Reality blow. A clash with reality. Capitulation in the face of reality. These were the most widely read phrases after the chain of resignations of three British ministers, including the media critic Boris Johnson, in response to the draft agreement that Theresa May plans to present to the EU in a few weeks’ time. But Johnson’s decision is anecdotal. It is nothing more than a repetition in a farcical tone of his pre-referendum tactic: resigning by gesturing a major disagreement in the hope of becoming prime minister on the wings of the tabloids and the Eurosceptic segments of the population and his party. As casino gamblers and broker-dealers know, this is called the “martingala strategy”, which consists of betting everything on double or nothing in the hope of making up for the loss. I’ll tell you what, it doesn’t usually work.
In his farewell, almost certainly his last moment of media glitter, the former foreign minister, the Englishman who dared to publicly quote Kipling – that friend of the lower races – in a temple in Myanmar – that former colony – the privileged heritage politician who visited the areas devastated by Hurricane Irma as one who goes on paid holidays in the misery of others, as the Sex Pistols would say, that pre-legitimate skull, which Valle-Inclán would say, left behind as a testament: “The Brexit dream is dying.” Touch of a bull’s-eye. End of the fantasy because the real importance of the departure of Johnson and the minister for the Brexit David Davis – the brit-glam version of Ramon Tremosa, and if you don’t believe it, compare this with this – is that it is a sign that the British government is finally beginning to define itself. Anyway, it didn’t take long. Only 15 months since he activated article 50. A sigh. And so we have gone from Waiting to Godot at the End of the Game. All very Beckettian. Beckett, by the way, was Irish.
But what is this reality that the United Kingdom is going to clash with and what is this reality that will make the Brexit supporters capitulate to? To answer that, I have to ask another question. Here I come: what is reality?
In the 90’s, we lived the End of History (Fukuyama, dixit), a quiet and complacent -and therefore unreal- stupor only broken by the punches of Jesús Gil a Caneda. We now know, of course, that it was a Japanese tale and that the historical forces were following their course. 9/11 came along. It was the time of the End of Irony (Roger Rosenblatt, dixit) and the “Welcome to the desert of the real” (Morpheus, dixit). Now there was chaos, war, suffering, government torture. With the economic crisis came evictions, unemployment, poverty. More reality. A lot of reality. We could no longer cope with as much reality as there was. And we wanted more. Like new lovers who discover each other’s bodies. More real economy, more real democracy (now).
Then it turned out that Lacan’s old fox hit the nail on the head when he answered some students who asked him what Lo Real was, and he said, “What do I know! We discovered that reality was not unequivocal. No one articulated it better than China Miéville in The City and the City, one of the masterpieces of recent science fiction, whose action took place in two cities that were the same, two cities that lived together in the same physical space but whose inhabitants remained unaware that half of their neighbors believed they lived in another.
Suddenly, reality was constructable and multiple (Foucault laughed at us from his tomb). People who believe that separating children from their mothers is making America bigger again while others are horrified; people who believe that leaving a refugee ship adrift strengthens their country while others believe otherwise.