Diagrams of Shame

Every sign is a selection, such as {UK, Rwanda, asylum seekers, deal}. Each selected sign has ripple effects through the worlds its components are drawn from and into which the sign enters. The full sign includes those effects and the diagrams drawn up to map them.

As a sign, the UK’s deal to send thousands of asylum seekers to Rwanda calls for diagrams of great intensity, drawing threads between shame, care, disregard for others, mendacity and racism through the UK and beyond.

Shame comes from the abdication of responsibility by the UK, from its mistreatment of desperate people, from its lies about the human rights record of Rwanda and its treatment of asylum seekers, and from the corrupting nature of a deal that pays a poor nation to take the refugees of a rich one.

Care can be witnessed in the powerful response from UK civil society that has mobilised against its venal and morally bankrupt government to protect asylum seekers.

Disregard for others and mendacity are the defining features of the Johnson government, where Ministers treat people as collateral damage to their desperate attempts to stay in power, by using the misrepresentations of the billionaire owned Tory press, and by spreading lies to cover for the paucity of their ideas and the self-interest of their financial dealings, such as profiteering during the Covid-19 pandemic or lobbying for donors’ companies.

The main tool of the modern extreme right, racism is the underlying motivation used by politicians, some writers and parts of the press to mobilise populations, while concealing the disgraceful historical and contemporary wrongs of discrimination, economic deprivation and violence based on race.

Like the Rassemblement National in France or Fratelli D’Italia in Italy, the current Tory party is obsessed with distorting the UK’s past in order to use racism and false images of defunct empire to fool voters into voting against their own and the wider good.

Five threads pull through a diagram of the UK, as a smiling Minister signs away the lives of asylum seekers. Shame, care, disregard, mendacity and racism are twisting countries in opposed directions. Shame and care are much the stronger strands. They bind people together and are reinforced whenever and wherever we live well together.

Diagrams are dynamic. Though this one seems to be pulling towards moral disintegration, its strongest direction is towards a better society, free of the few rotten individuals exploiting misery for personal gain.