IN How to Lose a Country: The Seven Steps from Democracy to Dictatorship, the Turkish writer Ece Temelkuran outlines the process she has witnessed in her own country and in ours. “Create a movement”, “disrupt rationale/terrorise language” and “dismantle judicial and political mechanisms” are key steps.

As authoritarian populism sweeps to power she outlines the descent, crucial complicity and undermining of the media.

She writes: “I saw democracy collapse in Turkey and tried to warn the United States, European countries and Britain about this.

“I’ve been telling people that what you think is normal, or a passing phase, is part of a bigger phenomenon that affects us all. Somehow though, European democracies feel they’re exceptional – and too mature to be affected by neo-fascist currents.”

She believes, and it is difficult to find fault with this, that a process of domestication has come about. This has two levels, a media level and a resistance to resistance level.

Temelkuran continues: “The de-politicisation of media has also emboldened all of this – the obsession with objectivity has become a substitute for neutrality.

“The vast majority of the world’s mainstream media have become obsessed with being neutral, and have done so at the cost of forgetting their main job – holding power to account, asking questions to power, and giving a voice to the voiceless. In many ways, the media have become their own class – an elite of sorts...

“Since the 1970s it’s almost become a taboo to talk of conflict – we’ve become a society geared around consensus, and co-existence – and this has domesticated politics in a dangerous way.

“The media have been too busy finding consensus with the Brexiteers and Trumpeteers to fight them. This is a political struggle and there is no politeness or kindness in this. It is very clear what one has to do if one has to defend her right. It is to fight back when there is oppression.”

She is spot on.

The multiple reasons for media failure: rapid changing technology, lack of investment, concentration of ownership, have gone hand in hand with a category error about “objectivity”.

This is most obviously seen in the climate debate. As the planet burns broadcasters pit reasoned scientist patiently explaining the reality of the predicament facing the world against frenzied front-group spokesman spouting denialist drivel. And this, all in the name of “balance”.

News programmes become entertainment and the most wildly stupid and provocative statements are allowed to pass on the basis that they have been repeated often.

You know all this. You are already weary of it. It has become normalised.

As Trump’s impeachment spools out across America and Davos winds down the next news cycle cranks up. Trump conducts international assassination and the world barely pauses for breath. The forces that might have stood up against a radical right-wing populism have been swept away.

Rearing his head like a political dinosaur Gordon Brown once again took to the national media to outline his familiar bromide of solutions to Britain’s ongoing constitutional crisis.

Only a radical constitutional revolution can stop the Union from unravelling and end the alienation felt by voters in the UK’s poorest regions, Brown warned us in dark foreboding terms (very similar to the previous time he uttered such terrible prophecies).

Writing in the Observer, Brown argued that the huge election victory secured by Boris Johnson, with big wins in Midlands and northern seats, does not represent “a newfound unity or even an emerging national consensus” but rather a “plea for radical change”.

“If the United Kingdom is to survive, it will have to change fundamentally, so that Scotland does not secede from it and our regions can once again feel part of it,” he wrote.

This in the week where we were forced to consider – as if it was a serious or credible proposal – that moving the House of Lords to northern England was a thing that was going to happen or would make an iota of difference to Britain’s broken political landscape.

THERE is a nonsense and a contamination of serious public dialogue at play here. The idea that Scotland should be considered a region of Britain, or the idea that Ermine in Birmingham should act any differently from Ermine in London is an idea that previous generations would have ignored.

This is clearly a distraction and a fantasy. But UK politics has three parallel fantasies, and the problem is that some of them are ours.

The Conservative government’s fantasy is that Brexit is a neat process with an ending of sunny uplands and bright futures. It is Manifold Destiny for the English people. This is based on a hyper-nostalgic view of the world that is detached from reality.

Unfortunately they are in government, so this fantasy matters most.

The Labour opposition (so to speak) has a fantasy that it is the opposition and they are rebuilding for the next onslaught against Conservatism, from which they will rebuild the country (defeating “divisive nationalism”) and implementing a programme of great change utilising the “great levers of power” etc. This is based on a hyper-nostalgic view of the world that is detached from reality.

Finally, elements of the nationalist movement are also operating under a fantasy, and that is that the way out of our impasse is to just “declare independence” and everything will be fine. This dear reader, is also based on a hyper-nostalgic view of the world that is detached from reality.

That these three elements can’t relate or communicate with each other is not surprising, nor is it, for the protagonists, a problem at all. But for those of us living in 2020, with a desperate need to find real-world solutions to these problems of poverty, inequality, housing and ecology, it is.

We need to become immune to the flourishes of rhetoric and wild spin, to the 24-hour news cycle and to the bastardisation of language and the pollution of the public realm that comes with populist politics.

Finding spaces where we can have conversations about real-world solutions rather than getting high on the romance of rebellion is essential. This means some self-honesty and some solidarity with people who are not of our “tribe”, be that nation, gender or party. Because the reality of what Temelkuran describes is the advancement of a politics that will exploit and crush us all as we gleefully cheer for it.

In little more than a week Brexit Day will arrive and it will be celebrated wildly by those who see it as a moment of national liberation. It’s a vital moment in which we need to find a path through, beyond oligarchy and populism towards a Scottish democracy.