“People were so ridiculous with their illusions…thinking their own lies opaque while everybody else’s were transparent.”
George Eliot, Middlemarch
We all tend to think we can lie and obscure our real motivations without other people seeing through us, while, at the same time, equally believing that we can see through their deceits and agendas as through plain glass.
This week has given us some particularly howling examples.
In Venezuela, Madoru’s supposedly socialist government, which, by the way , claimed 54% of the vote in a totally bogus election in 2017, despite not having more than 22% support in any credible polls for years, would rather see its people starve and its HIV patients reduced to drinking a herbal juice made from bay cedar leaf because antiretro-viral drugs are no longer available, than face a genuine, free election. There are 85,000 HIV patients in Venezuela and they have now all stopped receiving treatment. 80% of all medicines are now unavailable in Venezuela.
In Zimbabwe, what had started as a reasonably free election has degenerated into something more like the catastrophic charade we were used to under Mugabe. It is increasingly clear that neither ZANU-PF nor MDC are interested in the actual result and that neither would ever have accepted the victory of the other. And for what? Not for genuine policy differences anyway. Only for the pursuit of factional vested interests.
In the UK, a very small group of left wing activists in the Labour Party, who with very few exceptions, have never been elected to anything by anyone other than themselves, have insisted that there is no anti-semitism in the Labour Party and it is all a smear campaign by ‘Jewish Trump fanatics’. ‘Trump fanatics’ in the Labour party?
Also in the UK, a growing campaign for a second referendum on leaving the EU. All sorts of good reasons are put forward for it – mainly to do with giving people a choice over the details of the final deal (or absence of one). Interesting though, that none of the people calling for a second vote are ones who voted leave in the first one. Personally, I don’t want a second vote, I just wish we’d never had the first one. Referenda are nearly always divisive and destructive, splitting roughly 50:50.
Finally, in China, you might have thought that being given the presidency for life (a dubious honour last extended to Mao Zedong) President Xi Jinping would feel fairly secure. But no, so fragile is he and so afraid of the cartoon character Winnie the Pooh, that he has banned the new Disney film, Christopher Robin. Who would have thought that ‘a bear of very little brain’ could pose such a threat to the leader of the world’s second biggest economy? (Mind you, I’d have banned it too, for destroying Ernest Shepard’s beautiful Pooh illustrations.)
Such is the extraordinary power of freedom and why we can still hope that one day the fountain pen might yet be mightier than the sword.
Which one of these looks more like a bear of very little brain?
In case anyone still cares, this is what Pooh really looked like before Disney turned him into Xi-Jinping’s nemesis:
For all you need to know about everywhere, read The Dweller’s Guide To The Planet