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When you reach the end of the world, you have to believe another world is possible...
I have been privileged recently to visit Ushuaia – the southernmost Argentine city branded as ‘the end of the world’ for its proximity and gateway status to Antarctica. It has a beautiful setting on the Beagle Channel between Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, with the dramatic Andes dropping into the sea through the spectacular Tierra del Fuego National Park. You really believe the road sign that signals you are 18000 kilometres along the Pan-American Highway from Alaska - a state seemingly comfortable with electing Sarah Palin, and then voting for the Orange sociopath who now, as much as anyone, holds the world’s fate in his misogynist, racist, lying hands.
It is risky to draw conclusions on the basis of a one-day visit. But the Ushuaia I saw came across as a vibrant city, able to showcase to visitors its extraordinary hinterlands and seascapes in a relatively successful equilibrium with nature. This is despite the severe depletion of the ozone layer in the Southern Oceans – caused almost totally by those in the Northern Hemisphere, whose acceleration is an explicit outcome of the policies being pursued by the Fake President.
The beauty of Ushuaia and its province provokes reflections on where the end of the world actually is, and the end of the worlds from which we have to recover in our daily lives and experience.
At a personal level, the end of the world is the loss of our nearest and dearest, those we have loved, and those who have had the most positive and enduring positive impacts on our lives.
Professionally and politically, the end of the world comes about when evil subterfuge captures the organs of power – state, media, business – with their manipulations and deceptions.
Some will accuse me of melodrama, but we are living through an end of the world wrought by Boris, Gove, Dacre and their ilk in the UK (or the offshore tax havens where they hide their wealth).
And I know, some progressives will survive the Brexit end of the world, and the death of a tolerant, outward and forward-looking Britain that helps to constructively shape the European continent of which we are a part. I might even be resilient enough to continue to enjoy indulgent visits to places like Ushuaia who are so distant (culturally as much as geographically) from the metropolitan elites who have captured power in UK, US and other discredited nation states across the world. But I know, with absolute certainty, that those disadvantaged communities who were beguiled by Brexiteer lies – from Sunderland to Stoke-on-Trent to St Ives – shall not be so fortunate.
The incoherent, dysfunctional May Government, seeking to progress a Brexit mandate from the 27% of the population who voted for it, is an end of the world unlike any other I have experienced. It shall be to the progressive’s eternal shame if we do not compel the Corbynistas to build the broadly-based alliance within and beyond the Labour Party that can halt and reverse May’s dystopia.
Ushuaia is the proud host of the ‘Biennale of Contemporary Art at the End of the World’ with the inspiring strap-line ‘when you reach the end of the world, you have to believe another world is possible’. We all have to work very, very hard to ensure that Ushuaia is right…