May You Live in Interesting Times

May you live in interesting times is a British expression that we often say the Chinese said. To be honest, I don’t know if this is true or not, but I certainly now feel the tension and anxiety such an idea proclaims in so few words. The current period the UK will is going through will undoubtedly become a period of time that many academics base an entire career on the study of how a union of countries disintegrated, the UK not the EU.

In simple terms, I honestly wish I wasn’t going through these times. Many others will be the same. I studied politics at university, and I’d consider myself a bit of a politics geek. Still, the last few years have killed any of the romantic ideas I had about politics. Reading the news now feels like a war of attrition. Journalists never seem to ask basic questions that would show how crazy government policy is. Allowing politicians away with re-writing history as it suits them. How did we not realise that 1984 would be an instruction manual for certain people and not a cautionary tale?

It is as if I now live in some mashup between 1984, Darkness at Noon, and any Philip K Dick novel you want to name. Life feels crazy. Unrelenting, and pushing forward with ideas that make no sense to rational thought, all seemingly guided by abstract notions of sovereignty that don’t stand up to 10 seconds of reflection. Did we not teach critical thinking?

Is this why we don’t teach basic economics at school? The ability for the public to see through government’s lies is a skill politicians don’t want people to have? Would it not be a skill that everyone needs to have for a “democracy” to work? Along with actionable prison time for politicians who lie? We could maybe also look at philosophy classes. Rather than having people sneer at philosophy, we can use it to teach them how to think and create logical arguments. For democracy to work, we need to re-do our education system and create an equal footing for everyone.

That also seems to be the problem for Brexit. The Tories can not understand the equal footing the EU is demanding. If you had a level playing field in the UK do you really imagine that Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson would be prime minister? I could honestly open my kitchen window, throw a lump of cheese, and the person it hits would be a better choice. The entrenched social hierarchy in the UK is one of the things that has led to the current kleptocracy.

The lowering of education is one of those things that helps keep and bring Tories to power. Look at their use of vacuous phrases. It is designed to sound big and impressive to people with lower educational achievement. I may sound derogatory here, and I don’t mean to. It is just that by having a populace with lower critical thinking skills that the UK would follow the US march to populism and “alt-right” ideas. Ideas that you can see through if you’ve had a semi-decent tertiary education but which sound more appealing if you dropped out of school at 16.

I think I’ll end this here. It is for you to fill in my blanks and work out if I’m right ot wrong.

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