What Now?

The subject of my previous posting was of no surprise. I have followed this Scheißfest over the past year, and have experienced the propaganda coming from both the hard-line right and the liberal or hard left. Since the election, the ideological battle is over. Corbyn’s Left is now dead, as is the trajectory towards some twenty-first century version of Nazism. The word to look out for now is realism, pragmatic realism. What will come under this notion escapes my limits of political or economic knowledge.

Johnson’s coup was very clever, and we never imagined it to be possible. It was about passing himself off for a bumbling and blustering fool, a liar and a scoundrel. He may well be a despicable personality, but he has rid the political world of Corbyn’s “soviet” dinosaur and there is a chance that the ERG will find itself on the same scrap heap as the Northern Irish Unionists.

I have discussed politics quite a lot on this blog, but I am not really a political animal. I have never had any contact with that world of playing games, manipulation and role-playing. I have been, and still am concerned for the ideal of Europe, even if the present European Union comes far short of enshrining that ideal. For me, the ideal should be far beyond money and politics. First of all, Europe is called to uphold the Christian ideal of morality and spirituality, and then show openness to an interplay between different cultures and other religions existing peacefully alongside the ambient Christianity. It is my dream, as it was for Novalis as he wrote Christenheit oder Europa. Europe was never entirely Christian, because Christianity is not political absolutism but a freely embraced life of faith, prayer and compassion for fellow human beings, especially the weak and downtrodden.

The change in the UK is as sudden as it is radical. Some were able to anticipate this from a wide and detached view. As late as last Thursday, I wondered if it would be best for there to be a hung Parliament, another five years of the same and a political collapse leading to something completely new. Now something can happen and bring resolution in some way.

I am not a political activist, but a thinker. I very often miss the point but I think we need to be concerned more for the spiritual and cultural dimension. Already M. Macron is expressing his desire for a special relationship with the UK even after leaving the EU. “À nos amis Britanniques : vous avez entériné le Brexit, mais vous ne quittez pas l’Europe. Vous restez à nos côtés, et nous restons aux vôtres“. Here is the important distinction that shows the European ideal as something that transcends the present institutions in Brussels and Strasbourg.

There will be a Brexit, hopefully with a coherent and credible deal as was worked out by Theresa May and reworked since then. The movement against Brexit is now dead, at least in terms of political activism. The idea needs now to turn to the highest cosmopolitan ideal of Europe. I am now optimistic that Mr Johnson no longer has to compromise with far-right fanatics, but rather that he will have the freedom to sort out something that works for the benefit of both the UK and the EU. Time will tell.

What do some of us want? We need to have a positive vision. It is not enough to be fearful of the prospect of a totalitarian dystopia. We need to analyse and rethink our desires for the same liberties as were fought for in the early nineteenth century: the separation and secular and religious powers, the freedom of conscience and expression, diversity of cultural values observing the laws in place, many other issues. These questions need to be thought out and expressed with nobility of spirit and intelligence, not as “hot button” emotional triggers like gender, feminism, homosexual sub-culture, irrational and angry ideas about climate change and ecology and so forth. All these issues need to be discussed, but rationally and away from the slogans and drumbeats of activists.

As it was two hundred years ago, we need to return to rationalism and the need for rigorous thought – but at the same time leave full scope for the human experience of imagination and desire. I am concerned about a possible regression into a culture of “post truth”, irrationalism, blame games, “us and them” and a sub-bestial future of humanity. We need to be new Romantics, living to the full, experiencing and expressing it all in the way each of us does best. There is no limit to the imagination, no laws or restrictions!

The European aspiration must become something new, cultural and spiritual, far beyond markets, trade and money. It needs to be a harbinger of hope and change, not the stick-in-the-mud status quo that fearfully resists change.

Many of us English will continue to live in Europe, as circumstances have dictated for me, reinforced by ideals. Some will acquire the nationality of where they live to overcome the rupture between the UK and the EU. The process is difficult and long, because we have to deal with bureaucracy and process. Those of us who live in other countries have enriched our experience as would never have happened had we remained in England and our familiar surroundings.

I hope and believe that my country of origin will go forward in an entirely new way and that the dire forecasts of narrow parochialism will dissipate as the view of the world goes far beyond Europe. Certainly the UK will be closer to the USA, even in a future post-Trump climate, closer to Australia, New Zealand and some of the former colonies. The balance has tipped over and the country will go into the unknown, perhaps into that Ungrund from which comes light and grace.

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2 Responses to What Now?

  1. Rubricarius says:

    I wish I could share your optimism Fr Anthony. My sense of the situation is that the ERG is very much still alive and steering the ship and that Brexit is going to get harder, not softer. My belief is that the idea of the revised WA and the eleventh month transition period is really about getting a trade deal with the US as first priority and the liklihood of little better than no deal at the end of December 2020 with our largest trading partner.

    Whilst not keen on the man I have found the demonisation of Corbyn OTT and in my own estimation BloJo&Co pose a much greater and real threat to the liberties of the people of the UK than Corbyn ever did.

    Of course I might be wrong, indeed I hope I am wrong, but I see great trouble ahead unless something drastic happens to change the unfolding trajectory.

    • I think you are right, Paul, bits and pieces in the news and on Facebook over the past few days leave us to suppose that the new line is the most right-wing. No deal in December 2020. I face the future with trepidation, even though I am naturalised in France. The problem with Corbyn is that he handed the whole thing to BoJo on a plate. A different Labour Party would have won. Let’s see if Trump gets impeached and that might put a crimp in BoJo’s plans, especially if Killary Clinton gets elected! This world gets nastier and nastier.

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