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Los Angeles 2029 from Terminator movie series

In the United Kingdom, the rise of Thatcher is framed as a successful fightback against the victory of hard Left unions in taking over the country. That victory is defined in the Winter Of Discontent of 1978 (when many industries and services stopped due to strike action) just before Thatcher won the 1979 General Election.

This narrative is not true.

A trick played by Right-wing media is talk of the terrible effects of a change prior to it actually occurring.

The unions had not won in the late 70’s but they might have in the 80's.

This trick plays out today:

  • Women have won the Battle of the Sexes and men are emasculated
  • Immigrants have taken jobs from hard-working local people
  • Diversity policies have taken White people’s rights

None of that is true. It might become true but not for years and probably not in any way imagined now.

The Right fights in the Present by imagining they are already in a dystopian Future they fear.

Fighting the Future in the Past

Sarah Connor in Terminator 2

There is great strength in this narrative.

You can argue and fight now like the future-aware Sarah Connor, or like the reprogrammed Terminator from the future, or even be the heroic John Connor preparing for a long battle.

That the change you fear has either occurred already or is in a terrible predestined Future means that action now is important.

Things have occurred, power has shifted and the fight depends on action not debate.

Repeal the laws, remove the rights, defund the programmes.

To fight is in action. Evidence is not needed. Policy is irrelevant.

Destroy the things that have created the change that cascades into a terrible future (in your mind).

It is not about creating a better alternative future but destroying one that revolts you.

So it’s easy to remove healthcare without presenting a replacement. To leave an international free trade area without any idea of what happens next.

The fear of living in a changed world is enough. Destroying what you perceive to have created that change is enough.

Destroying the Matrix

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Screen of code from The Matix

Is there any way of fighting back?

The Right is in the strange position of being both Skynet and the Resistance. It is both the real incumbent Imperial power and the imaginary feisty Rebels.

They are both in The Matrix and the controllers of it.

They’re fighting against changes to their country, their jobs and their home towns that haven’t really happened.

They’re removing laws and rights that could reduce their power and privilege not because they have succeeded but because they might succeed.

Honestly, I don’t know how to fight back.

I’m writing this simply to lay out one way in which people need to think about how to talk, how to organise and how to fight back when they are dealing with a group who seem to believe in an alternative Today that makes no sense when evidence or facts are applied.

The arguments about Post-Fact News are irrelevant when people already exist in a fictional Future they fear.

Written by

Sensory Design Consultant, usability researcher and workshop facilitator. www.linkedin.com/in/alastair-somerville-b48b368 Twitter @acuity_design & @visceralUX

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