2007 - 2021

Purposeful Stupidity

Watching Theresa May’s latest desperate grasp for power, as the prospects for Brexit look more and more dire, it becomes obvious that the Brexit experience is going to be a lot less like Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin’s “Conscious Uncoupling” and a lot more like the CIA’s “Simple Sabotage Field Manual’s” strategy of “Purposeful Stupidity”.

Open Culture reports: “Now declassified and freely available on the CIA’s website, the manual the agency describes as “surprisingly relevant” was once distributed to OSS officers abroad to assist them in training “citizen-saboteurs” in occupied countries like Norway and France. Such people, writes Rebecca Onion at Slate, “might already be sabotaging materials, machinery, or operations of their own initiative,” but may have lacked the devious talent for sowing chaos that only an intelligence agency can properly master. Genuine laziness, arrogance, and mindlessness may surely be endemic. But the Field Manual asserts that “purposeful stupidity is contrary to human nature” and requires a particular set of skills. The citizen-saboteur “frequently needs pressure, stimulation or assurance, and information and suggestions regarding feasible methods of simple sabotage.”

You can read and download the full document here.

Maybe these guys don’t need any manual?

The re-writing of history is happening at a tremendous speed. Remember the sickly stupid claim that Brexit had been won “without a shot being fired”? It’s important to try and put a brake to that.

Baroness Mone of Mayfair  in “A View from the Top” (eek) remembers the independence referendum: “It was a horrible campaign, one of violence and threats from the SNP”. Her interviewer, Maggie Pagano, doesn’t quiz her too closely for details instead informing us that she is “delightfully big-bosomed as you would expect from the woman behind the Ultimo silicon-padded cleavage bra.”

Quality journalism.

Elsewhere in the real world, the Independent tells us that Brexit means hate crime:

“Hate crimes involving racial and religious discrimination have soared at an unprecedented rate since the Brexit vote, The Independent can reveal, prompting warnings that minority groups feel “more vulnerable than ever”. Police figures obtained through Freedom of Information (FOI) requests show incidents surged by 23 per cent – from 40,741 to 49,921 – in the 11 months after the EU referendum, compared with the same period the previous year, marking an unparallelled rise. Eleven of the 32 police forces in England and Wales that responded to the FOI requests saw reports of race and faith-based hate crimes increase by more than 40 per cent, with several regions including Gwent, Nottinghamshire and Kent soaring by more than half in a year.”

Jason Cowley at the New Statesman recalls the loathsome xenophobia of the right-wing press and Nigel Farage and is calling it a “bullseye of disaster”:

“While we are on the theme of Brexit, here are some more variations. David Davis, who used to say that striking a free trade deal with the EU27 would be straightforward because the Germans would be so desperate to sell us their cars and the French their cheese and wine, has now said that the Brexit negotiations are as “complicated as the moon landings”. Andrew Adonis, speaking in the Lords, has called Brexit “a hard-right nationalist policy”. The diarist and theatre critic Tim Walker uses the neologism “Brexshit”. Nick Clegg has asked, rhetorically, if any of us remember the time when we were promised an “easy Brexit”. And the Labour MP Mike Gapes has suggested we are heading for a “Wrexit crash”.

An economically disastrous racist shitfest it may be, but Brexit offers political opportunity. As we’ve said before by evoking “the people” and demanding “national unity” Theresa May can try and climb out of the dark hole she’s dug for all of us. Today we’re told that : “Theresa May will move to bolster her precarious position in Downing Street with an unprecedented invitation to Labour to help her create policies for a post-Brexit Britain as she attempts to quell a Tory plot to replace her”.

Having ignored submissions, denied negotiations and shut off input she’s now desperately looking for support to drag other parties into her Brexit vortex of

In a remarkable commitment to meaningless phraseology she today announced: ““At this critical time in our history, we can either be timid or we can be bold,” she will say. “We can play it safe or we can strike out with renewed courage and vigour.” In a kind of Kafkaesque moment she donned the mantel of social justice warrior declaring her  “unshakable sense of purpose to build the better, fairer Britain which we all want to see.”

None of this really registers with your traditional Tory MP, though some of them are getting a tad nervous at the news that Brexit will have implications for the safe movement of nuclear materials across Europe. 

There are it seems limits to the self-delusion that these people can indulge in, as the cold harsh reality of what they’ve created looms closer.

Even the right – such as Chris Deerin’s plaintive piece here [‘Let’s face it: we’re botching Brexit’] – aren’t happy: “Brexit was sold to the electorate – or at least just enough of them – on the basis of dayglo economic lies and shabby anti-immigrant rhetoric”.

Having scanned the Barnier texts and hearing the unmistakeable sound of a penny dropping, he concludes:

“Reader, it is my duty to say it: oh shit. I have scanned the horizon for a hero riding to Brexit’s rescue and found none. I have spoken to politicians, civil servants, academics, experts both at home and abroad, and have identified an overwhelming consensus: Britain is screwed. Even my Brexiteer friends are behaving like wonks on the edge of a nervous breakdown. The situation is so grim, that for the first time since June 23, I wonder whether the country might rethink. “

Which country and how, we’re not told.

As May scrambles for cover our European counterparts patiently explain.

Guy Verhofstadt puts it simply: “Improve the Brexit offer to EU citizens, or we’ll veto the deal.”

Michel Barnier couldn’t have been clearer a few days earlier. – and the news that Corbyn is meeting him doesn’t fill me with anything other than a quiet dread.

As the Field Manual states  “purposeful stupidity is contrary to human nature” and requires a particular set of skills.


Comments (7)

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  1. J Galt says:

    ‘Brexit negotiations are “as complicated as the Moon landings”‘

    Well why not just fake them like NASA did!

    1. J Galt says:

      Surely a couple of million morons in the likes of Sunderland and Great Yarmouth can’t be that hard to fool.

      1. Gercon says:

        Hey! Steady on.
        I come from Sunderland and I question your figures that there are millions of morons there voted for brexit.
        I would suggest ninety thousand at most.

        1. J Galt says:

          I apologise unreservably.

          I misspoke (there’s a lot of it about).

          I live in Ayrshire and I admit it could put up a damned good show against Sunderland in the moron stakes.

      2. ger connolly says:

        Ninety thousand morons at the most in Sunderland.

  2. Jim O'Rourke says:

    Sequence of events. ‘Collapse’ of TTIP – EU Referendum/Brexit – Serious, repeated floating idea that UK will go with no deal with EU / Major red lines publicly announced at regular intervals that would absolutely undermine any deal let alone a deal with any positives for the UK / Posturing a-plenty / Negotiations start bizarre but clearly with some way to go beyond that waiting in the wings / G20 – Trump discussing a great deal etc. Result looking like Mini-TTIP between US and UK

    What have the odds been over the past year that the UK/US would unilaterally agree a TTIP style deal ready to go the minute the UK is finally officially out of the EU?

    The UK shows every sign of acting with ‘purposeful stupidity’ since, at the very latest, Cameron went on his astonishingly abortive fishing trip to the EU. A box ticked.

    EU cast as intransigent yet again and BIG time. Big time feast of anti-European /anti – EU propaganda in UK MSM. Accompanied with intensified hatefest anti-immigrant propaganda. Another box ticked.

    Take forever to do not much of anything at all other than be as obstructive and disrespectful towards the opposition in the UK and the EU in general. Openly attempt to divide the 27 nations of the EU to get one or more to break ranks. Insult and effectively disenfranchise the other three nations elected representatives at Westminster / parliaments at home. A box ticked

    The general election seems at the minute to represent just how extreme accidental stupidity the tories can display at times.

    More to come though, for sure.

    1. Gordon says:

      @Jim o’ Rourke
      Never mind all that. Germany wants to sell us cars, the French want to sell us cheese and dairy produce and the Italians sell us the Mediterranean diet and lovely cuisine. They would want to give the UK a nice, easy Brexit.
      Cyprus and Romania sell us FA and they would want to give us a hard time and that’s all that matters.

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