The Game is Over

There is something about the events of the past week that seems to confirm that the game is now well and truly over. It wasn’t a re-run of Saigon, or Teheran or the Bay of Pigs, though it looked very much like it. It was far worse with a hint of finality about it. I had a hunch that when the great celebrations erupted with the defeat of Donald Trump, the devil we didn’t know was going to be much worse that the one we did and so it turned out to be.

They say that we get the leaders we deserve. Well now we know.  Where is the Churchill, the De Gaulle the Mandela the Havel? There were those who said, that as far as the west was concerned, Donald Trump was our only hope. Its hard to believe, but there surely was some truth in that. Biden has simply replaced a loud mouth with a feeble one. Our own bungling buffoon styled himself on Churchill, but it was all bluff. There would be no fighting on the beeches or the landing grounds instead he chose to run, first from the illiberal mob on their diet of identity politics, then from the virus and now from the Taliban. Ahmad Massoud the only glimmer of light in the resistance is now isolated with his fighters in the Panjshir valley. The people of Hong Kong, Taiwan, Crimea, Ukraine and the Baltic states now know they are on their own. The Uighurs, Armenians and Kurds are not likely to get any help soon. We have pulled up the drawbridge and retired to our lager. But this time we are unlikely to defend even that.  Our belief in our selves has gradually collapsed after decades of self-induced self-doubt, self-loathing and crippling guilt and we are ready to throw in the towel.

If western civilisation does implode, as it could well do, and all that remains are the architectural ruins of our cathedrals and cities, the lost symphonies, plays and novels the half-remembered philosophies, sciences and poetry and the faint recollection of a now forgotten way of life, what will the world look like then?   It could be, as Churchill suggested, “the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science” This time that science in the control of politicians, would include the horrific might of nuclear and biological weapons and with an all-seeing all-knowing all-powerful technology. It could be a world fuelled by big pharma, big tech, big data, big-business and big-government whether as a centrally controlled totalitarian state or a worldwide Caliphate. Or it could be the demise of overgrown empires and a world scattered into small nations of little people. It’s impossible to know or second guess, but the times they are a changing, that’s for sure.

It was an act of mercy that God brought confusion on the people building their tower on Shinar plain, and he may do that again. It is certainly true that throughout history all empires, though they looked unmovable and unbeatable at the time, eventually, did fall and sometimes spectacularly so. In the Genesis account it was interesting that he didn’t destroy the tower. He confused their language so they couldn’t communicate easily.  The parallel with the comprehensive and immediate communication available through the internet is striking and if this giant suffered a complete breakdown the world would be quite different altogether. That’s a strong possibility and not all that fanciful either.

Crawford Mackenzie

This is what history looks like

It was something Douglas Murray said. He of the “The Strange Death of Europe” and “The Madness of crowds” and one of the few people who seem to have a handle on where we are.  It was in the course of an interview, when he was describing a story from Tolstoy’s “The death of Ivan Ilych” when the judge thought he was dying and remembered being on a train, convinced it was going one way, when it was always going the other way. “How on earth could something like this happen”, he was thinking, followed by the realisation that it was happening.  It seemed to sum up the way Murray wasfeeling about our present crisis. There was no end and no limit to the absurdity, the irony and the crazy happenings. The thought that “This can’t be happening. This is not what happens” quickly followed by a second thought “Yes this is what happens, this is history, this is what history looks like.” 

It was also something that David Starkey said about history. We think history changes gradually and morphs smoothly into different phases. He said it didn’t. Things slowly build up and then explode. History pivots on one small event. A bullet takes the life of a Duke and the World is catapulted into a war when million are slain. A plane flies into a tower and hundreds of thousands die in a land far away. A cartoon is published in a newspaper and gunmen are on the rampage. A mobile phone video is released and statues are thrown into the sea. History it seemed, turns on a pin and in the case of the current crisis, in a matter of a few days, over a weekend, when the nightmare of lockdown was birthed.

We have seen the build-up, for a long time now. This was best explained for me in the two most incisive studies that I have read on the subject: “Dominion” by Tom Holland which showed how we have what we have and “The strange death of Europe” which showed how we are throwing it all away. The dismantling of marriage and the dismembering of the family, the relativity of truth, the fluidity of reality, the replacing the real with the material, the worship of the gods of health and wellbeing instead of the one true God. David Robertson in “The wee flea” has at the same time consistently shown that by destroying the root we eventually destroy the fruit. In one of his more recent and devastatingly pertinent posts ( he suggests that law and order itself is on the point of collapse.   

So with each day as the news become more and more bizarre, it is genuinely quite hard to believe if it is all true, if this is actually happening. Whether it is the sudden obsession with statues, the police kneeling before protestors, the laws clamping down on individual’s liberties but winking at thousands on the march. the insanity of social distancing in schools, or the prime minister mumbling about bubbles. And I was recalling a conversation with one of my siblings recently, when we were wondering about the world and the seismic changes that have taken place in recent years. Could our parents have possibly imagined that this was at all possible? No, they simply would not have believed it.  Truth be told, I would not have believed it either. I would have thought “this is not what happens” but now I realise, when I recognise the sound outside my window, the sound of our world crumbling, I realise “Yes, this is what happens”. This, it turns out, is what history looks like.

And I imagine a history class in a future era where the pupils are studying “The rise and fall of Western Civilisation”. The reasons for the fall were clearly documented and now very obvious but the curious thing is what actually tipped it over the edge. It was a tiny invisible organism that travelled from the East.

Crawford Mackenzie