To state that we are living in momentous times, with some very strange events taking place around the world, would probably win the prize for the least controversial “Observation of the Century Award”.
Those of us with absolutely no power to influence what is happening, can only look on amazed at the stupidity of the human race and the duplicity and mendacity of those in government or elsewhere who do have it.
Meanwhile in the best traditions of “the pen is mightier than sword”, all we can do is use the power of words to highlight and question – an honourable objective to which this site is dedicated.
Britain has a long developmental history, in which for a brief period during the 19th Century it achieved a global hegemony quite out of proportion to either its population or land mass.
That era, not even able to maintain a domestic unity, is unquestionably come to an end, although the trappings of power are retained. Effectively the only power is now one of influence based on reason and morality. In the absence of these, what remains?
Two 19th Century World Wars effectively bankrupted the nation and ensured its global role would be replaced by the United States of America. It also ensured that financially, technologically and militarily for the remainder of the century Britain would be in hock to America. Suez in 1956 was the final proof that the baton had been passed.
The Second Elizabethan Age has been one of economic, political, military and some might say moral decline. The national debt has never been greater, industrial output lower, the balance of payments higher, reputations of institutions at a lower ebb. Links with the historic empire have never been weaker, to the point of breakdown and irrelevance, whilst sovereignty has been undermined and exported to the essentially bureaucratic and unrepresentative European Union. Meanwhile Scotland is on the brink of departure.
You don’t have to be a Schama or Starkey to realise British crises have occurred at least once every century. The accession of the Tudors; the Spanish Armada; the Glorious Revolution; the loss of America and defeat of Napoleon; the First World War all are critical points of change and development. The Second World was both zenith and nadir in British evolution from which we find it impossible to escape or recover.
As a result of these changes, America for at least the last sixty plus years has assumed the mantle of the most powerful nation in the world. Now even this ostensibly unassailable position is being challenged by principally a resurgent China, with the support of Russia and the so called BRIC countries. Never has America been so indebted and economically vulnerable, ironically to the very power it sees as its primary competitor.
Nor has its moral position ever been so subject to profound question as a result of the shameful acts of 9/11, subsequent cover-up and the incorrigible actions flowing from it. America has in recent history been responsible for some horrendous and inexcusable actions, but in the “annals of infamy” it is doubtful the 9/11 conspiracy will ever be exceeded.
It is these “political/economic plate tectonics” that provide the context for the extraordinary events that have taken place in the last fifteen years or so, which have had the effect of undermining any claim to western moral superiority. There can be no moral comparison between fraudulent shocking videos purporting to represent men being murdered and literally hundreds of thousands killed by western military action. At the very least western governments stand accused of blatant manipulation of the truth in support of its questionable policy objectives.
Sadly the role of Britain has been supine and shameful. A leading elite has sacrificed an ethical position for temporary and illusionary baubles of wealth, fame and adulation. It has colluded in illegal acts and been party to high crimes and misdemeanors. At the very least it has helped to perpetuate an explanation of 9/11 that it must have known was a lie and supported the illegal wars predicated on them. This deeply reprehensible position of support for the US government come what may, can be explained by the dependent relationship, but cannot be excused. It may even lead to total global disaster.
It is epitomised by our government’s position as regards the Middle East; the emergence of Al Qaeda and now ISIS; occupying Afghanistan and Iraq and other conflicts; Gaza; the disappearance of MH370 and downing of MH17; plans to bomb Syria; supporting Israel; arming Ukraine. In Shakespearean terms it is a Comedy of Errors except it is devoid of humour. In short Britain is guilty of saying “I concur” to everything the US opines, even if blatantly flawed.
Both domestically and internationally, the US and Britain with it, have proved they are morally bankrupt whilst claiming other quite the opposite. It is difficult to see how they can effectively extricate themselves from the errors of the past. Obama promised to do so but has been defeated by the power of the paradigm and deception.
British governments have decimated all the main levers of economic power. Having closed coal-mining; not replaced nuclear; losing “Scottish” oil and gas; the City dependant on “dirty” money, Chinese and French technology; sold off to foreigners essential utilities and state assets; negating Parliament’s sovereignty to a corporate European entity without the people’s approval.
It is hard to see “Great Britain” as other than an hollowed out entity, unable to guarantee its own security or cohesion. I am reminded of William Butler Yates poem “the Second Coming” in which he famously says, “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.”
“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: somewhere in sands of the desert 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 Reel 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, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?”
Perhaps it is yet not too late to implement the meaning of “Dieu et mon droit “ – not merely the right to govern but the divine imperative to govern right by admitting to the mistakes of the past and resolving to change its ways.