Sean Walsh discusses Blade Runner, the Prime Minister and anger at the EU Elections.
I think we’re all a bit angry. And when we are angry, we look at whom to blame. The two things should be separate, though. So, I thought I’d offer a sort of Responsibility Matrix: what we are angry about is mentioned first and who is to blame is in the brackets.
Here’s the dummy run: we’re angry that our Prime Minister is a Replicant (Gove).
Ok let’s go.
It’s annoying that the political class interpreted a vote to leave the European Union not as an instruction to leave the European Union and then deal, but as an instruction to strike a deal about leaving the European Union (Cameron-Commentator Class). It’s also irritating that if a “deal” were ever necessary then the same political class conflated a specific timetable for that deal with the outcome of that deal (Davis).
It’s a cause of some fury that we allowed the talks over our disengagement from the EU to be front ended in a way that the mechanism to leave became infected by the fear and cowardice of our elite (all of them). The nomenklatura EU mainstream decided it could shaft us by eliding some obvious distinctions: between Europe vs the EU; between a deal vs a treaty; between economics vs freedom.
(Barnier – but to be fair that’s his job).
Getting back to Gove (Vine) how is it possible that he could get away with his sub-Francis Urquhart machinations (Michael Dobbs) to the extent that he could deliver a Replicant as PM in the first place (Leadsom)?
I hope you notice that I do not include our Prime Minister within any category of blame (dreams of electric sheep). Replicants show up what is flawed about the Turing Test: you can give a good linguistic impersonation of a functioning person but if you are unable to engage with the moral structure of the universe then, frankly, you are not properly conscious. The Prime Minister has shown herself to be outside the scope of normal moral discourse. No point “blaming” her for anything and those who “praise” her resilience might as well make an idol of the Duracell bunny.
So, the anger is real. What is the proper application?
Anger is good. Anger is an indicator of injustice and suggests itself as a remedy of that injustice. Either we are created for a purpose or we are just screaming at the atomic void (there is no other option). Anger occurs when that purpose is being thwarted. There is a form of Stoicism that gets this wrong: to deny our anger is to deny that we have a capacity for judgment.
Which brings us to the EU “elections”.
In the Richmal Compton Just William novels there was a tactic that William often used which was a bit like this: offer up a spurious “vote” to his followers in service of breaking the greenhouse windows. The “vote” meant nothing. It was a sort of “placebo of mischief”. William’s structures of democracy were flawed because they floated free of any set of conventions or institutions that would make them legitimate.
Remind you of anything?
Anger is an entirely appropriate attitude to take towards this fake set of elections. But the elections are to an undemocratic “Just William” version of an institution that we have decided to leave. Let’s not make the error (which they are tempting us into) of conferring legitimacy on any EU institution now. If we get too angry, they will use that as an investment by us they are not entitled to bank.
The European Parliament offers, trivially, no more than a chimerical coating of legitimacy sprayed on a set of ruthlessly anti-democratic set of wider EU structures. To that extent it doesn’t really matter who is sent there. All the nonsense talk about “sending MEPs” to sabotage it is just that – nonsense. These elections are therefore properly read as a regurgitation of popular anger: it hardly matters what the results are.
But it will matter, if the anger is allowed to devolve into wrath. St Thomas argued that “anger” is good but that when it is unguided by reason it devolves into wrath, which isn’t. There must be a suspicion that the Remain Establishment will regroup if the results of the EU Parliament elections are anything other than obliteration and assume that we will be too exhausted to recuperate that feeling in the event of another referendum.
The Replicant and her toadies have compressed the creative energy of this country to the extent that the genuinely talented are talking about nothing else. Politicians are not the talented people, the driving force, of any nation. People like this do not need to be embedded in any ridiculously centralised set of structures in order to shine on.
We’re right to be angry but let’s be careful how we handle it.
If they seize our anger, they seize our legitimacy.
That’s the trap.