritical in the extreme for me to complain about others who, like all of us, happen to be in a different place on the planet from the one in which they were born. Of course, I’d hate to think that Lega and 5 Star supporters had a problem with Senegalese and Nigerian arrivals *just because of the colour of their skin*, or to suggest that they believe white people should have the right to travel and settle elsewhere with impunity and darker-skinned people shouldn’t. What would horrify me would be to think that there were, among recent newcomers from Italy, people who thought in such a way, who believed that their skin colour made them ‘expats’ rather than parasitical ‘immigrants’. (There were at least a few such scumbags, and kudos to my neighbours who managed to get rid of them.) I also met a few British people in Italy who saw themselves in such a way, and such characters hardly stand out in the sordid history of Britain’s overseas occupations. (We also, of course, have our own homegrown variety – it’s only thanks to an iniquitous electoral system that they’re not now in government.)

But here’s the thing: if Italy is ‘full’, then so is the UK. If Rome can’t accept any more newcomers, then neither can London. If you think that boatloads of desperate people should be left to drift in the Mediterranean because a man who makes Enoch Powell seem like Diane Abbott exerts the actual power to keep ports closed, but also find, following a period of honest self-reflection, that you yourself are actually an immigrant, that you – according to your particular but not unique misanthropic belief system – are using up resources that should be reserved for people who happen to have been born locally, then there’s only really one thing you can do: in the words of the spiritual leaders of Italy’s brand new fesso/fascista coalition, fare le valigie: pack your bags. If you’re a leghista or a grillino living in London, fuck off back home. Or, if you can, find another European country to migrate to: maybe Malta, Portugal or Litchenstein. In any case, qui non ti vogliamo, stronzetto. Siamo pieni.

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Neither Fox News nor Russia Today

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Two bald narcissists fighting over rather more than a comb.

I still occasionally come across people who proclaim themselves to be ‘on the right economically, but on the left socially’.  Such people, who wring their hands at the spectacle of homelessness while supporting the whole-scale destruction of public housing, occupy the category of those who, to borrow a phrase I can’t track down,  welcome the means but bemoan the ends. Tellingly, it’s never the other way round: no one is ever ‘on the right socially, but on the left economically’. Those who believe in enforced inequality, rule by unaccountable elites, the denial of public services, etc, recognise laissez-faire economics as the perfect tool to realise their nefarious goals. That’s what being on the right is all about.

Speaking of tools, here’s another: Russia Today, and all who sail in it: Sam Delaney, Max Keiser, Jonathan Pie, the former journalists formerly known as John Pilger and Glenn Greenwald, the failed politician George “oh ffs” Galloway, the unashamedly far-right cheerleader Neil Clark, the ongoing train wreck of Craig Murray’s attempts at self-promotion at any cost, and so, so many others. With its puerile conspiratorial nonsense mixed in with the odd morsel of anti-neoliberal critique, RT is essentially Fox News for people with a Noam Chomsky book (which they’ve never actually read) in pride position on their bookshelf, nestled between the dog-eared copy of ‘Da Vinci Code’ and a pristine edition of ‘Foucault’s Pendulum’.

Those ‘radicals’ who shared lazy, cynical fake news memes against Hillary Clinton and argued that the two were equatable are the true owners of this supremely dismal, unprecedentedly depressing, unavoidably despair-ridden historical moment. They also own Orbán, Salvini and every other lifelong racist scumbag fondling the reigns of actual political power. When Sean Hannity burbles on (inanely, but by no means inconsequentially) about the “Deep State Crime Family“, that’s their worldview on display in all its subversive sophistication. When any journalist with a moment to spare glances into a Jeremy Corbyn Facebook group and see countless links to videos expounding the hidden truth about Soros, the Rothschilds and that evil Mr Fagin, that’s the result of hard work done by millions of people who thought they were somewhere on the left, only to find they had become deeply embedded into a global movement led by some of the very worst people on earth, that their perspective had been coloured, colonised and co-opted by the far-right.

Of course, there’s always sunken cost theory to explain why, when people (who also happen to inhabit a bubble of outright misinformation) have invested so much into their propagation of an ideological viewpoint, they can’t simply back out and instead seek out information which demands a nuanced understanding and which may force them to question their faith in the official unofficial narrative. I have long argued that the degree of cognitive dissonance necessary to function in an age of both environmental collapse and hyper-consumerism suggests that our civilisation is by and large psychotic. But what self-respecting creature with even the minimum amount of conscience and mental capacity can nod sagely as sneering government officials trot our their standard denials of chemical attacks, according to a script seemingly composed by a particularly obnoxious and sadistic six-year-old bully? Of course, facilitating and then dismissing the gassing of civilians isn’t merely naughty, it’s absolutely evil. Anyone who feels a kneejerk urge to believe the denials of Assad and his Russian sponsors deserves to have their nose tested in much the same manner: a not-so-gentle tap in the middle of the face with a distinctly non-medical hammer.

So do I defend the imminent “allied” airstrikes? It’s certainly not wise for the British or French Governments to join a coalition led by a witless psychopath (aptly described as an “evil Forrest Gump“) who will do literally anything to hang onto the power he should never in a million years have been granted. But I’m not going to join any demonstrations against it, joining hands with all manner of Wikileaks apologists, raising my voice for peace with useless idiots like Brian Eno and other public “intellectuals” who can’t even tell the difference between left and right. While Putin is a prick, and Trump his arsehole, Assange is the perineum that runs between the two. Maybe that’s why he (reportedly) stinks so very badly. (It’s not streaming internet and a laptop he needs, but running water and some shower gel.)

Here are two useful analogies which may, by some miracle, make some sort of impact on the conspiracy-addled brains of those who, without meaning to, have become foot soldiers in an army of arseholes and pricks. There was once a Korean couple who were addicted to a computer game in which they brought up a baby. The got the highest-ever score in the game: their infant was well-fed and more than adequately cared-for. They also had another baby, an offline one, which died of neglect in the most horrifying circumstances. The internet is, in essence, a tremendously compelling form of entertainment, but the consequences of all that fun – imagine online trolling and mischievous meming as the computer game, democracy and human rights as the dead baby – are unavoidably catastrophic.

In another time and place, in Britain during the Cold War, the far-left sect known as the Socialist Worker’s Party used the slogan ‘Neither Washington nor Moscow, but international socialism’. We’re a long way from the latter, and heading in exactly the wrong direction (btw, if you happen to be in the SWP: the Brexit stage door led not to the left, but to the far right). If you still think that Putin is some sort of master strategist/anti-imperialist hero, remember that it was very much his genius idea to put Trump in the White House in the first place. For those who made excuses for Russia’s puppitry, a moment’s honest reflection would have revealed that one of the greatest risks was that Trump’s inevitably pathetic and hamfisted attempts to ‘prove’ that he wasn’t a mere marionette would lead to a catastrophe even worse (get this!) than seeing a woman enter the White House (do tell us again the one about how Hillary Clinton and the “Deep State” were secretly planning to start a world war – I could do with a fucking laugh). Hence, if Putin’s your man (and RT’s your news source of choice), Trump’s your boy (and Sean Hannity is among your allies). You’re on the side of both Washington and Moscow, and this is very much your nuclear war. Cheers, pricks.

Those ‘pockets’ of left-wing anti-semitism are being filled by the far-right

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Jeremy Corbyn’s reputation for modesty might not survive revelations about his habit of joining pro-Jeremy Corbyn groups on Facebook. The Guardian’s Hadley Freeman calls such groups ‘anti-semitic’, which, although it is a blatant misrepresentation, does contain a possibly unwitting smidgen of truth.

I’ve long been a member of numerous pro-Corbyn groups and I have seen anti-semitic material posted there. The better-organised ones remove it once warned, but in some such groups memes and videos blaming cabals of prominent Jewish people for the world’s problems are rife and widely approved of. Such material mostly derives from the noxious swamp of Sputnik, Russia Today, and fake news websites which push what to a cursory scroller may look like nothing more than an anti-neoliberal elite agenda, but a closer inspection quickly identifies the same old tropes: Soros, the Rothschilds, the shady hook-nosed NWO, etc. The memes in question aren’t coming from the Left, in the sense that they didn’t originate there, but they do often meet with a depressingly positive reaction.

Nonetheless, there’s something both sly and unfair about (for example) Suzanne Moore’s comment that Corbyn himself is ‘not an anti-semite, but…‘. Similarly, Hadley Freeman’s List of evidence of Corbyn’s anti-semitist connections is a pretty empty one unless you consider all attempts to talk to groups representing Palestinians as beyond the Green Line. At least Freeman doesn’t mention Israel, unlike the spokesman for the British Board of Deputies the guy on Radio 4 two days ago, who just couldn’t stop himself. There are, to borrow a phrase, pockets within those groups which officially represent the Jewish community (often, as it were, the top pockets) which instinctively paint all criticism of Israel as anti-semitic. Their ongoing prominence in this debate muddies the waters just as much as those who are ready to shout down all talk of left-wing anti-semitism as a media plot.

I don’t doubt that many of the people on the protests outside Parliament were sincere in their concerns. The Brick Lane mural was absurdly anti-semitic, and Corbyn’s approval of it can’t be dismissed. (Unless, that is, we adopt a puerile definition of free speech, of which more later.) In downplaying the incident Aaron Bastani ignores the fact that if a prominent Tory or Ukip politician had ‘liked’ the same image, we would all be screaming from the rooftops, as we would if a Conservative candidate had shared the sort of Holocaust denial material posted by Alan Bull. Anyone who doesn’t recognise such blatant anti-semitism really shouldn’t be spouting off about the subject. As others have pointed out, there is something about Corbyn’s anti-elite populism which allows such tropes to fester, and the Left has a duty to address this.

The contemporary far-right is keen to exploit ambiguities and confusion among (nominally) progressive radicals in order to draw them towards its own ideas. As this article details, it sees satire as a tool for generating controversies and bringing non- and even anti-fascists into its orbit. As it happens, it wasn’t a deliberate ploy that brought me into its online sphere of influence, but it was a comedian who transported me there. On his (very) hit-and-miss podcast, Russell Brand recently interviewed the new daddy-waddy figure of the far-right, Jordan Peterson. I listened to the first two minutes, until it rapidly became clear that Brand’s deeply irritating habit of doing no research whatsoever meant that he was not going to be able to challenge or even to see through Peterson’s specious pseudo-intellectual rhetoric. Those two minutes were a rich seam for the far-right, because ever since then well over 50% of the videos Youtube has suggested to me feature Peterson ‘crushing’ his liberal debating opponents from Noam Chomsky to (I seem to recall) Mahatma Ghandi. If I hadn’t read certain articles alerting me to Peterson’s pernicious influence and detailing his intellectual fraudulence, I might be inclined to listen.

A related episode involved two more British comedians: Ricky Gervais and David Baddiel. Both tweeted in favour of the ‘free speech’ of a man called Mark Meechan (aka ‘Count Dankula’), seemingly unaware he is not a mere ‘comedian’, but a far-right activist. They were duped, pulled through a loophole created by widespread confusion about the difference between the right to privately express hateful ideas and using/abusing privately-owned public platforms to do so. A further example of ‘anti-establishment’ satire being used to promote deeply reactionary ideas is the character Jonathan Pie, whose material is co-written by a member of the far-right cult Spiked. Spiked’s ‘contrarian’ dogma involves total freedom for the far-right and active censure for anyone who opposes it.

If the Left is finding that some of its pockets contain noxious ideas, there’s no mystery as to who is placing them there, and how. Emptying those pockets out involves total intolerance of nazis and anti-semites and their ideas, and extreme vigilance for anyone seeking to use the Left’s own values to undermine it. Anyone posting in notionally left-wing forum about Soros and the Rothschilds, etc is either very naive or outright evil, and those who use a dishonest and self-serving notion of ‘free speech’ as a tool to smuggle in far-right ideas should be immediately exposed and, to borrow a phrase from the far-right, sent back to where they came from.

There is a simple way to deal with the rise of neofascists like Salvini, but it’s not what you might expect

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Our 13-month-old daughter has developed a new screech which is not just far louder and more grating than anything she’s previously produced, but actually more unpleasant than any noise heard in the universe since at least the Big Bang. Although it’s incredibly upsetting to be exposed to her it’s just her way of remarking that she’s feeling a little peckish, could do with a sip of the old H20, has done yet another poop or wouldn’t mind a bit of a nap. She has had a challenging few weeks during which we’ve moved back from Italy, she’s started nursery and her molars have started to erupt. Plus, over the last few days, thankfully unbeknownst to her, a gang of fascist thugs have moved perilously close to power in her homeland, something which has, whether we like it or not, put her parents’ nerves on edge.

How do we deal with her outbursts of nerve-shredding fury? By giving her exactly what she seems to want: either lots and lots of affection, a fresh nappy, chunk after chunk of banana-wana until she finally stops pointing in the vague direction of the fruit bowl, or by insisting as tenderly as possible that she curl up with her favourite cuddly toys in her sleepy-deepy placey-wacey. As much as she seems to want us to, we never respond with expressions of frustration or impatience; as hard as it gets, despite all the apparent provocation, we accept that she has no understanding of the causes or consequences of her tantrums, and treat her accordingly. She is, after all, just a confused, helpless being in a frightening universe with no other means of articulating her most basic needs, and we are, after all, the only family she has.

As for dealing with fascists, well that’s different, obviously. A combination of physical violence and public humiliation is probably the best bet. They’re not babies, fffs.

The Left could easily win a re-run of the Italian election. Here’s how.

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The results of the Italian parliamentary election are depressing not just to those of us with a progressive mindset but also to anyone who values democracy over violence as a means of governing human societies. The most likely Prime Minister is Matteo Salvini, an explicit apologist for racist terrorism*, as his party is the largest in a (ahem) ‘centre-right’ alliance led by the media oligarch, disqualified fraudster and convicted pedophile/mummified megalomaniac ex-PM Silvio Berlusconi. The largest single party is the populist 5 Star Movement, which has declared it will not enter a coalition. However, given that the notoriously incoherent organisation is led by the (also disqualified) multi-millionaire trickster/friend of Farage Beppe Grillo, who is on record as indifferent to fascism, there’s is a distinct chance that it will hoist the far-right into power.

Luckily the best minds (well, me) have identified a potential escape route out of this nightmare. It starts from the realisation that, despite its appalling result, the governing Democratic Party (PD) still got more votes than Berlusconi’s Forza Italia or whatever it’s called this fortnight. The Left got more support than the Right and would easily win a possible post-horsetrading second round of the election in a couple of months, providing three conditions were met:

  1. Salvini and the other fascist leaders will have to be physically eradicated. Italy has both a proud tradition of doing this, and an explicitly anti-fascist constitution. Nobody since 1945 can pretend they don’t know what fascists are, and that it is necessary to use all means necessary to eliminate them. An amendment to the Constitution could then introduce a 100% electoral threshold preventing the political participation of such groups. Then there are the Lega’s fellow travellers in the Nazi groups Casapound and Forza Nuova (last seen posting threatening messages on their front doors of their political opponents, a la the Mexican narco gangs with which they have so much in common). According to this ‘hey, let me introduce you to my new best friends in the Casapound’ article in the Guardian, there are hundreds of thousands of (almost exclusively male, overwhelmingly filgi di papà) members of such groups. That’s frightening, but their numbers can be used against them. Simply pack hundreds of them at a time onto rickety dinghies with a maximum capacity of 12 persons (including crew) and push them out into the Mediterranean. Perhaps their alt-right comrades could rescue them when the inevitable happen, and then carry them off to Libya where they would quickly find they actually have rather a lot in common with Isis. Then, and only then, we could, as the Casapound has proposed, bomb Libya.
  2. The voting age in Italy is 18. As is the case elsewhere, it is believed that by that age citizens have reached a sufficient level of maturity and responsibility to make considered decisions about how society is run. However, in these elections millions of people did not make a mature and responsible voting choice. They voted instead for an inchoate ‘anti-political’ political party led by a comedian and convicted drink-driver who uses his blog to spread buffale (fake news) about vaccines, immigrants and much more besides. The anarchist collective Wu Ming several years ago nailed Grillo’s role perfectly. His cult is based around ‘a chaotic programme where neoliberal and anti-neoliberal, centralist and federalist, libertarian and authoritarian ideas coexist’. It feeds parasitically on genuine anger about austerity, and has held back more radical forces such that Italy had no equivalent to the Spanish indignados or the Occupy movement. Its vacuity and naivety has meant that it has acted as a placeholder for the fascists, and in 2018 no one who voted for it could have done so in the belief that its leaders’ promise not to enter a coalition with anyone including the far-right was sincere.
    Unless, that is, they lacked a basic political education, and had developed their understanding of the world on social media, never acquiring the mature relationship with serious adult media which is essential to basic citizenship. Now, as it happens, the exam which all Italians (at least those who finish school) take at 18 is called the Maturità. It seems obvious to me that M5S voters, with their puerile understanding of the world, would benefit from the introduction of a compulsory reschooling phase** during which their would obtain an adequate appreciation for the importance of democracy and their responsibility for perpetuating it. Once they had completed such a course of study, their right to vote should be restored, provided that they take a legally-binding oath to read an actual newspaper at least twice every five years.
  3. The third thing that would reverse the tide of shit that has overrun Italian politics is to ban anyone with the name Renzi from taking part in election for a period of at least 10,000 years. The same goes for anyone (including Gentiloni) who thinks that half-heartedly repeating a neoliberal mantra of ‘crescita, crescita, crescita’ (‘growth, growth, growth’) as if they were praying for rain is a meaningful response to a world in turmoil.  Their replacements could – anzi, must – explore new and radical ideas: degrowth, a universal basic income, and much more. They could even start to face up the challenges of a collapsing climate***. This would be far better than allowing the Left to be constantly hijacked by egomaniacs much more concerned with their own power than improving society. It would mean that the the intellectual vacuum inside the PD (of which the M5S’s vapidity is a contorted and witless pastiche) could be filled with the ideas and spirit necessary to combat the simplistic prescriptions of the fascists. What will in reality happen, of course, is that (although concerted pressure from further left will hopefully have a meaningful influence) the PD will move in a more avowedly anti-immigrant direction. In the words of W-B. Yeats, “i migliori perdono ogni convinzione, mentre i peggiori/ sono pieni di appassionata intensità”. A more inspiring quote for today comes from an anonymous source: “L’unico fascista buono è il fascista morto”.

*The BBC’s Italy correspondent on this morning’s Radio 4’s Today Programme chose to refer to the Lega as an ‘anti-illegal immigrant party’, conveniently omitting to mention that in the attack in Macerata the racist terrorist didn’t ask for the documents of the Africans he tried very hard to shoot dead. Thus did a BBC journalist (whose name I didn’t catch) out himself as a fascist and therefore a terrorist sympathiser. Of course, the Macerata attack didn’t draw nearly as much attention in international and on social media as it would have if had the victims had been white. Maybe, given the almost-universal level of indifference to their fate, #siamotuttisalvini should have been trending worldwide.
** There is irony in the fact that so many M5S supporters are teachers. Well, “teachers”.
***Only joking. That would be of course be ‘political suicide’. Much easier instead to blame outsiders for changing weather patterns and failing crops. Human societies have been doing that for thousands of years.