From David Maughan Brown in York: A tale of two delusions

3rd June

I’m beginning to think that I am destined to live much of my life under the shadow of irredeemably deluded governments.  

The first half of my life was ruled over by South Africa’s apartheid government, which deluded itself on the basis of an assumption of racial superiority that it could, in perpetuity, brutally ‘dominate’ – to use a Trumpism – the vastly more numerous black population of the country.  They were happy to go it alone in this inevitably futile endeavour in the face of almost universal hostility from the rest of the world, partly because they had managed to develop a Theology that helped them to believe that their God was entirely supportive of their project.   Even when they managed to decipher the writing on the wall, they embarked on the negotiations to end apartheid under the delusion that their racial superiority would ensure that they could run rings around the African National Congress representatives during those negotiations and would end up still effectively in charge.  Wrong again.

Our current ‘UK’ government, exclusively populated as it is by English nationalist Brexiteers, is equally deluded, and many of the signs of that delusion are not at all unlike the symptoms presented by the apartheid government.  Instead of straight racial superiority, this lot appear to be informed by an overweening sense of national superiority.  Any multilateral or bilateral trade agreement for which they are not exclusively responsible, and over which they do not have exclusive jurisdiction, is seen as a potential threat to a mythical ‘sovereignty’, elevated so high that it appears to have become the equivalent of the Afrikaners’ deity.  Our English cabinet’s sense of superiority over the Scots the Welsh and the Irish makes a mockery of a ‘United’ Kingdom as they go it alone with their lethally inept response to the present pandemic.

Much of that response demonstrates all too clearly just how badly a sense of national superiority gets in the way of rational government.  The UK had weeks in which to watch other countries responding to the spread of Covid-19, to learn the lessons and to make suitable preparations.   But when you are the best in the world at everything there isn’t anything anyone can teach you, and following the good example set by any other country might be seen to undermine the sacred ‘sovereignty’ of your independence.  So why bother to notice that New Zealand, which has handled the pandemic better than almost anyone, imposed its entry restrictions and quarantine as soon as the pandemic struck, not three months later once tens of thousands of people had already been allowed to die?  

Boris claiming to be proud of his government’s handling of Covid-19, and boasting that his risible testing and tracking system is ‘world beating’, is on a par with a six-year old child, who hasn’t even learnt how to brush his hair yet, jumping up and down on a tub in the playground chanting “I’m the king of the castle, and you’re the dirty rascal!” at the rest of the world.  Part of Boris’s problem is, of course, that much of the rest of the world is not as impressed by kings as it once was, and is no longer prepared to accept being relegated to inferior status.  

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