Bristling Brock speaks out...


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Perversely, the turmoil in Washington has been something of a refresher from the endless and dire issues around Covid-19.  Much as the latter is a vital and important issue to keep abreast of, it has consumed the time and effort of the news media to the cost of much else, not least the sanity of the British public.  The almost final blast of crazy exhortation from Donald Trump and the incredible events (yet somehow wholly imaginable in the US) in Washington DC have flagged up the fragility of the Western democracies.  Just how close to true insurrection and treason was the invasion of the Capitol building by Republican hardliners ?  It's a question we might all reflect upon.  Could it happen here in the UK even, if events continue to diminish the very freedoms that democracy portrays ?

Much is made of democracy.   It's what the Western world tries to implement but in measured and 'flexible' doses.  Nobody has the perfect system but it serves our cultural, economic, political and social needs better than any other form of governance around the world.  For that, we in the West should be thankful, for life on the other side of the democratic divide is woeful and very restrictive.  We may gripe and complain about this and that but on the whole we enjoy a far better scope of freedom and individual choice than is available in some of the less liberal societies.   And yet !   On the very doorstep of the most influential democracy in the world, we see spontaneous anarchy, the rapid wobble of government, the uncertainty and fear that something beyond control is happening.   Is that what we saw ?  Was the US that close to some major constitutional collapse ?  And if that was so, how was it possible for just a few thousand agents provocateurs stirred up by a notably crazy man to bring the very governance of the biggest free economy and upholder of freedoms to the very edge of an abyss ?   Not only that, but in the space of a couple of hours... 

The very fact that it happened does tell us that our freedoms and liberty's are built on relatively thin ice, that they can be attacked and interfered with comparatively easily.  We've seen how foreign interests can raid our internet space with cyber attacks, hack into the databases of national institutions like the NHS and our electoral registers, how they can directly interfere with democratic elections and the placement of officials in influential roles, how they can with relative impunity carry out hostile attacks on individuals in the West, how they can disregard the laws and treaties of places like Hong Kong, the Crimea, and the South China Sea, how they can infiltrate political and social structures in the West to foment discord and subversive reaction - all in the name of undermining democracy.

So we democrats (with a small 'd') might imagine that the very notion of democracy is regarded as a target for destruction by those who have opted (mostly unwillingly) for an authoritarian and centralised government system.   That emphasises a couple of thoughts.   One, that the authoritarian states feel threatened by the freedoms democracy espouses; two, that the authoritarian states desire absolute global control to exercise power over all.  Yet aren't both these thoughts counter-productive, though ?  The first suggests envy, the second suggests that once they have absolute control, they have no raison d'etre, no markets, no nothing.  Flip the coin and the West starts to lose its cheap production, its raw material sources and itinerant labour forces, without which the economic foundation of democracy founders.  In short, democracy and authoritarianism are perhaps mutually interdependent.  It's a gruesome thought, but perhaps how the balancing mechanisms work in this increasingly complex world we've created.   With that thought, Donald Trump is but a mere pawn on the global chessboard - though we all doubt he would see himself in that way...

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