Tripping the Mind Fantastic: Imagined Orders

KJ Garnett

Brexit and Trump have opened up a new world of understanding that I hitherto grasped but was unable to define. For the past ten years many, myself included, were aware something was amiss. We knew that media coverage of the EU in the UK was based on lies and misleading information. For years euperspectives has been calling for a new European media to counter the underlying current of resentment, mockery, irrational hate and quite frankly downright ignorance towards the EU at the heart of the British media and in influential political circles. I tried in vain to draw a link between negative media coverage and the potential of great harm to the EU and ordinary citizens. Not very successfully. Like a patient who complains of chronic back-pain but who in the absence of a medical diagnosis is told their symptoms are all in the head so too my concerns about the aggressive, fabricated national narrative on the EU. No one seemed to see the urgency of addressing the falsehoods spread by convincing rogues such as Johnson or Farage through a robust counter-message that voters could engage in.

In 2015 a senior Italian diplomat told me he thought it was unlikely there would be a Brexit “… because the House of Lords has published an excellent paper on the benefits of staying in the EU.” I wondered who, other than some rarefied Brussels bureaucrat would read the House of Lords paper on the UK’s EU membership? Everyone was and still is reading the Daily Mail, The Times and The Telegraph where they were and still are being fed a diet of lies and half-truths. In December 2015 I went to a meeting of British lawyers, bureaucrats and lobbyists to consider how to campaign for a remain vote. They all looked very serious. They were going to win on the facts and not the narrative. I knew we were doomed. I had a very strong feeling this was not going to end well. It didn’t.

Much soul-searching, pondering and reading of all sorts of material later and I think I now have a name for the malaise that the doctor was unable to diagnose: it is quite literally in the head and it’s called the imagined order. The imagined order is not a new condition. It has been written about for years. It’s the reason why propaganda is up there with the H-bomb as one of the most powerful weapons a State controls. The great British constitutional writer and founder of The Economist, Walter Bagehot, understood the importance of the imagined order brilliantly as indeed did Napoleon Bonaparte who started off as a General for the French Republic but who later crowned himself Emperor of the French.

“What a thing is imagination! Here are men who don’t know me, who have never seen me, but who only knew of me, and they are moved by my presence, they would do anything for me! And this same incident arises in all centuries and in all countries! Such is fanaticism! Yes, imagination rules the world. The defect of our modern institutions is that they do not speak to the imagination. By that alone can man be governed; without it he is but a brute.” 17 June 1800 Napoleon Bonaparte, on observing prisoners of war who recognised him

Perhaps I had not unearthed the literature on imagined orders until after Brexit and Trump because until then, like many, I was too constrained by my own post-war narrative that the average voter is a reasonable being who will always vote in favour of their own self-interest. We lived in an era, or so I assumed, of reason where evidence and facts were dominant, whilst imagination was for Walt Disney and Dream Works.

For many of us our comfortable assumption that we lived in a stable, age of reason and discussion came to a crashing end on 3 June 2016 when Michael Gove announced live on television and to thunderous applause, that “everyone has had enough of experts.”

His winning strategy of confirming a prejudice and not a fact ushered in a new imagined order ripe for conspiracies and dastardly plots against “the people”. It certainly helped pave the way for Johnson’s “Independence Day Speech” at Wembley Arena and the subsequent Brexit-speak: “the will of the people”. “enemies of the people”, “saboteurs”, “traitors” and “citizens of nowhere”. The speech of populist, authoritarian thugs the world over.

So how exactly did our earlier, post-war imagined order that the average voter is a reasonable being who will always vote in their own self-interest get subverted by hitherto peripheral, fringe politicians? Before we can answer that question it is important to understand what, exactly, is meant by an imagined order.

Are you all sitting comfortably? Then let me begin …

…no seriously, the imagined order is the stories, myths and legends woven into our consciousness from childhood and which are the linchpin of our individual and collective identity. A sudden collapse of an existing imagined order can lead to a collapse of hitherto robust institutions and conventions.

Sceptical? I was too.

“Most people do not wish to accept that the order governing their lives is imaginary, but in fact every person is born into a pre-existing imagined order, and his or her desires are shaped from birth by its dominant myths.”

… writes Yuval Noah Harari in his brilliant book “Sapiens – A Brief History of Humankind”. Harari is quite clear that one of the defining features of humankind, which has shaped history since the time of the agricultural revolution, is the imagined order. Harari goes to great lengths to point out that it would be impossible for humankind to co-operate across large distances in the absence of imagined orders. Without collective myths, tales and fantastic stories there would be no towns, cities or even empires.

Narratives in the form of myths, legends, saga, tales and stories create hugely successful networks that can bind cultures though it must be stressed that not all narratives are epic sagas of warrior ancestors. Some are very mundane imagined orders but they are fictional nonetheless. A piece of paper depicting the head of a long-dead statesman can and does have a value that goes way beyond the value of the paper it is printed on. An image or a slogan can generate hugely powerful narratives and stories, which is why what works politically works equally brilliantly for marketing and advertising. A narrative has commercial value – and it has political mileage. Something Cambridge Analytica understands very well indeed.

Bees, in contrast, do not need imagined orders because their role in life is determined by their DNA. Worker bees never form trade unions or go on strike. Queen bees never start #metoo movements in protest at having only one role in life: to lay eggs. Nor, does the colony have need of lawyers to make a claim against an individual bee for stealing honey from the collective pot. Every bee in the hive performs their task uncomplainingly and according to their biological markers not because of a belief in an imagined order but because their DNA determines their individual function.

Mankind, unlike bees, has no biological marker determining what role each individual is determined to play for the collective good. As a result, our roles as well as aspirations are completely defined by our expectations as set out in the narratives woven around our community. Needless to say there is more than one imagined order. Take, by way of example, the caste system in India. From a biological perspective there is absolutely no reason why an outcast should be untouched and pre-determined to wander the rubbish-heaps of Calcutta. From an imagined order it is their fate. Historians suggest that the caste system was initially introduced around three thousand years ago when Indo-Aryan people invaded the Indian subcontinent.

“The invaders, who were few in number, feared losing their privileged status and unique identity. To forestall this danger, they divided the population into castes, each of which was required to pursue a special occupation or perform a specific role in society….Mixing the castes – social interaction, marriage, even the sharing of meals – was prohibited – the caste system became an inherent part of religious mythology and practice,” Yuval Harari, Sapiens

This imagined, rigid social order became embedded in Hindu society for millennia expanding to the point where today there are no longer four different castes but 3000 not including the“outcasts” or “untouchables”.

In the UK the predominant imagined order is one of a freedom-loving, small, plucky island State, which against the odds ruled an empire painted pink. In history classes English school children are taught that England stood apart from the shenanigans of internal, continental squabbling and turned her gaze outwards towards the wide horizon to win the bigger prize of global trade and empire. This narrative was given a huge boost by the even more compelling and captivating tale of how a wind-swept nation withstood the forces of evil in the teeth of bombardment and aggression from Nazi Germany. That’s the legend and it is indeed captivating. No doubt helped by one of the most masterful narrators of modern history: Winston Churchill. Clare Foges, former speech-writer to David Cameron agrees,

“Like a vast super-tanker splitting the seas and leaving waves for miles behind, it was a time so epic, heroic, cataclysmic that our nation still moves in the wake of it.”

Whoever owns the Churchill story owns the narrative, which is why Boris Johnson went to great lengths to write a biography of Churchill and to model himself on Churchill’s image. In an article printed in The Telegraph Boris Johnson even claims that Winston Churchill would have joined him on the by now infamous red bus.  Brexiters, have colonised Churchill’s impressive legacy and claim it for their own using his war time rhetoric with impunity to suit their own populist ambitions – something the real Churchill would have abhorred. 

“We are not the lion. We do not claim to be the lion. That role is played by the people of this country,” Boris Johnson, Conservative Party Conference 2016

How many of the delegates recognised this as Churchill’s,

“It was the nation and the race dwelling around the globe that had the lion heart. I had the luck to be called upon to give the roar.”, Winston Chutchill, 80th Birthday Speech?

Even Johnson’s talk of “sunlit uplands” written for a speech in May 2016 is plagiaried from  Churchill’s famous “Their Finest Hour” speech given to the House of Commons on June 18,1940 just after the remnants of the British Expeditionary Forces was rescued from Dunkirk.

“If we can stand up to him (Hitler), all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands.”

“And then thanks to the referendum given to this country by David Cameron we find that a door has magically opened in our lives. We can see the sunlit meadows beyond,” Boris JohnsonSpeech on the EU referendum, 9th May 2016

Note also how cleverly Michael Gove, who with one breath spouts populist slogans such as “the people have had enough of experts”  the very next day casts himself in the same die as the much reverred expert: Einstein. Gove is neither Jewish nor an expert nor does he have the brilliant mind of Einstein but it suits his narrative to suggest EU experts share the same nefarious intent and purpose as Hitler’s scientists.

“…. Albert Einstein during the 1930s was denounced by the German authorities for being wrong and his theories were denounced and one of the reasons, of course, he was denounced was because he was Jewish. They got 100 German scientists in the pay of the government to say that he was wrong and Einstein said, ‘Look, if I was wrong, one would have been enough.’”

In this imagined order Gove is a victim of a campaign “in the pay” of the EU in the same way that Einstein was a victim of German scientists who were “in the pay” of the Nazi regime.

The climax of this narrative, of course, is Johnson’s completely unsubstantiated and perverse claim in The Telegraph that the EU shares the same sinister ambitions as Nazi Germany, namely complete domination of the European continent.

“Napoleon, Hitler, various people tried this out, and it ends tragically. The EU is an attempt to do this by different methods,” Boris Johnson, The Telegraph, 15 May 2016

It is not just modern writers such as Yuval Harari who understand the significance of the imagined order. Writing in the mid-nineteenth century Walter Bagehot  set out his views on why an unwritten constitution needs to fire the imagination of the nation in order to succeed. Bagehot distinguished between two forms of governance in the UK. The “efficient” government (the House of Commons) which quietly and to no great aplomb runs the country in the nation’s best interest. It is dull, grey but highly effective at promoting prosperity and a stable order. “The real rulers are seated in second rate carriages. No one cares for them nor asks about them,” wrote Bagehot. They are accountable to the electorate who votes them in every five years. The second form of government is the “dignified” element of British governance at the apex of which sits the monarchy and just below the monarchy the House of Lords. The dignified form of government is the august branch of government deliberately designed to keep the imagination of “the people” fired since it is all about ceremony, pomp, glory, patriotism, palaces, jewels and royal weddings. A dignified government is vital to form a national identity around which a pluralism of ideas can coalesce.

Forward to 21.32 on Adrian Wooldridge’s “What would Bagehot say”. where you can hear Sir Henry Marten, Vice-Provost of Eton College tutoring the young Queen Elizabeth on the importance of understanding her role as the future Monarch under the system of a dignified constitutions as featured in The Neflix series The Crown.

Republicans – from Thomas Pain to President Macron – spurn all of this as spurious, expensive and patronising – vain privileges for an unworthy elite. Dignified government is not exactly liberté, egalité, fraternité. Until 2016 my sympathies lay with the Republicans. Post Brexit and Trump and my new-found understanding of the imagined order I now find myself standing full-square behind Bagehot. Walter Bagehot recognised that the unique beauty of the unwritten English constitution is that it offers everyone an imagined order of pomp, ceremony and vanity without any real power. The monarch bedazzles the people and feeds their need for a sense of identity and patriotism whilst the real power lies in a democratically, elected, accountable House of Commons which through democratic means manages to run the nation in its best interests.

In Great Britain “wannabe dictators” are offered an ermine robe, a title and seat in the House of Lords long before they get anywhere near the levers of power. How much happier Trump would be to prance around in ermine and gold with a seat in The House of “Lords”. Instead he has to sit in the Oval Office and get red in the face about the FAKE MEDIA and the EU’s tariff rates on soya beans. The US constitution, however, has no dignified branch of government so instead America gets Donald Trump as President and Donald Trump gets the hassle and duties of a President when he probably would have been happy to be a titled artistocrat.

The EU’s Imagined Order

So, what about the EU? What is the EU’s imagined order? The EU, after all, is the epitome of a successful network based on co-operation and stability? Surely an organisation that has led to such an unprecedented period of peace, justice before the law and prosperity would have its very own imagined order? Born out of the ashes of two world wars the EU could easily be compared to the phoenix of mythology which rises out of the rubble to offer a broken continent renewal and life. Yet, this legendary imagery and narrative has never been attributed to the EU. Instead the EU sought to promote an image of a quiet, efficient, boring bureaucracy shunning the lime-light whilst promoting peace and prosperity within its member states. No doubt those who wrote the first treaties, Monet and Schuman, as well as the first post-war statesmen such as Adenauer were sick to death of grandiose narratives of greatness, superiority and nationhood. They were not seeking to gain acceptance through an epic tale of mythological proportions. They sought acceptance through fostering trade and through trade stability.

Seventy years on and the existing EU has delivered on its initial promises. There has been no war on European soil for over seventy years. The EU’s values, as set out in Article 2 of the Treaty on the European Union state that the EU is founded on the values of democracy, rule of law, pluralism, non-discrimination, equality between men and women and justice. The EU delivers on its stated objective to create a single market in goods, services, capital and people. The EU has gifted the people of Europe an unprecedented level of freedom, rights and prosperity the like of which has never before been seen in any previous era in Europe. Yet, in spite of these many positives, the EU’s narrative has morphed from a benign driver of peace and growth into a sinister, unaccountable authority that shares the same ambition as Hitler. How did this happen?

….because the EU was sleeping on the job and not heeding those, such as euperspectives, who were warning that the EU needs to create a positive, counter narrative as a matter of urgency.

The EU, in short has cultivated “efficient” government very successful but what it has singularly failed to do is to heed Walter Bagehot’s lessons and cultivate a “dignified” form of government. It has developed nothing – no institution and no narrative – to capture the European continent’s imagination leaving it hugely vulnerable to outside forces.

Bureaucrats are not born narrators

As the power and influence of the EU grows so too an increasing number of enemies. Enter one Vlademir Putin who despises the EU for imposing sanctions on him and a number of alt-right American libertines such as Robert Mercer, Steve Bannon and Peter Thiel who do not share the more socialist EU’s vision of curbing monopolies.

Sadly bureaucracies like actuaries, as Yannis Gabriel an expert on imagined orders and narrative would say, work in a dry, narrative-desert and writing narratives is not exactly what bureaucrats are any good at. Bored journalists, autocrats and rabid right-wing libertines with a grudge against the EU, on the other hand, are. They are master narrators. Since the EU was and still is unwilling, unreceptive and ultimately inept at creating its own imagined order Putin and Bannon are more than happy to step in and fill the void. The narrative they have devised is completely inaccurate but that doesn’t matter.  Their compelling narrative is of an EU on the verge of collapse. A narrative of corruption, elitism, sinister conspiracies working against the people’s best interests. Putin and Bannon have the necessary means to do so: a state to sponsor the spread of misinformation and the millions to pay for it all. Profit is not a necessity. Destabilising the EU is. To write a narrative that could destabilise the EU both Putin and Bannon found in Johnson and Farage a couple of useful, willing and pliable clowns willing to sign-up to team Putin and Bannon and more than eager to spread a master narrative or corruption, greed, tyranny and elitism.

Putin, Bannon’s and Vote Leave’s fictional Narrative

Every narrative follows three acts: 1. the creation of an anti-hero or enemy that needs to be vanquished (in this case the EU), 2. to define oneself as the new hero ready and poised to take on the challenge (in this case Johnson heading up Vote Leave); 3. to lead the oppressed masses out of the valley of darkness towards greener pastures (a sovereign, independent UK free from “the shackles” of the EU).

This is the narrative that the unholy alliance of Putin, Bannon and Vote Leave devised to brilliant effect. They did not believe this tale any more than they believe in liberty, democracy and tolerance but it served their intended purpose of destabilising the EU. The narrative follows these three acts in which myths and legends are spun and repeated again and again and again by all Brexiters regardless of which nominal organisation they represented be it Vote Leave, or Veterans for Britain. The message was always consistent and it was rammed home through all available mediums: twitter, facebook, tabloids, spread-sheets, television, radio, You Tube videos and a Brexit film funded through Kick-Starter. It is always the same message and it is a message that Brexiters still repeat to this day on-line, on television, on the radio and in newspapers. It is why remainers in the UK are finding it so hard to shift public opinion away from Brexit and towards embracing our continued membership of the EU. In short it is successfully changing the imagined order we live in.


“We’re shackled to a corpse,” Daniel Hannan, Brexit the Movie 2016

Brexit the Movie, watched by close to three million people o n You Tube alone, is masterful in creating a myth of oppression and tyranny from which all British citizens must free themselves as a matter of urgency. It was crowd-funded through Kickstarter and the promotional video asking for contributions already sets the tone for creating a new imagined order of a corrupt, decadent and failing EU.

Borrowing heavily from the language of American revolutionaries the Director, Martin Durkin, manages to evoke an epic struggle between the good forces of freedom, democracy and justice and a corrupt, inherently anti-democratic EU. The EU is described as an economic basket-case governed by a “priesthood” of rulers. To the back-drop of dramatic music Martin Durkin, director and narrator in Brexit the Movie, opens his “documentary” with rousing words plagiarised from the language of America revolutionaries, “We the people are being cajoled, frightened and bullied into surrendering our democracy and freedom. This film is a rallying cry. We must fight for our independence. We must have the freedom to shape our own future.”

One of the more fabricated assertions but one which nonetheless sounds convincing comes from the American journalist and author Janet Daley, who states with not a blush of shame that the EU “… was devised to make sure that the great mass of the people could not control the government ever again.” Ignoring his own position as a democratically elected MEP with funding from the EU to represent his constituents Nigel Farage warns that the EU is worse than undemocratic. It is actively looking to usurp democracy by being “anti-democratic”! “This is people versus the establishment. People versus the elite.” Margret Hoey affirms to an audience of willing listeners appalled at the idea of their freedoms being stealthily snatched away from them by a sly, underhand EU.

This fictional story-telling is cemented further by thundering falsehoods written by Alexander Boris Johnson in The Telegraph “The EU is increasingly anti-democratic …. It is sclerotic, opaque, elitist: different nations bound together by a centralised bureaucracy that ordinary people can neither understand nor vote out.” Vote Leave would peddle the lie that the EU is not an engine for peace and democracy but “a sprawling, self-serving, wasteful, corrupt bureaucracy lacking in accountability and helping itself to perks.”

EU regulation” wrote Johnson in another one of his highly popular opinion pieces for The Telegraph entitled Of course our City Fat Cats love the EU – it’s why they earn so much, is, “…generated by an inscrutable process involving fat cat lobbyists and fat cat businesses and the governments of other countries.” The EU does not seek to uphold justice, the rule of law and equality between the sexes Gove wrote on the Vote Leave web-page but has contrived to create a “rogue”, “political” court lacking in “independent” judges. To back up Gove’s propaganda the Daily Mail confirmed reader’s prejudice by stating, “The EU is ruled by a secretive, unelected commission, whose diktats are backed by a court able to override elected democracies.” The EU does not dedicate a huge proportion of its budget to job creation through innovation and research, rather it is an engine for “job destruction” with “no prospect for reform.”

“The Intellectuals are looking down on the plebs and saying you aren’t bright enough to decide the future of your country.” Brexit the Movie, 2016

The second myth is that the sinister, secretive EU is in cahoots with the “liberal”, “intellectual”, “middle-class” elite to keep the good “people of Britain” oppressed. This appeals not only to UKIP voters but to “Lexiters” who fall hook, line and sinker for this narrative.

“It’s about bread and circuses … bread and circuses for the little people … the political classes say you needn’t worry about sovereignty or any of that …you’re going to get better mobile phone rates …that’s the good news … and you’re going to get slightly cheaper holidays …and those are the things that really matter to you because you’re one of the little people,” claimed James Dalingpole imitating a pompous annoying, holier-than-thou, metropolitan elite.

“It just shows how they have complete contempt for the people …do they really believe that these little trinkets are going to buy us off?” asks Claire Fox who heads up her very own made-up “think tank” called “The Institute of Ideas”. Whilst for his part Daniel Hannan states with a gleam in his eye that the “The EU is a racket which is very good at taking money from the general population and handing it to people who are lucky enough to be working for the system.” In a high-handed voice Janet Daley asks the viewer, “I mean would you really trade in your national identity for slightly cheaper phone calls when you’re on holiday abroad?”…as if a family holiday in the sun is the price to pay for loss of identity!

Durkin narrates, There is a tremendous snobbery built into the whole project, the idea that you are part of the elite which should decide how the little people live their lives. These people up here, the intellectuals, are looking down on the plebs, and saying you aren’t bright enough to decide the future of your country.”

If we stand up for democracy we will be speaking up for hundreds of millions of people around Europe who agree with us but who currently have no voice, Boris Johnson, Wembley Arena, 2016

The third and final myth woven into Act 1 is that the EU is on the verge of collapse and that other European citizens are just waiting for brave, plucky Britain to take the lead so that they too can be free from the EU tyranny. “Eventually if you stuff dictatorship down the throats of people who don’t want it, they will rebel. Unfortunately, in many places, it’s taking a very unpleasant form of right-wing populist nationalism. Extremism at both ends is being fostered by the anti-democratic nature of the European Union. Marine Le Pen’s far-right party came first, winning 25% of the vote,” narrates Durkin in Brexit the Movie.

Pictures of a rise in right-wing nationalism are shown alongside angry crowds in Greece protesting against EU austerity. Ques of people looking hungry and desperate are shown implying that their misery is all the fault of a corrupt, failing EU that is on the verge of collapse. Rather than being the instigators of populist language (remember Gove’s “people have had enough of experts”) Vote Leave are now the protectors of our liberal values (the very ones they sneer at further up the narrative). Rather than acknowledging that UKIP shares the same platform and space as Marie Le Pen’s Front National – she is now the enemy thereby cleverly – though utterly untruthfully – tapping into people’s concerns about right-wing demagoguery.


“Our history is a trading, buccaneering history dating back to the time of Drake and beyond… yet at the moment our hands are shackled by being in the EU,” David Davies, Brexit the Movie 2016

Davies conjures up an image of a swash-buckling nation ready to take on Spanish galleons. It is highly effective since it taps into Britain’s pre-existing imagined order of being a brave trading nation that rises like a hero above the shenanigans of continental in-fighting. It is a winning line because it makes Britain not only exceptional but also capable and able to go it alone without being bogged-down by a decadent, wasteful Europe. In his Wembley Arena talk Johnson goes to great lengths to compare Cameron’s “fearful” rhetoric of “bowing” to Brussels with his message of believing in Great Britain and her ability to go it alone.

“We don’t like to be bossed around by a bunch of bureaucrats. For the British is seems to go against the grain,” states Martin Durkin. “The free British were organizing the commercial and industrial revolution that gave birth to the modern world. Unregulated Britain was the pioneer of free trade – dominating the world economy like a Leviathan.”


“…the jailer has accidentally left the door of the jail open and people can see the sunlit land beyond –…” Boris Johnson, Andrew Marr Show, March 2016

 And finally, we move on to the final act. Freedom from an oppressive EU. All summed up neatly in Johnson’s “rousing” final speech in Wembley Arena 2016 for which he got a standing ovation and thunderous applause and which probably clinched the Vote Leave victory two days later.

“We on our side who offer hope…who believe in Britain.. they say we can’t do it…we have no choice but to bow down to Brussels…they are woefully underestimating this country and what it can do. We can take back control of our whole law-making and we can take back control of democracy.”

Alongside rousing speeches Vote Leave wheel out their very own experts who are mere frills on top of a cake made of artifice. Gove laid the ground-work for ignoring experts – but they decorate the narrative. Without them their cake might just look like a block of plastic sponge. A covering of plastic icing will look effective.

Below are some of the quotes that many will be familiar with … but which I repeat just to show how powerful their narrative of success is.

“The idea that you need to be in the European Union to trade with the European Union is a total absurdity.” Nigel Lawson, Brexit the Movie, 2016

“They need us more than we need them.” Dr Ruth Lea, Brexit the Movie, 2016

“If we left the European Union we could very quickly develop trading agreements with the most dynamic parts of the world economy,” Steve Baker, Brexit the Movie 2016

“Outside of Europe we could have a level of prosperity that we can’t even imagine now …” Matt Ridley, Brexit the Movie, 2018

“Coming to a free trade agreement with the EU should be one of the easiest in human history,” Liam Fox, Today Programme, 20 July 2017

 The fact that this epic tale is a one-sided fabricated and unsubstantiated saga is neither here nor there. It is convincing and in a world of free speech neither the Director of Brexit the Movie, Martin Durkin, nor the politicians that feature in it such as David Davies, Nigel Farage and Margaret Hoey nor the journalists Matt Ridley, James Dalingpole and Janet Daley, nor Boris Johnson, Michael Gove or Liam Fox will ever be held to account for telling mistruths and little fibs … so the narrative can roll in the direction they want it to and who cares about the consequences because they are now in power and we are left standing incredulous on the side-lines.

As the BBC radio 4 programme “The Tyranny of the Story” spells out so well mythology is a bona fide, well understood political strategy. Putin understands this brilliantly. Steve Bannon understands this as does Boris Johnson. The only ones failing to grasp this are those advocating that the UK remains in the EU. Unless we learn to talk the talk of hope, joy, cheerful opportunity and a confident future within a dynamic EU I fear team Putin, Bannon and Johnson will have successfully usurped the imagined order – and it will not be a good one.


In hindsight euperspectives has been writing in vain. How could the scribblings of one little known writer compete against an onslaught of negative coverage spewed out by Russian backed twitter trolls, off-shore billionaire newspaper proprietors or a carefully crafted weaponised psy-ops strategy funded by Robert Mercer and carried out by Cambridge Analytica? When up against Mercer’s sly and underhand tactic of stealing FB data for the express purpose of spreading bespoke falsehoods the likes of euperspectives never stood a chance.

The question now is: will Putin, Bannon and Vote Leave succeed in changing our national and European imagined order from one of an efficient/dignified form of representative democracy or will the United Kingdom and potentially continental Europe too succumb to the scam of populist rhetoric as Steve Bannon and Putin supporters in Europe are hoping? If yes the future looks bleak. A Europe based on nation states will once again turn in on itself and devour itself through blood-thirsty wars waged by Dictators and Autocrats who despise efficient governments.

If the EU wants to survive in its current form and defeat the forces of populism it is high-time it started devising its own narrative that European citizens can all engage in and identify with before it is too late and that ship has sailed. Fact-checking is useful but it will not clinch our future direction. Europe has produced some of the most creative minds in history – it is not impossible for the EU to create its own master narrative that serves the interests of all our European interests, namely peace, prosperity and progress. The alternative is let Putin, Bannon and fraudsters write our European narrative for us in their own interest not ours. The time to decide on what future direction we want Europe’s imagined order to look like this time next year is now.

6 thoughts on “Tripping the Mind Fantastic: Imagined Orders

  1. Panperdu

    I look forward to an equally well written proposal on how to own a European identity, or will that open yet another csn of worms?

  2. NuitsdeYoung

    I think education/upbringing has a role. I was born before the UK joined the EU, but even before I started school, I had picture books of Greek mythology, I was raised on stories from Classical, Norse and Celtic legends… We were poor, living on my dad’s grant as a mature student (first person in the family to go to university), but I had a culturally/imaginatively rich life, which cost little – museums and galleries were free. My historical and literary heroes came from all over the place. I did Latin, Greek and French at a comprehensive, and went on to study history and art history at university. I couldn’t afford to travel abroad until I was an adult, but imaginatively and intellectually, I regarded myself as a European from early on…
    Now, with the internet, cultural capital has never been so easy and cheap to acquire, yet too many people seem to have ‘circled the wagons’ and close themselves off. Again, it reminds me of the bullies at school and on the council estates where I grew up, who regarded any interest in learning, culture, art as “posh” or “snobby” and took a perverse pride in ignorance and thuggishness.

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful reply. You make some very interesting points – especially that of people “circling the wagons” and closing themselves off. I really see it as our duty to offer people a positive message about learning, knowledge, understanding and appreciation of diversity without the loss of our own, cherished identity.

  3. Pingback: The Tabloid’s Handmaiden – EU Perspectives

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