Brexit negotiations that were meant to end Sunday have been extended as the two sides continue to iron out their substantial differences. Watching Boris Johnson lead the Charge of the Brexit Brigade provokes mixed feelings of pity and contempt. The more we hear of the British negotiating position the more proof of the fact Brexiteers are forever living in denial.
It was evident from the get-go that the Farage-inspired, Cummings-shaped nationalist, jingoistic crusade that rode the emotions of just over half a nation was detached from reality. The part of Britain that narrowly won the 2016 referendum lives in a parallel world, fashioned in the 1950s and pits its idea of a mighty Empire against the world.
The problem is that Brexiteers have not got the faintest clue of the purpose of the European Union or how it operates. Take one of the most important bones of contention in the negotiations: the issue of the level playing field. The UK would not like the same rules to apply to its companies and products as those that currently apply across the EU. It wants to be able to undercut while participating in the same market.
The only reason they could remotely imagine that the EU should cede to this kind of request is that they continue to live in denial of the fact that the EU will operate in the interests of all its Member States. The fact that the EU will not cede on such an issue is not attributable to ‘evil’ but rather to the obvious consequence of a Union safeguarding the interests of its parts. Yet, the Brits persist.
One of the most insulting suggestions from the Tory benches was for the UK government to stop negotiating with the EU and instead to negotiate with France and Germany, directly. There, in all its ugly stupidity, was the complete and utter misconception of the European Union laid bare. The suggestion that France and Germany should suddenly ignore the values of the European Union and negotiate separately can only come from a Brexiteer mindset. Denial.
Donald Trump too continues to persist in living in denial. Biden’s victory at the polls has not only been confirmed but now we also have the Supreme Court of the United States kicking out every legal challenge that Trump and his surreal sidekick have concocted.
The damaging effects of Trump’s last months in the Presidency remain to be seen. These will most likely be worst in the field of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Trump regime tried its hardest to concoct a parallel reality where it was ‘winning the war’ on the pandemic. Only a smooth handover to Joe Biden and his COVID-19 reaction team might mitigate the damages of politics by illusion.
Denial in times of COVID-19 can be a dangerous thing. As the Christmas break approaches tens of thousands across Europe might be preparing to travel or congregate while ignoring the advice (or in some cases, rules) intended to control and limit the spread of the virus. The egoism of those who deny the dangerous consequences of their own actions is despicable and betrays a lack of respect towards the weakest elements of our society.
This week, our disgraced former Prime Minister and the hapless current prime minister seemed to launch a tag team attack on the Daphne Caruana Galizia inquiry. Denial of the predicament of our nation and its structures is what keeps our government and its business-as-usual attitude going. Denial works because it keeps the people fired up on an illusion and the government and its propaganda machine need all the denial they can get to drown out the noise coming from this inquiry.
Yet there are glitches in the system. No matter how much the Denial Mantra is repeated and shoved down our throats the glitches will keep appearing. One day it is a graffiti of Caruana Galizia that crops up once more after having been painted over by the Denial Censors. On Republic Day, the glitch takes the form of the President’s speech as he reminds everybody that Malta’s primary challenge is Justice for Daphne.
Every day a small glitch in the Denial Fabric is created by a new report or article carried by investigative outlets such as The Shift. They are pockets of resistance designed to break through the barrier of Denial Propaganda woven by those who would sell the lie and carried by those who are bought to propagate it.
All too often what people want to hear are the things that soothe them against what they need to hear. The problem with living in denial is that when the truth finally hits us, we will be unprepared. That is probably when the truth will hurt most.