Leadership in the west is in crisis. Post-Brexit the European Union will be faced with the necessity of further political integration and the internal resistance this will inevitably provoke. It may be decades before the EU is in a position again to move from consolidation to expansion. Brexit has put a significant dent in British soft power. The increasing isolation of London will push it closer to the point of becoming a US satellite, making it ever more likely to follow US hard power policies.
Walkers Shortbread has landed itself in a spot of bother over a marketing decision. The family run business thought it would be a good idea to launch a union flag shortbread tin, thinking the Scottish public would see in it nothing more than a Scottish company doing what it takes to make a buck. One would be forgiven for wondering where the heck Jim Walker, the firm’s managing director, has been for the last few years. There is no one in Scotland in 2018 who thinks the flag of the United Kingdom – the “butcher’s apron” – is a politically neutral emblem of national identity and patriotism.
Trust? Kinship? Not likely. Britain is the same old heart-scald it has always been to Ireland. Nothing has changed. This should be a lesson to Scotland and Wales. If people think the English state is the geopolitical equivalent of a bout of haemorrhoids while they’re trying to free themselves from it, they should consider how those who have already beaten it are treated.
Alex Salmond’s choice to broadcast his talk show on Russia Today, given that he would not be given such a luxury in the United Kingdom, has ruffled a few feathers. The British media and unionist voices in Scotland want to present this as Russian interference in our democracy, and in doing this they have deliberately re-ignited the fuse of the Russophobic prejudice they installed. This was easy for them to do because, as I have admitted, the fear of Russia is still very much part of our cultural psyché. All the old McCarthyist buttons are being pressed.
Those of us critical of the cynical use of the poppy as a recruitment tool and a means of ramping up militaristic British nationalist sentiment have found ourselves under serious fire for daring to question the neutrality of the symbol. With the obvious exception of elected right-wing unionists, people are expected to meekly accept the unassailable truth of the poppy as an emblem of remembrance for everyone who has died in all wars.
The truth is that Spain has narrowly avoided an armed conflict in Catalunya, and no country has done more to provoke a war in Europe in recent decades than has Spain in Catalunya. Thanks mainly, we can be sure, to the misguided trust of the Catalan leadership in the honest brokerage of the EU and the European states this has not happened. Yet, now having learned this lesson, we cannot be certain that any similar event will end so “peacefully.”
Do we negotiate with these thugs? How did that pan out for the socialists, communists, church leaders, and liberal politicians in Germany after 1933? Not very well! Before the roundups of Jews, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Gypsies began these “traitors” – wasn’t that what Jo Cox’s killer was shouting as he hacked her to death? – were picked up in short order and interned in concentration camps like Buchenwald, Dachau, and Sachsenhausen, where they were tortured and murdered.
If you are thinking what I am describing here is apocalyptic, you’re right. This is apocalyptic. Not in the modern sense of an end of the world, but in the proper sense; an unveiling – a cataclysm between the ages, a laying bare and an unleashing of the aggressions that the dying age has stored up in sowing the seeds of its own destruction. Yes, I fear we are about to reap the whirlwind.