Monday, September 16, 2019

Poisonous Politics

Charlotte's post, not surprisingly, struck a chord with me.  Is the poison in politics a contagion?  Is simply the zeitgeist?

 In Britain, the public watches with slack-jawed astonishment as the 'honourable members' (so-called) of our esteemed parliament behave like children at a party that has reached the cake-throwing stage,  as we wait to see whether our next leader will be a Marxist who hates the United States, a Trump mini-me with a truth problem or a so-called Liberal  Democrat who is so democratic that she has proposed calling another referendum which she will only agree to respect provided the vote goes the way she wants it to.

Negotiations with the European Union have been horrifying, with unpleasantness, spite and bad faith on both sides.

In France, the streets of Paris - and elsewhere - burn in out-of-control protests against their President.  In East Germany, Angela Merkel's party is losing to the fascist Right.  In Glasgow, Irish Republican marches clash violently with Orange Order Protestant marches, despite the Good Friday agreement.
(And please, what on earth does it have to do with us in Scotland?)

As Charlotte says, it is the savagery that appalls.  What is it about our brave new world that makes 'compromise' a dirty word?  That makes 'hate' a legitimate feeling to have about someone whose opinion you don't share?  That calls being prepared to understand the other person's point of view  weakness?

I mourn too the American politics of my youth when Republican and Democrat politics more or less touched in the middle and it was still possible just to weigh up the policies and vote accordingly - respect!  In Britain, it was always more tribal and loathing for the other side is more or less compulsory now. In defiance, I have never joined a political party and have voted for several different ones in my time. I don't hate anyone, though when members of one party in Scotland swear at you in the street, never mind on Twitter, it's sometimes hard not to seriously dislike them.

Twitter - ah yes!  How much does the internet, and the ability to send abuse anonymously, have to do with our problems?  Discuss, as my university essay topics used to say.

But at least in the US, you have the chance to vote to change it all next year.  Here, irrevocable decisions are going to be made and it's hard not to think of  WB Yeats's lines in The Second Coming: 'Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold / Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.'

Please, somebody, write something to cheer me up!


Susan D said...

Goodness, Aline, I can't say I'm feeling terribly chipper after your reminder of the insanity loose in the world at the moment. Yes, Yeats seems to have got it spot on.

So, something cheerful? Let's see....

Margaret Atwood's new novel is out. I haven't read it yet, but I'm hoping for an upbeat resolution....

Aline Templeton said...

Thanks, Susan. I haven't read The Temptations yet either, but I'm cautious about expecting happy ending from Margaret Atwood!