the search for identity and vision

By any historical measure the British citizen has never been safer, more prosperous, and capable of fulfilling their potential. Yet the polls predict that roughly half of voters are prepared to leap into the unknown tomorrow. This mirrors the mentality of tens-of-millions of Americans who are ready to walk a path led by Trump or Sanders. Why is this?

Part of it is the harsh cruel reality of modern quarterly report drive capitalism. If you make refrigerators in Indiana you might get fired so a worker in Mexico can do your job for a fraction of the cost thus adding 0.0034% to your company’s next earnings report. Same goes for your average British steelworker who has to lose his life’s work because China’s wise state planners couldn’t do simple math to determine basic supply and demand.

Unfortunate as these kinds of devastating situations are, they are not the majority of voters. They do not explain the society wide shifts in tone or direction. To get the total answer you need to go deeper and consider identity and vision.

Vision

Vision is where you see yourself, your family, and your country going. It’s the broader ideals and goals that propel a people. These things matter even if you’re just shilling cosmetics or sitting in a cubicle every day. It’s a natural human need to be a part of a greater whole. But a coherent society requires competent and inspirational leadership. And if the modern world is lacking in anything, it’s high caliber leadership. Of the G7 group of leading democracies, every single one is currently led by a career politician. None of them have really lived an average normal life outside the world of politics. It shows. It reflects the modern incarnations of machine politics where most major lever pullers in the executive and legislative bodies are rich, connected, and have more in common with each other than the average voter, regardless of political party.

People tend to notice when a leader cannot intellectually relate to them. They pick up on this rather quickly, whether it’s on the factory floor or the presidential podium. Cameron is a cartoon caricature of an elite aloof toff. Clinton has openly admitted she hasn’t driven a car in like two decades. None of these people have ever had real jobs. They’ve never been fired. They’ve never had to struggle with where their next meal was coming from. They’ve mostly never encountered real adversity beyond the typical mudslinging encounters of the political parlor room.

From adversity and failure a human can find themselves utterly crushed. Or, a person can use those dark times to build their character and strength. Using these fortified qualities a leader can thus better relate to the citizen whose pain at one point they might have experienced. And certainly, having undergone their own versions of hell, a leader built from adversity is better able to manage the crises of the day.

When a leader can’t relate to the voter, or when a leader appears incapable or powerless in confronting the evils of the day, then there is virtually no chance that a vision for the future can be imparted upon the minds of society as a whole. And without that, it’s thus left to any number of nutcases to fill the void.

Corbyn, Trump, Sanders, Farage, Le Pen, all these folks have some fairly decent ideas for the future, at least worth discussing. Mostly though, they seem to have a whole bunch of really terrible ideas. But they make up for their insanity by their ability to impart a vision for the future on anybody willing to listen. And people feed off of that because the traditional leaders of the day are otherwise unable or unwilling to provide any compelling vision at all.

Identity

As a subset of vision, identity is what a person feels they are a part of. In the simplest terms of Brexit, it’s does a voter feel that are British, or English, or European, or whatever. Increasingly throughout modern democracies the identity of a person is becoming more local. Scots see themselves as Scottish, Catalonians over Spanish, Texans over Americans, and so on. This is partially tied to the lack of decent leadership already discussed. When remote, aloof, national leadership seems unable to solve the problems of the day, folks are inherently going to look for answers with their local leaders. In part this isn’t necessarily a bad thing considering your local mayor has far, far more impact upon your life then the president does anyways. Are bigger problems created however, if we keep driving ourselves to the local level?

Also a factor is the almost total loss of a driving national identity in most Western democracies. Before 1945 the British identity was the Empire. Between 1945 and 1991 it was defense of liberal democracy against communism. What’s Britain’s national identity about today? Judging by the major campaign issues of the last general election, it’s NHS fees, bus fares, and tweaking the edges of welfare eligibility payments. These are not the topics that inspire a Scot to remain a fervent Brit.

The same pattern is beginning to take hold in an America that is increasingly unhappy trying to play the thankless dangerous role of world cop. After 15 years of quasi-war it’s still quite possible for the same enemies of September 11th to slay Americans and Afghans at will. If you lost your job to Mexico, or will spend 20 years paying off student loan debt, or pay every check into a Social Security account you know you’ll never see, then it becomes a bit harder to step back and give a pleasing sigh during the Star Spangled Banner. And if all of this be the case, why should you care about the American dream or what happens in Syria?

A more common response to all of this is to turn inward, to seek the answers in a far more local setting, with the people and values closest to you. With the historical roots that are essentially unshakeable no matter how you slice geography or political structure. Maybe there’s just something to be viscerally said for keeping a people together if you share the same time zone, weather, football team, and drinking water supply.

Brexit

The appeal of Brexit is the clear benefits of identity and vision. The identity is pure Britannia. The vision is a United Kingdom unshackled from an incompetent, distant leadership incapable of battling the problems of the day. It’s certainly an appealing vision. But the question at hand is can such a vision and identity actually deliver? I’m not so sure.

Leave aside the possibility if you can, that the Scots might want out of a UK not in the EU, or that the Northern Irish are going to struggle to come to grips with a full EU border to the south. Even if the UK can hold together post-Brexit, what would this new Britannia actually be? What is the UK without an Empire, without a direct tie to Europe, or without the ever-present struggle for freedom?

Without any of these things, I suspect the answer is that Great Britain (and certainly England alone) is a fourth rate nation struggling on the fringes. Britannia, whatever that is today, requires Europe. It isn’t going to magically reappear outside the handcuffs of the EU. Localism isn’t going to somehow deliver the British economy from Brussels. The British economy requires Europe to survive, and that’s a tall order for an angry EU to fulfill post-Brexit.

To which the Leave campaign’s answer seems to be the creation of a new Britannic vision, a new British Singapore, a new island nation trading post free from that old sick man of Europe. I suppose this is possible, I just don’t see how it happens unless the answer lies in totally going all in with the already active policy of sucking up to China to become their Singapore of Europe. Cameron is of course knee deep in courting China, but post-Brexit this effort would have to go into overdrive. And is this new Britannia prepared to sell its soul on human rights, democracy, and freedom in order to economically survive? I’m not sure it’d have a choice.

Take away Brussels tomorrow and the UK doesn’t automatically become a free little bird in an open sky. The dirty little secret of modern Britain is that the dark master of bureaucracy does not reside in Brussels, he resides in London. In the UK, tasks, regulation, and enforcement of major local issues that in America would be handled by local city councils and mayors, are in Britain handled by bureaucrats in London. One of the more beneficial and inspirational efforts of Cameron’s tenure has been to try and remedy this by pushing more power back to the local level, but they are a long, long way from anything approaching what most Americans would consider reasonable local government. In or out of the EU, this problem doesn’t get solved overnight.

Localism

I don’t have a cure for any of this. It’s a creepy scary dark time in our course of history and I fear nobody has any real answers. And that there aren’t any real leaders out there prepared to tackle the major issues of the day. But I’m not sure Trump or Brexit or whatever are the answers either. I just don’t think they provide the solutions that people seek.

The problem with this new localism is it tends to overlook the reality that everything we do in our modern societies depends not on the local but on the global. Whether it’s containerized shipping, call centers, cheap diapers at Walmart, or the nice reality that World War III is not coming tomorrow, our world as it stands today is defined not by Brits being Brits but by the ever increasing connections happening between people worldwide.

It’s a rather jarring situation that nobody’s really ready to handle. It’s uncomfortable for people to wrap their minds around the construct that what could happen to their pocketbook or their way of life is not really guided by them, but also perhaps not their own leadership either. A president Trump would have to wake up real quick once he realized how much of the American economy is wrapped up in China. A post-Brexit led Johnson would have a real hard time solving the economy when so much of Britain’s trade is wrapped up in the ability for Europe simply to say no to him.

Whether we like it or not, we have built a world where our vision and identity are not local but global. We can still be British or American or whatever we prefer, but what we cannot do is pull backward in time. We may not be ready for a true global identity, perhaps not ever, but the allure to reestablish our identity and vision to the local level isn’t the answer. We’re simply too connected for that.

Prediction

Tomorrow’s vote is likely to run very close but I’ll throw my guess that Remain just edges out Leave. When the undecided voter gets into the booth tomorrow, they’ll still have that ever common human trait that fears the unknown. Lots of folks are tempted to dive into the uncertainty but I suspect the small percentage that will turn the vote one way or the other is going to push for stability, for the certainty of the same. So Remain wins, but by just a hair. Then we’re left with the broader issues outlined above. It’ll be quite the long road to solve them.

Shakespeare’s skull is missing; we’re on the case

In some of Earth’s most ancient cultures, it is said the soul can never fully be at rest if the body is un-whole. Poor Shakespeare is missing his skull, and his soul might thus be trapped in some kind of weird Valhalla purgatory where he is compelled to club fight the same thug over and over again until his skull is reunited with the rest of his bleached skeleton.

We, at The Arcturus Project, are here to help. Based upon our belligerent preliminary research, my Guests and I propose the following unhinged scenario and vicious plan:

1) We build a time machine and fly back to 1794 where we will intercept the grave robbers on site. Rather than liquidate them immediately, as my Guests desire, we will preserve the timeline by sedating them, giving them a fake skull, and returning the original skull to the grave with the thieves none the wiser.

 

Shakespeare.jpg

We’re on it, bro!

 

2) Should we fail in our attempt to fold space and time via a machine, we’ll have to buckle down and search in today’s realm. Naturally our first stop will be Derek Jacobi’s hallowed mansion. As the foremost headman of the Anti-Stratfordian Faction, surely he’ll know the secret whereabouts of the skull as his cult has undoubtedly kept it hidden for centuries to further cloud the memory of the author who they claim is surely a fraud. Should we fail in our brutal interrogation of Jacobi, taken in by his charm, gentlemanly behavior, and delightful ability to star & seriously act in even the most C-grade of hack garbage movies, we’ll have no choice to resort to more ridiculous methods.

 

jacobi.jpg

Derek Jacobi, in the Oscar nominated Underworld: Evolution

 

3) We’ll begin by exhuming Shakespeare’s entire skeleton, a process that might result in the complete destruction of Holy Trinity Church, but whatever, omelets need making. Then we use the DNA from the skeleton to clone Shakespeare. Once the clone reaches the age of 52, we summary put him to death, and harvest his skull. We then rebuild Holy Trinity Church, put the original skeleton back in the tomb, and add the Clone Shakespeare’s skull into the tomb as well.

 

4) As a caveat, we don’t know the rules of Valhalla. We’ve never been there. So it’s possible that because the skull is a clone skull, that this won’t work. And Shakespeare’s soul would still be trapped. So next what we’d have to do is use the most invasive of surveillance methods to catalog the location of every 17th century skull in the British Isles. We’ll be able to tell what skull is from this era by detecting the presence, at the molecular level, of frilly cravat material common in this age, such as that seen gracing the neck and skull of Her Majesty:

elizabeth.jpg

Then we’ll use DNA tracing (see first part of Plan 3) to analyze millions of skulls until we find the right one. Then we’ll but that skull back in the church and (hopefully) manage to put back all the millions of other skulls too.

 

X) In the event Plan 4 becomes logistically impossible, we’ll have to activate Plan X. My Guests & I fly to Stratford-upon-Avon, and descend upon the Hamlet’s Determination Ale House. We drink until we come up with a better plan to solve this most pressing of the planet’s problems.

 

I’m banking on Plan X. However, if you wish to personally assist us in this most noble of quests, specifically Plans 1-4, please kindly provide us a bit of seed money by posting check, cash, or money order to the following address:

 

The Arcturus Project – Shakespeare Reclamation Branch

C/O Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation

1794 Aguiyi Ironsi Street

Abuja 900001, Nigeria

 

Your cooperation, as always, is very truly appreciated.

 

mel hamlet

Mel’s got it.  Mel’s got it!

I guess eventually I’ll be banned from Britain

Oh, that Trump dude, he’s so wacky. You never know what he’s going to say next. For instance, he wants to halt Muslim immigration, which to my back of the napkin math means my uncle couldn’t have married my aunt, but I digress.

What I find rather humorous about Trump is how seriously folks take everything he says, even though it’s quite clear that Trump doesn’t take everything he says seriously. The dude’s just talking off the top of his head, but every word he speaks is dissected like he’s thought about it for three weeks. Probably because the media and politicians are used to vetting political statements that took three weeks to write.

Well, Trump and Sanders aren’t like that. Both these dudes are cut from a different mold. Which is part of the appeal that’s kept them in the game. Folks don’t want their leaders to spout something they wrote three weeks ago. It’s fake, it’s disingenuous, it plays the average voter for a fool.

I actually kind of hope we see a Trump and Sanders election. I really do. Perhaps this will result in absolute disaster for the Republic? Yeah, maybe, but when the alternative was Clinton and Bush, I’ll take my chances with these two new nut lunatics. Particularly when 99% of the fringe policies they’re spouting (such as Trump’s Muslim ban or Sanders’ single payer healthcare) have absolutely zero chance of ever becoming law.

The British Parliament should probably be talking about important things, oh say, such as the forthcoming EU vote, federalism of the Union, or whatever. Eh, I guess it’s easier to take on Trump over his Muslim proposal, it doesn’t require them to actually do anything.

Hey you know this Jeremy Corbyn dude’s said some pretty horribly sexist offensive things too. In addition to having some policies that would see Britain conquered by Luxembourg. Maybe he should be banned from Britain?

Either way though, whether you hate these guys or love them, I prefer to let free speech be free speech, and let things get resolved at the ballot box. Except if you’re the British Parliament, in which case you prefer to handle things yourself. And so the birthplace of free speech spent a good portion of the weekend once again showing why the British construct is headed for the gutter.

In Parliament’s view, free speech should be handled on a case-by-case basis as determined by whatever the government says, and the ballot box and liberty be damned. And so Britain shall adopt the free speech policies and enforcement methods of Saudi Arabia or China. Neat.

And so I guess eventually I’ll be banned from Britain, for writing something on this blog deemed offensive, or what I say to my friend in the bar. I’ll tell a dirty joke or whatever, and I’ll get tapped on the shoulder, and it’s a Brit MP wearing a $9K suit, and he’s like, “You’re banned, you can’t say that.” But I’ll just shrug, “Eh, you guys are no longer worth visiting,” and then go back to drinking my beer.

MagnaCarta

Magna Carta – soon to be banned from Britain as offensive to the values of the ruling political elite

want to understand why Trump is winning? see LA schools closure

Any Republican / Democrat paid party politician, operative, or acolyte will be happy to kindly inform you why Trump and Sanders are a joke, fad, or a circus.  The British or French paid party politician, operative, or acolyte will tell you the same thing about Corbyn, Farage, or Le Pen.

You’ll hear random things along the lines of: “Well, Trump is supported by the 23% of Republicans who actually vote in the primary which means only 8% of America’s total population actually backs him.”

Or: “Corbyn got elected party leader by a bunch of radical young supporters who flooded the Labour Party who then won’t actually be around for the next election in 2020.”

Eh, maybe.

Though Farage took only one seat at Britain’s last election, he still picked up 13% of the vote.  Le Pen just won over 50% in multiple districts before the mainstream parties ganged up and utterly destroyed her folks in the second round.  The point has been made in multiple circles that if America’s presidential election cycle had a parliamentary timeline, as in it lasted say eight weeks instead of two freaking years, that Trump might have had a legit shot at the big chair.  In one month Corbyn added more party members than all the other parties total size, combined.  Only one American presidential candidate has consistently filled whole stadiums, Sanders, and increasingly now, Trump too.

Put another way, folks on the left and right of modern Western democracies are pissed off.  Put another way, everybody’s  really pissed off.

Why?  The answers are legendarily complex.  But I’ll give a simple reason right now:

See LA schools closure.

Basically what’s happened today is unelectable bureaucrats decided to detonate the lives of millions of people over a supposed bomb threat.  It shows a ruling structure that values safety over reality; risk aversion over problem solving; cowardice over measured action.  Nobody will ever be held accountable over it.  Nobody will be fired.  And so this behavior will be left to fester and grow inside the bureaucratic mentality nationwide.

I bet the man / woman / people who made this call today don’t even have their kids in LA’s schools.  Instead, I’m sure they all live in gated communities, and their kids go to private schools, and are thus not effected by their decisions.  After all, better safe than sorry.  We wouldn’t want to take the chance that the twelve-year-old-ISIS-mimic on the e-mail was actually a liar, would we?

How would I have wanted them to respond?  Go look at what New York City did.  They gave the ISIS-mimic e-mails the finger, and carried on with their day.  This behavior is to be applauded.  But unfortunately, NYC has the NYPD, which thanks to 2001 is essentially its own standing army / intelligence service.  The NYPD is unique, and gives NYC’s leaders a lot more flexibility to take risks that I think all of America’s leaders are not willing to take.

Thus, the LA school system is showing everybody what it takes to cripple most of America’s governing institutions nowadays.  ISIS/ISIL/morons can just set up a phone bank in Raqqah and call in several hundred bomb threats to America on the same day, and bring the country to its knees.  And so, in today’s modern culture, a terrorist phone bank is an effective weapon of mass destruction.

The problems resident in today’s Western democracies are massive.  But the people (you, I hope) are starting to discover that the party politician, operative, or acolyte who’s supposedly there to solve these problems, are in fact so useless that they throw their cards on the table at the first hint of danger from [insert pathetic hack entity’s name here].

If the LA school system’s / police leaders can’t function under these circumstances, what chance do they have of solving chronic student underachievement or massive crime?  Or what example are they showing their students / citizens on what it takes to survive in a modern, ever-changing, dynamic, dangerous world?  I don’t have to go down this stupid “it’s cold out” school closure road again?  Do I:

https://arcturusproject.com/2014/01/08/88/

Ask yourself, if Trump, Sanders, Corbyn, Farage, or Le Pen had answered the phone and fielded the bomb threat, what would have happened?  Would they have folded too?  Would they have told the caller to “get fucked”?  Would their answer have depended on whether the person answering was from the left or right?  As in, maybe Trump would tell the ISIS-mimic to “get fucked” and Corbyn would have just folded too.  Eh, maybe, but I tell you what, I’m not sure I’d want to get in a bar fight with Jeremy Corbyn, dude’s probably cracked his fair share of skulls with a vacant bitters bottle like four decades ago.

I don’t know?  I truly don’t.  But the bottom line is, I think that the answer would at least have been different.  And when the leaders of government of both the left and right are failing, the people will search for just that:

Something different.

There’s a reason people have more trust in the local dry cleaner than the government today.  It’s because I think more and more, the system is not a reflection of its people, but a reflection of the desires of a secluded-hypocritical-risk-adverse-self-serving elite.  Trump, Sanders, Corbyn, Farage, and Le Pen are all in play for this reason.

I don’t get the popularity of this meme

It’s not even funny. Or is it funny because everybody says it’s funny? Or it is funny because everybody says it’s funny and it’s used about six-hundred times a day? I think I’ve seen this thing used once a day for about a week. What gives?

meme3

Uh, it really hurts my brain to even have to type the word meme. It’s such a stupid sounding word. It harms my sense of good language. Which is saying a lot, considering I do more harm to the English language in one day than Hitler did.

Hey speaking of Hitler, so the original purpose of this Keep Calm thing was to plaster it up on a wall in London so folks would stay motivated as the Luftwaffe firebombed the city. I’m not quite sure that adequately translates into a funny meme. Unless you happen to subscribe to ultra-dark-humor as I do.

Here, try this one on for size:

meme1

 

My Guests got in on the action too:

meme2

 

But this one is by far my favorite; a cheeky Brit surely wrote it:

Keep_Calm_EPS

we are our own worst enemy

These media guys are really disconnected from reality. We now know who the Jihad John guy is? Why is this front page news? I didn’t even know the news folks had named a/the guy Jihad John. Who came up with this name anyways? It’s like a five year old on acid made it up.

So the guy’s named Mohammed Emwazi and he’s a “British citizen from Kuwait”. First off, who cares? Second, either he’s a British citizen or he’s from Kuwait. I don’t think he’s both. Also, once a British citizen decides to volunteer for an organization that favors apocalyptic lunacy, I think that means he’s no longer a British citizen. On the other hand, Britain’s become so unhinged recently you can get arrested by the goon authorities for quoting Churchill or reading Charlie Hebdo. So I guess it’s not a big deal in comparison when you can apparently drink Spitfire at the pub in the morning, and be stealing human life by the afternoon.

Attention media losers! Yesterday, the self-proclaimed Islamic State for the Apocalypse, Fantasy-Porn, Death, and Effective Car Washes (ISAFPDECW) probably kidnapped and murdered say about 63 people worldwide. But this was not front page news. But Jihad John is front page news. Nothing about that makes sense.

If you want to understand why ISAFPDECW still exists, simply admire the stupidity of today’s front pages. There is no war against ISAFPDECW. You can’t be at war when you don’t even comprehend the evil that exists. ISAFPDECW murders. But the West publishes news headlines that make Mohammed Emwazi a member of the celebrity-fetish-personality crowd. One side is serious. The other is not. Or maybe it’s even worse. There is only one side. Because the other side basically has failed to show up.

jihad-john

the media needs this guy as famous as J Lo so they can sell ads

We can’t build nothing no more

Hey remember when we built those big pyramid things in the desert last June? Don’t they look great? I mean, all that slave labor stuff isn’t neat, but at least the damn things were built to last.

Now we can’t build nothing no more. Everything’s just modern fragile garbage. If I build an apartment block today, it’ll get trashed overnight and in twenty years it’ll look like something out of Minsk Circa 2013.

Or take the new glass walkway over Tower Bridge London. The damn thing’s existed for about six hours and it already broke:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-2847158/Tower-Bridge-glass-walkway-smashed-visitor-dropped-bottle-beer.html

First off, what’s the big deal with this glass walkway fetish anyways? We’ve now got one over the Grand Canyon, in Chicago Willis, inside The Church of the Holy Sepulture over “that place”, at Eiffel, and over Mao’s grave. Seriously, what’s the appeal? I don’t get it?

So you, can, like, look down, and see the ground, from beneath your feet? Way down there? Uh… (furrows brow in a vain attempt to understand the situation) … so, like, what’s, so if, I get vertigo, or imagine I can fall?

You know, if I take a swan dive off Eiffel I get a real neat view of the ground, for about 42 seconds. Why would I desire to replicate this feeling in a non-fatal outcome? Please to explain.

Second off, the article states the bridge glass cracked because, “The dropped bottle of beer caused an initial crack, but a woman walking over the broken glass in stiletto heels reportedly caused the pane to shatter further.”

So what kind of moron idiot do you have to be to design anything in London that is damaged by a broken beer bottle and stiletto heels? That’s like designing a Chicago sidewalk threatened by dropped hot dogs and disgruntled Bears fans’ feet.

Just you wait, the same dude who did the glass bridge is designing the future eighth runway at Heathrow. Expect the tarmac to be vulnerable to airplanes with more than one engine.

tower bridge glass

Even the Pharaoh’s slaves face-palm at this one