I’ve been having some strange thoughts recently. I don’t think my mind has taken well to the idea of “President Trump”, and it is trying to fit things together as best as it can, like in Bioshock Infinite. A central conceit of that game’s plot is that if you get moved into a different reality which isn’t entirely congruent with the one you came from, your mind automatically starts to make up memories where there weren’t any before, to try and reconcile the dissonance between the reality you knew and the one you currently inhabit – otherwise you’re left a twitching, bleeding mess. This feeling, of trying to reconcile between the nice somewhat orderly reality that we had before and the confusing, messy reality of a universe where “President Trump” is a phrase referring to an actual physical concept that exists, is what I’m going through at the moment.

“President Trump” is not a concept that should exist according to any known model of reality I can conceive of. I can at least accept that things like NAMBLA and the KKK have a physical reality, as much as I don’t want them to, because I can conceive of there being pederasts and racists and I can imagine those pederasts and racists having special little clubs where they can be awful pieces of shit together and sometimes go bowling. That is actually a reality-anchored concept that my brain has no trouble imagining. “President Trump” is not. When I think “President”, as in the elected official of the United States of America and not the brand of cheese, I think of serious people who were dedicated to public service in some way and had at least some measure of what sort of job they were running for, and the gravitas it both imbued upon them and also demanded of them. There is a “President” shaped hole in my brain and only certain things will fit into it. Every single Presidential candidate for both the Democrats and Republicans in my lifetime has, in some sense, fit neatly into that hole. Even George W Bush, in hindsight, had his good points, and did in some sense appear to care about governance even if he wasn’t very good at it. Mitt Romney was a man about as warm and human as the macOS System Preferences pane and he was at least someone who I could imagine as President without my mind core dumping. Donald Trump does not fit into that hole. It isn’t so much a square peg/round hole thing as a round hole and a peg that’s a shape that doesn’t actually have a name, with 27 sides and lots of acute and obtuse angles; one that tapers so even if you did somehow manage to put this eldritch abomination of a peg in the round hole it still wouldn’t go through, it’d just jut out of the top and look stupid.

What I’m trying to say is that while Mitt Romney and George W Bush fit into my holes cleanly, Donald Trump doesn’t, and when he doesn’t fit in my hole I have a dump. Hurr hurr.

Put bluntly, this has been a terrible year. So much tragedy and unhappiness has unfolded in 2016; not so much in a personal sense, where realistically speaking things have gone alright for me so far (touch wood) but in general the world in which I live is sliding down the shitter, taking all of the good things that existed in it along with it, starting with David Bowie and ending with the concept of liberal democracy, washed down the plughole by a wave of stupid. So much global awfulness is unfolding that I’m actually starting to have strange, metaphysical thoughts that somehow this is all an illusion; that I’m actually living in the personally-tailored hell of some low-level Weimar German government functionary who died 28 years ago and was reincarnated into a world only he can see, one in which everything just slowly gets worse and worse as some sort of punishment for all the horrible things he enabled. He’s getting to relive the Weimar years again, only this time in the UK, and he knows how it ends because he lived it and he’s screaming and screaming about how it’ll all end in tears and he knows it will just look at what happened it’s written down and everything but it just won’t stop. But none of it’s real, it’s just an illusionary solipsistic nightmare, designed to punish him/me for whatever he/I did, the bastard/cunt. It could be true, for all I know; I’ve never met Donald Trump, only seen him on screens, so for all I know he may not actually exist. I’ve never met Nigel Farage either. I know Jeremy Corbyn exists, I saw him on a stage once (doing the trick with the ping pong balls if I remember rightly, actually not), but I’m not so sure about Theresa May or David Cameron. The United States may not even exist, since I’ve never been there, only read about it and seen pictures. I live with an American but she may just be putting on an accent, that also doesn’t exist except for her and other imaginary “Americans”.

I know these thoughts are mad, and for the sake of the slower-witted of my two readers I don’t actually believe that the world around me is a non-existent Matrix-plus-sado-masochism illusion. Just that it feels that way at the moment just because of how shit the world is. Please do not call for the men in white coats, please, thank you.

Here’s a fun, and unlike my bollocks illusion theory above actually entirely true, story which further illustrates how this utter cunt of a year is ruining my mind. I was walking home from work the other night listening to music, and a particular song came on, one of my favourite songs by a band I like very much. And as I listened to this song, I suddenly had the intrusive thought: “<Lead singer of the band> is probably going to die this year, because it’s 2016 and of course he will because 2016.” Not in the sense of some psychotic episode – this wasn’t some hallucinated voice from God telling me that this bloke was going to die in the next month and a half (I’m deliberately not naming this person in case I jinx it, because if any year is going to see jinxes become reality it’s this one) – but just an idle thought, because that’s what 2016 has done. 2016 has, consummately, made it abundantly clear that absolutely nothing is secure any more, because anything you could love or that brought you joy can be snatched away at a moment’s notice because the world is a cunt and so is 2016 and so fucking there. I then had the sudden realisation that I’d never wanted to punch a period of time in the face before, but I did now. Fucking 2016. What else is it going to take away from us? We’ve already got Brexit, President Trump and half of a decent CD collection gone, anything else nice you want gone? Trees? Squirrels? Dairy Milk? I heard on the news last week that M&S was shutting a load of stores and it genuinely shit me up until I heard the full details; losing Percy Pigs would just about finish me (financially I mean, they have to license my big fat pink face for each one) but it would be just like 2016 to do that to us.

Put simply this whole year is doing funny things to me with its mix of absolute horror, repeated stupidity and a profound sense of complete impotence in the face of it all. So I tried to make myself better by writing a load of shit and it hasn’t helped. Oh well.

Fuck off Farage

I’ve long been someone critical of Nigel Farage’s sudden ubiquity in British politics. I did it again on Friday as part of a larger point about how fascists (a category I gladly include Farage in given his meanderings about violent unrest and marches protesting against the independent judiciary) get unearned screen time, which they use (surprise!) to spread fascism. Back in 2013 I noticed that, very suddenly, Farage was everywhere. Ukip was everywhere; it was being mentioned, talked of in hushed tones as being a political earthquake in the making, as being something to watch out for. Never mind that this party had, at this point, never legitimately won a single seat in Parliament – its sole elected representation was in the European Parliament, a body which it does not want to be engaged with, and then as a transparent protest vote. We are now three years and one general election down the line, and Ukip have one MP. 14million voters, mind, but one MP – down from a high of two, both defectors from the Conservative Party. Even the Liberal Democrats in their post-meltdown phase managed to get 8 non-defector MPs in a reasonably fair fight. The Greens managed to win a seat on their own merits too, for all the good it’s done them.

Farage has achieved full national recognition while having done nothing to earn it. He is a household name but nobody can name a single concrete positive change he has actually made to anyone’s lives, despite a full seventeen years of elected office which he has, as is well known, used solely to claim expenses while not turning up to meetings of committees on which he sits. The reason nobody can name a single concrete legislative success for him is that he has none. At least Donald Trump could sell hotel rooms. He is an odious individual whose stock in trade is telling lies, talking nonsense, dog-whistling and barking his own peculiar parochial worldview at anyone who asks, a worldview in which it is him (an ex-commodities trader who has been in politics for decades) against the “establishment”, which can roughly be defined as anyone who is not Ukip or Nigel Farage. Despite all of the above and the fact that he is, in the final analysis, quite dim, Farage has been gifted platforms by our national media and his bullshit opinions given credence he and they simply do not deserve. Seventeen years in politics and he has achieved nothing. His pet cause of seeking a vote to the EU didn’t even get achieved because of him, it got achieved in spite of him and his general repulsiveness, with other (marginally) less objectionable people taking over the starring role in the campaign.

This brings us to today. Less than a week after the US election, and on Remembrance Sunday of all days, Farage had flown out to Trump Tower to brown-nose America’s new Orange Julius, and in the process offered to be a go-between between the British government and the new Trump administration (may God have mercy on our souls). The Government, as it should, promptly slapped down Farage’s kind offer while reiterating that it is actually the Government and Farage is not.

I’m sorry, but who the fuck does this jumped up little prick think he is? How dare he – how dare he – decide that he is somehow qualified to be some sort of important diplomatic figure solely because he wants to be one? How hubristic do you have to be to be a, let’s be frank, no-mark politician who has accomplished fuck all of any significance except riling up bigots and enriching yourself at taxpayers’ expense and then think you have any business at all interposing yourself between your country and another? He doesn’t represent the United Kingdom; he barely represents Ukip; the people he should be representing in the position he was actually elected to serve in he doesn’t because he’s focused on his sole real interest, that is, promoting himself. He has about as much right to represent the British government or people as I do. How fucking dare he?

More than anything else, this is what has finally – finally – led to me losing my rag completely with Farage; this newfound sense that he somehow represents anything beyond his own pisspot party, and the sheer arrogance of trying to sell himself as an unofficial ambassador to the British people (not to mention disrespect to the actual government he’s seeking to partially usurp). The man has no redeeming qualities, no meaningful elected office, no actual sense of public duty and no interests beyond self-promotion. He should be laughed at, ignored and given the exact amount of attention that his actual qualifications deserve – nil. Fuck him and all of his ilk.

Everything is hopeless

I really, really, really can’t put anything more starkly or certainly than the title. The entire liberal democratic order which we have been part of for so long has been totally upended by a cancer of resurgent fascism. If Brexit was a symptom of this cancer then Trump is a metastasis to the brain and lungs, and a sign that this cancer is both aggressive and terminal.

The battle is lost because anyone with any power or influence who could conceivably have fought against this turn of events has been enabling it and allowing it to grow, and the will to actively fight it in the way it needs to be fought is not there. It is precisely the fault of the same sort of chattering “moderates” or “independents” or “centrists” who, with Brexit, decided that what was directed by media owners, Conservative MPs and the blatant fucking fraud that is Nigel Farage, a commodities trader and then career politician fashioned into a working class hero anti-politician by nothing more than skilful marketing and ignorance, was actually a revolution of the put-upon and neglected white working class. It is the fault of the same people who decided that the response to xenophobia was to reward it with “understanding” and attention rather than principle. Inasmuch as the white working class did vote for Brexit and Trump for economic reasons, they were played; encouraged to vote against their own interest and ignore the actual cause of what has made their lives so thoroughly shitty (that being the progressive rollback of trades unionism and deliberate destruction of manufacturing starting in the Thatcher era). Brexit is not going to make the UK richer, and Trump is not going to make anyone’s life better or more comfortable except for the racist frog avatar people who have been emboldened and feel that the wind is blowing in their direction. They feel that way because they have been and it is.

There is a reason why the right way to deal with fascists, racists, homophobes and other such cunts is and was not to allow them a level playing field and compete in the “marketplace of ideas”, with the smug assumed knowledge that nice and noble liberal democratic ideals will beat them handily due to their moral correctness; the correct response is to deny them a platform to the greatest possible extent, because fascists do not give a fuck about your nice liberal democratic ideals of open debate, they do not give a fuck about the marketplace of ideas and they certainly don’t give any fucks at all about finding truth, sitting down around a table and finding compromise and a better way forward or any of this highfaluting Enlightenment bullshit that the dead white men that wrote the US constitution thought would lead to perfection. Being afforded a platform is what they want; it gets their foot in the door and gives them legitimacy so they can spout plausible sounding populist nonsense and stir up hatred; it gives them the grounds to say that their ideas as much an equal choice in the marketplace of ideas as anyone else’s. They explicitly do not care about the rights of free speech and assembly they demand and mourn every time their bigotry is censured except to the extent that they want the opportunity to spread more of it. They do not care about the truth or coherence or even basic consistency of what they are saying, because they explicitly reject your Enlightenment values of reasoned debate and discourse and wish to substitute their own of sheer brute force. Every single one of the “moderates” who argues that discourse is the solution here seems to forget that what ended Nazism as the despicable force in the world that it was was not reasoned factual debate, it was a solid asskicking by the UK, US and USSR followed by the government that replaced it completely expunging Germany of Nazism in all its forms – its language, its institutions, its symbols and the denial of its crimes against humanity being erased and banned except to the extent of leaving its beaten, rotting head on a pike as a warning to others.

But this time around we, as a people, didn’t learn a lesson and we didn’t no-platform anyone, we fought against no-platforming because we naively believed that the truth will out and we’ll soundly defeat these bastards with the sheer force of words and rhetoric, ignoring that their chief advantage is that they don’t give a shit about the rules of discourse and we do, leaving us restrained and them not. The Daily Mail, Fox News, Breitbart, The Sun, the more obscure derpy places like Townhall, WorldNetDaily and American Thinker all thrive and disseminate complete horseshit and hatred because they are not required to care about the truth of what they publish or broadcast, they don’t particularly wish to care about it and so they don’t, while The Guardian, the Independent, the Times (both New York and London) and even the Daily Telegraph see it as a noble duty to print the truth (as, rightly, should everyone). They fight by Queensberry Rules while the Sun and Breitbart grab the nearest chair and prepare to smash it over everyone’s heads.

Some may object to my characterisation of Farage and Trump as fascists, calling this hyperbole. These people can go fuck themselves as they are part of the problem. Trump and Farage both hold in common a contempt for liberal, pluralistic democratic institutions and checks and balances, exemplified by Farage’s outrage over Parliament being required to sanction our exit from the EU (and his attendant call for a march on the High Court so that it would “listen to the will of the people”) and Trump’s desire to “open up libel laws” so as to be able to sue media sources that dared to print nasty things about him, or even to print what he actually said – in direct contravention to the US’ own constitution, a document I honestly doubt Trump has the attention span to read, let alone comprehend. They both wilfully stirred up, at best, fear of if not hatred of an “other” – in both men’s cases, refugees from Syria, in Trump’s case also Mexicans and to a certain extent African-Americans and Jews. They both have an express desire to place the nation state, the only good nation state in their world view, above all else, and see fit to equate whatever ends they want as good for the country and all else as expressly bad and traitorous to it. They are fascists, by any reasonable definition, and their platform should have been denied, and it wasn’t.

Special mention here goes to the BBC, who more than any other organisation (even the proudly Ukip-loving Daily Express) legitimised Farage as part of our discourse. Every gap on a panel show he could fill, every political discussion programme he could find a slot on, every possible chance he could take to put his nasty frog-like face in front of an audience as if he was a serious contributor to the political process and the public conversation, rather than a nasty and unprincipled anarchic piece of work who wanted to tear the whole thing down and remake it in his own image, they gave him and he took. Even as he gave tentative endorsement for political violence in the event of immigration not being controlled to his liking, the BBC continued to almost uniquely coddle him and allow him a platform. That comment alone, as horrifying as it is revealing, should have been the point at which the nation’s media stopped giving him oxygen, but that was a few years after they started giving him a platform totally unmerited by either Ukip’s actual support or the quality of their arguments, and the damage had already been done. By comparison, Trump reached his state of sheer repellence about twelve seconds after his campaign started and as such he should have been treated as the horror clown he is rather than given the hours upon hours of media attention he did not in any way deserve. The final insult of this was thrice placing this buffoon, this awful exemplar of everything with diction as poor as his reasoning, on a stage opposite Hillary Clinton, an intelligent woman whose thirty year career of public service in positions of great responsibility had undeniably improved the lives of many through her efforts, whose accomplishments seemed to have been placed on a level pegging with thirty years of grift, sleaze and literal bankruptcy.

So what, we just no-platform now, stop this before it can get truly ugly? It’s too late. The cancer has taken root and spread, and it is now vandalising the property of minorities, grabbing women’s pussies on subways and intimidating everyone Trump cast shade over during his campaign. Moreover, the people who support this shit do not care to listen to your facts or your solutions, they are vengeful, spiteful people and are thoroughly convinced of their own popular support. Nobody believes themselves to be a villain, even someone shouting at a Mexican-looking person to go back home from their car, spray painting a swastika on a black church or groping a woman because they feel they can now gleefully do so. Social media also plays a part in this, both in the sense of allowing both “sides” to create echo chambers where they can further have their belief of moral rectitude reinforced and then of allowing one side to be thoroughly brigaded and trampled by another that, as above, does not care about your mores or your rights or your well being or your state of mind or anything else beyond that and will direct as many death threats and revenge porn pictures towards you as their bandwidth permits. (Thanks, by the way, Twitter – even Reddit, a site which has swallowed the “valuable discourse” bollocks whole, tired of their group of awful pricks and did something to try and wall them off from the rest of their site, no matter how ineffective; why can’t you?)

Here is the real talk, for the US. This is going to get worse before it gets better and it will be a very painful process both ways. The incoming Trump administration is not “draining the swamp”, it is draining itself of decent public servants like Barack Obama (a man who, frankly, is too good for the US and is probably now fully aware of that fact, or should be) and refilling the empty pit that remains with discredited, corrupt pieces of shit like Newt Gingrich, a man so free of scruples he let his mistress suck his dick in a car parked out in front of his house with his wife inside. It has already undertaken to make several truly idiotic decisions, such as ceasing all trade with China and Japan – a move that threatens to further destabilise the world economy, and is already sending the Japanese Yen into freefall. Trump does not see the point of NATO, an organisation which has quite effectively kept the peace and keeps imperialism – actual imperialism – at bay, further increasing the chance of war and lessening stability. He doesn’t believe climate change exists, a truly baffling position to take given that so many parts of the US are so susceptible to it. The US is heading for the sort of introspective autarky that North Korea has made such a blinding success of, simply because its leader is a mentally-stunted clown who transparently believes that everything – everything – is a zero-sum game, where any benefit another country, faction, race, sexuality or party may derive is a loss to his own. His most vocal supporters are white supremacists and the alt-right (but I repeat myself), and they are practically frolicking with their new-found freedom to be pieces of shit without fear of censure since law enforcement overwhelmingly supports Trump. If someone voted for Trump, they cannot claim they didn’t vote for this, because they did. Trump is a package deal, and that package includes all of the above.

What about the UK? We’re fucked too, as I previously wrote about. The government has taken the line that the referendum must be followed through on, and does not care about the consequences because it is politically advantageous for them. We are going to be leaving the EU without a cushion to land on, and we have practically no means of making a “success” of Brexit as our Prime Minister repeatedly says, possibly since at this point she is plainly being wilfully deluded in the interests of expediency. Our best hope would be if we were to become a nation somewhat like Japan, but frankly our population is not as educated as theirs, we do not have the manufacturing capacity to have anywhere near their level of self-sufficiency, our culture is nowhere close to theirs and we do not have anywhere near the level of unique skills or must-have products that they do (I don’t see anyone particularly pining for the return of the Austin Allegro while the Nissans we make on Japan’s behalf get bought up in their thousands, nor are Pye TVs particularly wanted in comparison to Panasonic.) We are witnessing the rise of an ugly nationalism and a contempt for the democratic institutions that we urgently need, and a sense that these can and should be ignored if they don’t go with what some assumed majority wants – to the extent that this is stoked by economic factors this can only get worse. There is no mandate for any of this that is in any way defensible, and yet the referendum is being treated as the unalloyed voice of the people while ignoring the almost 50% (probably more, at this point) of the country who wanted nothing like what is happening now. We are also in the position of left-wing positions being instinctively seen as childish, unrealistic or just plain stupid, whereas right-wing ones are seen as adult, realistic, sane and inevitable even when they lead to poor outcomes, largely because our media and political agenda is set by right-wingers and even our less right-wing sources are not at all impervious to their sway. There is an opposition in the country that does actually have some rather good solutions, however whatever the right-wing media has done to discredit them is equally matched by how thoroughly they have discredited themselves through infighting, incompetence on the part of its leadership and a complete failure to realise that if centrism and triangulation didn’t fix things before, it certainly won’t now as politics becomes more polarised and less amenable to such things.

To conclude this somewhat unfocused screed, I have thoroughly had it up to here with this notion that what I really need to do is understand this supposed white working class anger that has the potential to lead to so much destruction and horror and then try and go from there. No and fuck you – I shouldn’t, because every single mote of outrage I have seen from this white working class has not been at anything that could be seen as a realistic cause for their indisputably poor lot in life, and they have clearly not been voting for or endorsing anyone that could help them; the anger has been vented at minorities and scapegoats and long-standing democratic institutions which are meant to ensure that no, “the people” (or whichever group I am supposed to assume represent “the people”) can’t have whatever moronic whim passes through their heads and that there are some principles more important than holding an election or a referendum and having whichever side wins rule the people who didn’t like kings. Principles like rule of law, the sovereignty of Parliament, judicial review, or for that matter not having peoples’ windows bricked because they’re not the right colour or because they either like genitals that are the same as theirs, have or wish they had ones different from the ones they were born with or both. Furthermore, I personally resent the idea that ignorance is somehow superior to knowledge, that ignorance even deserves to be given the same amount of thought or consideration as knowledge or that an ability and desire to think about things past a reflexive surface level makes you somehow elitist or even traitorous, and I am disturbed by the ever-growing cancerous idea that it is.

But as I say, we are too late, and this is hopeless. This genie is now thoroughly out of the bottle, a bell has been rung that cannot be un-rung, and we are all going to have to simply respond, react to and resist it as best as we possibly can, since there is no way now of actually halting it, only perhaps slowing it down, and the institutions that are supposed to protect democracy, pluralism and anyone who dares to be different from the norm are being undermined and infected. I can only hope, deeply, that fewer people suffer this time fascism surges than did last time.