It’s Cold Outside

I was going to write about the predicament Britain has got itself into but I know it doesn’t seem right for me to be talking about Britain when a lot of good people are now suddenly far deeper in the shit than we are, and some for reasons that are far less their own fault than our problems are ours*. So I will talk a little about where Britain is, i.e in the cold, cold, Atlantic ocean with no friends at all, but mostly I want to talk about where the rest of the world is and present a grand theory that I hope turns out to be bullshit, because I really, really, don’t like it at all.

I have a half-formed idea in my mind that I can’t put a name to but I know that it concerns the period from 1945 to 2016. “The post war consensus” maybe? Well, it wasn’t really a consensus, was it? We had the Cold War for one thing. But, whatever it was, it was something and it seems to have ended now. It seems like a fracturing or a sullen disengagement. Globalisation had its problems but, in retrospect, was never fundamentally a bad thing compared to the alternative. Now the world seems to be splitting into a lot of competing silos where each bunker is dominated by founding myths not only incompatible with anything recognisable as civilisation, but also incompatible with the equally egregious myths of the other ones. Now, that seems a whole lot more dangerous.

Many of these silos are lead by people who imagine themselves “strong leaders” which basically means the sort of thugs who (with one notably fuckwitted exception) shy away from comparisons with Hitler but shamelessly recycle Mussolini’s and Franco’s shtick: Nationalism, fake religion, mad schemes made up on the fly, loud-mouthed bullshit and blaming other groups for their own lack of even the first clue about what they are doing.

So, I am not sure exactly what it will mean yet, but I am convinced that 2016 will be a year that future generations will remember as one of the “bigly” ones. Will it be like 1929? Like 1933? Like 1939? Who knows but certainly nothing good will adhere to its memory.

Now, I am not trying to say that these “strong leaders” are all exactly the same. Some are dumber than others. Some of them are actually shameless murderers and some are not. Some will keep control while others will let it slip through their (tiny) fingers to a greater bastard yet to come. One thing they do all have in common though is that they are unreliable and unpredictable. They are not bound by laws and treaties. You can’t do deals with them. The putative author of The Art Of The Deal is unlikely to turn out be a murderer but he is certainly not somebody you can do deals with, in fact he has openly boasted about “renegotiating” (i.e. breaking) existing deals whenever he feels like it.

So here is the future for our island nation of (presumably) England. Split off from Europe. Almost certainly split off from the rest of what was the UK. Isolated. Flitting around whatever international bodies will still have us, even as those bodies (NATO, the UN, the WTO, the PGA) start to seem irrelevant in the post 2016 world dominated by violent strongmen who see no need for them. What will replace those? Who knows but it seems certain that we will not seem relevant to them, whoever they turn out to be. In the end we will probably beg Scotland not to let auld acquaintance be forgot and to help get us back into the EU. Let’s just hope the EU is still in a strong enough state to offer us some protection from a very hostile world.

So here is my really big paranoid theory. This one does have a name. I call it Palindromic History.

As the name implies, it suggests that there is a central pivot point or high watermark for civilisation which we presumably passed somewhere between 1945 and 2016 without realising it, maybe the eradication of smallpox or the moon landings, and from then onwards we started to recapitulate all of human progress only arse-backwards.

This idea is not entirely new…

“Hegel remarks somewhere that all great, world-historical facts and personages occur, as it were, twice. He has forgotten to add: the first time as tragedy, the second as farce.”

― Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1852)

Unfortunately Marx has forgotten to add, “Going backwards, on a pantomime horse, with no trousers on.”

The 21st century is shaping up to be a rerun of the 19th, dominated by empire building and worldwide swindling instead of honest free trade. Hell, I’m sure we can fit in a modern twist on the Opium Wars somehow. Maybe China can get its own back by flooding the west with dodgy ketamine?

Fuck knows. I’m too depressed to pursue this idea further right now. Just remember that you heard it here first, on the very vague off-chance that it turns out not to be complete bullshit. (And I really, really, hope that it is complete bullshit!) Anyway, wake me up in time for the Enlightenment/Renlightenment/Unenlightenment. That should be due in a couple of hundred years time and, I have it on good authority, that this time the Mexicans are going to pay for it.

It looks like Leonard Cohen checked out with impeccable timing. Goodnight all.

( * – Hello to any readers in Mexico. I hope you find a way to deal with the massive turd on your doorstep.)


November 12, 2016. #Brexit, Music, Politics.


  1. Rik replied:

    While I agree with the central thrust of your argument, I think that the UK will get it’s own version of TTIP with the USA. It would allow Trump to head-off charges of isolationism and Brexit to claim success. Win-win for them.

  2. danielrigal replied:

    I’m sure Rik is right but there is a big difference between claiming success and actually being successful. Remember that old “Mission Accomplished” photo of GWB? The problem here is that there isn’t a huge amount that the USA needs from the UK. Our main value is in being a gateway to the EU and in speaking English so that the Americans don’t all have to learn German or French to do business. So such a deal could work as propaganda, and might even help with trade a tiny bit, but it isn’t going to to make much difference economically. I assume that the Americans know that they also speak English in Ireland and that there are plenty of people who speak Spanish in the USA. Other gateways to the EU are available.

  3. Rob Chambers replied:

    Hey there! I didn’t realise you’d started blogging again. Unfortunately we now live in interesting times, so there’s lots to blog about nowadays.

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