This has nothing to do with optics. You and I can see pretty well. We are not beholding an illusion. The spectacle and performance before us, the displays of deceit and dissimulation are real enough. And the fast moving evolution of events, the rush as of Rapids approaching a precipice, a cataclysm, this is real too.
It is the rise of The Great Leader that has shown how naked power can arise from democracy and turn into tyranny. What would have been unthinkable just barely 21 days ago is now already more than realised. Tyranny is installed in the centre of life. How frighteningly & rapidly did things develop to this nadir of our common imagination.
In the centre of power is a man supported and surrounded by extremists with an agenda that is inimical to the interests of all but their closest friends and families. Racism, vulgar hatred of Islam, rejection of equal rights for women, the signalled intention to damage cross national institutions like the UN and EU including even NATO. In 21 days everything that ensured a secure but imperfect world has altered to create a blatantly imperfect world teetering on a precipice of intercontinental war, a world war. And there’s the suspicion that the newly installed Great Leader is dying to use the nuclear option. He is aided by a man who believes that we need to destroy the world in order to create a new world order that is Christian and capitalist, read white Christian.
How can it be possible that we have gone in such a short time from security to abysmal insecurity? How is it possible that we can wake to find that we are neither subjects nor citizens, merely disposable ciphers in the fantasy of creatures whose inner life is horrid and degenerate?
And most galling is the realisation that we are relatively helpless. That authority and power produces a trance like response in human beings- a willingness to obey, to avoid harm, to retreat to a place of safety even if one doesn’t exist. And that for most people, fear and denial of the obvious is the ready to hand strategy. It can’t possibly be true that we have elected a thief, a ruthless despot, someone with no morals, a liar true and true,, also through and through. That is the phase we are in, the vast majority cannot quite grasp the enormity of the problem. Even the politicians who ought to know better, who are used to what practical lying is about can’t quite see the stark difference between the new world and the old. Everyone is trying to do business as usual, scrutinising nominees, marching in defiance, telling jokes and hoping that it’s a dream.
But it’s not a dream, it is reality and an awful one too. The measures that are required will not be subtle or without damage. The. Great Leader is in the centre of power, he has encircled himself with his praetorian guards, his very own, not the nation’s security or secret service but his own paid for force. Imagine having to bring to bear on the White House, the symbol of power, anything like the armed ambush that it may require to eject the aberration that is the Great Leader from his lair. We are in for a nasty time indeed.
It is the long term damage to the notion of democracy that’s most severe. What now for countries like Zimbabwe, The Congo, what hope that the rule by consent will ever materialise. Given that the example of the Great Leader exemplifies the underbelly of democracy- you can definitely vote in a despot who rides in on the horse manure of lies and more lies. A person who trades on hatred and fear, whose determination for self enrichment excludes nothing whatsoever. Power is here for enrichment not for governance, except if governance is the incompetent managerialism that’s being projected. Talk of “deals” masks the incompetence and dishonesty of the protagonist.
But, that is not my real concern. It is the insidious accommodation of evil that is most troubling. That’s my concern. We human beings are no more than termites in our social organisation. Once we establish the power hierarchy the structures of obedience and obeisance crystallise. Since these power lines are invisible we don’t even recognise how subservient we are. Only a handful of people obey only their own conscience. Mostly we trade in submission, passivity and blind obedience. The ordinary, decent folk of Homeland Security did their duties- they handcuffed 5 year olds, locked up 80 year old widows frail and close to death from diabetes, separated families, deprived thousands of food and drink, trampled on their rights all at the say so of the Great Leader! I am yet to read of mass resignations, attendances at church to seek forgiveness or redemption. The unspoken cry is “I was doing my duty”. Like termites we are mostly unthinking and obedient.
The Great Leader may be despicable, may be contemptible, but his orders are being translated, enacted and carried out by perfectly ordinary people who this past Xmas would never have thought they were part of a tyrannical army. But, they are whether they like it or not. I am hoping that someone is keeping a record of their names and station. The time will come when they will have to answer for their actions. This time round we are all witnesses to barbarity and we will give evidence when the time comes.
I am also troubled by how the cry “Immigrant “ across vast swathes of the West is now a call to at the very least treat with utmost contempt or worse to kill. What this cry lacks in specificity it makes up for in its broad brush approach. The masterminds of evil no longer care to simply target black people, or Asians, or Hispanics, or muslims. The term “immigrant” can stand for whoever you wish in your local jurisdiction but we know who we are not referring to, don’t we. That’s the key- an understanding that “immigrant” is colour coded. A white American cannot by definition be an immigrant anywhere, even if he’s only been American for 60 seconds. An African American on the other hand even though his forebears have been in America for 500 years is still an immigrant. As for the Native American, he’s very definitely an immigrant, he’s only been here 10000 years and we all know “we built this country!”
The Great Leader and his praetorian guard have a lucrative commerce on the most primitive, most basic of emotions- fear and hatred. They’ve already grown immensely rich on it. These base feelings run their course but sadly, tragically need blood, gore, concrete enemies preferably war and defeat before they can be expiated. Watch out for war, not the proxy wars that have sufficed in 70 years but direct and savage war. The Great Leader needs to consolidate power, he needs to distract attention from his treason, he is counting on making even more money, and he is not intending to be thwarted.
Photos by Jan Oyebode