“The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”
It is now nearly 60 years ago since another American created a storm of huge proportions by just a single comment he made,
‘Great Britain had lost an Empire but not yet found a role’
This was Dean Acheson — Secretary of State under the Truman presidency in 1962.
It is this comment that I find echoes in much of the underlying exposition given by Meghan Markle and Prince Harry in their interview on CBS to Oprah Winfrey about their treatment and abuse from the British tabloid press and The Royal Family. It was not stated by either of the two participants nor was it alluded to in any way by Oprah Winfrey but it was undoubtedly The Elephant in The Room — or Garden to be exact. Let me explain.
Sir Winston Churchill fired the starting shot that inaugurated the role hunt in October 1948. When holding a speech in the welsh town of Llandudno, he introduced for the first time the idea of Britain being positioned ‘at the very point of junction’ of three circles: the British Commonwealth; the English-speaking World; and the United Europe.
By lying in such a critical position, the United Kingdom could use a considerable scope for manoeuvre to strategically impose its leadership in each circle and ply its influence to preserve its historical major power status. The engagement of Britain in one circle would increase its room for action in the others, thereupon compensating for the gradual loss of its colonial possessions. The image of the three circles remained for decades the most influential conception of Britain’s geopolitical standing. Over the course of time, this notion has evolved into the neoteric concept of ‘transatlantic bridge’, introduced at first in the 1970s and rejuvenated in the late 1990s by Tony Blair.
Finally, more recently Labourist David Miliband advanced the new-fangled idea of Britain as a ‘global hub for diplomacy and ideas’, inserting the country’s identity into a perspective of globalization and change. But then a decision made by David Cameron under pressure from members of his own Conservative Party to force a Referendum on Europe brought Acheson’s comment back into focus. Having lost our imperial role 75 years ago, the UK had spent most of the last half century trying to put ourselves at the heart of Europe — only to suddenly and resentfully wrench ourselves away.
And now we have the promise of the sunlit uplands of a post-Brexit Global Britain from our new Churchill-infatuated Prime Minister, Boris Johnson. Rather than facing reality, the British Government and most of its institutions have gone through a looking glass world. The state is now sanctioning confabulation and a War on Woke.
The Brexit years, in particular, have seen a revival of the exceptionalism at the heart of Britain’s colonial exploits and wartime successes. That we stood alone — a plucky, great nation which saved Europe from fascism — and have always punched above our weight, need nothing or no one apart from our own superior abilities, drove the Vote Leave campaign’s ‘take back control’ mantra.
If only it had been just fairy tales and harmless nostalgia. But it wasn’t. There were much darker forces unleashed during the Brexit years. Identity politics, xenophobia and racism were actively manipulated to galvanise people to vote to leave Europe. The consensus post-war politics that had been the hallmark of liberal democracy in Britain was shattered to pieces in those Brexit-dominated years. Liberal democracy in Britain is now hanging by a thread.
Alongside these historic legends and endless references to Churchill, Britain has long been trapped in a fairy tale image of itself — one beloved by Americans who lap up the quaintness of Downton Abbey and The Crown, Kate and Wills, and now the Meghan and Harry interview. But this interview threw a huge spanner in the workings of the elite in British society. For the image of Britain that the Royal Family personify is make-believe.
But Meghan sat and told those who were really listening, that it is a lie. But more than that she told us what the reality is. In fact it is a living nightmare, and not a fairy-tale. Meghan Markle revealed with grace and dignity how much we are all experiencing false consciousness and how trapped people are in the looking-glass world. She shattered the deliberately constructed and carefully wrought, fairy-tale, with the mirror of her own experience.
Of course most of us in Britain know that the Royal Family is a constructed false image but many around the world do not. She will be listened to. Good. But this consruction of a fairy-tale is only possible because of the British media. It sells papers. And the racist abuse piled onto Meghan Markle by the tabloids also sells their newspapers. The people who buy them are the same ones who were used by xenophobic and racist politicians to ensure Brexit.
The toxicity of this construct is as overwhelming as Meghan Markle intimated. It has caused this country to shift to an intolerant fascist quasi-Imperial nation-state. This is version 2.0 of the latest iteration of the British Empire with its colonies of Wales, Scotland and the North of Ireland. But the natives in Scotland are very very restless. The Empire seems determined to quell their calls for self-determination. What utter hypocrisy. Whatever happened to that most fundamental prerequisite of liberal democracy as self-determination? Empires of course only allow self-determination if it suits their own interests or if they are forced to having lost a war.
But we in Britain can choose to, or choose not to, buy into the fairy tales in our country and the legends that have accrued over the centuries. But when the Imperial British government decides to engage in kulturekamp (culture wars) — reminiscent of those in early 20th century Germany — through its War on Woke and its attempt to create a monolithic national body of state-sanctioned myth, then the truth of the reality of the upper echelons of British society, as enumerated by Megham Markle, serves to question the very validity of such myth-making. Her testimony, serves to question, the very suitabilty of those involved in creating the myths, to create those myths.
Kulturekampf is all about turning politics into mythology. That is exactly what is happening in Britain right now and the elites of The Establishment are all involved. The Government, the Press and the Royal Family are the enablers of these nationalistic, quasi-Imperial myths now being propounded. But they did not forsee Meghan Markle who would, in a TV interview, delineate the toxic, racist, politics of these myths.
The Revolution Will Be Televised.
Viva Meghan Markle!