The calm before the storm?

Dave – the editor

Trying to keep on top of the multiple crises that are the component parts of the shitshow we’re having to endure at the moment is getting harder and harder. The temptation to just say ‘f**k it’, zone out and try to live the best life we can under the circumstances can be pretty overwhelming at times. In case you hadn’t noticed, there have been a number of occasions where we’ve temporarily dropped of the radar for a few days to try and get our heads together, hence the gaps in blogging. The problem is that as much as we’d like to escape the ongoing shitshow, in a number of ways, it’s impacting our lives and the indications are that it’s going to get worse. How it will get worse is anybody’s guess to be honest. If we could accurately predict what’s to come, we’d have set ourselves up as consultants and would be doing pretty well for ourselves, thank you very much! What this brief(ish) piece is intended to do is to take a few steps back, try as best we can to work out what’s going on and how that will dictate the way we operate with our very limited resources.

Unease

Some of the impacts of the ongoing shitshow on our lives are evident as soon as we walk out of the front door where we currently live in Thurrock. In fact, we don’t even have to leave the house to hear stuff that tells us there’s something in the air and it’s not good! By the way, that’s not just the level of air pollution in Thurrock which incidentally, is shockingly high…

We’re talking about being woken up at 4.30 am in the morning to hear some arsewipe riding a motorbike round and round the neighbourhood, making as much noise as they can. We’re talking about going out for a walk over the local nature reserve and seeing nihilistic, pointless vandalism. A nature reserve is supposed to be a place to get away from the cares of the world for a while. It shouldn’t have to be somewhere where you feel you have to start looking over your shoulder just to stay safe. We’re talking about going down for a walk along the seafront at Leigh-on-Sea and seeing a regular police presence because over the last two years, the place has become a venue for some pretty brutal gang clashes: Leigh families fear rise in gang crime across the town 27.5.22.

Cops patrolling the waterfront at Leigh-on-Sea

You only have to scan the headlines in the local media to see that the situation is deteriorating. Our part of Essex has always had a reputation for being a bit rough but it feels that things are getting more nihilistic. There’s an element that really does not give a shit and they’re getting increasingly brazen about taking it out on the rest of us.

Lockdown harms

I’m not a sociologist so my observations are anecdotal and based on my experience of life. The thing is that I’m far from alone in feeling that there’s an underlying current of something pretty nasty making it’s way to the surface.

There are a number of reasons for that but it has to be acknowledged that one of them is the harms caused by the lockdowns that were implemented in a bid to ‘deal with’ Covid. There’s a cohort of kids who have experienced two years of disrupted schooling as a consequence of the lockdowns. Even some of those from comfortable middle class backgrounds suffered. The kids from already troubled/deprived backgrounds who in normal circumstances would have had a certain level support from teachers to keep them on the right path didn’t in many cases get that in lockdown. They were pushed to the edge or right out of what passed for an education system during lockdown. They feel they’ve been rejected by society and that they owe society nothing back in return.

As mentioned earlier, this is manifesting itself in situations like the nihilistic gang fighting in Leigh-on-Sea. We’re looking at a degree of nihilism that goes to the point where some of these kids don’t particularly seem to care if they live or die. By the way, if you think this is bad, you ain’t seen nothing yet!

Some other manifestations of the crisis

The harms of the lockdowns are slowly starting to be acknowledged as it becomes increasingly clear they can’t be swept under the carpet for ever. On top of this, there are a number of other crises impacting us. Which is why we frequently use the tern clusterf**k to characterise what’s going on!

People are already aware of the cost of living crisis. Unless you’re living self sufficiently off grid, it’s only too obvious that the price of pretty much everything is going one way and that’s up! There are also supply chain issues, the causes of which are various, complex and in some cases, the fuel for ‘conspiracy theories’. The explanations for these issues range from incompetence, through to factors such as the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine resulting in a lot of agricultural produce from those countries not making it to the markets they’re supposed to make it to. Here’s one explanation for you to mull over: The REAL agenda behind the created food crisis 1.6.22. For those here in the UK who claim that the major factor in food supply chain disruption and rising fuel prices is Brexit, there’s this: Rush to stock up on oil and flour in France: sales up 55% on 2021 15.4.22 and this: U.S. Food Supply Is Under Pressure, From Plants to Store Shelves 23.1.22 which both indicate this is in fact a bit of a global issue.

A long queue of passengers at Manchester airport

As well as this, for those who still have the budget to fly abroad for a break, a clusterf**k of issues in the aviation sector is making that difficult to say the least: Half-term airport chaos: what’s gone wrong? 31.5.22. Staying on the subject of transportation, at the same time as we’re being exhorted to make less use of the car and instead, walk, cycle or use public transport, bus services are suffering massive cuts: New research reveals 1 in 4 bus services have disappeared in a decade – urgent action needed 4.4.22. This is either a serious lack of joined up thinking or as the ‘conspiracy theorists’ would have it, the powers that be just don’t want us plebs to be mobile…

The NHS has been in one kind of crisis or another for a long time – some would argue for decades. The way the NHS was reconfigured to ‘deal’ with Covid and the fact it has not gone back to its previous configuration has served to greatly exacerbate the crisis. This ranges from increasing problems in getting an appointment with a GP: As patients say they can’t get a face-to-face GP appointment, why this could be a glimpse of the future 2.3.22 through to record numbers on hospital waiting lists: NHS waiting list: Number of people waiting more than a year for treatment almost 200 times higher than pre-pandemic 15.4.22.

These are just a few examples of where things are screwing up – there are many, many more. Overall, there’s a general sense that for a complex range of reasons, nothing is working as it should.

Letting off steam in the calm before the storm

A growing number of people are hurting. Those that aren’t fear that they could well end up hurting. Those who think they are relatively secure are nevertheless concerned about a future where a growing number of people feel they have nothing left to lose as they get pushed to or out beyond the margins. All of this is coming in the aftermath of the lockdowns and restrictions that were imposed in the name of ‘dealing with’ Covid.

While a lot of things have not gone back to the way they were in 2019, there’s a sense that enough has lifted to allow those people who haven’t already been stymied by the more recent manifestations of the clusterf**k a bit of leeway to let their hair down, albeit only temporarily. Being out and about, it’s pretty clear that’s exactly what a fair number of people are doing! What’s also probably informing this is the sense that the ongoing crises will worsen and suck more people in, so they might as well take the chance to let off steam while they can before the s**t hits the fan. When we’ve been out and about, witnessing the revellers on the streets, we can’t help thinking there’s a bit of a ‘fin de siècle’ feeling to what we’re seeing…

A breakdown of trust

All of this is taking place against the background of a growing level of mistrust in government, the corporations, the medical profession, experts (so called), and last but by no means least, the media. Given what we’ve been subjected to since March 2020, that level of mistrust is perfectly understandable. The problem is that while there are those of us who can see through a lot of the bullshit, there are also still too many who take the word of the media and some of the so called experts as the gospel. From our personal perspective, we’ve seen this creating division and mistrust. Regular readers of this blog will be in absolutely no doubt as to how the last two years have caused ructions between us and an anarchist movement we really don’t feel we belong to any more!

Because we’ve become so mistrustful, sometimes we have to check ourselves to make sure we’re not going too deep down a rabbit hole. Mind you, with what was being dismissed as conspiracy theory just two years ago starting to actually come true, there aren’t too many rabbit holes left to get trapped by. While in the past, sections of the media had at the least the appearnce of having more gravitas than they do now, there has always been bias and partisan coverage. All that has happened over the last few years is that it’s become more obvious to a growing number of people that the media spouts bollocks.

As we go deeper into the clusterf**k of rising food, fuel and energy prices, alongside supply chain issues and staff shortages screwing up transportation and health care, you would like a media that’s capable of joined up thinking. As it stands, we have a media that pretty much consistently misses the point. Which is why we’re having to rely on so called ‘alternative’ sources of news and commentary who are willing to make the effort to join the dots in an evidence based, credible manner.

Where are we heading?

We have global institutions, governments and media fewer people trust, a clusterf**k of crises, all combined with increasingly resentful populations. An increasing proportion of those populations feel politically homeless.

The fear expressed by some commentators and activists is that such a situation will pave the way for fascism. A lot of people expressing these fears look back to the past with the rise of Mussolini and Hitler and fear that history will repeat itself. Despite having been complicit in creating a political vacuum by callously dismissing people’s concerns about the lockdowns, the left and many anarchists screamed blue murder about the small number of alt-right groups trying to hijack these concerns. In so doing, the left and many anarchists mistakenly wrote off the whole of the anti-lockdown movement as being alt-right. While they’re fretting about this, when it comes to fascism, somehow, they’ve managed to avoid any mention of the elephant in the room…

Namely that it’s the government’s who presume to rule over us and the corporations they serve as well as the many useful idiots doing their bidding who are foisting a 21st century form of fascism on us right now. A phenomena that’s analysed in depth in this piece from Architects for Social Housing: 7. Fascism, Neoliberalism and the Left (The Road to Fascism: For a Critique of the Global Biosecurity State) 29.5.22. Look at Canada for an example of how far a government can go in implementing what has been described as techno-fascism. Look at how state capitalist China who with their blatant cruel and viscious authoritarianism deployed in the name of supposedly ‘containing’ Covid, winning the admiration of too many in the West who are only too happy to borrow from their playbook.

As the ongoing clusterf**k intensifies, don’t be surprised when those who presume to rule over us bring in a raft of measures ranging from social credits through to various forms of rationing to essentially, keep the lid on an increasingly volatile situation and to keep us under control. All allegedly for ‘our own good’ or for ‘the good of the planet’. Your 21st century version of fascism will be enabled and implemented by apps and maybe, increasingly by implanted chips. It will come, on the surface anyway, with a high tech smile and quite possibly, emojis as well. The shifty, violent side will in the main be kept from view and just applied to us refuseniks. Obviously, in order to keep the populace at large in check, the violent, shifty side will be revealed from time to time as those who step out of line are demonised before being battered senseless or worse. A balance of carrot and stick if you like…

Conclusion

Our fear is that as things increasingly break down and as social tensions rise as a consequence, too many people, probably not a majority but a big enough minority to swing things, will happily embrace the techno-fascism to come in exchange for an illusory sense of stability. With the way the Covid crisis was leveraged, those who presume to rule us know they can influence things in the way they want them to go. Covid was incredibly useful to them for that alone. Whether they can do that a second time around is a moot point.

On the one hand, no one likes to admit they’ve been had. As a consequence of this there’s a lot of doubling down at the moment, some from people who really should know better! On the other hand, there are enough people who have re-evaluated what was done to them during the Covid crisis and have vowed to never allow that to happen again.

After the easing off of lockdowns and restrictions, a lot of us took our foot off the gas for a bit to try and recover. To be fair, it’s a rare few who can constantly keep going against the odds. We salute those people… However, looking at the way things are going and sensing a certain tension in the air, it would be negligent of us to keep our foot off the gas.

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