Trauma Zone UK

The new Adam Curtis documentary ‘Trauma Zone’ is about the build-up to the Putin era. Its premise is the idea that for a very long time everyone in that society knew that nothing really worked anymore but there was nothing they could do about it.

“In 1992 Russia began an experiment in extreme capitalism…”

As you read these words over your Sunday morning breakfast the Conservative Party will be doing backroom deals, carving up Cabinet positions and wheeling and dealing positions to present to Liz Truss and dwindling band of incompetents. It will not be so much a coup d’état as a fait accompli. A coup suggests there is something to overthrow.

Even the Tories have (at some very deep level some element of shame) and the idea that this debacle would be followed by another leadership race of fake democracy with the demented media treating it like an actual process of democracy is too much even for them. So they will go for a cleaner darker method of removing and replacing their latest incarnation.

If Boris Johnson seemed like an appropriately grotesque leader at a time of global pandemic and post-Brexit farce, Liz Truss seemed like the absolutely perfect leader for these macabre and apocalyptic times. After all staring into the middle-distance with long gaps in between speech as we shudder in complete incomprehension is what most of us feel these days.

If Thick Lizzie thinks that by her ‘decisive action’ of throwing her Chancellor under one of Boris’s Buses, she will appear authoritative she is wrong. It will simply give her senior colleagues the permission to do what they have all been saying privately. Matricide comes easily to the Conservatives who lust after power and power alone.

There are three questions hanging in the air like sulphur.

One is how could they appoint someone so stupid? To which the answer is a) they didn’t and b) their membership is racist and as stupid as her.

Two is how could she manhandle things so badly? That’s a question answered by John Crace: “We have been left with only two explanations for Truss’s increasingly erratic behaviour, neither of which are mutually exclusive. The first is that she is even more dim than she first appears, that she genuinely doesn’t understand the damage she is doing. The second is that she is a delusional narcissist – the Tory party does seem to have a penchant for choosing them as their leader – who is in a state of total denial, who looks at the chaos in the financial markets and sees only strong government.”

Three is what happens now? My best bet is that the Overton Window has moved so far so fast that Jeremy Hunt has emerged as a mainstream centrist elder statesman, but that Rishi Sunak and Penny Mordaunt, or more likely Penny Mordaunt and Rishi Sunak will emerge to create a sort of Triumvirate from Hell. The announcement will be proclaimed like “fumata bianca” announcing a new pontiff on the pages of the Telegraph and the Daily Mail and through the state orators and confidants that sprinkle the broadcast media.

It gets worse.

If the disastrous Truss-IEA-Kwartang regime was more ‘pop-up’ than populist – the incoming replacement has the potential to act like the ‘grown ups’ in the room and also affect the pretence that this is a ‘change government’. Despite the euphoria that has surrounded the recent polling for Labour it’s possible in this dystopian country that under the photogenic Mordaunt a comeback of sorts could be mounted. It’s conceivable that they frame the Truss-IEA-Kwartang regime as an aberration, and that they are now the ones to ‘take decisive action’ – ‘unpopular decisions’ – and ‘Get Brexit re-done’. Nothing is impossible in a country run by the Conservatives and their tentacle-like connections through the political classes and the media elite. The competition is now between a Labour Party detoxified and cleansed to appropriate inanity and a Tory party rid of its most childish and repellent characters who accidently ruined the best carpet with too many pals at an Empty.

Dawn of the Replicants

Now the powerful must decide which is sanctified and promoted to best manage Britain PLC, keep things in place, protect the status quo and vested interests? It’s like two versions of replicants. Will it be the Blue ones or the Red ones?

As we stare across at post-Trump America, scoff at the crazy Italians or shake our heads in dismay at the demise of Sweden to the far-right, it’s time to look at Britain. It’s a monarchy high on regalia, presided over by for over a decade now a conveyor belt of Tories who are motivated by personal self-advancement. We have witnessed a cacophony of authoritarian polices being implemented year on year as our civil liberties are eroded to the point of removal. At the same time we have looked-on as standards in public office have fallen through the floor. We’ve watched all this through austerity and pandemic and now through the ‘cost of living crisis’, which is catapulting millions into their first experience of poverty and millions of others into destitution.

What do we do? Not much. Mostly get by, cling on. Shop.

The Dawn of these Replicants – whether Blue or Red will make little difference. Differences of degree, but you don’t get a go unless you are well-programmed and submissive to the interests of the powerful.

The Red and the Blue both believe in Brexit and the Union and outbid each other to wrap themselves up in the flag and genuflect to the monarchy. They are both entrenched in tradition and obedient to the Media Lords and Press Barons.

There’s room for nostalgia in such a predicament. In fact, Brexit has made Nostalgia the hegemony of the era. Nostalgia itself is Britain’s official ideology. It’s neither left nor right it’s just backwards. People will start remembering warmly the Old Woman Who Lived in the Palace and had dogs and the Funny Man with the gold wallpaper who had the parties.

You’re not supposed to mention Brexit anymore.

But as John Harris has noted: “Whoever people blame for our current predicament, one vivid fact is inescapable. The future that 17 million voters bought into six years ago has now collapsed into its precise opposite. In the summer of 2016, let us not forget, Johnson, Michael Gove and the former Labour MP Gisela Stuart jointly put their names to an article in the Sun which insisted that once Brexit happened, “the NHS will be stronger, class sizes smaller and taxes lower. We’ll have more money to spend on our priorities, wages will be higher and fuel bills will be lower.”

The new Adam Curtis documentary ‘Trauma Zone’ is about the build-up to the Putin era. Its premise is the idea that for a very long time everyone in that society knew that nothing really worked anymore but there was nothing they could do about it.

What you are living through is an experiment in extreme capitalism.

Welcome to your very own Trauma Zone.

Image credit: Cold War Steve


Comments (18)

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  1. Squigglypen says:

    Gee thanks Mr Small for cheering me up….with an absolutely spot on article.
    We have a cartoon cast in Westminister hysterically ‘running’ the country.( into the ground)
    A Scottish FM talking of an independent Scotland but bending the knee to an ex germanic family who change their name like their underwear….
    ( all those teddies left for that dead woman to be donated to charity).. I have to ask why didn’t those halfwits donate MONEY to charity instead of teddies? The one good thing that comes out of this is that a teddy company is still functioning somewhere and workers getting paid.
    What tae dae????…I ken…UDI..nae crazier than the rest ……an’’…… the corgis.
    How d’ye fancy me fur FM?……nae crazier than the rest…welcome tae Bedlam…strait jaikets free…vallium available
    For Scotland!

  2. Jacob Bonnari says:

    There’s a lot of truth in this. What I have been surprised by is reading Kamil Galeev’s long twitter threads on Russian society, history and politics and then seeing reflections of the UK in what he is saying. I recommend his threads to everyone.

    I’ll check out Adam Curtis’ documentary to see if there’s a similar pattern. It would be nice if he made one about Britain.

    1. BSA says:

      Two washed up empires unable to kick the imperial toys and tantrums. Spain is the pound shop version.

  3. James Mills says:

    ”Nostalgia itself is now Britain’s official ideology . It’s neither left or right – just backwards !”

    Brilliant , Mike ! The new motto of the the Disunited UK ”Nostalgia Rules , OK ! ”

  4. Axel P Kulit says:

    It is interesting to see that other countries are suffering not only from extreme capitalism but from the same type of bullshit politicians we have in the UK.

    This article describes a situation in Kashmir that is similar to the way, some 200 years ago, the power loom plus capitalism virtually killed the market for hand weaving and a lot of cottage industries in Scotland and the RUK. The complaints of the weavers are similar to what I Hear about the Tories here.

    Human nature is the same the world over and does not change much with time.

  5. dave says:

    Great article Mike. The British F.M. NU-S.N.P. Leader Sturgeon begs to them for permission do to anything except beg to beg which she came up with herself. Independence anyone?

    1. Derek Thomson says:

      Sorry dave, that’s just silly. That lassie (she was then) was knocking on doors when she was 16 for an independent Scotland. She’s spent her whole life arguing for, and trying to achieve Scottish independence. If it was as simple as declaring UDI, it would have been done by now. Hold your nerve, and don’t give in to tricks.

      1. dave says:

        Hullo Derek, I was a S.N.P. member from the days of Billy Wolfe and met with him on one occasion at his home near Bathgate. The main person responsible in recent years prior to 2014 in getting a surge in the yes vote was Alex Salmond. Why? Because Alex listened to the membership. He also informed we Scots of how rich monetarily Scotland really is. B.T.W. in 2014 I stood outside Glasgow University with a bunch of lassies promoting independence. Also, in Edinburgh and the Borders. We lost as you know but the momentum was there. Since 2014 there has been virtually no increase in the yes vote. 9 years wasted but why? The F.M. Sturgeon came up with her ‘kick the can’ delay tactic by coming up with any reason not to hold a referendum when the vote was well over 50% yes. Then she came up with the strategy to tell us continually something we already knew. P.M. Boris Johnson had to resign while at the same time begging him to give permission to hold a referendum which we didn’t need. To top that off she then went to the English Supreme Court asking them if Scotland could hold a referendum. That should take about 2 or 3 years to get a decision based on English law. As you know Scottish law is different.
        F.M. Sturgeon stated that she is British and Scotland will always be a part of Britain. Also, she has never stated that she supports independence in fact has always said that the people of Scotland will decide. She then Blacks Out critical information, along with Westminster and the 95% English owned media up here which would result in a 70 to 75% increase in the yes vote from the 50% no/undecided vote.
        One other thing, she never said that there would be a referendum in 2023. Her statement was I will do my best to hold a referendum in late 2023. Well, her best is not good enough.
        We don’t need a referendum. Scotland needs a declaration of independence. We are a sovereign country. Barbados declared independence very recently as most English colonies have done over the years. Not one of them went cap in hand begging to the English aristocracy.

  6. Mr E says:

    The SNP haven’t had a leadership contest for 18 years.

  7. Mr E says:

    Vlad Putin has been the president of Russia for the last 10 years.

    1. What’s your point caller?

      1. Mr E says:

        The |Scottish government haven’t had a leadership contest for 18 years. The point is very clear.

        1. Mr E says:

          Maybe afrer 18 years you think thats cool?

          1. Love her or loathe her, comparing her to Putin is just stupid

        2. Derek Thomson says:

          No, it’s not. Please elucidate.

          1. Derek Thomson says:

            That’s to Mr. E, not Mike.

  8. Alvin Vertigo says:

    Again Mr Small undermines his incisive brilliance with his one blind spot: covid. After a series of stunning insights he says: “We’ve watched all this through austerity and pandemic and NOW through the ‘cost of living crisis’ “. But we are STILL watching this through pandemic. And we are about to watch it through even more pandemic. In Mr Small’s world we are “post-covid”, and so the final paragraph of his otherwise brilliant piece reads as stunning irony, describing his own delusion and ignorance of the world we are currently living in, rather than the climax he thinks it is.

    1. Sorry, to clarify, I don’t think covid has gone away at all

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