C. S. Lewis on the 2019 general election

From our old friend C. S. Lewis:

If we are going to be destroyed by a far-right government, let that government when it comes find us doing sensible and human things — praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts — not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about politics. They might break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.

That’s got to be my strategy. Fury, denial, despair — none of these will help. Simply getting on with life just might.


1. He was originally writing about the threat of nuclear war, in a 1948 essay entitled “On Living in an Atomic Age”.
2. Yes, I know that Lewis was an old, unreconstructed Tory. The underlying point stands. (Also: the Conservative party back then was a very very different animal from the “Conservative” party of 2019, and I can’t persuade myself the Lewis would ever have voted for the Trump/Farage/Johnson manifestation of this party.)

9 responses to “C. S. Lewis on the 2019 general election

  1. Not sure about the tennis….. otherwise sounds like a plan.

  2. Tennis is maybe a poorly chosen sport here, since for most of us when we play at all, we spend more time going to fetch balls hit wildly out of court than we do actually playing. Still; darts made the cut, and I think we can all manage that.

  3. I favour fighting back.

  4. Same as ever. Hit their weak points.

    When they were unsure of their majority, they promised to end austerity and even reverse small parts of it. Now Johnson thinks he’s sitting pretty he’ll figure he doesn’t have to. So keep on about those hospitals and nurses he promised. Take the inflated figures he used as though he actually meant them.

    And “get Brexit done”. Anyone picturing that? I suppose he might now get his interim deal passed. (Which was really May’s deal with one of her red lines abandoned.) But the actual deal, the actual future trading relationship with the EU, agreed inside a year? Not a chance.

  5. Now Johnson thinks he’s sitting pretty he’ll figure he doesn’t have to.

    He probably will, though; he has no principles, he’s not a real conservative. He just wants to do whatever it takes to be popular (he seems to need adulation) and win the next election.

    I expect a massive (unwise) spending splurge.

  6. So keep on about those hospitals and nurses he promised. Take the inflated figures he used as though he actually meant them.

    Well, but so what? I don’t want to bring the counsel of despair, but what do you hope to actually achieve by this?

    And you rightly say that the new EU trade deal won’t get negotiated within the year: but that is more bad news, isn’t it? It means we get the worst possible Brexit, and the hard-right nutters get the near-total isolation from the EU that they wanted. How can that be construed as “fighting back”?

  7. I don’t mean following Jonson around fact-checking him. I mean, people should do that (provided they have a lot of free time on their hands), but that’s not a strategy.

    The strategy is to take his most repeated promises and use them as a basis for resistance. Protest everywhere he and his cabinet go, continually harangue and pester them. Don’t question them on it. Not “you lied, how come?” but “you lied, now we no longer listen to you.”

    And when austerity doesn’t end don’t just point out its symptoms but use them as a basis for resistance. Don’t just point to the axe, stop it swinging. If food banks could also be used as a base for political campaigning, for example, then there’s already a base in very town in Britain.

    And do remember some will be seeing Johnson as a positive alternative to May. Perhaps not that many. It’s more the Labour vote fell than the Tory went up. But places which swung to the Tories should be focused on. “So what’s better now, exactly?”

  8. Also don’t forget Johnson’s congenitally lazy and unbelievably incompetent, possibly more so than May and Cameron. I’m not sure he even tries to do competence, really, just relies on bluster and a happy clown kind of persona. Most media interviews, where he’s allowed to perform that role, it becomes a kind of shield. But he’d have little left if it was taken down.

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