going underground

Today Mars and Pluto both go retrograde, which is to say they look like they are going backwards in the sky, as seen from Earth. For Mars this will last till past mid-Summer (most of the Summer if you count the emergence from the retrograde “shadow period”*), while Pluto will be at it till Autumn. Just relax, it’ll be fine if you make it fine, but be prepared for Mars going all the way back into gnashing and wailing Scorpio (just kidding).

Over here in the UK we have lots of talk about the European Union (EU), and the possibility of withdrawing from it, with a referendum being held just in time for Summer silly season. A lot of people are confused, and I can’t blame them. The discussion is so full of hot air, finger wagging warnings, and people signalling their virtuous or cautious identities, that people probably wonder why they would be expected to trust anybody. The exiteers are being led (at least in terms of publicity) by about as unprepossessing a bunch of carnival hucksters and political greys as you could imagine, while the “stay” option is being pushed by a somewhat troubled status quo (with the exception of the SNP who don’t ideally want to be part of the UK), and half heartedly by the “opposition”.

What is apparent from the things flying about is just how superficial, negative and judgemental a lot of the terms are, rather than constructive. As Brendan O’Neill points out, there seems to be an assumption that people who disagree with the EU dislike Europe itself and its peoples, so anyone who is anti the EU must be xenophobic, racist, a “little Englander”. But the EU and Europe are not the same thing. We are part of Europe by virtue of geography and history, and nothing changes that. Most people here probably think of Europe as a place of culture and beauty, a place less “spoiled” than Britain. The EU is a political organization, not the countries themselves, and not their peoples. It will have pluses and minuses,  faults and virtues, but it is an organization that is meant to do a job, not a moral category or a symbolic stand in for entire populations.

The migration and refugee crisis has been a chance for the EU to show that it really can respond constructively and efficiently to real events, and it has been a shambles. When you had a situation like Merkel telling people they could come to Germany and didn’t need to get processed first, just come, and then the countries between the migrants and Germany weren’t prepared to cope with the chaos and lack of process, and then the whole open arms policy gets thrown into reverse, it really doesn’t take an Einstein to see that this was not organized or planned properly. People sling about emotional arguments and accusations, as if good intentions were what refugees needed. But good intentions are shit in the world of organizing a service or a response to a crisis. Who deals with the mess? Ordinary people, whoever they are. The same people who have fingers wagged at them for not having “good intentions”, because they weren’t on board with the program that no one asked them about¹. And most people genuinely want to help people in need, but they want that rather than empty gestures from politicians and journalists. But in the world of chattering judgement and moral declarations, you are either arms open with a bleeding heart, or you are Hitler. Basically. And that is pathetic.

Troubling it certainly is, but only an idiot would be surprised by the rise of right wing populism in Europe. There are answers to these things, but wagging fingers and morally polarising opinion isn’t one of them. Reason is much cooler than righteousness here.

Politicians tell people things to get responses; the response they want en masse. That’s what we are to politicians, a mass, because they are concerned with the body politic. But people aren’t a mass, they are individuals with lives. When political organizations, any political organizations, take a collectivising approach, even “for your good”, it is just always going to smell bad at some point. But there is always that struggle with politics, somehow getting the individual, the space for real people, into the picture. Keeping politics in its place.

Good luck.

* ie the time it takes for the planet to get back to the point in the zodiac where it first started travelling backwards.

¹ not to mention the migrants themselves, who become a political cargo as well as a human one at times



  1. I feel I am slowly becoming more Eurosceptic. Partly because I am starting to see Eurosceptics other than the world class quacks that, apparently, represent us. People like Brendan who are actually reasonable people, and yet it’s not entirely through purely reason that I relate to him (we’re both libertarians based on belief in the primacy of the ideal of freedom and liberty – I’d say that means we have a somewhat moral concern towards the ideal, I know I do for one). Partly because I’m deeply suspicious of the fact that David Cameron is now supporting remaining in the EU, after I remember him wanting us out of the EU in the first place, which begs the question of why does he want us in the EU all of a sudden? Partly because have I feel there is an increasing pattern of illiberalism in European countries, with France, Germany, and Belgium as examples that spring to my mind, that the EU shows no interest in holding them to account for, which they would if they favored liberty and democracy, meanwhile we actually believe that the EU will hold the UK to account for its plan to censor porn and police the Internet. And partly because the more I read about the European Union, the more it feels like i have to wonder why we’re a part of it in the first place. And I even find myself questioning the argument I even was willing to accept for staying – mostly because, as I said. Not to mention, the EU apparently wants to put pressure on America as part of an alliance with Iran, and America has no involvement with or stake in the EU at least to my knowledge. The more I think about it, the more I feel like I don’t really support it that much for what it is.

    It’s quite interesting to hear that if we leave the EU, Scotland might push to leave the UK. So if we leave, the UK may face a serious upheaval of the political establishment. Given that the political establishment with the EU is keen on denouncing those who disagree with it as racist idiots simply for criticizing Brussells, it might be interesting to see that establishment get shaken up. And because this establishment is probably the real reason why I feel pushed away from supporting the EU in any way. I could argue that I’m European by flesh because I’m part-Italian from my dad’s side (though I would prefer to consider myself American, for reasons not pertaining to my biology and geography). I can’t really be anti-Europe, and I’m not a far-right nationalist either, just skeptical towards the EU. But it’s the establishment that seems to lord over everyone who disagrees by practically dismissing their voice that I think could do to be challenged.

    • We are honestly undecided but find ourselves tending the same way, asking questions and trying to find alternative voices to the standard discussion which is “agree with us or else you’ll suffer financially, and you’d be a nationalist racist if you don’t”. It’s just that 360 degree assumption that the world is made up of smooth political operators and their bright eyed constituents, or else the rabid, unregenerate common people that can’t be trusted – the fabled “man with a white van” so despised by elements of the Labour Party and the gin and tonic quaffing media. I would never have guessed I would feel this critical, but something really turns my stomache about the media treatment of the subject, as with a few other things. There is a real arrogance, and loss of touch with ordinary social reality involved, and also a seeming amnesia over what I would call liberal values, which have been replaced by a sense of acceptable political virtue, which can basically be used to do the soft sell on authoritarianism quite comfortably, as with the abdication of freedom of speech in favour of censorship of the “unacceptible”. I see how we got here, over many years, but I also now see where we are, and it’s not an encouraging sight.

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