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Sunday 23 April 2017

Strategy Of The State

Penned by Sun Tzu some 500 years before the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, The Art Of War is a true classic. It is one of those books that a lot of people claim to have read, less people have actually read, and less people still remember more than a few scattered phrases. There's a cult surrounding it, somewhat; a popularity cult that claims it can unlock the secrets of success in many an arena. I for one have always been suspicious of cults.
There is undeniable wisdom there, though. I'm not a general, I'm far from an expert on just about every matter, and I can't quote the book - or for that matter Carl von Clausewitz, or Miyamoto Musashi, or the more questionable Robert Greene - from back to front. What I am, is an enthusiast in regards to strategy and militaria, a wargamer, a roleplayer, and a person that likes reading about shit to understand other shit.

I didn't expect Theresa May to call for a snap election earlier this week, but now that I think about it, I'm not as surprised as I was. Sun Tzu, in these quotes below, will tell you why.
"...those skilled in war bring the enemy to the field of battle and are not brought there by him."
 "Supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."
 "Speed is the essence of war. Take advantage of your enemy's unpreparedness."
On reflection, it had to happen now.

In three years, the effects of Brexit will have bit deep. People would be hurting. What damage the government can do to the NHS would be three more years advanced, waiting times longer, services more curtailed, and a lot of people confused as to why. Areas of natural beauty - and hell, areas of not so much natural beauty - will be sounded out for fracking; local dissatisfaction will be building about that.

In three years also, maybe the Blairites will have been weeded out from the Labour party; less knives in the party leader's back, less grumbling and whining. Maybe the LibDems could have established themselves further. Maybe the actual hurting of Brexit will have brought people to question the wisdom of triggering Article 50 at all, drawing more support away from the Tories and UKIP. Also those Tory MPs currently under investigation for electoral fraud haven't been properly charged or punished, yet - bet three years would be plenty of time for that to happen.

The press is still working for the Government. I don't know if that would have changed in three years, but as of right now, they're still on side. Why wouldn't they be?

By circulation, the most read newspapers in this country (and their owners) are:
  1. The Sun (Rupert Murdoch)
  2. The Daily Mail (Viscount Rothemere)
  3. The Metro (Viscount Rothemere)
  4. The Evening Standard (Evgeny Lebedev)
  5. The Mirror (Trinity Mirror PLC)
  6. The Telegraph (The Barclay Brothers)
  7. The Times (Rupert Murdoch)
  8. The Daily Star (Richard Desmond)
  9. The Daily Express (Richard Desmond)
  10. i (Johnston Press)
Eight of them are owned by individuals (through far larger holding companies), all rather wealthy, who definitely have a vested interest in keeping the Tories in power - corporation and capital gains tax kept low

 If you want to check out their political leanings, or at least the leanings of those stories they prioritise, feel free to google their front pages. Oddly, despite most of these papers having a distinct anti-immigrant leaning, their owners are absent from these shores: Murdoch in Australia, Viscount Rothemere in France, the Barclay Brothers in the tax haven of Jersey. Desmond's father was an immigrant from Latvia, and Lebedev is from Moscow.

Just as a sampler, here's a few headlines:
  • 1 In 7 Labour Voters Turn Tory (Express)
  • Corbyn Puts UK At Terror Risk (Telegraph)
  • Crush The Saboteurs (Mail)
  • Crackdown On Foreign Cooks (Express)
Nice. The relevance of all this of course is that, in this moment, Theresa May can still count on the most popular newspapers in this country to carry a message that supports her angle. Clausewitz actually provides a lesson on why this is necessary:
"Modern wars are seldom fought without hatred between nations; this serves more or less as a substitute for hatred between individuals."
 A somewhat sterner lesson from the same:
"All war presupposes human weakness and seeks to exploit it."
That's why it all had to happen now. With the opposition's disarray vastly amplified by the press, and the portion of the British public that are still pro-Brexit whipped up into following May's party into the teeth of recession.

I have hope. I also have fear.

I'm seeing a lot of the left crumble. Calls for unity are made, but nobody wants to agree who to rally behind. Tim Farron, the leader of the Liberal Democrats - whose voting record is questionable, frankly - is coming under just as persistent press attack as Jeremy Corbyn. No matter how sensible or smart Corbyn's policies are, they get passed up because people "don't like him" for whatever weird nebulous reason they can't quite nail down - sure-fire proof that the press attack is working.

It's going to be hard times. I hope that we can make it out with some of our country in one piece.

Because if we survive this attack, the push back will be so much easier.

"Victorious warriors win first and then go to war."

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