Happy New Year by Barbara Nadel

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Well, let’s hope it’s a happy 2017 shall we. For me, both personally and in the horror-story that is geo-politics 21st century style, 2016 was a nightmare. That’s why I’ve only just got around to wishing people the compliments of the season. When your year begins with a burglary and ends with a car accident there’s not too much you can say. Oh and then of course we had the ghastliness of the terrorist attack on Reina nightclub in Istanbul. I spent the early hours of 2017 hugging my cats and crying.

But now it’s Friday 13th and a bar of steel has entered my soul. New year, new book for a kick off. This is an Ikmen story called ‘The House of Four’ and is, in part, about what happens when people lock themselves away. It ain’t pretty. It did also get me thinking about how ‘we’ (liberals, socialists, atheists, the ‘normally’ religious) go about fighting the rising tide of right-wing intolerance that is sweeping our world. What we can’t do, however much we may want to, is hide.

A lot of the success of these modern right-wing juntas seems to depend upon ‘post truth’. This is politics (and religion and anything else you like) that makes itself up as it goes along. The charge that ‘you’re lying’ doesn’t work any more and is greeted with derision because, apparently, if people want to believe something then it isn’t a lie. So if you’re someone like Donald Trump or Nigel Farage you can come out with complete nonsense and, if people like what you say, it will become ‘true’. Not only that, it will also become ‘the will of the people’. And anyone who then opposes it will have to be by definition part of the awful ‘metropolitan elite’. This from millionaires, kleptocrats (like Putin) and hypocritical Iranian ayatollahs who like to play at allaying themselves with the ‘poor’. Trump claims to ‘love’ the ‘uneducated’ and a lot of them, in turn, love him. But they won’t love him when he reveals himself as he really is, when he raids their benefits and their pensions to feed his own greed. Because he will. All these people do. Kill or imprison the educated and, figuratively, fuck the uneducated. This is why, when they are found out, such people meet terrible ends. Think about Colonel Gaddafi with a metal pole up his arse in the last moments of his life. People found him out.

But all this takes time. Sadly. So what can we do in the meantime? Well, for a start ‘we’ have to  begin challenging this ‘metropolitan elite’ bullshit. I won’t have it. I may be educated but I’m about as ‘elite’ as a plastic bag. I don’t think that too many of the ‘elite’ have to scrabble down the back of the sofa to find cash for parking. So bung it back at them. Liberal, or whatever you are, yes. Elite, no, that’s you, pal.

I don’t suggest we go ‘post-truth’ too but I do suggest that we call it out. And when hordes of their adoring followers tell us to shut up and go back to our muesli I would humbly advise we tell them to fuck off. They’re tough, I’ll give them that and we do have to emulate them on that score. There is a perception that all liberals are ‘Snowflakes’ – addicted to ‘safe spaces’ and unable to deal with ‘unpleasantness’. This is of course stereotypical nonsense. But we do have to shut it down. Populists love stereotypes and we have to use every opportunity to close that debate and point out all the questions they fail, again and again, to answer. Like ‘why do you love the uneducated so much? Is it because you think they can be easily manipulated? And if you do, what does that say about how you view your ‘followers’?’ ‘How is your anti-immigrant rhetoric any different from the hate spewed around by organisations like ISIS? It’s not different is it?’ ‘Oh and by the way, don’t you think that equating yourself with whatever God you claim to follow is a bit hypocritical given that you’re a rampant asset stripper who likes to grope women?’

2017 HAS to be the year of getting tough. Because if we don’t get tough, we’ll lose and that isn’t an option.

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