2007 - 2020

There will be no Utopia once all of this is done

‘In a post-covid world…,’ has become the go-to phrase of our utterly insufferable smug batch of commentators and opiners desperate to cling to whatever vestige of relevance they thought they had before the world turned temporarily upside down.

In the weeks following the initial outbreak and UK lockdown, social media and newspapers were brimming with our blue-ticked betters declaring with undeserved confidence that this was it, this was the change, this was the moment all the stars would align and utopia would descend from the heavens as naturally as spring showers. For it could be no other way! It was so clear now! How could ANYONE not see it? The precarious nature of society had been laid bare, the cogs revealed to be rusted beyond repair, the revolution all but inevitable.

As the days rolled by the sour-dough crowd postured about how easy it was just to stay home and save lives – from their secure middle-class jobs that can be easily done from home in their fairly large houses with nice gardens in nice neighbourhoods. They gifted us with all their witty banterous shenanigans and motivational ‘must read’ tweet-threads about how much of a gift lockdown actually was and how grateful they were for all this extra time to learn Klingon, Spanish and do some yoga. Pre-prepared candid photos of them reading sensible books in comfy chairs dotted the social media landscape combined with much finger-wagging and shaming for those deemed to be in breach of these new rules – even if those held up as culprits were photographed adhering to those very rules. Of course this never applied if they were caught breaching the rules themselves. These people are middle-class after all, and unlike the great unwashed, they had a sensible and urgent reason for doing whatever it was they were not supposed to do.

‘Coronavirus has changed the world,’ they cried with gusto.

It was only the second week of lockdown.

Now we’re seven weeks along and the UK government seems to be degenerating into an amateur acting troupe doing their best to re-enact scenes from Blackadder and Monty Python (but only from memory, the copious amounts of bolly having dulled the faculties somewhat). The Tory mask of compassion – held in place by Union Jack tape proudly administered by the UK media – has now slipped as Boris has gotten bored of this whole virus thing and – as was predicted by people who aren’t complete narcissistic halfwits – the Tories have reverted to being, well, Tories. Damn the poor, these shareholder bank accounts won’t fill themselves you know!

Some of you may die but that’s a risk they’re willing to take.

‘But look at all the acts of solidarity and national unity!’ our beloved commentators cry as if that’s somehow proof of anything. Ten years of Tory austerity has produced some of the most moving acts of human kindness I’ve ever seen, as hard-working ordinary people sought to combat the worst excesses of an inhumane government full of utter sociopaths. Nobody gave a shit. I will repeat that – nobody gave one iota of a shit while the disabled and the poor were being culled for an austerity that was proven to be ideological and not driven by rationality.

Just because people videoed themselves clapping for the NHS of a Thursday evening doesn’t somehow mean our society has been radically altered, in fact it could be argued it shows the absolute hypocrisy coursing through Britain’s veins.

You’ll clap for the NHS despite voting for Brexit and giving the Tory party your vote for the last ten years (the party which has decimated the NHS and caused thousands of NHS staff to flee the country because they had the wrong skin colour). I mean, you might as well just go up to an NHS staff member and piss on them, then give them a thumbs up and a ‘You’re welcome!’.

The notion that things will change once this is all over is fanciful at best. Most of the corporations currently wearing their ‘Do Gooder’ t-shirts are only doing that so that when this is all over you’ll go out and buy whatever nonsense they’re selling. It’s a PR campaign made to take advantage of our stupidity and short-sightedness and the fact we’re conditioned to be one thing and one thing only – consumers. We’re not human anymore. We buy shit so rich people can get richer. That is the extent of our existence. Nothing else matters.

We stand at the precipice of a new day but it is not a bright one. We’re at that moment where the world as we know it transforms into the dystopian hellscapes science-fiction has been warning us about for decades. The oligarchies will not lay down. The elites and the corporations will not let a little thing like a virus outbreak change their motivations. The selfishness and greed will only intensify because the writing is on the wall. The world as we know it IS coming to an end. In the decades to come climate change will force us to alter our existence but that dawn is still many, many years away. In the intervening period of time we, the public, the people, will have every ounce of wealth drained from our veins. As the economic collapse and subsequent recovery begins you will be made to work for your benefits and you’ll be told to be grateful for it. After all, in the time of pandemic you’re government stood by your side (for a few weeks at least).

We do not have the capacity to combat what is coming down the line, at least not in Britain. We’re a sedentary populous, satisfied to do nothing as long as we can watch the football, the X-factor or whatever twisted, sickening ‘dating’ show has been concocted in the pits of a producer’s toilet (the latter of which we’ll all condemn after the fact but will happily indulge in the mob mentality and pile-ons while it’s airing). Ain’t no hypocrites like British hypocrites.

And so pervasive is social media in our lives that we are unable to even comprehend how trapped we are by it. We’re each stuck in a Matrix we volunteered for, unable to see outside our own adopted tribe, our own echo chambers of fellow idiots blinded by our own chosen piece of ideological bullshit (of course not YOURS, your brand of bullshit is immune and you don’t have any blindspots because YOU are SPECIAL and 100% correct about everything…or something).

And this stupidity stretches across every tribe, every bubble, every clique of blue-ticked narcissists. The far-right loonballs demand subservience to a Poppy while they burn down 5G masts to stop the dolphins from making their escape. The middle-class studenty lefties denounce anyone who doesn’t agree 100% with their every fart as the next Hitler (and continue to do so even during this pandemic even though such tactics have been resoundingly rejected by the British public again and again and again). The Scottish nationalists rage over Union Jacks on their packets of strawberries and the Unionists continue to convulse at the sight of Gaelic on a road sign.

We are a fractured society and no amount of wishful thinking is going to change that. There is no common consciousness. Individualism has become ingrained in our psyche (intrinsically linked with our consumerism). The darkness that lies ahead will be the last roll of the dice for the billionaires and this pandemic is just the excuse needed to ensure they can tighten their grip before the game is finally over. Yet there will be no resistance to this.

Once a vaccine is produced there will be a clamour for ‘back to normality’ and the world will revert to the way things were – only much, much worse. As long as we can buy stuff, we’re happy. As long as we feed our social media addiction by hilariously tweeting the apocalypse or indulging in Facebook ‘WHO WILL SHARE THIS?’ duels then we won’t lift a finger to stop the oncoming dystopia.

Unity of purpose is the only way to combat the nightmare that lies around the corner but in order for us to achieve that a lot of people are going to have to shut their over-opinionated mouths and a lot more others are going to have to get over their own damned egos and sense of entitlement.

Considering we’re a generation of narcissists and fools – that outcome seems most unlikely.

There will be no utopia once all of this is over.

And we will be entirely responsible for it.

Comments (18)

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  1. Bob says:

    Going to read this again at bedtime to set myself up for a good nights kip

  2. Brian McGrail says:

    1. Considering capitalism is a utopia, based on commodity fetish, then there will be a utopia after all this done.

    2. There is a common consciousness because, as you admit, individualism is common to all.

    3. Your angry proclamation actually describes yourself – you appear to be frustrated with yourself (individuals who write and cause fractions).

  3. Michael says:

    Can I sum up your message as: we’re all f*#ks and we’re all f*#ked?

    One of the issues is that we’ve diverted so much attention to climate change and social justice, the symptoms of our problems, and almost none to the actual causes.

    I don’t blame people. The media entre entertainment industry have played a blinder of a game of smoke and mirrors. And we’ve been pre-conditioned to go along with it by a education system that blinds us to most of what actually matters – most people have never had the dangers of credit cards explained to them, let alone the roles and functions of the major economic institutions.

    It’s great being able to force others to addresses you as blob gender when you have no prospect of owing a house or having a less-than-soul-destroying job. Gender equality is great when most people have no prospect of ever being in control of their lives enough to make it meaningful!

    Wanna make the world a better place? Get your head around finance and technology industries, and the relationship between the two – the structural forces that are actually having a meaningful impact on us all.

  4. Dougie Blackwood says:

    Bella has put out several posts suggesting that there is no way back to the way we were before. Most of us agree that things were rotten and they could be made so much better, most of us would like to see radical changes where the bottom of the heap, the ones that have carried the bag through this crisis, get a decent shake.

    We might do away with the need for foodbanks; we might introduce a universal basic income; we might offer everyone a job that is regular hous and pays enough to live on. In the real world, however, those that make the decisions, those that go to Davos every January; will not suffer any detriment to their gravy train. They need the drones to do the work so that their salary, their bonuses and their pensions remain at eye watering levels; they will not allow the created wealth to be shared.

    I really hope I’m wrong but as stated in this article the revolution that is necessary to make these changes is most unlikely to happen. We will accept the continuation of bread and circuses and try not to look at those thrown back out of the hotels they are in to sleep rough. The state subsidy for bad employers paying universal benefit and other in work benefits that keep the poor on the breadline; the system where employers cream off the profits and give work on zero hours contracts at less than the REAL living wage will be back to normal as soon as they can persuade Boris to open the floodgates.

    Back to devil take the hindmost and to hell with the death rates in our granny farms. The reduction in old age pensioners might allow for another increase in the level at which higher rate taxes start to be paid.

  5. Andy Anderson says:

    Well Shaun, I hope you feel better getting that off your chest.

    The corona-virus as no doubt you can see is not, of course, the cause of the major economic collapse we are facing, it is merely the trigger for something which was going to happen before long anyway. The neo-liberal international financial system collapse has now arrived. You are dead wrong about one thing we are not going back to where we were, much as this is what the dominant theory claims we must do. The greed and corruption of neo-liberal capitalism has destroyed the system from within and it can’t be repaired.
    There is only two choices on going forward. We either develop a more Keynesian style, more equitable, market economy system which is state managed, and state financed, and which will lead to a socialist state.
    Or we are confronted by a fascist takeover to reinforce the current elites. You, and I comrade, had better believe that the people in Scotland, and elsewhere in Europe are not incapable of fighting to ensure a better future because it is the only hope we have. History tends to show that they will. So our task is to work with the people and help show the possible way forward.

  6. Chris Connolly says:

    Bloody hell, Shaun. Some of us were feeling positive and motivated by Mike’s article about the future of cities yesterday. I feel like drowning myself after reading this. If we’ve no prospect at all of emerging into a better world then what’s the point of Bella existing since everyone behind it is just pissing into the wind? The editorial team and readers might as well spend our time drinking, fighting and rutting.

    It’s a good thing the suffragettes and the early Trades Unionists and black people in South Africa and the people who lived behind the Iron Curtain didn’t adopt the same attitude. If you wish to give up in despair that’s your prerogative but I don’t see why you feel the need to share your cynicism with the rest of us.

    I hope you wake up in a better mood tomorrow, but if not then please dinnae haste ye back.

  7. David McGill says:

    “Unity of purpose is the only way to combat the nightmare that lies around the corner…” Then why not join the only political party in Scotland which has policies which will effect real change for the better. It would only cost you a couple of quid.

    1. Jim Morris says:

      And Scottish Nationals are not nationalists, even though Scotland in Union are unionists.

      1. David McGill says:

        It wasn’t the SNP I was referring to Jim.

  8. Malcolm Kerr says:

    Che Guevara said: “If you can find a way without obstacles, it probably leads nowhere”. From the tenor of your writing here, however, Shaun, I can’t quite convince myself that this is going to be any comfort!

  9. Liz Jones says:

    Whilst there is life, – there is hope. I am not a narcissist nor a fool, I see this clearly and so does my daughter and so do others. Perhaps this is where Utopia lies in the minds of dreamers, artists and poets where it will never die. Have courage and love for every being on the planet because we will need it in the times ahead of us.

  10. Josef Ó Luain says:

    Nobody gets to go back to the past, history doesn’t allow that sort of thing. Change happens whether we want it to or not and that simple truth applies to the Davos mob, just like the rest of us. (Everything changes, nothing changes.) That we have evidence, as yet incalculable, of hitherto unknown, peace-time levels of economic dislocation throughout the world that has yet to play itself out in real terms, is well worth remembering.

    Betting on political outcomes was always a mugs game, on this occasion it’s a suicidal mugs game. That capitalism, at the expense of everyone and everything, will try to resuscitate the past, may be an odds-on certainty, but what it might look like, given even its inability to return to the past, is anyone’s guess. Whether the U.K. government or any government will be able to return their populations to anything resembling “the old days” of hapless consumerism and cradle-to-coffin indebtedness is also a long-shot, particularly so within buckled economies. If governments wish to survive, I’m forced to bet they’ll need to dump the old ideologies and orthodoxies and roll-out a brand new set of priorities to stay relevant. Either that or disappear under the weight of their own stupidities. So long as we secure the technological legacy, who’s going to care?

  11. Kevin Hattie says:

    This reads like the suicide note of a high-school shooter.

  12. kate macleod says:

    i think england , like the US, is probably is a battle lost for a long time but scotland not as conclusively. the more that progressive scottish organizations start to believe and act on scotland as being a separate country from england , the more people demand ScotGov and the SNP act for scottish peoples interests, not business interests, all the time on all levels and the more westminister is ignored rather than fought with, the better chance of another outcome than a return to austerity intensified. all the powers scotland has need to be used and bit by bit overstep the mark ,on behalf of its people rather than its top profiteers, taking more authority/powers on itself in practice and waiting for the reply from westminister, if any. eventually scotland could arrive at a return to autonomy fuelled by attrition, habit and even trust.

    that isnt likely to happen and wont matter if scotland has just another capitalist managerial govt. with its beast of prey claws filed down a little.
    i ‘ve recently read macalpine and others from commonweal on the subtle corruption of scotgov by business lobbyists and unelected committees who remake business -as- usual reactionary policies behind the scenes after the protesters have gone home and which are staffed by people who all have the same views, aka class interests/backgrounds. that is typical of western democracies, but maybe the population including the SNP’s large membership in a smallish country could force change on scotgov’s important micro fabric of policy making . the public would need to stop being passive and trusting establishment politicians and their chosen public servants, including Sturgeon and the SNP machinery . maybe its unlikely in scotland but better than verging on impossible in england and worth a try. the potential upside of less public trust in politicians, where charismatic personality cults need not apply.

  13. Good honest prole says:

    Cheer up, Shaun! Might never happen.

  14. squigglypen says:

    Excellent article. You are not alone. But a journey usually start with small steps on the road..(noo get yer rotten union flag aff oor strawberries.)..if they think the homicidal scot is gone..be afraid….because behind thee on that lonely road a monstrous tread is heard ……

  15. Papko says:

    I enjoyed that essay thanks.
    You did cover the whole gamut of perspectives, I think.
    Bella also seems to be changing as there have been a few other articles recently that diverged from the
    “Scotland good, England bad, Working class better than middle class” formulaic opinions .
    That have been the sum of the Independence campaign since 2014.

    1. Hi ‘Papko’ – a backhanded compliment if ever I saw one

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