These are the three ideas which dominate the front page of the Daily Telegraph tomorrow. You couldn’t make it up. A case of fact fiercely outgunning fiction really. Let me explain.
A short digression first – a digression the above reminds me of for reasons which shall shortly become self-evident.
My mother escaped Communist Yugoslavia in the early 1960s. After a long period of readjustment, she came to love the country that accepted her. She spent her early years in a small village near Witney and could only receive news from the family she left behind via blue airmailed letters which took weeks to arrive from her homeland.
She always suspected the slow and heavy hand of censorship.
The police state the Yugoslavs operated was real enough though. I remember the rampant paranoia cousins of mine exhibited when we visited them during the summers of my youth. My Croatian family had grown up on the wrong side of the political spectrum. My grandfather apparently owed his life, on one occasion at least, to a friend who also happened to be in the Party – though the Party was never any friend of his.
Even in repressive regimes, human kindnesses were still able occasionally to shine through.
Back to the matters that occupy us tonight, however. The three items you can see on the above front page would not have been out of place in my mother’s Communist Yugoslavia. In their juxtapositioning, in their clever advantage-taking of the recent backdrop of cultural fracture, in the cunning story they weave, they are all beautifully cruel examples of propaganda discourse at its very finest. No matter that reducing welfare will increase the pressure on the police and the armed forces; no matter that spying on neighbours will create more unreasonable suspicion and fear of difference; no matter that the defacing of national symbols is easily performed and most certainly does not deserve the careless oxygen of publicity … the principle goal is to get the message across that the country is under threat from unspokenly wicked but not intangible strangenesses.
In truth, tomorrow’s Daily Telegraph shows us only one thing: when the Berlin Wall fell, it was not the East Germans who found themselves liberated so much as the West (on a very long-burn fuse) which found itself contaminated. No longer able to fight a common enemy which bound us together in joint enterprise, we thrashed about over the next twenty years looking for constancy and focus for our huge infrastructures of counter-surveillance.
No. I’m not saying the threats aren’t now very real.
All I’m saying is there was no real industrial incentive to reduce their presence in time.
In fact, we could even argue that in some curious way the Berlin Wall hasn’t fallen at all: rather, it’s mutated and grown to include the rest of us in a dangerous embrace, an embrace which serves only to normalise the evil instincts – once turned outwards and now focussing inwards – that we had previously managed to contain so effectively elsewhere.
The Wall which was at one time a Petri Dish of a defence – and is now shattered unavoidably on the laboratory floors of recent history.