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Trump, Piers Morgan, Caligula, post-truth football, post-Wenger Arsenal.

Spare a thought for the disenfranchised

By Tim Charlesworth (@Timc1972)

So Donald Trump has been inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States to a chorus of generally gnashed teeth, the world over (although the world still seems to be turning).  Trump puts me in mind of the apocryphal Roman emperors Nero and Caligula.  By popular reputation he is vain, self-serving, brash, aggressive and arbitrary.  Historians debate whether or not those Roman emperors deserve those reputations in much the same ways that many contemporaries believe that Donald Trump is misunderstood.  The very idea of Trump the emperor is an instructive one.

We live in a world where the United States is largely unchallenged as the pre-eminent economic and military power.  The US president is commonly described as the ‘leader of the free world’, and it often strikes me that I am really a subject of an American empire.  It’s an empire that projects ‘soft power’ rather than the ‘administrative power’ which both the Roman and British empires relied upon, but an empire nonetheless.  The American empire is far from unique in the use of soft power.  Eighteenth Century France and Fifth Century BC Athens, were both empires that projected their power through influence rather than direct administration.

One of the things that makes me feel as if I am part of an empire is that fact that I have no say in the choice of the leader of the ‘free world’ in which I live.  In that sense I am a subject, not a citizen of that empire, and only US citizens are true citizen’s, because they have the power to elect the leader.  And it is this sense of ‘subjection’ which seems to be making Trump’s election so unpalatable to Europeans (I’m pretty sure that Trump would have lost if Europeans had been allowed to vote).  For most of my life, the choice of US President has been a subject of interest rather than obsession for most British people, but that changes when a candidate is chosen who many people genuinely fear or despise.

I had the pleasure of watching arch-WOB Piers Morgan on BBC Question time last week.  Trump and Brexit were naturally the main topics of conversation.  Morgan is essentially pro-Trump and I was struck by his pleading for people to ‘understand’ Trump and ‘give him a chance’ (Morgan doesn’t extend the same courtesy to Arsene Wenger).  The emotions of the exasperated anti-Trumpists and Remainers in the Question Time audience reminded me of nothing as much as the emotions of the WOB.  Their world is moving in a fundamental direction that they disagree with, and there is nothing that they can do about it.  They have become the disenfranchised.  Both groups complain that they have been defeated by dishonest campaigns and fake news, as if this is some kind of new phenomenon in our world, but the post-truth, fake news world is something that has been brewing for a while:

  • The football transfer gossip market is a perfect example of fake news (as is often observed on Untold Arsenal)
  • Richard Dawkins (amongst other scientists) has been complaining long and loud about the advances of ‘creationism’ and the now widespread teaching that animals were created by god rather than evolution.
  • US Republicans (including the Donald) spent much of Obama’s Presidency complaining that Obama’s birth certificate was falsified and that he was not born in the USA, and therefore not qualified to be its President.  As far as I can tell, this claim is entirely false and mischievous.

There has always been a grey area between ‘fact’ and ‘opinion’, but we now live in a world where people find this boundary so tricky, that they have lost all interest in distinguishing between the two, where rumour and innuendo are given equal weight to carefully established facts.  WOB chat sites routinely repeat the idea that Arsene Wenger only won trophies with ‘George Graham’s defence’.  A little bit of research, or knowledge, instantly exposes the nonsense of this: none of the Invincibles back five of Lehmann, Lauren, Campbell, Toure and Cole played for George Graham.  The 2001/2 double winning team also rarely employed defenders who had played under Graham, other than Keown, who Graham sold, but truth is not the point here, and the allegation is repeated so often that it almost looks like ‘common wisdom’.

Few people are still holding out against the post-truth tide, and Untold Arsenal is one such place.  Traditional media is under mortal threat, and in no mood to stand on high journalistic principles.  The newspaper world is being destroyed by the internet and television channels are reeling from the blows delivered by multiple channels and online streaming services.  As media outlets and news sources proliferate, there is ever more room for ‘niche outlets’ that only present news from a single viewpoint.  Arsenal fans can now get all their news and ‘facts’ from websites that adopt firm AKB or WOB positions, and need never look at the ‘enemy’ news outlets.

The frustrated Remainers and anti-Trumpists (your author is in both camps) are trapped in a world where choices have gone against them.  It seems scant consolation to remind them that they live in a democracy.  Their democratic choices have been ignored or over-ruled, and this leaves them in the same place as the WOB.  The WOB don’t have ‘an opinion’ that Wenger is past his sell by date, they know if for a fact.  Given this ‘fact’, they conclude that the Board are incompetent, the players are deluded and the AKB fans are traitors.  They can only see the club in the light of the fin de siècle purgatory that characterised the end of George Graham’s time.  Success is unthinkable, and they just want Arsenal to lose and fail, so that it can all be over.

Sometimes the AKB faction of Arsenal supporters (myself included) are intolerant of these views.  We can’t understand how an Arsenal fan can hope for defeat, and we gently advise them to ‘go elsewhere’ (often in more colourful language).  But, of course, they can’t go elsewhere.  We know that football supporters are stuck with their team come rain or shine.  They have no more choice than Remainers or anti-Trumpists.  Remainers could go and live in France and anti-Trumpists could move to China, but these are not proportionate reactions, or realistic options, and a WOB Gooner cannot realistically ‘go to the Lane’.  So perhaps if you are an AKB Remainer, or an anti-Trumpist, you have a little insight into how it feels to be in the WOB, and might be able to be a little more empathetic to their dilemma.

My final observation is that politically speaking, Arsenal is a dictatorship.  Kroenke is the ultimate power and the WOB are helpless against him.  Would it be different if Arsenal was a democracy?  If the WOB could channel their energy positively into a campaign to elect a Chairman who would replace Wenger, would they be happier?  What if they lost? Would they just be back to square one like Remainers, rejecting the validity of the vote, or would they be satisfied that the decision was democratic?  The three most successful clubs in the world are democracies.  Real Madrid and Barcelona are owned by their fans, and Bayern fans own 75% of the club.  The members of these clubs choose Presidents, and those Presidents are responsible for making marquee signings and appointing managers.  We occasionally sneer at these elections – like many elections they can be undignified and divisive processes, but you can’t really argue with the results!  This is no coincidence – It is nearly as unusual for a Spanish or German cub to be owned by fans as it is in England.  It seems that these clubs are not democratized because they are big, but rather have become large and successful as a result of being democratic.  It seems that democracy and football success go together better than you might think.

So, the world is a complex place.  Let’s all have sympathy for those on the losing side of a disagreement, and recognise that we may be there ourselves on occasion.  We don’t know what a Trump presidency will look like, or a post-Brexit Britain, let alone a post-Wenger Arsenal.  Let’s all be wary of those who tell us the ‘facts’ about these future dystopias and maybe even take a leaf from
Piers Morgan’s book and just ‘give it a chance’.  Arsene Wenger has a job where he can get away with being a ‘bad loser’, but the rest of us might be wise to take It all with a bit more grace.

Tim is the author “It’s Happened Again” (available on Amazon)

Art3

Arsenal v Burnley

And elsewhere

From the History Society

The picture above is of The Untold Arsenal Banner is on permanent display inside the Emirates Stadium

25 comments to Trump, Piers Morgan, Caligula, post-truth football, post-Wenger Arsenal.

  • OlegYch

    interesting perspective, thanks Tim

  • Chris

    I guess that some time down the road, Piers Morgan will tell us some untruth (like Arsenal have not won any trophies for more then 10 years), arguing that they are well aware of the fact that we won 2 FA cups and one (or is it 2) Community shields by simply saying like the one Ms Conway that he was presenting alternatie facts.

    And soon enough, some PGMOB ref will decide that some goal against Arsenal stands, presenting his decision as based on alternative facts as compared to the 25 yards offside even blind people were able to see…..

    Based on that, maybe the AKB tribe should celebrate 10 years of trophies, after all, 4the is a trophy could be labelled as an ‘alernative fact’.

    And next year when tax return time comes, maybe we could argue with the Treasury by saying we’ve not earned anything and presenting it as an ‘alternative fact’ !

    Maybe in a few months time, we’ll have a society where people live in alternative worlds depending on the alternative facts they want to accept…..

  • blacksheep

    hello Tim

    the day I take a leaf from Piers Morgan’s book will be the day I use it to light my funeral pyre! I can’t believe you want to give the Donald the benefit of the doubt – there’s is no doubt, the man is a monster!

    Beware of making too many comparisons regarding Ancient Rome and modern America either, or Europe for that matter. A certain Adolf Hitler was elected by the German people, and the French may soon elect Marine le Pen. Fascism racers its ugly head in all sorts of disguises and it is the duty of all of us that have not fallen under the spell of demagogues like Trump, Le Pen and Farage (and numerous others) to fight it.
    The only good fascist is a dead one.

    Nice work though, trying to link this all to football and the Arsenal – I admire the effort!

  • Laos gooner

    There are some of us happy to be on neither side of the AKB vs WOB debate. I started as a gooner back in the 70’s. Much has changed at the club and for the good. I do not think my opinion will be of any importance to the board and understand my complete lack of influence. I will, no matter what, continue to support the club. I may groan at a misplaced pass, or wonder at the coincidental nature of injuries and even question ticket prices but I will never have the skills to be a major part of such a set up. It is so liberating to my support of the club to remind myself of that. Be it 3 successive away league defeats in the 80’s rain or a late summer game against AS Roma in the Austrian alps, I would not change any of those memories because I can truly say I am a gooner.

  • John L

    Only partly off-topic:-

    It seems that Piers Morgan is currently making multiple appearances on BBC news / politics programme. He seems to be trying to rival Farage or Gove as the man doing most to be ingratiating to Trump.

    I recognise that he is entitled to hold views which I find objectionable (as with his attitude to Arsenal), but I don’t see why he should be given the platform to broadcast his particular brand of prejudice so widely. It is not as if he is an authority on any of the subjects on which he pronounces.

  • Jammy J

    I honestly don’t know why anyone watches Question time. It’s just a one big scripted facade. The people in the crowd that pose their questions to the participants are so clearly planted there and rehearsed beforehand, it’s unbearable and only suites to give the general public the impression that they have the capabilities and power to probe and question the people, who at that current time, appear to be in power.

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    Nice try Tim but “everyone knows we are ruled by giant lizards who can stand on their rear feet”!

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin

    Hmmn.
    Well said Tim Charlesworth and I give you some kudos for your article posting.

    If truly the US is an empire(super political, economic & military empire?) it will one day at a period in history diminished to the level of becoming a past empire like the empires before it have all diminished to become past empires and no longer super. But they have not diminished to the level of ordinary. They are still strong and powerful and asserting some influences here and there.

    I think Arsenal football club is an empire on it own that is being owned by two major bililionaires under the adherent policy of financial capitalism which has become an integer part of western civilization kind of democracy.

    If Real Madrid, Barcelona and to a large extend in the case of Bayern Munich are being owned by the privileged fans of these clubs who periodically elected the presidents for their clubs to run their clubs on their behalves, are practicing the same form of western democracy but this turn under the privileged mass capitalism ownership. But could this privileged mass capitalism ownership of these two and one Spanish and Germany clubs been the reason behind their the remarkable success they’ve had in their domestic Leagues and in the European Leagues? More so in the European Leagues?

    The AkBs and the AOBs are wonderful supporters of Arsenal FC and they are unique supporters who have evolved two factional group of supporters supporting Arsenal. But these two factions of Arsenal supporters may seize from continuing the day Le Prof left the club. I think the AKBs and the AOBs are the MPs of the unofficial Parliament of the Arsenal FC with Mr Tony Attwood the chieftain of the AKBs as the Priminister. While Piers Morgan the chieftain of the AOBs is the Leader of the opposition in Parliament. So, among the two major rival fans of Arsenal supporters, an unofficial democracy has been formed and it has since become entrenched. When Mr Wenger is gone maybe in 4 years time and the AKBs and AOBs become extinguished. The AAA or aaa may still remain functioning and another opposing group to oppose them could be formed.

    I supported Donald Trump for his singular pronouncement to crush ISS during his presidential campaigns to become president of the US. But I don’t support his repealing the Obamacare. Because I believe he’s doing so out of envy of Obama, a black president who leaving behind a legacy after his tenure has expired. Trump could make adjustment he deemed fit to the affordable heath care act. But he should leave the name Obamacare intact. Because it’s a legacy of president Obama left behind by him for his service to the US as their president who got Osama bin Laden, pulled American forces out of Iraq in response to the popular wishes of the US citizens and did other notable things for the US during his presidency. Does Trump thinks the Democratic Party won’t win the presidency again in future? What of if the president of the US under the auspices of Democratic Party retaliated by also repealing his own legacy which he has left behind after his presidency has come to and end? Would he like it?

  • Josif

    Interesting article, Tim.

    One of the worst things about Trump’s victory is Piers Morgan’s delight about it. Morgan is like a jester in the tyrant’s castle. If he was a movie character, you would want him to suffer the most painful exit from the show.

    @blacksheep

    Actually, Germans didn’t give Hitler a majority. His party got bellow 44 percent of votes. Just like Trump didn’t get popular votes but still won because votes of all American citizens aren’t equally worth. That’s why they are United States of America, not Republic of America.

  • colario

    According to Radio 5′ football pundits club Referee – Jonathan Moss had an excellent game. ”He made all the right calls.” It was his assistant who let him down with the Arsenal Off side penalty’. So now you know folks.

    If you were at the game what you saw didn’t happened. Two eyes cannot be wrong. What the other 50 – 60 thousand pairs of eyes saw were wrong. Even George Orwell could not say this! But he did say:

    ”Napoleon is always right.”

  • porter

    Unfortunately it’s bad form to believe the evidence of your own eyes. Mine saw a referee that lost control of the game. they also saw a referee that has a track record of allowing the physical side of the game permit the use of elbows , trips off the ball , bodychecks etc. However the stats produced will show that Xhaka went over the ball with a two footed tackle , they will show that Coqelin tripped Barnes and that the referee took the advice of his linesman (assistant )and that The Arsenal won the match 2 -1.
    Effectively Moss had a good game according to the stats that they will use.

  • Pete

    Very interesting Tim.

    Morgan – the guy is beneath contempt (and was before he became a Trumper). Incomprehensible he gets airtime anywhere. Ignore him.

    Post-truth. Ultimately, the people who live in the real world will make better decisions and will steadily make ground on those who are (literally) deluded. But it is sad that Trump will do decades worth of damage to, er, just about everything he comes into contact with. This will be an extraordinary test of America’s constitutional institutions. Let’s hope the country passes. Trump makes George W Bush look like a renowned statesman.

    Fan-owned clubs. Hmm. A mixed record in the UK but I guess, all-in-all, positive. The big advantage of fan ownership is that it precludes the “unfit and improper” from having influence. I expect most clubs started off as a democracy but were, at various stages, sold off to private investors? An early example of financial doping.

  • GoingGoingGooner

    I thought that all German teams had to be 50+1% owned by the clubs and that only a couple (Bayer Leverkusen(Bayer Pharmaceuticals) and Wolfsburg (VW)) are exempted.

  • GoingGoingGooner

    Piers Morgan seems to be a mean chap…I don’t have much truck with people like that.

  • para

    It seems that if pundits and media critisise refs, this will bring the game into disrepute instead of motivating the refs to get better.
    What a strange world!

    The reason why they fear truly live programs is because someone might say something not scripted or rude. The moderators run a tight ship on what they and guests say.

    You know that the United States is just the military arm of the British Empire that supposedly does not exist anymore? It postures and shouts but really does anything without the say so of it’s parent.

  • Leon

    Post truth is soooh 2016. It’s “alternative facts” now Tim

  • Brickfields Gunners

    One day Giorgio A. Tsoukalos , the Ancient Aliens Astronauts Theorist and his co-conspirators definitely will prove that The Donald was ‘taken over’ by aliens as a child and his hair is actually the alien life form !

    Unlike in the movie The Alien , where the creature first attaches itself to the face of the character played in the movie by John Hurt ; in The Donald’s case it too was repelled by his ugliness and decided to settle on his head instead! And it found the cranium to be soft,pulpy and quite empty and roomy. So no changes or surprises there !

    As the alien grows , it’s meshes imbeds itself deeper and deeper, thus taking over the brain of the host, however limited it may have been to start with . As these meshes , which are actually very fine tentacles , tap into the ‘wiring’ system , it renders the host into an imbecilic and pliant.

    That is why the alien is able to puppeteer the host into weird and nonhuman like behaviour. Traits like compassion , honesty , fair play , justice and honour are all too alien to them. So don’t be surprised if the Men In Black take him away.

    There are rumours that Boris Johnson is also an alien .And I have a lingering suspicion that even Giorgio A. Tsoukalos is an alien too ! No human could ever live with that hair !

  • Trump,for those of us who believe in The Almighty GOD creator of heaven and Earth is the first four trumpets in the book of revelations. This guy who snorts I don’t what, with his hands on the atomic bombs!!!!He might wake up one night high GOD forbid but we are in trouble. If what happened in the US was in Africa the world will be allover but nothing happens bad in the USA. The red card for Xhaka! Could some one show us the difference between pogba and xhaka and see who committed murder. What a world.

  • Sammy The Snake

    I been believe we live in the age of alternative facts starting this Sunday. Facts are useless now. As long as you says it with confidence, any BS can be fact! So sad.

  • ClockEndRider

    Tim,
    There is nothing apocryphal about Nero or Caligula.
    Some of the stories about them may be considered apocryphal. But it is a matter of historical fact that they lived.

  • Nitram

    Colario @ 10.04pm

    “According to Radio 5′ football pundits club Referee – Jonathan Moss had an excellent game. ”He made all the right calls.” It was his assistant who let him down with the Arsenal Off side penalty’. So now you know folks.”

    Did he now. Just take a look at this little montage from Arsenal.com under the headline TRICKS, TACKLES AND A PANENKA PENALTY. Hopefully the link works.

    http://player.arsenal.com/matches/g855383/video/8945/tricks-tackles-and-a-panenka-penalty

    In particular take a look at the incidents at the following times:

    1.03 – Foul on Giroud: How was that not a Red card ?

    1.46 – Foul on Mustafi: How was that not a penalty ?

    2.21 – Foul on Ozil: How was that not a Red card ?

    3.27 – So screaming in the face of the Referee is okay ? Well of course it is, we know that from Rooney.

    And that’s not to mention how the kick in the face of Kos wasn’t even worthy of a yellow.

    But of course Moss got everything right bar the offside didn’t he?

    Talk about an alternative reality !

  • finsbury

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    I have met people who like to say: “the arsenal board are the worst in football” (where hole have these people been hiding in?!!!!) but I’ve never met anyone who describes themselves as an “AKB”, sure they may support their football club but that doesn’t mean to suggest said club is infallible. That would be: weird.

    The AKB vs WOB construct was a genius PR tool used by self declared genius’ in PR (finance, physiotherapy and football too!) to attack the club that they claim to love

  • Nitram

    Plus of course I missed out the two blatant elbows in to Mustafis face that where both totally ignored.

    I make that at least SIX serious offences totally ignored, or at least not dealt with to the appropriate degree, and yet it is deemed by the media and there apologists that Moss had a ‘good’ game.

    Even if you consider all those decisions to be 50/50 calls, the law of averages suggests at least a couple of them should of been given in our favour.

    So there’s at least 6 big calls that don’t go our way, and only one that does, the offside call, and guess what one has the naysayers up in arms !

  • Menace

    Nitram – there was a blatant kick to Xhakas legs from behind that annoyed him enough for him to square up to Defour who then pushed Xhaka. This was within 10 yards of Moss who didn’t see a thing (corrupt cheat that he is) & proceeded to talk to both the kicker & the kicked while offering shaving foam to measure 10 yards. It was a red card offence doubled but not one of the media pundits mentions it. This occurred before our first goal.

  • GoingGoingGooner

    @Nitram…sometimes Arsenal try to be too subtle. They showed a few the assaults on our players in the montage but not enough, IMO. And, if you were to read the write up on the arsenal.com website it doesn’t mentioned the manhandling our players received, at all. Mustafi’s takedown wasn’t even mentioned!! It would be instructive for many to read a Spurs or Chelsea write up after a game like ours…they don’t hide their bias (and, in all fairness, it’s their website…). “Clean through with just Lloris to beat, Raheem Sterling was pushed by Kyle Walker as he was about to shoot – but didn’t fall. His honesty probably almost certainly denied him a stonewall penalty plus a red card for Walker with the score at 2-1.” This is what the ManCity website says about their denied penalty…ours says nothing about Mustafi’s.