Monday, 28 September 2015

Welcome to the Great Unravelling

VW, eh? Who'd a thought it. All that German solidity and reliability and Protestant uprightness. Stop coughing at the back there! Of sorry, that's just the bad air, I thought you were being sarcastic.

You may not have been paying much attention to the unravelling of VW's environmental claims. You were probably distracted by footage of desperate refugees from Iraq and Syria fighting to get into places in Europe that you might remember people fighting to get out of. Or the lethargic cackhandedness of Europe's leaders as they failed to deal with this.

You may even have been too busy laughing as New Labour, one of Europe's Neoliberal cheerleaders, succumbed to the charms of an elderly, allotment-owning socialist. Or you may have bothered about none of these things, since you're too busy trying to earn the rent. News turns over quickly, and we all have to survive.

I just wonder if, amongst all this, you stopped long enough to to wonder at all the things we took for granted just a decade ago, crumbling into shreds like a decomposting compostable bag.

Who remembers the 00's, the decade that wasn't sure enough of itself to give itself a name? Well, unless you're under 10, all of you. Remember Tony Blair and his shiny shiny teeth. His glittering eyes. They were building shopping malls, back then. Tesco. It was no use arguing with Tesco, they were unstoppable. So was Tony. Now Tony's gone and everyone hates him. Tesco got caught fiddling the books; except corporations getting caught fiddling is so common now that you'd forgotten about that, already.

Everyone was crazy about house prices. It's no use blaming the rich, everyone I worked with had house-price frenzy, working out over their lunch-hour how they could cash in on the property market. The bank upped my credit card limit, without me asking, from £2,000, to £5,000. If you were poor, it was just because you weren't trying.

There was a war in Iraq, and a war in Afghanistan, and they were both going to usher in democracy. Also, this great new thing called the Euro, so you could walk through borders and carry on spending. It was going to bring peace and endless prosperity in Europe. If you were against it you were sad, old and tragic. Modernity was passing you by. You needed to get on, and get with it. We were all multicultural now: anyone who had doubts was a racist.

The whole racism thing was a bit complex, since we were bombing the crap out of muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Muslims wanted to bomb us, and we had to put up with all kinds of restrictions on our rights, because of those bad muslims. The bad bombing muslims were responsible, not us bombing the bad muslims. The bad muslims weren't the muslims that lived here, those were the good muslims, because we were non-racist and multicultural. If the good muslims had some bad muslim tendencies, the way to deal with them was to give them a grant, not to bomb them. Some of the bad bombing muslims, like Gaddafi and the Saud's, were actually honorary good muslims, because they were on our side, against the proper bad, bad muslims. If this seemed a little schzophrenic, it wasn't for you to say.

These kind of issues weren't for us, the little people. We had Tesco and house prices. You could buy your multicultural food prepackaged in Tesco and eat it in the patio you built when you topped up your mortgage. We weren't bad people. We knew about Global Warning, but we didn't worry too much, because the politicians were dealing with it, and anyway, we drove a nice clean VW with super-dooper low emissions.

Except, all these things were lies, weren't they? Tony was a psycho, those wars created organised psychopathy under the guise of Islam, and the Euro sent whole countries bankrupt. Property price mania buggered the economy. The shopping malls that looked so shiny and new look already, shabby and dated. And now the bad muslims, the ones over there as supposed to the ones over here, are coming here after all, and they just look sad and bedraggled, standing at the border crossing, clutching their blankets. And everyone is confused, because all the things they thought they had a handle on, they haven't.

It was a sort of opium dream, a decade of lies and delusions. It was weird and oppressive. What's amazing though is how solid it seemed at the time. All these things were unquestionable, they were reality. And now, how quickly it's all unravelling, like a badly knitted sweater that got caught on some wire.

It will go on unravelling, for a while, I think. All these things held each other up, and when you take one away, there's a gap, so you can see through, to the something else beyond. The something else beyond blows at the edges of the gap, like weather coming into a damaged building. Gradually, the gap gets bigger, and at last, the structure will no longer hold. This is how things fall apart, not with bangs or even whimpers or even glorious revolutions.

I don't mind. Whatever happens now, at least it might be real. Real things often aren't as shiny or as perfect as fake ones. But you know, they have undeniable advantages. Like, being real, and not fake.

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