Puffles summarises in one tweet tonight what I have been feeling for longer than I can remember:
Puffles (*notes*) the crisis of establishment institutions continues. BBC, politics, banking, newspapers, police…all in a v short time space
Now some of you already know that in 2003 I was almost sectioned for an illness which came over me as a result of the lies told around the Iraq War. The illness came over me because of other reasons too – but principally it involved me furiously writing a blog where I tried to demonstrate that what the politicians were saying was false.
I failed, and fell quite seriously ill as a result.
I was interviewed by a highly unsympathetic psychiatrist at three o’clock in the morning for about two hours – and condemned myself to a month in hospital through the very words I spouted in those two hours. I was undoubtedly ill, I can’t deny it; had, indeed, done some very strange thing in the weeks leading up to that moment – but my recovery was so much quicker than my social worker said it would be (she told me I could expect to be able to do no more than two hours a week voluntary activities for months once I got out when in fact I started work almost immediately for a fast-food company on a twenty-hour shift) that although it took a while for me to get my wits together, it did finally become sufficiently self-evident that my savage distrust as exhibited by the diagnosis in question was not entirely due to illness: in massive hindsight there is for me a grand sense that the reality was closer to my perceptions and the illness was a consequence not of seeing falsely but – rather – of seeing all too clearly.
I mention all of this today because what is happening in our society, as Puffles summarises so presciently and accurately, may lead far more of us down similar roads of mighty distrust. I suspect that it no longer really matters whether Mr Murdoch is doing cartwheels over the latest revelations at the BBC (more here), whilst his own irresponsible leadership disappears over the media event horizon; nor should anyone worry whether Hillsborough and Orgreave will finally get the justice they deserve; nor, even, should we care if Masonic paedophile rings riddle the country or not. No. In truth, the wider damage has already been done. Those of us of a paranoid bent are becoming the commonplace, not the exception. Those of us who see shadows everywhere are seeing we are right to see them anywhere.
In truth, the reality is that the mighty distrust which in other times was judged ill-founded has become a normalised and common reaction to everyone and everything we perceive.
This evening my son was walking home from playing football. He popped into the local Spar to buy himself some Ben & Jerry’s. Whilst he was there, a blonde woman of around fifty looked him over in a way which called his attention. He then left the shop and continued his way home. At the top end of Caughall Road, near where we live, the lady in question, sitting alongside a man who my son didn’t properly see, stopped her car across the road and offered him a lift. My son didn’t know her; had never seen her in his life prior to the Spar; couldn’t understand why she should even know where he lived.
A case of potential paedophilia? My son is seventeen, so I don’t think so. But I phoned 101, all the same, with the details. The police also found it quite disconcerting. They didn’t take my details as there was little detail to report, beyond that the car was green and was driven by a blonde woman in her fifties, but did remark that whilst they would have recognised the pattern if my son had been a child, a couple attempting to pick up a seventeen year old was certainly rather strange.
My family called me paranoid for phoning the police.
Surely, in the light of all that’s going down, they should see me as foolishly trusting.
To go to the police in precisely that part of the world where accusations of alleged and historical investigatory reticence have recently surfaced is – you could argue – a sign of madness in itself.
Anyhow. The broader conclusion we might come to could not really be worse.
In the light of all the terribly uninvestigated things that it would now appear have been taking place over the past forty years, one thing ties all these establishment institutions together: all of them – from politicians, the BBC, News International, the police, banking and the Church to business leaders and organisations various – have committed the same mistake. Lines of command, where authority breeds an unquestioning allegiance, have proved to have been responsible for rotting our institutions from within – to such an extent, in fact, that the whole bloodied pack of cards is tumbling apart in evil procedural slow-mo … even as they attempt so ineffectively to devise a better truth.
The haemorrhage of good was never so terrible as of late.
In the absence of a true war, we seem to have stumbled across an awful instinct to reproduce the conditions that lead up to civil war. Only the English, as we know all too well, have such a stiff upper lip that they can but ignore these conditions; they can but ignore the implications.
This is, nevertheless, a war of civil characteristics: a war where people begin to side with their tribes; a war where tribes begin to form like puddles in the park; a park which ends up dramatically flooded by a superstorm; a superstorm which terminates communities as it rapes their sense of trust.
The damage is done – as I said above.
Right and wrong don’t really matter any more.
All that matters is fear.
And a growing – encroaching – violently destructive sense of horrific disbelief in almost all the things we once held dear.