MITCH BENN says that all things built on lies will fail and – with Brexit – it’s just a matter of when.
It’s my one “day off” at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Every other day until Sunday 25th I’ll be performing my show Ten Songs To Save The World (3.45pm at Underbelly Bristo Square) as well as popping up doing guest spots on various late night cabarets and improv shows, but today, there is nothing in my schedule at all.
This is very much by design; one of the many hazards one encounters at the Fringe is the tendency for one’s voice to start giving out after a week or so. As such, having that one day away from the stage can be vital if one’s vocal chords are to survive until the finish line. I remember one year I foolishly accepted a gig in Glasgow on the day in question (I didn’t notice the date when the gig was offered) and thus didn’t GET a day off for the whole Festival; by the end of the run I was in a fair bit of pain and sounded a lot like Tom Waits.
Mindful of the necessity never to make such a mistake again, I resolved to keep the diary clear for today and do nothing.
Except I didn’t, because that’s impossible, unless I could somehow manage to cease to exist for 24 hours.
This is something which keeps coming up in the ongoing Brexit shambles; the fact that it’s impossible to make an entirely negative decision without ending up in an insoluble paradox.
Much as the problem with various factions within the House Of Commons proposing to ‘rule out’ No Deal is that you CAN’T ‘rule out’ No Deal without ruling something else IN (basically revocation of Article 50, since that’s all that’s available to us now), one can’t – or rather one DOESN’T – decide NOT to do something. What one does, whether one is aware of this or not, is decide TO do something else.
If you wake up one morning afflicted with ennui and exhaustion and you’re lucky enough not to have any commitments that day, you might say to yourself “I’m not getting out of bed today”. This is your prerogative, but what then happens is NOT you “not getting out of bed”. What happens is you STAYING in bed.
If you’re feeling less inert but similarly unmotivated, you might get out of bed but then decide “I’m not leaving the house today”. Again, fine, but what you would then DO is not “not leave the house”. What you would DO is stay inside the house.
When one decides against a course of action, what then happens is not the absence of the action NOT undertaken, but the PRESENCE of the action undertaken INSTEAD. ALL decisions are positive, even if we frame them in negative terms.
All decisions that it’s possible to follow up on, that is.
Which leads us inevitably back to Brexit.
As the great and tireless Femi Oluwole has been pointing out for months now, one of the reasons there hasn’t been — and can’t ever be – a consensus on what Brexit means is that the sole reason Brexit is being pursued – the 2016 referendum – was expressed in terms so hopelessly vague as to make consensus impossible.
A narrow majority voted to ‘leave the European Union’, but literally dozens of possible scenarios would satisfy that demand, from Norway Plus up to and including floating mines into the Channel and declaring war on France. Even if, as seems to have been decided upon, only the opinions of the ‘victorious’ 52% are to be considered, there’s such a bewildering variety of interpretations and aspirations within that 52% that all talk of ‘the will of the majority’ is dishonest.
But the problem is even deeper than that: the question the referendum posed was, in epistemological terms, meaningless, being essentially a binary choice between ‘Keep on doing a thing’ (the thing in question being maintaining our membership of the EU) and ‘Stop doing a thing’. The narrow win for the latter option put us in the untenable position of having made a negative decision: we chose simply to stop doing something without settling on, or even addressing, what we were going to do instead.
The reason the Brexit ‘decision’ hasn’t been acted upon is that it CAN’T be acted upon, at least not honestly. One has to pretend that it was something entirely other than what it was, and that is precisely the lie which our unelected lying Prime Minister and the cadre of professional liars he has assembled to amplify his lies are telling you right now. That they’d always said that No Deal was the most probable outcome (it was, but they all insisted it was impossible) and that the 52% were made aware of this ahead of the vote (they were, but only by OUR side, and they were told to dismiss this as ‘Project Fear’).
Unlike our unelected lying Prime Minister, I don’t believe that the British people are too stupid ever to see through this. One way or another, a reckoning is coming in the next few months. Keep making the case. Keep flagging up the lies. Keep having the argument. Be a pain in the Brexit movement’s collective arse.
Brexit WILL fall, as all things built on lies must. It’s just a question of when, and how much damage it does on the