After that, I suppose it’s important to add a disclaimer. The blog expresses my own opinions and is not intended to represent in any way the ethos, philosophy, or collective political leanings – if there are any – of Authors Electric. Some readers also may ask why I've chosen such a topic, which doesn't seem to have anything to do with writing. My excuse is that nothing I've read or heard anywhere comes close to expressing my fears and despair better than the concluding poem. It doesn't solve the problem, but it gives it frightening substance.
First then, the title. My subject is the re-election of the bloke in
Next, I make no apologies for the fact that the most, indeed only, powerful bit of this post was not written by me. Sometimes, though, we need our real writers, our geniuses, to capture things, movements, stresses, fears, Jungian and Freudian nightmares which many of the rest of us apprehend but can’t satisfactorily fix in words. Some may accuse me of being melodramatic but I find the prevailing political ideologies and rhetoric sinister, dangerous, toxic. And those in power are making sure that there won't be change any time soon.
Last May, my blog post fell on election day. It was an effort at a light-hearted (although still serious and wary) satire on that process, but my fictional fairy tale came nowhere near the grotesque actuality of the outcome. I've waited, just in case my fears proved groundless, but (surprise, surprise) they haven't. The messages coming out of the government 'we' (apparently) elected are predictably clear. 'Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war'. Bye, bye, human rights. Eff off, foreigners. Hi to health and education for those who can afford it. Any infrastructure still in public hands? Flog it. Single mothers? On your bikes. Social housing? Don't be silly. Oh, and tax evaders? Help yourselves.
But it’s even worse than that. It’s an opening up of sour divisions between citizens who face the same ‘enemies’, share the same interests. It’s divide and rule. It’s an unleashing of cynical forces of discord, self-interest, ignorance and darkness.
And here’s where my second title source comes in.
One morning, I heard on BBC Radio 4 a very familiar poem, written for a different troubled time (and, coincidentally, by a man with sometime fascist leanings) which (spookily) summed up the fears I had and have about what the outcomes of ‘our’ choice of government may prove to be. It’s the W. B. Yeats poem The Second Coming. It was written in 1919 but its opening stanza is almost a literal description of the events of May 2015 and its shudder-inducing final image may well represent a real future.
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Rule Britannia, eh?