Trading in Fear

by Michael Drew on June 27, 2016

Michael Drew · Politics The WE Cycle · June 27, 2016

Pendulum in Action, political climate, We Cycle, referendum in BritainIn last week’s post on the change to our current WE Cycle, I spoke about how our beautiful WE Cycle dream of working together for the common good has lost some of its momentum, and more and more people are feeling that this working together has become a burden, a duty, an unwilling obligation and a terrible sacrifice.

You can see this in the current political climate, and the recent results of the referendum in Britain, where a majority voted to leave the European Union, casting into turmoil the future of many young people who wished to maintain a freedom of movement – and who felt themselves part of a larger community.

The writer Laurie Penny wrote a remarkable essay that encapsulates where we should be going, or how we as a community should ideally feel, and where society is actually going. She writes, “I’m frightened that those who wanted ‘their’ country back will get their wish, and it will turn out to be a hostile, inhospitable place for immigrants, ethnic minorities, queer people – everyone and anyone who wasn’t included when [United Kingdom Independent Party leader ] Nigel Farage proclaimed victory for “ordinary, decent people” this morning in front of a posse formed entirely of angry-looking, whey-faced blokes in suits.”

She has seen the dangerous turn in the WE Cycle.

Penny goes on:

I wish I could tell you that we’re about to turn this around. I wish I could tell you that we’re about to collectively realize, even at this late hour, the magnitude of our mistake – that we will discover a new capacity for tolerance, a new resilience, a way to recover ourselves and remember our common humanity…. Today, I don’t want to make any promises. All I see is a lot of racist crowing on the internet and campaigners being told to go back where they came from. I’ve already had people telling me it won’t be long before a new Kristallnacht, and people like me had better go back – where? I was born in London. …

This Britain is not my Britain. I want my country back. I want my scrappy, tolerant, forward-thinking, creative country, the country of David Bowie, not Paul Daniels; the country of Sadiq Khan, not Boris Johnson; the country of J K Rowling, not Enid Blyton; the country not of Nigel Farage, but Jo Cox. That country never existed, not on its own, no more than the country the Leave campaign promised to take us to in their tin-foil time machine. Britain, like everywhere else, has always had its cringing, fearful side, its cruel delusions, its racist fringe movements, its demagogues preying on the dispossessed. Those things are part of us as much as beef wellington and bad dentistry. But in happier times, those things do not overwhelm us. We do not let bad actors reading bad lines in bad faith walk us across the stage to the scaffold. We are better than this.

We are turning on each other, and voting against our best interests, because we feel hopeless. Or because we want to blame others. Or we just want to retreat into ourselves without thinking about the consequences.

This is where we’re heading. And it’s not pretty.

We’ll look at this more in next week’s post.

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