[Marxism] Brexit and imperial privilege

marinercarpentry at gmail.com marinercarpentry at gmail.com
Mon Jun 27 03:08:32 MDT 2016

MM wrote: “It’s bizarre how defensive left advocates of leave have been about this point; I haven’t seen a single serious example of this allegation, but it is repeatedly invoked by left advocates of leave, and always defensively. Very odd.”

You must be joking? Listening to the radio now, this is being debated on both BBC radio 4 and LBC. The term ‘Project Sneer’ has even been coined to describe the argument/ phenomenon. There is a growing movement to rerun the referendum with the inference it should never have been left in the hands of Northern malcontents (a slightly dubious petition that’s already had 2 million signatures; prominent Labour, Tory and Liberal politicians making slightly different arguments that all end up with the UK either not leaving or re-joining). 

It’s impossible to distil the reasons for the 17.4 million who voted leave into one pat explanation. But the rejection of globalisation is becoming increasingly widespread. I’m now in London doing a PhD as a mature student, and suppose I would be – in demographic terms – a shoe-in for an ‘in’ vote; but I voted out because I grew up in the North where life chances have declined for decades. I left school and in a few years became a docker, a job that declined exponentially over the ten years I was there (loss of the national dock scheme; containerisation, casualisation etc); after that I retrained as a carpenter/ joiner. This started well but then the wages and the amount of work also fell through the floor at the start of the recession which was when I quit and went and began my first degree instead. As everybody knows, this decline continued in inverse proportionality with the ascendancy of London PLC (and will be why the Westminster consensus around devolving power/ subsidiarity to a local level will never work and will only provoke more resentment long term).

This was what I voted against in part. I also voted against the fact that the EU has more or less outlawed even the mildest forms of social democracy. And I’ll be honest, *I’m not sure if I voted the right way* (there’s even terms/ hashtags that have been coined for this feeling: Regrexit and Bregret). But the list of crimes perpetrated by the EU is a long one, not least racist policing of the Schengen zone (generally ignored by liberals who paint the EU as a rainbow institution); it’s own corporate capture allowing MegaCorp to drown small business under a mountain of regulation that only MegaCorp can deal with; innumerate examples of steam-rollering democracy (ask the Dutch, French, Irish, Danish, Spanish, Greek, Italians or Polish people or just listen to more or less anything J-C Juncker’s ever said ever) reflected in the closed-door structure of the Commission; TTIP (although I’d imagine we’ll get some form of turbo-charged trade deal in-or-out) Etc. Etc. Etc.

There is no doubt that Nigel Farage is a xenophobic, racist shitbucket who, unfortunately, a lot of pensioners and late middle aged manual workers identify with. During the campaign however, his most egregious announcements/ antics were denounced by everybody including the official leave side (who mostly prefer to signal their own nativism at a more socially acceptable dog-whistle pitch – but, for clarity, not all the leave campaign was fought on the anti or controlled immigration ticket). That Farage’s arguments didn’t have the influence attributed to them can possibly be seen in the overwhelming leave vote returned in areas with high ‘immigrant’ populations all over the mid North East and West. Anyway, the point is that attempting to paint the EU ref as a clash of any two homogenous constituencies of people (young/ old; progressive/ reactionary; north/ south; right/ left) is dumb. 

I haven’t read the Huff Post piece yet (I will do, and I’ve heard it mentioned on the radio this morning) but some of the Remain camp’s tears are unjustified. This referendum hasn’t created more racists (they were already there – e.g. some of the protests that have been cited include demonstrating outside a mosque – this has nothing at all to do with the EU or the issues it raised); somebody from the right of the Tory party was always going to succeed Cameron as well; our economy was fucked already (and by that I mean within the terms of debate given in the mainstream, I.e. our structural and fiscal deficits). I don’t buy the argument about the EU as guarantor of peace within Europe; it’s merely allowed our now waning, senile former imperialist powers to band together to continue to squeeze former colonies through ruinous trade deals. The question of whether racists have been emboldened by the result is different, but – given the general toxicity of the debate (entirely the fault of our political class) its difficult to imagine that this would have been prevented if the result had gone the other way. And I would – pace the liberals – make the same point about the EU: its deafness to its own citizens concerns (re: declining wages, precarity etc) is allowing jack-booted little Nigel’s and Marine’s to pop up all over its racially-bounded territories.

Sent from Mail for Windows 10

From: MM via Marxism
Sent: 27 June 2016 07:24
To: jamie pitman
Subject: Re: [Marxism] Brexit and imperial privilege

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> On Jun 27, 2016, at 2:16 AM, Stuart Munckton via Marxism <marxism at lists.csbs.utah.edu> wrote:
> that does NOT mean everyone who votes to leave is a racist

It’s bizarre how defensive left advocates of leave have been about this point; I haven’t seen a single serious example of this allegation, but it is repeatedly invoked by left advocates of leave, and always defensively. Very odd.
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