When the dawn is delayed to the point whereby doubts begin to circulate that it will ever actually arrive, the tendency to turn to quotations from those who lived through – and commented upon – the unique traumas of their own respective eras often proves irresistible as a means of seeking solace. In an age that is currently facilitating the repetition of history’s worst mistakes by wilfully erasing evidence of them, to disregard the wise words of those whose reflections can shine a new (and simultaneously old) light on where we are now is as foolhardy as it is sinister. Take Friedrich Nietzsche, unfairly tarnished with a posthumous Nazi lionisation that would have appalled him. He may have greeted the New Year with the pessimistic – if prescient – observation, ‘Yesterday, the first day of the year, I looked into the future and trembled. Life is dreadful and hazardous’, but he also issued statements that retain the power to speak to modern ears battered by the cynical newspeak of collectivist propaganda: ‘State is the name of the coldest of all cold monsters. Coldly it lies; and this lie slips from its mouth: “I, the state, am the people”.’
As an assault on a long-corrupted symbol of democracy provoked a level of outrage in contrast with the hypocritical dismissal of the damage done to Washington by Antifa and other assorted anarchists on Inauguration Day four years ago, the latest victor’s wheels are set in motion for vengeance as a rich man’s feud feeds the poor man’s ignorance. The increasingly unhinged Nancy Pelosi failed to eject Trump from the White House with the first impeachment farce, so she has now helped initiate – in the best Nicola Sturgeon/Remoaner tradition – ‘Impeachment 2: This Time it’s Even More Personal’. Sharing a somewhat overcrowded bed with big business and big tech, the Democrats have also applauded the decision by their unelected paymasters to bar the (soon-to-be) ex-President from social media, and the frenzied campaign to eradicate all traces of the loser now even echoes the way in which past pop cultural figures to undergo revisionist demonisation have been edited out of history; apparently, plans are afoot to remove a brief cameo by the Donald in one of the ‘Home Alone’ movies. Personally, I couldn’t care less if the whole film was junked, but that’s just the opinion of a cinema-lover.
Anyway, amidst the undignified grave-dancing, further wise words of Nietzsche spring to mind: ‘He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster.’ The attempt to quash an alternative to Twitter in the shape of Parler – which has unsurprisingly seen a migration by the more fanatical Trump supporters to its libertarian platform – shows how pushing something underground just creates ghettos that ferment disaffection which can then be cited as justification for another bout of cancel culture. Yesterday, Twitter even demonstrated its Harry & Meghan-like absence of self-awareness by criticising the Ugandan Government for issuing an order to its citizens to desist from using social media and messaging apps in the approach to the country’s imminent election. ‘We strongly condemn internet shutdowns,’ declared the statement. ‘They are hugely harmful, violate basic human rights, and the principles of the #OpenInternet’ – unless you offer an alternative to Twitter or happen to be the democratically-elected President of the most powerful nation on Earth, of course; then internet shutdowns are fine.
With Joe Biden already announcing his Identity Politics agenda to prioritise small business-owners on the colour of their skin – what a healing, unifying force this administration will be – a Facebook ‘friend’ of mine (whose pronouncements I keep in my newsfeed solely for the unintentional entertainment value) upheld the persecuted victim narrative so beloved of the lunatic fringe that now dominates the Left with a fresh statement. Or perhaps she was simply responding to another strand of the Project Fear narrative, one propagated by those whose one-time authority has been so damaged by their own arrogance, avarice and hubris that this is what they now resort to in order to reclaim some of the power they once wielded over the people. They can no longer command our respect, so they have to terrify us into obedience – whether equating the Right with fascism led by ‘Literally Hitler’ or generating the belief that the coronavirus is ‘Literally Bubonic Plague’. Anyway, my FB acquaintance expressed solidarity with our American cousins and was ‘scared for my friends, for POC and LGBTQ folks’ – seemingly only scared for those POC & LGBTQ folks who are beholden to an ideology that controls Congress, the Presidency, the mainstream media, social media, academia, Hollywood, publishing, the Arts, sport, and every imaginable institution. Trust me, my dear – the view’s not great from whichever bridge you’re on; but you’ve got some quite considerable clout on your side.
Things could be worse, mind, like back in the UK. With 12 official reasons for now stepping outdoors – a socially-distanced countryside walk with a cuppa and a friend apparently not one of them – the nation’s favourite soothsayer Chris Whitty is here to bring us comfort and joy. He may look like a 1950s ‘Eagle’ comic prediction of how human beings will evolve in the future, but the No.1 medical Mekon has assured us we can all get back to normal…in a few years. Look forward to it. Meanwhile, as Boris cycles beyond the five-mile limit, his Government has sneaked-in a loophole to its eviction armistice when it hoped nobody was looking. The ban on bailiffs turfing tenants out of their homes that was introduced last March may have been moderately extended, but little attention was given to the caveat that entitles landlords to press ahead with evictions of those whose rent hasn’t been paid courtesy of pandemic unemployment.
As a renter who has often had peace and quiet routinely disturbed by inconsiderate arseholes, I was sympathetic to the reasonable rule that enabled landlords to evict tenants in ‘exceptional circumstances’ such as antisocial behaviour; but the rent arrears of a maximum nine months that also made eviction legit regardless of the renters’ behaviour had been modified during the first lockdown to protect tenants who, through no fault of their own, had been made redundant thanks to the Government closing down their place of employment. However, that modification has suddenly been altered so that the protection for tenants whose arrears since last March had not previously been added to the standard nine months has vanished. If a tenant hasn’t been able to pay rent for more than six months, they are now entitled to be added to the expanding roll-call of Britain’s homeless.
With the latest stats showing 127,240 children are trapped in temporary lodgings and 1,440 households with children are marooned in bed & breakfast accommodation, there have been calls for councils to requisition the country’s considerable vacant housing stock via Compulsory Purchase Orders. I suspect the majority of those children aren’t receiving much in the way of online home schooling at the moment; but it’s not as though they’ll grow up to become Prime Minister, is it? The housing crisis was a boil that desperately needed lancing long before anyone had heard of Covid-19, but the economic and social ramifications of a pandemic are not the responsibility of those whose safety net has been abruptly whipped away by a Government that cannot keep a promise.
‘There are no facts,’ said Nietzsche, ‘only interpretations.’ Interpretations of facts are all around us today, and if facts aren’t available, so be it; we’ll just print opinion and pass it off as fact. It’s so difficult to know who to believe and who to trust that it’s inevitable people opt for whichever account fits their existing belief system. And the disseminators of fact know this only too well.
© The Editor