It is difficult to find an appropriate response to the abandonment of the rule of law that was approved by 326 members of the British parliament last night. As it happened, I had been thinking about what is to come for a while, and eventually decided to tweet a thread on the subject. I lay this thread out here, with some small annotations for a non-twitter medium.
This may end up a longish thread, but I've been pondering how or whether I should tweet it over several days. Most people in my timeline, and I suspect most people in the UK, are rightfully outraged by Westminster's antics, & that outrage extends not just to the Tories, as the architects, but to the opposition parties, often the enablers. We may already have forgotten that, some months back, the Tories gave themselves power to "override" Parliament and make laws dogmatically (and ideologically). Last night saw a furthering of this.
We were outraged when Cummings broke the law on lockdown, but there were no consequences; he got away with it. They are now extending that privilege to any law at all they don't like, which is the wording of the innocuous sounding "Internal Market Bill".
We in Scotland cling to a hope that our parliament may be able to find a way to put some distance between us and Westminster. But last night's bill gives the Tories power to nullify any law coming from Holyrood, at whim. Our democracy in Scotland is no longer relevant, as Westminster now has the power to rule absolutely. Any lingering doubts of "They'd never do that" were wiped away last night.
Many of us, myself included, find this deeply disturbing, worrying and hope-sapping. The trouble is, we have to find a way of coping with this.
The key issue I want to get off my chest with this thread is that it seems to me that this is just the start of many years of a downward spiral until we get to the true depths of Westminster/Tory corruption, self-serving, arrogance and imperiousness.
By the end, Britain will be nothing like the place we now know of ourselves and understand. We will have been remade in their image. And the only thing that will end them is themselves, when their last manufactured enemy is themselves.
What I am getting at is that this is a long term turn the country has taken. We who find ourselves against it must find ways of opposing the society that these evils are creating, and at the same time do so in a way that retains our sanity. Merely expressing outrage is no longer enough, getting things off our chests (like this) is no longer enough. The time for that is long past. We will need to find other ways of opposing, for the sake of looking for ourselves in the right.
We also need to remember that the next big step downwards is violence on the part of the ruling regime. (We must never be a part of that.) Just as with what has happened since 2016, this will become institutionalised quickly. We may see it coming but by then it will be too late. The Westminster regime will not be able to help itself, because the ability to inflict violence is part of the depth power madness plumbs.
So what can be done? Politically, every bit helps, and it may be worth supporting political parties who do not collaborate, or who collaborate least with the ruling regime. But now is also the time to change one's mindset.
The direction Westminster has taken us shows that we are deluding ourselves if we believe we are in charge of our destinies. The bubble of our illusion of democratic power should now be well and truly burst. We need to rid ourselves of the notion that we are in charge of history.
Some will find that too much to bear, and take actions they believe to be necessary, at a risk they believe to be acceptable. Some will find other activity to influence, nudge and prepare. These things may be required. Many others, perhaps most, will start blocking out the reality of what is going on, and try to live their lives as far removed from these things as possible. Perhaps they are to be envied. Others will find liberation in understanding that we are living in a dark period of British history, and a cursory understanding of the last 500 years shows that these dark periods are not rare. Why liberation? Because it may help to develop and detached but involved view of what is happening. We may be powerless politically and at a national cultural scale, but we still have agency over our own standards & heritage.
Finally, may I refer you to my pinned tweet. (This refers to The White Rose movement, a group of young people who saw what their elders could not, and acted, paying a dreadful price, but ultimately leading the way by their non-violent acts of resistance. See here and here.) Listen to younger people, as they may have already set the agenda for what happens when this dreadful time is over. But it won't be over soon, and it's going to get worse before it gets better. I say that not to extinguish hope but to suggest we should be lifting our eyes to that time of relief, the better to encourage a more disinterested attitude to the excesses over which we now have little agency, and so to retain our sanity, our goodness & our humanity in the face of the unspeakable.
I must add that these thoughts are informed by living in a period of feeling hopeless at the height of apartheid South Africa. That experience has taught that, when the corner is turned, it's turned just as quickly. There is much for which to hope, but it's not in the short term.
So don't get outraged too much at each new low. Don't fall into their traps but form your own views. Don't extend the malevolence of the ruling regime to your own life, which, if you do, helps them. Be kind, generous and every other good attribute. Every time they land a low blow respond with a kiss of love to your family, community and strangers. Look at what is happening, but don't be part of it; it does not concern you & offers you nothing. When your outrage boils over, donate, talk, lift up, do good, until it subsides.
You have the power and the ability to convert all this evil to good, where you stand right now, no further. That is enough. These are renewal skills that are needed.
I hope we are all still part of the rebuilding process once the destruction currently going on finds its end.
(I should add, but did not tweet, that I hope I am utterly and completely wrong in all of this.)