THE papers have been full of stories about the “Tories at War” and our timelines have been filled with #ToryShambles hashtags as the Conservatives’ dysfunctionality swirls together with their open corruption in the sewer that is British politics. But if there’s something almost humiliating about being ruled by such people there’s also something emergent about our predicament both here at home and abroad.

A number of contradictions present themselves about the apparent binary choices that seem to dominate our social and political lives.

Much of the Conservatives’ recent internal war has been Tories to the right of Boris Johnson (yes!) arguing that he isn’t being Thatcherite enough. But this misunderstands some of the complex dynamics in play between Remain and Leave camps. As John Gray has written in the New Statesman: “The Thatcherite assault on Johnson is nonsensical for another reason.

“Curbing the free market was always the logic of Brexit. In its economic aspects, Brexit was a revolt against globalisation. Asserting the state against the global market is in Brexit’s DNA. Thatcherites swallowed a mythical picture of the European Union as being hostile to the free market – the same picture that befuddles much of the left. In reality the EU is now a neoliberal project. Immune to the meddlesome interventions of democratically accountable national governments, a continent-wide single market in labour and goods is hardwired to preclude socialism and undermine social democracy.”

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As much of liberal progressive Britain identifies the Remain vote as an attachment to a progressive European Union (which it is in many parts) Gray is quite right in saying that asserting the state against the global market was in Brexit’s DNA. But so too is the language of global trade deals and “Britannia Unleashed”.

Equally we can see that the Scottish National Party are electorally transcendent but constitutionally disempowered – while the Conservatives hold constitutional control while being electorally marginal.

This deadlock is both useful and damaging for both parties but it is also completely unsustainable. There is only so long that the Scottish Government can delay some (any) action, and the need to overcome the contradictions that hold us back, such as currency, cannot be ignored forever.

At the same time the British Government’s position of exerting a sort of colonial iconography and denying a democratic vote indefinitely is a high stakes venture with diminishing returns.

Over in Ireland the Sinn Fein vote rises and rises, north and south. If Brexit collapses it will have automatic and dire consequences for the very fabric of the Union with both Scotland and Ireland immediate flash points for a country seething with discontent and repressed rage. Add to this, and not to be morbid or unkind, but the Queen doesn’t have long on this earth. Britain’s long complex constitutional crisis rolls on and on with no-one seeming to care or have a plan for resolving it.

This “local” crisis of the British constitution bumps along beside Europe’s own “crisis” about how it responds to refugees and asylum seekers fleeing war and persecution and seeking entry to Europe on various fronts.

The British Government, like many other European governments has stoked the flames of hatred against these people – many fleeing war-torn countries we ourselves have destabilised – and sought to turn the public against them and the military on them. The crass and authoritarian rhetoric from the Home Secretary and others may play well with a section of the electorate rendered soulless and emotionally barren by decades of the tabloidisation of the public realm, but it doesn’t make the problem go away.

If the “metacrisis” is capitalism, eating away at finite resources and committed to endless growth and exploitation then within this we can see other crises being unresolved and interdependent. The climate crisis which we just saw being effectively ignored at the COP in Glasgow has a very direct impact on the refugee problem as large swathes of the world become unlivable because of heat, drought, crop failure, extreme weather events, wildfire and biodiversity collapse.

The short-term answer of “Fortress Europe” or “take back our borders” for Britain doesn’t have a long-term solution. Understanding how interdependent we are is a life lesson no-one seems to be getting but its getting more starkly clear and more desperate that we act on it.

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The revelations about a new variant are terrifying as is the casual failure to act with any urgency on it. The new B.1.1.529 Covid variant is the “most worrying we’ve seen”, says a top UK medical adviser – but the response – to ask people to take PCR tests and to put a few African countries on the Red List seems pathetically inadequate. The logic of capital, and of globalisation means the show must go on, not just to grease the wheels of international trade but also to maintain the facade that you can and should go anywhere and do anything at any time. Nothing to see here just enjoy Black Friday.

I read yesterday that only 3% of Africa is vaccinated. Three percent.

As Ian Lowry writes on Twitter: “Regarding the new variant, let’s call it for what it is. Nations of the Global North, including the EU and Ireland voted against waiving patents to allow poorer nations to produce vaccines We’re literally killing the Global South whilst killing ourselves at a slower rate.”

The phrase “no-one’s safe until everyone’s safe” isn’t being acted out.

This contradiction in our confusion of short term “safety” for long-term survival is mirrored everywhere. We have confused network for community, and liberty for freedom. Understanding this and navigating paths out of it while shouldering the mental strain of the economic violence that surrounds us is near impossible. It’s made more difficult by having to live through (and in) what the late social theorist Zygmunt Bauman called “liquid modernity”.

Bauman defined the condition: “Unlike our ancestors, we don’t have a clear image of a ‘destination’ towards which we seem to be moving… To ‘be modern’ means to modernise – compulsively and, obsessively, let alone to keep its identity intact, but forever ‘becoming’, avoiding completion, staying undefined… Liquid modernity is the growing conviction that change is the only permanence, and uncertainty the only certainty. A hundred years ago ‘to be modern’ meant to chase ‘the final state of perfection’ – now it means an infinity of improvement, with no ‘final state’ in sight and none desired.”

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The author John Gray argues that living in this state is an explanation of why Boris Johnson retains an appeal despite everything. He writes: “Modern populations may be in love with change, but they fear it when it seems to be slipping out of control. With all their experiments in lifestyle, they need the assurance that their everyday world is secure. In political terms, this implies a protective state. In economic terms, it suggests a shift from neoliberal to state capitalism.

“The enigma of Johnson becomes less puzzling if you think of him this way. A liberal by temperament, he has stumbled on a paradox of freedom. The more their choices expand, the more human beings demand a stable space in which to make them. When this is threatened security eclipses liberty, for if order in society can no longer be relied on freedom has little value.”

This analysis is attractive but not comprehensive. The contradictions of globalisation, the multiple problems it generates are all coming to roost, they are literally lapping at our shores in human tragedy. The state capitalist cares no more than the neoliberal one and the crisis isn’t going away. The lessons from the pandemic that “no-one is safe until everyone is safe” isn’t just a nice one-liner it’s actually the pre-requisite for our survival. We can either act on this or we can live in the national equivalent of gated communities as we watch other people burn and drown around us.