Terry Pratchett on why we need conspirators in smoke filled rooms

I’m re-reading Terry Pratchett’s “Jingo”. I know he’s dead and, even if he wasn’t, he wrote this book in 1997, when I was forty and if you’d told me about Brexit I’d have admired your creative imagination… after I stopped laughing, but he seems to have read my mind… in advance.

You see, I’ve been telling myself that Brexit was a conspiracy by THEM, the people I’ve always hated but who have somehow managed to take something I value away from me.

True, 17.4 million people voted for Brexit but that was because THEY conned them.

That has to be true because otherwise 17.4 million of my countrymen voted for Brexit with the enthusiasm of lemmings entering a cliff-diving contest because of xenophobia, dreams of empire or because they believed what was written on the side of a bus by an organisation with no other purpose than to say whatever it took to win.

So how did Terry Pratchett know I’d be thinking this? Either he was psychic (and I’m much more important in the universe than seems possible) or he had an insight into how people’s minds work that must have been so deeply depressing that he’d want to spend as much time as he could escaping into a fantasy world; except, when he got there, he’d dragged the insight along with him because wherever you go, there you are.

Anyway, this is what he had Commander Vimes think:

“And then he realised why he was thinking like this

It was because he wanted there to be conspirators. It was much better to imagine men in some smoky room somewhere, made mad and cynical by privilege and power, plotting over the brandy. You had to cling to that sort of image, because if you didn’t then you might have to face the fact that bad things happened because ordinary people, the kind who brushed the dog and told their children bedtime stories, were capable of going out and doing horrible things to other ordinary people. It was much easier to blame it on Them. It was bleakly depressing to think that They were Us. If it was Them, then nothing was anyone’s fault. If it was Us, what did that make Me? After all, I’m one of Us. I must be. I’ve certainly never thought of myself as one of Them. No-one ever thinks of themselves as one of Them. We’re always one of Us. It’s Them that do the bad things.”

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