Tag Archives: society

The bed we’ve made: the cruel irony of Brexit

I must confess to have, at first, grossly miscalculated the larger net effect of the phenomenon known as Brexit.une-affiche-pro-brexit-placardee-sur-un-immeuble-a-charing-le-16-juin-2016_5617781

On the day the official vote took place, my reaction was that England had earned itself a sorely needed object lesson, while rendering itself a laughing stock among progressive thinkers worldwide. Then the ‘reality on the ground’ set in. Widespread reports of people, suddenly emboldened to ‘tell it like it is,’ shouting hateful epithets–and downright threats–at not just brown folks, but Poles and other non-Brits who are otherwise generally perceived as ‘white,’ began. And I realized that the movement to leave the EU wasn’t simply a desire to reclaim English identity in a nationalistic sense; it was a desire to reclaim English identity with a frightening eye toward ethnic cleansing. I also began to realize that, despite my own critiques of Anglo-America’s claims to have cornered the market on civilization and civility…the terrifying reality is that, largely due to the machinations of the Anglo-American elite itself, progressive ideals are actually on thinner ice than they’ve been in a long time. If America and England continue their collective lurch toward the far right, at the same time as England’s exit from the EU sets off a global economic downturn, then central and Eastern Europe will continue their collective lurche toward the far right. When this happens, then the world will actually be more overwhelmingly anti-democratic, and hostile to progressive ideals, than it’s been in decades. And again, let me repeat: this is largely the fault of the same Anglo-American elite that has, for generations, laid claim to being on the leading edge of not just Western civilization but human progress at large. Let me explain.

When Ho Chi Minh tried to do to the French and Japanese empires what America did to the British empire, he patterned his declaration of independence after ours and asked us for help. We told him to piss off; so he went to the next biggest guy in town, who played the ‘enemy of my enemy’ game. So we called him a commie, and spent half a generation’s time hammering his country with pesticides, carpet bombings and chemical weapons. Similar stories have played out throughout much of the so-called third world, especially in the Western Hemisphere. This pattern has continued all the way through its present day incarnation, whereby our policies have continued to foster radicalization and extremism in countries where we’ve supposedly intervened on behalf of democracy.brexit-june-22-16_wide-45a9a9bf274ce8b6f25c7773ff3545b76ae553c4_t614

This all gives our current state of affairs a cruel, practical joke sort of irony: had the Anglo-American elite not spent the entirety of the Cold War squelching attempts at democratic and progressive reform in every part of the world, perhaps progressive, socialistic, egalitarian, secular, and democratic ideals wouldn’t seem in such short supply among the world’s governments. America’s geopolitical allies are among the most repressive, fascist, and yes, openly bigoted and ethnocentric, governments in the world…and we’ve openly supported them while continually claiming to act in the interests of the ideals to which our Bill of Rights is beholden.

This brings me back to square one: in a manner of speaking, England and America have brought their current troubles upon themselves. Were they as invested in the worldwide spread of their stated principles as they were in feeding their wealthy elites and sustaining so-called spheres of influence, neo-fascism and theocratic fascism would have had neither chance nor excuse to gain traction. But alas, America’s Republican party has long been allowed to subtly infuse large swaths of the American voting populace with modern day Know Nothing Party sentiments, while modern day Thatcherism was allowed to seep back to the surface across the pond; and now that the sentiments they’ve quietly sown have gained enough collective momentum that the tail is proverbially wagging the dog, the GOP and Parliament are somehow aghast at the result. These aren’t the results, mind you, of momentary lapses of reason, short-term misjudgments, or failures of perspective: they’re the result of prolonged, deliberate, and calculated efforts to maintain a dangerous status quo by espousing regressive values among the English and American working classes, while creating social, political, and economic situations in the developing world which have long been known to lead to reactionary extremism. Of course, said reactionary extremism has served the purposes of the Anglo-American elite in other ways, but I digress.

So then, here we are. The disgruntled English working class has helped usher in Brexit, which many fear is a precursor to a similar ushering in of ‘nativist’ ideology in the United States. The grim possibilities that George Orwell, Margaret Atwood, Alan Moore, Octavia Butler, Sinclair Lewis, and many others have warned us about for generations, continue to emerge into view.

The world is still incrementally trying to get better, as evidenced by its present state of worry over matters such as Brexit. But the shadow of the past continues to loom, and history might someday reflect on 2016 as the beginning of an epic regression.

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Adam Grey, on progress:

“Society has to evolve in order for humankind to evolve…otherwise we’re just dependent on outliers, on the occasional outstanding person of genius or conscience, to bring us along. And even then, sometimes the occasional person of genius doesn’t have much conscience…or the occasional person of conscience doesn’t have much genius.”

–To learn more about First Cause, click here; to buy First Cause as an ebook, click here.

Cover of First Cause: A Novel About Human Possibility

Cover of First Cause


Repost: The World IS Getting Better

Seriously, even though it sometimes doesn’t seem like it even to the most hopeful, the world is incrementally improving, despite the fact that it often wanders close to the edge of disaster. Figured I’d repost this, in light of the CT tragedy and countless ensuing conversations/debates…if nothing else, First Cause is inspired by the dissonance between the fact of how bad the world is and the hope for how good it can be.  Food for thought, anyway.

“The Good Old Days” part 2: the world IS getting better

Every time you are shocked or dismayed by something you see people undertake to do to other people, remember that not long ago, you just wouldn’t have heard, seen or read about it. The fact that so many think the world is getting worse is a sign that it’s getting better; we’re trying harder, pulling away from the old norms, including more people in the fabric of society.

For the first time in human history, the concept of inalienable rights actually is somewhat broadly considered to apply to all categories of human being. Its application still lags well behind its ideation, but at least all draft-eligible Americans can vote now–it cannot be forgotten that that has not yet even been true for fifty years!!! We are shocked and dismayed, as more of our old assumptions are brought to the ground; this dismay represents progress, as more people are brought into the fold of basic human opportunity. The best we can do, any of us older than preschool age, is thank ourselves for every way in which we’re free from the poisonous crap that’s been drummed into us from birth. We are products of a poisoned world, a world where people are defined by ridiculous parameters and not taught to see each other as individuals; where violence as instruction is taken for granted, and wars last for astounding lengths of time: where people collude to exclude others from citizenship for reasons as preposterous as skin color, genitalia or inherited religion. Where bullying, humiliation and authoritarian punishment are rites of passage.

Fortunately, the grand scale of human-on-human atrocity is actually getting smaller, as the world shrinks and we increasingly realize that, as it was once said, ‘an explorer from another galaxy would find us all very much alike’. We have to remember that, and remember that the only hope for our wretched but brilliant species lies in its future.

Cover of First Cause: A Novel About Human Possibility

Cover of First Cause