I’m currently suffering at the hands of reality. Whilst in my wife’s home country, Spain, its (anti-)democratic edifice appears to be tumbling around its people’s wider austerity-located suffering, in Britain and elsewhere little seems very much better.
Let’s take Spain, for starters. Read and tremble. It would seem, in my limited understanding of the Bárcenas scandal as it stands, that eventually no politician or party will escape the consequences of what is unreeling. As Spanish democracy takes a massive battering from the bitter dialectic between independence movements and their centralising counterparts, from widespread corruption in both politics and business and from the awful levels of utterly wasteful unemployment in a hyper-educated society, so there is very little left to do for the Spanish people themselves but bemoan the situation, wring their hands and wonder futilely how they got here.
I suspect the final solution, if anyone has any intelligence, will be to leave off forever perpetuating the intellectual and sociopolitical cover-ups, which took place post-Franco as democracy cemented itself. The Spanish transition, lauded as an example for young democratic movements everywhere, hid under its shiny and very latterday façade crucial hatreds, miseries and very real cruelty (more here, here and here).
This will, I am pretty sure, even as I admit I am a mere outsider looking in, require a truth and reconciliation process as painful and fierce as that which South Africa had to suffer on its own journey.
Meanwhile, I read tonight that the largest police force in the UK used an estimated eighty dead children’s identities in undercover (ie spying) operations over a period of perhaps three decades. Quite precisely, the Met – for, yet again, it is the force in the eye of the storm – assures us that (the bold is mine):
We can confirm that the practice referred to in the complaint is not something that would currently be authorised in the [Met police].
Which isn’t to say that it mightn’t happen again in the future, right?
So can it get any worse? Whilst in Spain we apparently have a widespread culture of dirty money at the very highest levels of political practice, a society which is creaking under the weight of never having been through any real process of truth and reconciliation and an economic plan which is anything but democratic, in Britain we are getting drip-fed awful tales of celebrity paedophile rings, hotels and practitioners; of police forces in London and Yorkshire which did anything but follow even the letter of the law, never mind its spirit; of casual phone- and computer-hacking in industrial quantities; of the falsification of evidence on police computers; of party-funding scandals; of public- and private-sector corruption; of sweetheart tax deals between government civil servants and transnational corporations; of the demonisation of the poor, disabled, sick and unemployed to the benefit of the wealthy; and, finally, a total re-engineering of the welfare state in order that the Tory Party’s sponsors and puppet-masters in banking, consultancy and health may become the real benefit claimants of the state.
What exactly is happening? What exactly is taking place? Is all this information suddenly revealing itself the result of longer-term social media tendencies perhaps? Is what we do in our private lives, as we denude ourselves to friends and foe alike, spilling over into more work-related contexts?
Are we actually all becoming terribly – and excessively – honest?
Is this, finally, the true legacy of the Internet as it spills over unstoppably into the offline world – a legacy which for so long the real world has managed to keep at arm’s length?
And is the Establishment – an institutional dinosaur if there ever was one (suited perfectly to its environment whilst its environment remained under its control) – suddenly losing its ability to whitewash reality?
Or – more frighteningly – is this a quite new reality with no whitewash at all?
A quite new reality which the overwhelming hubris of those in charge is now awfully and generously happy to regale us with – perhaps certain in the knowledge that there is nothing anyone honest can do about it any more.