which turned out to be a revelation.
Yesterday two apparently disparate things in my life came together. The first was reading an article in the Guardian by George Monbiot, which I will come back to, the second was an interview I gave to Irene Campbell who is organising the first Bognor Regis Literary Festival and wanted to talk to me about what was happening or not happening to Blake’s Cottage. By way of preparation Lottie and I had sorted out all the blogs about Blake’s Cottage that I had written over the past four years, it turned out there were 41 of them! So the folder we gathered was sizeable, but very useful for the interview. One of the blogs, which I called ‘Beware of the dog‘ had always seemed very curious to me. It did when I wrote it which is why I made fun of it. Take a look at the dog that we ought to beware of. I chose him carefully.
And here’s a quote from the blog to show what I’m talking about ‘This one is for twitter friends, Facebook friends, friends old and new, fans and followers and it’s a dire and dreadful warning. You must beware of me. Take heed. I am, it appears (shock horror) political!
I can hear you laughing. What on earth am I talking about? Well apparently it is a political action to stand up on my rather rickety 85 year old legs and organise a petition to ask that Blake’s – now decaying – cottage should be repaired. People in the village are being told not to join me or to sign my petition because it would be too political to do it. When that was first said to me, I have to say I laughed because it was so ridiculous. Now it is coming at me so often and it feels so deliberate, that I am beginning to think somebody out there wants me to keep quiet and go away.’
Now that I have read George Monbiot’s article I’m beginning to change my mind, for this article is all about power and how authoritarians manipulate it. He starts off with a clarion call.
‘To accumulate power, a government with authoritarian tendencies must first destroy power. It must reduce rival centres of power – the judiciary, the civil service, academia, broadcasters, local government, civil society – to satellites of its own authority, controlled from the centre, deprived of independent action.’ He then goes on to show how our present government is doing just that, just like the right wing governments before them. What he calls the ‘infrastructure of persuasion has been built since the 1950s. The model was developed by two fanatical disciples of Friedrich Hayek, their names are Anthony Fisher and Oliver Smedley, who said ‘it is imperative that we should give no indication in our literature that we are working to educate the public along certain lines” but what they developed were arguments that could be used to strip down the state, curtail public welfare and release the ultra rich from the constraints of democracy. Boris Johnson uses a lobby group called ‘Policy Exchange’ founded in 2002 by Francis Maud, Archie Norman and Nick Boles for the same purpose. It’s first chairman was – surprise surprise! – none other than Michael Gove.
One of the techniques they use, is to silence any opposition because it is ‘political’. Well, well, well. I may be reading more into it than I should, but that seems sinister to me and if I am a dog you’ve got to beware of, I’d better grow some teeth.