Monday, August 01, 2016

Decline and Fall

Increasingly. I find myself thinking that living in UK today is like living through the last days of the Roman Empire. The Western Roman Empire, if we are to be pedantic, (the Eastern Roman Empire, ruled from Constantinople, carried on for several hundred more years in the guise of the Byzantine Empire).  I mean, it's all there - a once mighty Empire now reduced to its core, able only to influence its immediate environs, with even that power waning, yet still in denial over the situation.  A rapid succession of increasingly impotent and venal leaders, frequently at odds with both their own legislatures and citizens, try desperately to convince the world that their country still matters, even as its domestic infrastructure collapses and corruption runs rampant.  As the Roman Empire declined, its leaders made desperate attempts to buy off or otherwise accommodate the hordes of barbarians appearing at their borders.  I'm surprised that supposed classical scholar Boris Johnson didn't use this as an analogy for the current migrant crisis facing Europe during his scurrilous Leave campaign.  Personally, I think the Tory leadership's attempts to placate the far right, both in their own party and in the form of UKIP, with the promise of the EU referendum.  Or, perhaps, George Osborne's effective selling off of various major infrastructure projects to China, in order to placate the economic threat they pose.

Brexit has undoubtedly hastened this slide into irrelevance.  But the less relevant the UK becomes, the further we seem to try and live on our past glories, be it wallowing in the nostalgia of our single World Cup win in 1966, (the fact that we've gone from Alf Ramsey to Sam Allardyce as England manager since then speaks volumes as to how our ambition has wilted), 'Our Finest Hour' in the Battle of Britain or the supposed glories of our long defunct Empire.  Even when our leaders acknowledge the country's economic difficulties, it does so in terms of the past: the very word 'Austerity' is calculated to evoke visions of the Blitz and 'plucky little Britain' (and its huge Empire) stood alone against the might of Nazi Germany.  The reality, of course, is quite different.  People aren't being asked to make sacrifices in the name of victory against a totalitarian threat, but rather to help bail out the banks and their corporate friends.  It's all about maintaining appearances right now.  That's certainly what the public sector has been reduced to - a mechanism for covering up anything that might embarrass the government and make them look incompetent or inefficient.  I speak from personal experience: in recent weeks I've been finding it next to impossible to do my actual job, as I keep being dragged away to try and cover up other people's incompetence and entirely avoidable errors which, if they became public, would prove highly embarrassing to to the department and, by extension, the government.  Which is all very well, but it means that my own work isn't getting done, making me appear inefficient and prompting yet more customer complaints, because the things they've actually paid for us to do have been sidelined in favour of pursuing damage limitation exercises.  Yes indeed, I can well imagine that this was what Inperial Rome was like as the Empire crumbled.  

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home