I happened to be reading Guy Gavriel Kay’s latest in June, which seemed grimly apt. A common pattern in several of his novels — though perhaps less in Children of Earth and Sky, as it turns out — is of events accumulating into a huge societal transformation, whose enormity is not apparent until afterwards. Errors of judgement, missed opportunities, subtly shifting political alliances and conflicts of interest conspire to bring about the end of a golden age, destroy a fragile civilisation, harden and coarsen and entrench attitudes in a wearied population. Life goes on — what else should it do? — just a bit less well. Only in retrospect do we perceive the knife edge on which it was so finely balanced.
These are fictions, of course, heightened and romanticised, and who knows how well they capture anything of the real historical moments on which Kay draws — the fall of the Tang and Northern Song, Byzantium and al-Andalus. An appeal to a Golden Age is always dangerous. Nostalgia corrupts; just look around us now.
Still, it certainly feels like one of those moments. A collective surrender to the imp of the perverse; a yearning for things to be made worse. And it’s not over yet, of course.
I’ve intermittently felt the urge to write about it, but it’s been difficult to summon much enthusiasm for blogging amidst the ruins, the trembling ground, the overwhelming sense of unmooring. A part of my identity is leaching away.
In the poisoned discourse of 2016, we are told that it is arrogant and elitist and anti-democratic to complain about the abrogation of a whole population’s rights at the whim of a narrow majority of actively-deceived voters, to rail against the generational betrayal of the young by delusional elderly racists, or to point out that contradictory goals do not suddenly become reconcilable just because an uneasy coalition of people with opposing aims all declared a desire for their own particular fantasy of not the status quo.
We voted for magic. Now bring me my unicorn!
Well, fuck that shit. Fuck the vanity of uninformed opinion, the false equivalence of visceral prejudice with expertise, the active disdain for reality. Fuck the shameless lies and pandering of nauseating hucksters like Gove and Johnson, peddling random policy baubles and then backing away with an insouciant shrug. Fuck the sociopathic (and ongoing) rabble-rousing of haterags like the Express and Mail and the cowed pseudo-balance of the BBC. Fuck the insistence of the ignorant that their vapid views be listened to and taken seriously.
That seething mass of mutually-incompatible twattery who make up the 52% are wrong and their misexpression of misdesire deserves no fucking respect at all. Literally every single reason for voting Leave boils down to one or both of evil and stupid.
I am prepared to accept that most of those people are not evil.