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Half past Dickens and a quarter to Hogarth


I’ve also kept away from politics lately because, situated as I am in dark heart of Olde England, I am obviously expected to provide an American viewpoint on British politics. And…I am…completely unable to wrap my head around that. My every attempt to understand (let alone explain) British politics devolves into a mushy, superficial on the one hand this, on the other hand that shopping list of unhelpful observations.

It’s even harder to nail down since Drudge and Fox began linking to Daily Mail stories so much. The Mail describes a Britain that is batshit, racing headlong toward bugfuck, crazy. Well. Kind of. The Mail is an incredibly low-rent populist rag that makes its coin promoting that particular loony vision of Britain. On the other hand, they don’t make this shit up.

I want to say Brits are more cynical about government, but certainly Yanks can be plenty cynical. I am plenty cynical. But Brits somehow seem to expect their government to let them down. They accept tyranny, perfidy or incompetence as what government does the moment you look away. Whereas the American attitude seems to be, “we bled real blood to put you bastards in office because you said you were different.”

And yet British politics is fundamentally miles less corrupt than the American kind.

I am tempted to say British resentment feels likelier to boil over into violence. And yet, the British public has already absorbed insult after terrible insult without demur. I am puzzled by that. I think a lot of Brits are puzzled by that, too.

The British. Famously unflappable, right up until they become howling savages.

Or maybe that spirit has been thoroughly kicked out of them.

I don’t know. I’m a foreigner and everything seems scary and strange. But that thing that gives me the jim-jams about politics right now? It’s worse here.

And that’s really all I know.

March 10, 2009 — 9:31 pm
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