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Letters / The outlook is ‘Blick’?

I suppose something like this was bound to happen at some stage. Since WW2, at least in major European and American powers, nations have relied for their security on the ‘good chap’ principle of leadership.

That is to say that, regardless of the extreme potential for world-terminating damage, leaders of major countries have eschewed the more dangerous of the powers bequeathed to them in the interest of their populace, and of the wider world in general, simply because they were intrinsically decent people.

This all changed with Trump of course. In him you had a leader of a superpower who wasn’t elected for his stability, but simply for the damage he was prepared to cause. For the first time, an electorate was willing, if not outright begging, to overthrow the status quo and to put a stick in their own spokes.

I suspect that the fact that he didn’t request his followers to go all the way in the Capitol putsch is seen as a failure by many of them, but his tenure has set a tone that other western leaders, in particular the current incumbent of Number 10, have been more than happy to try to emulate.

Trump, Johnson and their ilk offer change for the sake of change, popularised in snappy soundbites, and heedless of any long-term view of goals or outcomes – for them, the journey is all, and if you don’t want to go along, then you’re not with us, and if you’re not with us, then clearly you’re against us. Elegantly simplistic, but it works like a bomb going off.

And then we have Putin. I don’t know what to make of him. To the west he’s Doctor Evil, and certainly in recent years he’s been happy to play up to that parody. There’s little doubt that he’s been pulling the strings on this side of the ideological wall for years.

His fingerprints are all over Brexit, Trump’s victory in 2016, the destruction of trust in the media and of our belief in the existence of an empirical version of the truth independent of where and how you choose to look for it.

I suspect that the messing with the West’s mind is really just fortunate collateral damage in his goal of gaslighting the Russian people, so that now, deprived even of social media, they have nowhere to turn but to him, and to go along with whatever he wants next, in the absence of alternative guidance. I personally don’t believe that annexation of Ukraine is his final goal by any stretch of the imagination.

I don’t think he’d have gone to the extremes of thought manipulation that he has over 10 years or so to stop there. Having said that, I’ve long since stopped taking note of informed articles claiming to understand his mind and predict exactly what he’ll do next. His logic is impenetrable, and predicting it is a supremely fruitless task.

What I am sure about is that he’s decided that there isn’t a better time than now to break out. The world has been traumatised by two years of the pandemic and is at its most vulnerable, as an end of sorts seemed just around the corner, and is tantalisingly within reach. Europe, the main opponent, is in the end stages of deliberately weakening itself.

The polar ice caps are in the process of accelerated meltdown, potentially causing catastrophic environmental disaster. And chiefly, no one knows what to believe any more – if, for instance, chemical weapons are used, and the West say Russia deployed them, but Putin says it was a false flag attack and in fact it was Biden all along, then what you choose to accept as the truth is entirely dependent on the contents of your personal thought bubble, and thus entirely malleable, whether that is by Vladimir Putin or by Mark Zuckerberg.

I used to work for a company called Blick Software Systems. In the slow times, in the interests of corporate branding, we’d helpfully come up with marketing slogans for them. I can certainly say, without fear of contradiction, that ‘The Outlook is Blick’.

They never used that one.

Rob Jones