It is very difficult as someone who was born, raised and is a resident in the United Kingdom to explain why it is difficult to admit that I am no longer as proud of being a British Citizen as I was perhaps only three years and definitely a decade ago.
Perhaps the problem is (and I realise that I may be accused of looking at the past through rose-tinted glasses – but what the hell) that the world in which I now exist has changed so much in such a short period of time.
I suppose the question that throughout the British Isles are asking and especially those of my generation is what and how the hell did the changes happen and perhaps more importantly what does it mean for the future?
As someone who has undergone two full (believe it or not they used to last four years)apprenticeships, one as an electrical engineer and one as a marine engineer I have been trained to always ask the very simple question,
“how does it work and where is the evidence?”
Logic and evidence is the basis of engineering and scientific discovery and is always supported by the data and facts if it is to be valid and reliable.
It is of course different when communicating and arguing on subjective issues where the facts (and truth) may be presented in different forms.
Arguments can be quantitive and qualitative but in the past at the very least evidence was genuine and discussions were conducted with a sense of respect for your opponents.
Recently however the truth is something that has especially by politicians and their political activists now been consigned to the dustbin of history with absolutely no chance of it being restored.
In the present time irrespective of how valid the information, facts or statistics you may use to support your argument it is simply rejected by invoking the -what I suppose should be called the Trump, Farage Johnston rule – that anything that doesn’t agree with them is “Fake News.
The impact around the world is that instead of debate we now have a multitude of different groups and individuals screaming “Fake News” at each other even when faced with insurmountable and undeniable evidence to the contrary which is now countered by the “Alternative Facts” or as my generation call them “LIES”.
The result as we see in the USA and UK is a decline in democracy.
A diminishing faith in politicians and all because during the screaming there is no place for compromise let alone an agreement on what is in the best interest of the people.
What we are now faced with in any discussion are sides who ignore the truth and evidence preferring to enter armed with a pre-decided set of “facts” that have been tailored to support their position.
If the cry of “Fake News” doesn’t work then the only apparent alternative is to resort to personal insults (of which some are well deserved) and if that doesn’t work the protagonists turn to the age old trick of stoking up hatred towards a minority group.
In the USA it is the Mexicans (who knew that ALL of them were drug smuggling murderers), or Muslims (who knew that they were ALL rapists and terrorists), in the UK the Muslims are also being blamed along with those bloody foreigners from the European Countries (who knew that they were ALL free loading layabouts sponging off the welfare state).
Perish the thought that you point out that those who expound such views are xenophobic racists and that the vast majority of those accused are actually working and contributing to the health, wealth and security of the nation.
“Fake News – Fake News – Fake News” fills the air which shouldn’t be confused with misinformation.
Fake News is an intentionally inaccurate and as we have now become accustomed to seeing a usually sensationalised report, statement or action that is created or carried out for the purpose of either gaining attention or to deceive the people or to damage someone’s reputation.
Misinformation in contrast is when facts are unintentionally presented as true and accurate through either confusion or misunderstanding.
The question for all democracies is what does the ever increasing use of “Fake News” mean for the democratic nations.
Are we really entering a period that would not be out of place in George Orwell’s 1984?
A period of post-reality and post-truth where all sides of the political divide don’t even seek to find common ground, the disadvantage being that if in the majority Governments will exercise what is effectively an elected coup.
If we are then it is to be hoped that democracies find a way to operate in which there is no political party that holds a majority in their respective governments the disadvantage of which will be that entrenched ideological attitudes will lead too Government stalemate and the inability to pass legislation.
Whatever happens neither of the options is one that should be acceptable to people who believe in democracy and freedom of the individual.
It is a terrifying thought that at the next Presidential Election in the USA and the General Election in the United Kingdom enough people will fall for political purveyors of “Fake News” and vote them into office.
I don’t hold out much hope that they will because at the present time it would appear the world has gone barking mad.