Thursday, June 16, 2016

Dark Days

There's really no telling what events you will find most affecting.  Or, indeed, just how they will effect you.  Today I found myself feeling deeply upset over the murder of the Labour MP Jo Cox, who was slain on the street in broad daylight.  I don't know whether it was the sheer brutality of the attack - she was apparently both stabbed and shot - or the fact that it has left two young children motherless, or just the fact that it is so damned appalling that this sort of thing is happening on our streets.  Anyway, I had to pull the car off of the road when I heard the news conference on the radio when her death was conformed.  I can't remember the last time I felt so, well, sad.  And despairing.  A lot of people on social media are characterising this murder as the inevitable culmination of the harsh and uncaring society we've been busy creating, where hatred and fear have become our main political currency.  The current EU referendum campaigns seem to embody these new hateful politics, characterised by lies, fear-mongering and crude xenophobia.  'Hate the other!  They aren't like us so they must be against us', seems to be overriding message of the right.

Not that the left is innocent in this coarsening of political discourse: New Labour was certainly fond of engaging in the tactics of fascism with its denials of the validity of any viewpoint other than its adherence to neo-liberalism.  With the language of politics becoming ever more violent and the very idea of showing tolerance for others views, we perhaps shouldn't be surprised by today's terrible events.  According to one witness, the killer shouted 'Britain first' during his murderous attack, implying an affiliation to the far right organisation.  Maybe he, maybe he didn't.  I wasn't there.  But there's no doubt that Britain First is one of those quasi-fascist organisations we all like to dismiss as rabble.  They peddle racist stereotypes and the idea that we somehow need to 'take our country back' from foreigners.  Sadly, as the EU 'Leave' campaign has shown, such ideas and imagery are now close to being at the core of mainstream UK politics.  Whilst I wouldn't want to imply that the 'Leave' campaign are in any way responsible for a murder - I'm guessing the perpetrator was a nutter of the type who will always latch onto anything, be it politics or religion, to justify their actions - there's no doubt that they've helped stoke up the anger which currently pervades UK politics.  They really need to tone it down.  But then again, I've spent a lot of time ranting on about the need for a revolution and the violent overthrow of capitalism - maybe I should cool it, too.

These are dark days for our society, with our politics dominated by hate and anger, xenophobia and isolationism on the rise.  The recent parliamentary committee hearings involving Mike Ashley of Sports Direct and the whole BHS debacle have served to underline how venal and just down right mean business has become in the UK.   Employees treated like chattels, cheated out of parts of their pay - when they are being underpaid already - whilst the bosses help themselves to huge chuncks of cash from their companies and their pension funds.  I'd like to think that, if anything good can possibly come out of Jo Cox's murder, today's events mark some kind of turning point, when everyone takes a step back and has a long hard look at what's happening to our society.  But, sadly, I've reached the stage where I doubt that's possible.  I fear that things are going to get a whole lot worse before they get better.

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