Salvini supporters are publicly calling for Greta Thunberg to be assassinated

I wrote here two days ago that the cutting edge fashion in global fascism is to abandon climate denial and seek to co-opt concern for the environment rather than disdain it; Marine Le Pen, for example, no longer sees climate change as a Jew-led conspiracy but as a golden opportunity to push her agenda of global genocide. It’s since transpired that Italy is behind the French on this score. Although de facto Italian leader Matteo Salvini would no doubt approve of the means Brenton Tarrant used to put his beliefs into practice – the Australian fascist had the name of Salvini’s ally and ex-Lega candidate Luca Traini written on one of his guns – the terrorist’s self-description as an “eco-fascist” would seemingly cause Salvini some puzzlement, judging by the reaction of his supporters to the worldwide Climate Strike on Friday.

This article (in Italian) details the comments made by several pro-Salvini personaggi, some of them prominent in the Italian media, over the last few days. The writer and TV personality Maria Giovanna Maglie called for the Swedish teenage activist to be “mown down by a car”, while the former pop star Rita Pavone called her “a character from a horror movie”. Diego Fusaro, a political philosopher whose self-definition as a “Marxist” should be taken with un grandissimo pezzo di sale, accused the 16-year-old of being part of a plot by the “cosmopolitan elite” (hem hem). The well-known climate liar and founder of the daily newspaper ‘Il Foglio’, Giuliano Ferrara, tweeted “I don’t want to be accused of pedophobia, but I detest this idolatrous figure Greta and her disgusting braids, and the false world of lies she weaves round herself”. The hashtag #nogreta was trending among supporters of Salvini’s neofascist Lega party and its fellow travellers/coalition partners in the Five Star Movement, some of whom still, bizarrely, style themselves as environmentalists and even, in some outlandish cases, anti-racists. Salvini himself joined in with a typically puerile Trump-style tweet welcoming global warming as it will mean more “herbs”, a comment which will delight those among the Five Star Movement who aren’t in outright denial about Salvini’s being in power. A Five Star supporter I spoke to on Friday confirmed what I’d heard elsewhere, in that he felt that Salvini and the Lega “weren’t really” in control of the Government and that the self-confessed fan of Mussolini should be given “more time” to implement his agenda, which includes forcibly evicting and deporting hundreds of thousands of neri, protecting the Mafia by removing police protection from journalists who investigate them and building a European far-right alliance with Kaczynski, Orbán, Le Pen, and all those other names far too depressing to mention.

I’ve read* that those who voted for the electorally larger but politically junior element in his coalition (one of whom (although few people can remember whom) is nominally Prime Minister) pay little to no attention to ‘MSM’ accounts of what the Lega gets up to, putting their faith instead in the blog of their guru Beppe Grillo, a Pied Piper demagogue with a…colourful personal history**. Grillo has in the past blustered about climate change but in case anyone had their hopes up that his movement represents a progressive form of populism, also once proclaimed that “Anti-fascism is outside my purview” and tweeted that Rome is full of “swamped by rats, rubbish and illegal immigrants”. In a devastating article detailing Italy’s ‘descent into barbarism’, the universally respected journalist Roberto Saviano writes:

When people speak in general terms of populism in relation to this government they risk obscuring truly alarming facts on the ground with abstract political labels. There is no doubt that the blind eye this administration turns to racist attitudes has had serious consequences. Cynically the government gives a nod and a wink to extremist groups whose votes they do not want to lose.

The fact that Grillo’s blog has been called “the largest source of fake news in Europe” also helps explain why the Five Star Movement is far more committed to ensuring that kids aren’t protected from life-threatening diseases than it is to defending children who stand up for the environment from far-right death threats. At least it can’t be accused of incoerenza.

*The Lega/M5S Fascist/Moron coalition is a Rorschach blot, albeit with merda rather than ink. From that link: “The alliance between the Five Star party (the post-crisis ‘populists’) and the League (the xenophobic ‘populists’) is arguably functioning because of the borders around their electorates’ news sources. Occasionally I come across people who actively support both Five Star and the League. Far more common, however, are supporters of one party who are effectively ignorant of the policies of the other. For example, a Salvini supporter might rail on about how the closure of the ports will save Italian women from predatory Africans, but will have nothing to say about Five Star’s economic policies. On the other hand, a gloating Di Maio worshipper will happily praise the wonders of Five Star’s citizens’ income proposal or their anti-corruption stance, but will actively disassociate themselves from the League’s racism. And this is exactly the tactic of the separation of Ministerial powers: Di Maio, minister for jobs and welfare, makes no pronouncements about migration. But neither does his party. Search Five Star’s Facebook page, and you’ll find no mention of the Salvini law, as if it simply hasn’t happened. The same is true vice versa (with the exception of pension reforms, which the League takes as one of its central policies).”

**The M5S Party Line is that it was “ice on the road” that caused Grillo to crash his car and kill three people. That wasn’t the verdict of the court.

Stunning photos show breathtaking scale of Friday’s MASSIVE pro-Brexit protest

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On Thursday evening Nigel Farage tweeted his outrage that Parliament had just voted to extend Article 50. Within seconds his well-oiled party machines were in operation, as word spread, buses were booked, and 17,410,742 people, every single one of whom shares his profound anger at this unconscionable affront to democracy and is ready to put all of his time, energy, livelihoods, personal freedom and physical safety at the disposal of the fight for sovereignty, prepared to march on Westminster for the largest demonstration the country had ever seen.
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I arrived about 1pm, by which point it was very hard to get anywhere near Parliament Square, let alone close to the House of Commons itself.
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At one point I was genuinely concerned for my safety. No one had – no one could have – anticipated such numbers.
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It’s hard to convey in a mere photo just how many ordinary British people had taken to the streets to express their fury at the news that Brexit probably won’t happen as scheduled. I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to Owen Jones, as I had taken with a pinch of salt his warnings that the country would spontaneously explode in revolt if Brexit were impeded for even a second. This photo shows how my complacency was completely misplaced. And this is on a weekday! Imagine the size of Saturday’s protest!!! Clearly those elements of the pro-Brexit campaigns who suggested they just organise a PR stunt in Royston Vasey because they simply don’t have the numbers for a large national protest, and in any case whenever there has been a demo in London the only people who turn up are football hooligans, which shows that the only argument against calling the whole fucking thing off, which is that there’d be a nationwide breakdown in social order, is wrong, were, er, wrong. I apologise for the previous sentence.
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Fortunately they had quickly arranged a platform so the voices of the popular heroes of the #Lexit movement could be heard by all whom had come from so far and wide, etc. From the left, Kate Hoey (MP); Jennifer Helen Jones, aka Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb (FSA); Alexander Theodore Callinicos (SWP/StWC/UAF/LMHR/IS/IRG/KCL/SA/RTR/RAR/ERG), son of Honorable Ædgyth Lyon-Dalberg-Acton; Daniel Hannan (MEP), who gave a very moving speech inspired by the Disney film ‘Dumbo‘; Tommy Robinson (HMP TBC); and on the far-right, the smallest, ugliest, piece of shit, Nigel Farage himself (PBUH).
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These young women were among many schoolchildren who had marched spontaneously out of their classrooms in order to demand that they and their families be restricted for the rest of their lives to a tiny-minded, petty, resentful, alternately arrogant and insecure, shit-fooded, self-pitying, racist island ruled over by either a climate-lying plastic aristocrat who probably believes in FGM or another climate-lying tinpot floppy-haired sociopathic c*nt called Boris.
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By this point the crowds were immense. Some had speculated that potential pro-Brexit protestors may have been put off from expressing allegiance to a far-right cause by news of the mass murder perpetrated in New Zealand by someone whose values are not all that very very different from those of Farage, Rees-Mogg, Trump et al. By the way, it wasn’t me who said that, it was him. Anyway they were wrong, look at the photo
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Small placard, too many words, poor ‘typology’, I was told by someone I subsequently got talking to in the pub. Chiara reckoned the last line is a bit patronising but once I’d mansplained to her that it was supposed to be ironic she calmed down a bit.

UPDATE: This post has now been superseded by “reality”.

UPDATE UPDATE: There is an…explanation (not an excuse!!!) for the low numbers:

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…or alternatively:

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See you next Saturday.

(Ps Although Farage’s photo op was absolutely pitiful and much of the ridicule it was greeted with hilarious, we may be falling into a bit of a trap, in that images of hardy, mud-soaked and rain-sodden ordinary British volk, battling not just the elements but universal opprobrium in their vain pursuit of national destiny, is an emblematic instance of the mythology that Fintan O’Toole pinpoints as the inspiration for Brexit in ‘Heroic Failures’. I’m sure both the Jarrow marchers and Farage’s true political ancestors in 1920s Italy were treated with disdain in their day, so the negative coverage is unlikely to daunt those who, having no idea of or concern for the risks involved, still support a no deal Brexit. So let’s hope the cameras and hashtags move on and the whole thing is swiftly forgotten. As Trump has shown, for the modern far-right movement ridicule is nothing to be scared of, and images of vainglorious victimhood can actually rally people to the cause. It’s quite probable that the organisers knew it would provoke this reaction, and that’s why they decided to do it. #youutterhypocrite #yesIknow)

Climate campaigners need to be extremely vigilant about eco-fascist discourse

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It’s been a central tenet of this website that the global rise in far-right sentiment is partly a displaced expression of repressed anger and fear about climate change. The context for Friday’s atrocity in New Zealand confirm that if that was ever true, it’s now becoming less so. I’d seen odd reports that some elements of the global far-right were abandoning climate denial in favour of what one might call genocidal eco-misanthropy, and had noticed that (for example) Marine Le Pen is no longer a climate denier. She’s ahead of the pack, given the influence of Bolsonaro and Trump in persisting in outright denial. There are a lot of pre-existing ideas that can easily be coopted by far-right newborn environmentalists, as Paul Caterell details here. I’ve long felt that initiatives such as the Dark Mountain project were so misanthropically Malthussian in their response to accelerating environmental meltdown as to share common ground with those inclined to see climate change not as a threat but an opportunity, and I’m not talking about the superficial TED Talks utopianism of so much that passes for ‘environmentalist’ discourse but something much more sinister.

The self-definition of the Christchurch terrorist as an “eco-fascist” led me to this article from the New Statesmen. It should alert everyone connected to environmental activism and climate campaigning to be extremely wary of discourses which unite deep ecology, geographical boundedness, animal rights, veganism, a return to the soil, and forefathers. Names to look out for include Pentti Linkola, Danielle Savoy and Savitri Devi, and images popular with eco-fascists include Norse runes (particulary the ‘life rune’ – see above), forests and what has been jokingly called ‘cabin porn’. The article has many more details about the linguistic and semiotic clues that may indicate the presence of eco-fascist ideology. It partly involves turning on its head the standard right-wing trope that Hitler was a vegetarian and an environmentalist. The most cutting edge fascists celebrate those aspects of Nazism, recognising that ‘Lebensraum’ was partly about creating an ecological utopia by cleaning up the toxic elements that were polluting it with their very existence*.

The core of eco-fascist discourse, and by far the most dangerous one, is overpopulation. On a recent Extinction Rebellion protest I was handed a glossy leaflet by David Attenborough’s charity outfit, the headline of which highlighted overpopulation as the core problem we face. Leaving aside the fact that had Attenborough not persisted in his climate denial for so long we probably wouldn’t have got to this point so early, his focus on overpopulation seems to be hugely problematic. If you claim that the problem with the world is the existence of too many people but are not willing to take the logical step of either killing yourself or not making any more, then the issue immediately gets reformulated into: there are too many other people. Which leads to the question: Who gets selected for eradication and/or sterilisation? Now, while we may be naïve enough to go on blithely claiming that it’s other people’s apathy and overconsumption that have caused the problem, we can’t pretend we don’t know what solutions those forces occupying or angling for power across the world, from the US to the UK to Brazil to Italy and elsewhere, are going to propose when things get really bad.

Of course, it’s natural and good that many people seek to change their own lives before telling everyone else to do so. The sudden plethora of vegan restaurants where I live in East London is remarkable. Am I suggesting that anyone who turns vegan is a potential fascist? Absolutely not. But at a time when lots of young people are educating themselves online and demanding that climate change be treated as an political emergency rather than being left as an awkward social taboo which most adults would rather suffer than combat, it’s incumbent upon us to identify, expose and exclude anyone linking land, nature and race.

There are very few eco-fascists who dare to take their principles offline and put them into practice; we just saw how destructive it can be when they set out to advertise their beliefs, to create mass rather than mere social media memes and to impress Rupert Murdoch as well as their fellow 4chan trolls. Most will do so at a somewhat more subtle level than Brenton Tarrant. What appear to be innocuous memes promoting sound environmentalist values may have hidden resonances, so we have to learn how to spot and call out all instances of language which seems to hint at a connection between blood and soil. For example, at that same XR demonstration someone got up and repeatedly used the phrase ‘our lands’. Was that person an eco-fascist? Almost certainly not. But as Foucault pointed out, there is a sense in which our words speak us rather than we them, in which ideas circulating in society have more power than the people who voice them. We can’t allow genocidal nihilism to infect the enthusiasm of this new generation of climate activists, most of whom get much of their information and ideas in the same forums where identitarian and eco-fascist memes circulate, pushing the notion that the main culprits for climate change are not corporate power and unfettered capitalism but mass migration and multiculturalism. Hence we need to be extremely vigilant about which words and images we use both on and offline and be particularly careful when addressing the thorny issue of overpopulation. Maybe it will come down to a battle of symbols: not the so-called “life” rune, symbolising life for our particular ethnic group and death to everyone else, but this symbol, representing the protection of the life chances of every single one of the true, universal Us.

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*It’s worth reading up on what Jared Diamond has to say about the link between environmental pressures and genocide in Rwanda; this presentation gives a brief account of it.

A “no deal” Brexit is an attempt at a far-right coup

It’s sad that no journalist has ever had the wherewithal or courage to ask Nigel Farage what his favourite Hitler Youth anthem was, back in the halcyon days of his Hitler-worshipping adolescence. Might it have been ‘The Horst Wessel Lied’? ‘Deutschland Erwache!’? Or perhaps gut alt ‘Morgen gehört zu mir’? Maybe somebody, or indeed everybody, should phone him up between 6-7pm on 0345 60 60 973 any day of the week and ask him.

You can bet he’s whistling them all now, in a joyous medley, an overture to the realisation of his wildest fantasies. If Carole Cadwalladr is to be trusted (note to BBC: she is), he and his sugar daddy Arron Banks are cooking up a deal with their far-right ally and fellow Russian gold enthusiast Matteo Salvini (among others) to veto any extension to Article 50. It doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll succeed. After all, Salvini wanted all his life to get to play at being Il Nuovo Duce, and it’s only now, with the support of the single stupidest collection of stupid individuals outside the United Kingdom, that he’s finally achieved his dream. Now he’s got his sights set on being the new Napoleon, or…well, we’ll see. Even if the whole thing turns out to be bluster, the EU is not going to grant the UK an extension just so Theresa May can piss it up the wall. She’s a problem gambler, a terminal alcoholic and an insatiable powerophile who is going to keep trying and failing to force us to eat her shit sandwich of a deal until, well, round about 11pm on March 29th.

That leaves us leaving without a deal. As it happens, the notion of a sustainable “no deal” solution is a myth, a happy-ever-after fairy tale. It would result in immediate and total supplication, with the UK reduced to renegotiating on every conceivable front from a position of such weakness it would be akin to Joe Louis hoping to be awarded the 2019 Heavyweight World Title on points.

I suspect that Farage and his fellow fascist revivalists know that in the event of a crash-out Endlösung Brexit they will have to move very fast to install a regime based on hard power, with May swiftly overthrown and martial law declared amidst conditions of total social and economic collapse. At the dark heart of Conservative politics there is a sense of burning resentment that it was the Germans, not us, who got to strut around Europe in snazzy uniforms playing kill the jew. After all, as Winston Churchill proudly boasted on several occasions, it was we, not the Krauts, that actually invented concentration camps in the first place.

At least, some will say, we can put our faith in Corbyn. To his credit, Jeremy is not actually (unlike his brother*) an anti-Semite. But he is a turdworm, a species of mini-reptile I’ve just invented. First case in point: the day after the referendum, when he set his alarm for 6.15am just so he could go on live TV and call for an immediate and total absence of national reflection. Second case in point: last week, in a speech in Scotland, when he referred to Brexit as a mere “constitutional question”. Yes, Jezzers. A constitutional question. Just like Pinochet’s coup. They did institute a new constitution, although not immediately, because they first spent several years throwing everyone who thought like you out of a fucking helicopter.

Still, this impending total deadlock will hopefully concentrate minds. Excepting, that is, those who don’t actually possess a mind, or a brain, those who have brown rather than grey matter between their ears, aka the second stupidest collection of stupid individuals who have ever existed (closely followed, obviously, from the Movimento 5 Stelle): Lexiters. They’re still out there, leaping onto any passing far-right lies about WTO/GATT24/MADEUPARTICLE365 Brexits, bleating at anyone dozy enough to speak to them about Greece, kidding themselves they’re to the left of Syriza while supporting a cause even the Golden Dawn would acknowledge may have involved at least some right-wing influence.

Labour so far has completely and conveniently ignored the overwhelming evidence that the referendum was won thanks to various innovative forms of cheating. Well, perhaps it might start to maybe think about starting to possibly pay attention to that uncomfortable collection of facts round about now. Also, the People’s Vote campaign needs to set aside its call for a second pretend referendum and instead start screaming and occupying and smashing lots and lots of shit up in support of the only demand that has any actual verdammte meaning right now: REVOKE ARTICLE 50.

*I don’t really know whether Piers Corbyn officially hates Jewish people, but he makes a lot of money lying about climate change, so it’s reasonable to assume he spends a fair amount of time hanging out with the sort of people who also deny the Holocaust.

Lots of Corbynistas are demanding a new general election. What might that be like?

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(knock on door)

Hello?

Hi! Sorry to bother you. I’m sure you’ve heard there’s a general election coming up. I’m here to encourage you to vote for the Labour candidate. Which is me! Daniel Dongle, aspiring member of Parliament. Nice to meet you! Is that your dog??

It’s a…cat.

Ah! Ok. It looks a bit like…but we mustn’t essentialise! Now, I see you voted for us in 2017, much appreciated! Have you thought about how you might vote this time?

Well, it depends. What’s your position on Brexit?

We think austerity is completely unnec…

But where do you stand on Brexit?

I’m sure you’ll agree that the rise in homelessness is an absolute abom…

But do you still think the UK would be better off outside the EU?

Climate Change is the biggest emergency we have ever faced as a sp…

Should we remain in the Customs Union?

We wholeheartedly oppose the rise in xenophobia around the world in the l…

What alternative do you have to the Withdrawal Agreement?

Like AOC says, we need a Green N…

Is Labour prepared to whip its MPs to support a second referendum?

Trident is a total waste of m…

Isn’t it now pretty much incumbent on whoever’s in government to revoke Article 50?

Er…we believe in a Global Br…

My girlfriend’s from Poland. Will she be able to stay here after Brexit?

Rebuilding the NHS is…

What’s your position on the Irish border situation?

As Jeremy says, valuing the contribution immigrants make to British soc…

What’s Labour’s reaction to all the revelations about illegal practices by both leave campaigns?

Secure homes for..

Are you still in favour of Britain leaving the EU, even with no withdrawal agreement in place?

Err…(triumphantly) For the many, not the few!

OH, FUCK OFF!!!

(door slams)

The problem with Corbyn: he isn’t left-wing enough

Andy Beckett (‘We exclude the Labour left from British politics at our peril‘) makes some valid points about the ‘othering’ of the Labour left, which combined with Corbyn’s haplessness at managing the party and at communicating his agenda has seemingly led Labour to the brink of self-destruction.

It’s not only left-wingers who point out that much written about Corbyn is untrue. But there’s certainly at least one sense in which Corbyn himself is insufficiently left-wing: his inability to think dialectically, as shown by his insistence last week that poverty and the climate are “more important than Brexit”. Actually those three phenomenon are inherently and intimately interlinked. In Marxist terms, there is a section of the ruling class that wants the UK out of the EU so it can escape all forms of regulation, particularly with regard to taxation and the climate. The fact that involves making most people immediately much poorer and, in the medium term, making everybody dead, is a mere and not particularly regrettable side-effect. They know that climate change is real and that austerity and Brexit are economic suicide – their mission is to take advantage of the mounting chaos in order to stamp out democracy and human rights and loot what’s left of the State. Corbyn’s role should have involved exposing and challenging the machinations that underpin this agenda, but tragically, given that in any age the dominant ideas are those that reflect ruling class interests, what dominates in many nominally left-wing fora is a disguised form of extreme conservatism which presents itself as radical, mostly taking the form of conspiracy theorising and railing against whatever scapegoats are made available by any passing troll or bot – witness the ease with which far-right ideas you to and including anti-Semitic tropes are insinuated into Corbyn-supporting Facebook groups, or drop by the Labour List website to see the extent to which arrant nonsense about a “WTO Deal” Brexit has taken hold of those who, like Italian M5S supporters cheering on Salvini, think of themselves as on the left while doing a job for the far-right. (Ecco a shining example of someone doing just that.) Partly due to the loose populism in such slogans as “For the many, not the few” and talk of “elites” and “the Establishment”, Corbyn’s supporters include many who have fallen into the same puerile ideological mentality as much of the Italian (former) left – lazy, easily manipulable populism – and he and his leadership haven’t known how (or have been insufficiently motivated) to challenge that.

That Corbyn himself is unable to recognise that austerity, climate denial and Brexit all form part of a concerted neoneoconservative assault on democracy, social provision and basic human rights, one which is – shock! Horror! – even worse than the braindead neoliberalism of the neo-Blairites suggests that neither does he have the intellectual wherewithal to respond to the myriad challenges that face him and us; while his acknowledgement that climate destruction is a class issue is welcome, his dismissal of Brexit as a mere “constitutional question” displays an idiocy which it’s hard not to conclude is wilful. What Britain needs is a local version of AOC, someone talented at articulating a modern (as in green, intersectional and digitally savvy) left-wing agenda in the face of the opprobrium such a project will inevitably face. Of course, no one can click their fingers and make such a figure magically appear, and Corbyn’s agenda has much to recommend it despite the resistance it faces and despite his apparent inability to communicate it effectively. But some on the left need to stop pretending that he’s doing a great job or that his leadership is our best and only hope.

“Why aren’t the Brits panicking?”

There’s a thread on Reddit called “Why aren’t the Brits panicking?”. It was presumably started by someone from the States, given their choice of epithet. It’s certainly not a word I’d use to describe myself, what with its uncomfortable evocation of tabloids and expattery. I saw some right-wing troll (or, more probably, bot) on Twitter using the term ‘Britons’ in relation to Brexit, suggesting that his normative understanding of British identity draws on a mythical idea of pre-Roman/Norman/Windrush purity without jollof rice or vaccines.

Nonetheless, it’s a fair question. I’m a ‘Brit’, if you like, and I don’t appear to be panicking, despite the fact that in three weeks’ time there may well be troops on the streets to quell potential food riots, and all sorts of infrastructures whose existence, let alone importance, I have remained blissfully aware of all my life could collapse overnight. (The amount of unknown unknowns is, inevitably, unknowable.) If there’s a glimmer of sanity in Theresa May’s head that scenario won’t quite come to pass (yet), but if so we can be sure that Nigel Farage and Tommy Robinson will be doing all they can to spark an immediate civil war and (in Farage’s case) will be given plentiful access to the airwaves to do so.

Philip K. Dick wrote that sometimes it is an appropriate response to reality to go insane, and this would appear to be an opportune moment to do so, except for the fact that people all around the world are very noticeably not panicking about rapidly rising temperatures or the return of the far-right to power in some of the world’s most powerful countries, which might give us pause to think: how do we “panic” if no one else seems to be doing so? Perhaps I am panicking without quite being aware of it. After all, we already have food stored under the bed and precautionary plane tickets booked for the end of the month. And yet, in the meantime, we still need to eat, sleep, see friends, take the baby to the park, go to work; there are Michael Jackson documentaries to watch, and subsequent arguments to pursue online with people who (mystifyingly) refuse to accept the facts; there are articles to read which reflect intelligently on how we should react to the final evidence of Jackson’s corruption: should we continue to play his music? Write it and him out of history? And yet, it’s been a central element in our shared emotional life. More, one might even say, then the European Union…

So what’s a reasonable reaction to news that shakes the ground on which one stands? It may be rational to panic, to scream and run away, but where do we run to? It is, in the words of this article, “easier not to believe” such terrifying truths, especially when, away from social media, so few people seem to be even slightly perturbed by what’s happening. Maybe our sense of how to behave is akin to how we construct our identities: in the words of the sociologist Charles Cooley, “I am not who you think I am; I am not who I think I am; I am who I think you think I am”. The reason that British people are not panicking is partly that other British people are not panicking. After all, not panicking is what we’ve all been doing on a wider scale in relation to even more terrifying news about our climate.

No amount of frozen metaphors about frogs in boiling water or memes of dogs in burning rooms can begin to do justice to our failure to respond adequately to collective existential threats. Michel Foucault talked about how power operates through a shifting process of normalisation, where even the most radical changes to our daily lives can be incorporated into our picture of the world, while Pierre Bourdieu developed the concept of habitus, according to which it’s practically impossible for us to think beyond the parameters of our working assumptions about our lives and our reality. Not only do we live in an environment saturated with reassuring messages about the future, we live, speak and breathe those messages, reproducing them in our thoughts, posts, conversations and actions. We see adverts for events that take place in April, May and beyond, myriad timescales which take no notice of March 29th, market imperatives that must supercede whatever happens in news headlines, just as everyday life and consumption has so far managed to outlive any number of terrorist atrocities or climate catastrophes in cities we visited just a few weeks or months before and just as the global market was able to incorporate the election of Trump, Bolsonaro and Salvini with nary a blink. When we were considering what to do at the end of March and trying to make plans for the following month, I made the following suggestion: Imagine we know there’s going to be a hurricane or a flood, one whole scale we can’t predict until just before it happens. But perhaps a better analogy, given that Brexit is first and foremost an ideological project, is a terrorist attack way beyond anything Isis could dream up; given the nature of such attacks, we don’t know whether it will hit the particular station or square we happen to be passing through, but it won’t stop us travelling or holidaying or going to work or shopping – although actually, you might want to strike that last one off the list, and the first and second come to think of it. As for our jobs… Dostoevsky wrote somewhere that the greatest strength and weakness of human beings is that we can adapt to any set of circumstances; post-modern society thrives on disruption, according to any number of Ted Talks. The statement that it’s easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism has been attributed to everyone from Frederic Jameson to Slavoj Žižek to (I seem to recall) Peter Andre. In such a setting it’s impossible to overcome the sensation that, as Thomas Pynchon puts it in ‘Against the Day’, “there will always be time”.

But perhaps, in the end, Brexit is not the cause of the (apparent absence of) panic, but rather its consequence. Maybe panic is setting in at the level of politics, and that’s what Brexit, much like Trump, Salvini et al, is an effect of. Maybe for many people the notion that their decision has somehow had an impact on world events serves to assuage the sense of doom and helplessness they feel in their daily lives.

In the meantime, then: Michael Jackson. I’m writing this in an airport. All around me people are going on with their lives: chatting, sipping coffee, unfolding pushchairs, tapping out sanctimonious diatribes about other people’s complacency on their devices. It’s soundtracked at this moment by some Motown classic which might be called ‘I believe you’. If I sit here long enough I’m sure to hear one of the totems of our culture: maybe ‘ABC’, ‘Rock with you’ (one of my personal favourites) or maybe (possibly, apart from the pedophilia, his nadir) ‘They don’t really care about us’. On the way into the terminal I saw a young woman wearing the same jacket Melania Trump when she went to sneer at terrified children ripped away fron their parents: ‘I DON’T REALLY CARE, DO YOU?’. I briefly thought about remonstrating with her, but didn’t want to create a scene. Which raises the question: how does one show that one cares? And related to that: what does it mean to panic? Maybe initiatives such as this and this can help us to, to borrow a phrase, take back control of our fears and frustrations in a way that’s doesn’t involve lashing out at conveniently-placed scapegoats.

Update: Someone on Reddit responded to this piece by accusing its writer (me) of being ‘ill-informed’, ‘stupid’ and ‘apathetic’. Here is another version written especially for him:

Having posted to his blog yet another diatribe about how Other People’s inertia, apathy, laziness, complacency, cowardice, greed, ignorance and selfishness were responsible for austerity, Brexit, Trump, Salvini, Climate Change and so on, and how it was not just incumbent upon Other People but actually pressing, urgent (and some or other synonym for those previous two words) for those aforesaid Other People to take action up to and including risking their personal relationships, livelihoods, freedom and physical safety to stop, overthrow and/or prevent those things, there really was no higher priority for Other People than that as it was a matter not just of principle but also of survival, so basically why weren’t Other People panicking or revolting, what was wrong with those Other People, like were they all fucking stupid or mad or evil or something like that, having typed all that, chosen a fitting image, selected some appropriate tags and clicked Upload, he caught the train to St. Albans, took a wander round the local gallery/museum and perused the street market, stopped for lunch in a pleasant café before visiting the cathedral and graffiting the words ‘YES, WE ARE ALL TO SOME EXTENT APATHETIC AND COMPLACENT IN THE FACE OF SUCH TERRIFYING THREATS AND HORRIFYING REVELATIONS, WE TEND TO DENY OUR OWN ROLE IN QUIETLY ALLOWING ABUSE TO BE PERPETRATED, THAT’S KIND OF THE POINT’ on the walls of the 13th century crypt, and then catching the train back to London to spend the rest of the day reading a book about climate change denial, eating the remains of the curry he and his wife had ordered off Just Eat the previous evening and watching the rest of the Michael Jackson documentary.

The unpalatable truth: May’s deal *is Brexit*

Here’s the thing: if you still want Brexit, you support May’s deal. If you don’t like her deal, you don’t support Brexit. It doesn’t matter in the slightest what fantasy Brexit exists in your own personal head. It’s not important whether you prefer a Norway-style, Singapore-style or Narnia-style Brexit, because such options are not on or near the table, in fact at this point there are no more negotiations (she’s lying to you about that) so there is no table; there’s no furniture in the room at all except a toilet, and in the bowl of that toilet is a particularly unpleasant turd, and if you voted for Brexit that is your turd, produced after very great strain, it’s true, but at least it’s finally out and we can all peer inside and behold what you’ve achieved: a messy, bloody, stinking turd. You know, probably the best thing to do at this point is for the whole thing to be flushed away and forgotten. Is that what you’d like? Or would you rather smash the whole sewage system to pieces so that from now on we will all live in the midst of our own effluence as if the whole process of human civilisation had been nothing but a bizzare hallucination? It’s an inviting proposition but I think, given the choice, I and many others would prefer not to.

Put another way: when May became Prime Minister she uttered the phrase ‘Brexit means Brexit’. A gnomic statement, as many commented, but now we know what she meant. She got to define Brexit. The fact that she is PM of a Government dedicated to implementing your decision means she is your Prime Minister, her Government is your Government, her negotiations are your negotiations and yes, her Brexit is your Brexit. So: if you don’t support May’s deal, you don’t support Brexit.

So here’s a modest proposal: we obviously can’t just leave it lying there, so let’s just flush it away for once and for all. Unless, that is, you’d prefer to scoop it out with your hands and find some of other way to dispose it of. Maybe you’d like to…eat it?