Rubí Donkey writes her Rubí Tuesday blog.
Morris donkey has been reading again. Sometimes it is good that Morris does reading because he tells me clever things to write on my portant blog and I improve my reputation as a world-class interweb source of intelligent debate. And I’m only ten which Morris says makes me even more worth listening to. He says, if some precocious teenager can get worldwide respect by tearfully screaming and glaring at the dignitaries in the United Nations, then I should be in with a chance as a hoof-stamping donkey who does bark-braying demanding her food.
When he was a foal, Morris first started reading because our Peasant bought him a secondhand copy of the Donkey Sanctuary book about their founder, A Passion for Donkeys. I didn’t teach him because I can’t read: I just write. The Peasant intended to educate Morris using the pictures in the book showing of various different breeds of donkey. This, the Peasant supposed, would broaden his cultural outlook. (The peasant was a teacher in those days and was concerned to implement his school policy of openness, diversity and anti-racism in one so young.)
To everyone’s surprise, Morris immediately started reading the words of the foreword, “Twenty years ago Elizabeth Svendsen began her work with donkeys, work that was to become famous all over the world…” and he never looked back. Morris has read the Spanish Constitution in order to help our Peasant with his application for a Spanish passort; he has read Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire; and all seven volumes of Marcel Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu in the original French (“without subtitles,” as he proudly pointed out, which is excellent, although I have no idea what subtitles are.)
So, in general I am very grateful for the help that Morris provides us in understanding the wider world. Even if it is often confusing: like why would a monkey write a book declining Rome? All this is very interesting for us donkeys, but sometimes, Morris reads unhelpful things and this can create a very bad day for us. Such a bad day happened yesterday. Morris decided he wanted to dabble with neocon economics (mainly because with all those echoing vowel sounds, he liked the assonance in the phrase and asses are naturally attracted to assonance). So he has been reading Britannia Unchained, the free-market book written by five Tory MPs in 2012 (when Morris was only a yearling) and has now been responsible for Brexit, which sent our Peasant mad and depressed. So Morris, keen to understand why the Peasant was mad and depressed, decided to read the book.
As he explored the economic ideas and thought about his straw while eating, Morris came to the conclusion that we could get a much better deal on straw than the Peasant gets from Nutrivila every month – and more straw of a better quality – by telling the Peasant and Nutrivila that we would no longer eat their straw.
Instead we would get straw from the moon, which we look at every month and Morris has convinced himself that is where the best straw comes from because he read about a harvest moon.
“How are we going to get this straw from the moon?” asked Aitana.
“We will set fire to our food store and burn all our straw,” said Morris, with alarming conviction. “Then insult the man who comes from Nutrivila so he does not come again. The Peasant will be forced to do a deal with the moon and bring us better quality straw, at a cheaper price. Not only that, but there will be carrots more than once a day. Big barrels of carrots will come from the harvest moon.”
Morris flopped down in the dust, swatting imaginary stars with his tail and thinking of the wonderful straw that comes from the moon. Aitana sat down with him and said, “You are very clever Morris. In all these years of the Peasant just paying for our food and Nutrivila delivering it in a big van, we never realized there was something much better!”
Discussion of these matters developed rapidly into division and name-calling, with Matilde and I arguing, “We always had enough straw to eat, the Peasant pays for it, Nutrivila is just five kilometres away and they bring it whenever we need it, so what is your mad idea about?”
Morris and Aitana called us “Vilists!”
We started braying “Moonies!” at them.
It all became quite impossible and when the Peasant arrived with our food we had lost our appetites and went off into different corners of the field to sulk, and shout insults at each other.
Finally, the Peasant was so concerned about the behaviour that he contacted that very nice man at the Donkey Sanctuary in Sidmouth who is the equine behaviour specialist. The Peasant described the symptoms and was told, “Your moonie donkeys are clearly suffering from cereal delusions and a rare form of self-harm and hysteria often found in African and Polynesian cargo cults. Your Vilist donkeys have dug their hooves in, as a reaction to a threat, and have entered ‘fight or flight’ mode, now consuming themselves with anger at their own impotence. In short, they are in the midst of an asinine culture war. It is a sort of cargo cult.”
The Peasant was somewhat alarmed. “What can I do about it?”
The equine behaviour specialist carefully explained that a course of hypnotism through juggling with carrots was the only solution to bring all the donkeys back together again, and in future more carefully regulated reading choices for Morris.
What Rubí seems to be describing here is the parallel between Brexit and African and Polynesian “cargo cults” described by sociologists and anthropologists. This was first explored in a remarkable article two years ago (November 2017) in the Financial Times: “Beware the Tory cult that’s steering Brexit.”
I really recommend it. You will never see the mystery of Brexit in the same way again. It is quite amazing that Morris intuitively fell into these cargo cult practices after reading Britannia Unchained.
Do not try this at home.