Brexit, social trust, migration and welfare: an ugly thought

by Chris Bertram on June 10, 2016

At the moment, I’m reading my way through David Miller’s new Strangers in our Midst and also getting very exercised about the UK’s Brexit referendum (to the point where I’m waking at night and worrying about it). My siblings and I have all benefited from the EU’s free movement rights, my children both have non-British EU partners, we think of ourselves as Europeans. So for me, the threat of Brexit is a threat of lost identity, of something that has been there all my adult life just disappearing overnight. And so I’m feeling pretty resentful towards my fellow citizens who might vote to cut that tie and thereby endanger the security and family life of millions of EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens elsewhere in the EU.

One of Miller’s arguments is a familiar one about social trust, about how welfare states depend for their stability on such trust and that the increasing diversity that immigration brings tends to undermine support for redistributive programmes. This lack of trust gets expressed in anger about stories that immigrants are ahead in the queue for social housing, that they are a drain on health and education services, that they are getting “something for nothing”, and so forth. Needless to say, most of such stories are false. Nevertheless, there may be elements in the design of the UK’s welfare state and its relatively non-contributory character that fuel such anxieties.

Here’s the thing. Those voting for Brexit out of resentment against immigration are disproportionately the elderly poor whites who don’t pay much in but who benefit from those public services. A predictable consequence of them getting what they want is that the fiscal base for those services will be eroded and that either they will have to be cut or taxes will have to be increased. This is because those EU immigrants are, in fact, paying more in taxes than they are taking in services. (Actually, the UK is free-riding in a big way, as it never paid for the cost of educating and training those workers.)

When I take those political affiliation surveys, I always say I’m willing to pay higher taxes. But now the devil on my shoulder is saying “why should you pay higher taxes to replace the taxes that were paid by EU migrants? Those idiots have brought it on themselves, let them now suffer the consequences”. An ugly thought, but I’m guessing that if I’m having it then I’m not alone. The UK’s EU referendum has eroded social trust more than immigration per se ever did. It poses the question of what citizens owe to one another in pretty stark terms. If people could mitigate the need for higher taxes by accepting immigrants and they choose not to do so, why should their wealthier fellow citizens bear the cost of their choices?

{ 207 comments }

1

Metatone 06.10.16 at 10:57 am

I’ve been thinking on similar, but perhaps parallel lines.
h/t also to jkbloodtreasure

Britain after a Leave vote will start to feel like a culture war country.
Of course you can’t view the rise of Farage and pretend that we don’t have some level of culture war – but it feels like a Leave vote will solidify politics around that axis.

And that’s a very ugly thought to me.

2

armando 06.10.16 at 11:13 am

Because a principled belief that we should have a fair and just society isn’t conditional on the members of that society having the correct opinions?

Once you start down the route of judging the recipients of state help as *individuals* you are really very close to narratives about welfare scroungers and so on. Some people who get state aid will be unpleasant, criminal, and so on. If you make your support of the social safety net dependent on that not being the case, then you no longer support a social safety net. It seems to me that this comes up on occasion here at CT, a fact which I find a little unsettling.

That said, expressing irritation with the small mindedness of the Brexiters…..is entirely understandable.

3

Igor Belanov 06.10.16 at 11:17 am

It’s the whole point of nationalism. It either aims to force one conception of national identity on the rest of the population, or uses national identity to obscure a political programme backed by minority interests. Thus the rhetoric of unity is mobilised in a way that provokes grave disunity, witch-hunts and scapegoating.

The time has come for stating that identity matters are a personal issue and should not be capitalised on for political reasons. There are many conceptions of national identity in the UK- we only need consider the differences between ‘Britishness’, ‘Englishness’, ‘Scottishness’, ‘Welshness’, etc, let alone how they link with issues relating to class, race, religion, sexuality.

4

Ronan(rf) 06.10.16 at 11:40 am

No, as Armando says, there’s no justification. This is what you hear from certain sections of the left about “white trash” and what you would hear from conservatives about “ghetto blacks” (and ,to even it up , what u would hear in Ireland about travellers or loyalists or other not loved demographics; Including a lot of these migrant groups, some of who don’t collectively have overly liberal political attitudes.)
I’m pretty pro eu, and even more pro immigration, but we can predict with almost as much certainty as we can predict the tides that significant immigration will produce a backlash. Those of us supportive of more migration need to (1) try to design a system that doesn’t produce a backlash ,or (2) convince people why immigration is a positive force, or (3) understand that not everyone’s experience of immigration has been as positive, try and find out why, and then share the burden greater. Anger and righteousness gets nowhere.
And I have more sympathy for These older groups opposed to immigration. It really isn’t only racism or xenophobia or even the cultural changes that they perceive as occurring, that is driving them but (IME) fear for their children and grandchildrens future. It quite clear comes also from a non selfish, positive place for a lot of people. Making their lifes harder makes the backlash worse.

5

engels 06.10.16 at 11:56 am

why should their wealthier fellow citizens bear the cost of their choices?

Erm ‘because you’re not morally entitled to that wealth in the first place’ would seem like the obvious answer

6

Eszter Hargittai 06.10.16 at 12:14 pm

Immigration has a big PR problem. People tend to hear about the difficult cases rather than the ones where immigrants contribute in huge ways to society. I don’t have a solution, but I do think that’s an issue.

It’s worth noting that even educated people can get pretty hostile about foreigners “taking their jobs”. The academic job market is tough in most places now and that is an area where, anecdotally, I’ve certainly heard people upset about “outsiders” doing well on the market.

As for the ugly thought, it’s reasonable, I can’t blame you. I appreciate people’s point that you probably need to keep focusing on the overall system, but the overall issue can be frustrating.

7

Thomas Beale 06.10.16 at 12:28 pm

According to this on fullfact.org, the net fiscal impact is close to neutral, and claims about any major positive or negative impacts in the aggregate are not supported by the available evidence.

My anecdotal take (as an ex-Aussie, 12 resident) is that the arguments about net fiscal impacts depend entirely on the category of immigrant. They are going to be greatly different across: long-term older immigrants from India, West Indies etc, versus last 5y of Polish versus much more recent (and much smaller) eastern Europe, versus non-EU educated versus non-EU low education versus refugees versus… etc. Some of these are likely to be getting net benefits, while others are likely to be strong net contributors (e.g. the favourite category of EU NHS professional workers).

Of course, none of this talk of net fiscal benefit has much relation to the social and other intangible value that all kinds of immigrants may represent, nor our moral responsibilities toward certain categories of refugees for example.

I think people’s views on the immigration question correspond to what defines their idea of the ‘society’ in which they live. If it’s surface characteristics like having a Welsh accent or being a Liverpool supporter, it’s going to be a small version with less interest in immigration; if it’s a society that has a common concept of human rights, englightenment values and secular democracy, then it’s ‘Europe’, and immigration is no problem in the abstract.

8

Philip 06.10.16 at 12:45 pm

Or because it’s a moral obligation as part of living in a democracy. If the leave campaign wins then there will have been poor people who voted for remain who will be affected worse than only having to pay higher taxes. Thinking about who are the deserving poor isn’t a route I would like to go down. I get the impression that those wanting Brexit are older white people but I don’t know how it breaks down by income. Until recently UKIP mainly appealed to voters who would otherwise have voted Tory but they did pick up votes from Labour at the last election, so I really don’t know how it breaks down now. There is a critique of the EU from the left which argues against it’s neoliberalism and lack of democracy but I don’t think the left would get enough influence following Brexit to make leaving the EU an adequate response to the critique.

@ Metatone, even if the remain campaign wins I think there is a good possibility of culture war politics in the aftermath. The SNP lost the Scottish referendum but have otherwise made huge gains. A win for remain will not guarantee that Brexiteers and their arguments will go away and I couldn’t guess what effect it would have on the internal conflict inside Labour.

9

bjk 06.10.16 at 12:47 pm

How about charging each citizen a minimum tax, independent of income, for services rendered by the state. Then you get no free-loaders plus all the sweet, sweet tax revenue which is all that matters. State as corporation, citizen as mercenary, that’s the ultimate logic of open borders.

10

Ais 06.10.16 at 1:01 pm

Yes, I’ve been anxious about the referendum too and have also been thinking about what it’s going to do to the civic bonds between people here. I’m Irish and my husband is from outside the EU, so I’ll be able to vote here, and we’ll both be able to work (he went through the ordeal of applying for an EEA family visa last year — still not as bad as what others go through though since we were only apart for four months). I don’t really think about my identity very much but you’ve reminded me that being European (not just Irish) was a big part of my upbringing. The E.U. was seen as this great project to bring people together. All my classmates learned French and German (and Irish) up until the age of 18. We sang Ode to Joy at school assembly. Me and my three closest friends worked in Germany during the long summer holiday from university when people in Ireland couldn’t find permanent jobs never mind the temporary summer jobs we needed to help us save for the following academic year. (No fees back then but we were all working class first generation university goers and we needed to work !) My partner and myself now live in a little village in Scotland (population circa 1,812!). Our friends and neighbours have made us feel so very welcome here. They are Scottish, English, Irish, German, Ukrainian, American, and French. (They’re also Anglican, Presbyterian, Catholic, Jewish, and mostly of no religion at all –nice when you’ve grown up in mostly Catholic Ireland!) I like things like this. I’ve always felt that the U.K. is very similar to Ireland. It has always felt like home, in contrast with the U.S. or Australia. But if Brexit happens I think I will definitely feel like a stranger here — as if there is a fundamental difference of values between me and the majority of the population, a difference that I’ve just been blind to all along. I think I’m going to be heartbroken!

11

engels 06.10.16 at 2:24 pm

‘Why a long-standing adherent of GA Cohen’s views of distributive justice joined the taxpayers alliance out of sheer anger with stupid people’ would seem to make for quite an unusual take – maybe it’s just me

12

Chris Bertram 06.10.16 at 2:39 pm

@engels your reading skills aren’t what they were are they? The post does not advocate abandoning the poor (or the stupid), it is about the implications of the referendum for social trust, the sense that we’re in some sense in it together. My guess is that if I’m feeling resentful and angry at my fellow citizens then lots of people with less (or more conditional) egalitarian views than I have are thinking the same thing, and that bodes badly for redistributive commitments after Brexit.

Incidentally, your earlier drive-by comment also suffers from a lack of reflection. It may be true that I’m not entitled to my wealth in the first place, but the key issue here is who is included in the class of persons who are part of the distributive scheme. If I’m made relatively poorer because of the decision of some members of the existing scheme to chuck out some other members, then it isn’t an answer to say that the wealth of society belongs to the group (who then assign it) since who is in the group is in question.

13

Guy 06.10.16 at 3:36 pm

“So for me, the threat of Brexit is a threat of lost identity”

“Loss of identity” is a common trope to explain working class complaints about immigration, gentrification etc.

I don’t see how your fear or resentment at “loss of identity” is any more valid than theirs…

14

Chris Bertram 06.10.16 at 3:41 pm

I don’t see how your fear or resentment at “loss of identity” is any more valid than theirs…

Or any less, perhaps? Why am I morally obliged to take the nation state as the salient level of collective identification?

15

SamChevre 06.10.16 at 3:44 pm

I think (from a distance) that “the sense that we’re in some sense in it together” is motivating both sides here.

For the cosmopolitan side, the “we” is “all of Europe; for the nationalist side, it’s “the British.”

In other words, “I would be worse off if Britain focused on just Britain, but other British people would be better off” is kind of the point.

16

Guy 06.10.16 at 3:55 pm

One, I think they are both weak arguments. Two, on a “least harm” basis at least, I suspect you’re probably better equipped to deal with your resentments than they are theirs. After all, liberals have always believed that cultural identity is not set in stone and can’t be preserved. So I doubt your loss of identity would hurt as much

17

Philip 06.10.16 at 3:58 pm

As the OP states the UK is free riding on training and education provided by other EU countries and that is why if there is Brexit that EU immigration to the UK would continue. I am not sure what would happen to EU nationals already in the UK and many might not want to stay or jump through the hoops from the Home Office, but there would still be taxes being paid by EU (and non-EU) immigrants. People voting to leave would think the new system would keep immigrants who are net contributors and make savings from payments to the EU so they would not be making a decision to pass tax increases onto the middle and upper class, although that could be a result. I don’t really see how this is different to having to pay more taxes or receive less in benefits after a GE when your side didn’t win. To me the bigger issue is the general tone and feeling of how people consider the UK i.e. cosmopolitan/multi-cultural vs. nationalist/isolationist. Whether I am better or worse of financially as a result is a much smaller issue to me.

18

nick s 06.10.16 at 4:02 pm

For me, an Out vote would feel like ‘you can never go home now, because that home doesn’t exist any more.’

Britain after a Leave vote will start to feel like a culture war country.

Already on its way there, I think. Though the post-Brexit possibilities are disturbing: if the predicted economic consequences bear out, the blame game is likely to turn in on itself, scapegoating perfidious Scots and NIers, naturalised citizens and ILRers with funny accents, and of course Muslims.

As dsquared noted on Twitter, the biggest pockets for Out are poor post-industrial areas like Merthyr Tydfil that don’t have that many immigrants, but where young ‘native’ people GTFO quickly either through desire or necessity. It’s people who moved out to suburban estates 20 years ago who complain about the demographics of town centre residents.

Under the current structural arrangement, council budgets are essentially being eaten up by OAP care for the next decade or so. With schools and libraries and housing squeezed, there’s surely potential for backlash from young people

19

Philip 06.10.16 at 4:06 pm

@ Ze K, ‘Well, I don’t know about identification, but nation-state is the only entity that can (still) regulate migration.’

Well the EU is not a nation state but can regulate migration and also constrains how nation states can regulate migration, which kind of leads to what level people have collective identification being a key issue.

20

RNB 06.10.16 at 4:13 pm

A twenty year old book titled the Burden of Support by David Hayes Bautista. Something like that. It was an exploration of the unfortunate racial dynamics that could be manipulated in the US from younger often Latino people paying into a social security system presently benefitting older whites.

21

Chris Bertram 06.10.16 at 4:41 pm

Which is why all this sadness about the (potential) tragic loss of European ‘identity’ seems odd and a bit pretentious to me.

Really? I thought I made it pretty concrete with reference to the right to live and work in other countries and the possibility of romantic attachment to other EU nationals (a possibility that will be rather seriously curtailed if the spousal visa regime the UK operates for the rest of the world is applied to them.)

22

Philip 06.10.16 at 5:06 pm

@ Ze K, I know the EU is not a nation state and that is why I said so in the previous. It is also not a treaty, it is a series of supranational institutions which do regulate immigration and thus the flow of labour as well as capital. The UK being part of the EU has helped me to easily work and live in other countries and meet and work with people from other countries in the UK. My Polish grandfather who came to the UK after fighting for the British army in WWII couldn’t work as a joiner as he could not join a union. For all of my life there has been no real tension between identifying as British or European, however I do agree with you in a way about the level of collective identity. For me it is about a British identity that is internationalist and multicultural or one where people from other countries are only valued in terms of their economic contribution. I also would like to be part of an EU which takes a more humanitarian stance towards refugees.

23

Stephen 06.10.16 at 5:13 pm

CB @24: to my certain knowledge, there are and have been for some time non-EU nationals living and working and buying property in EU countries, and forming romantic attachments to EU nationals. Why do you think that would cease, or become inapplicable to UK nationals, if the UK left the EU?

24

Philip 06.10.16 at 5:17 pm

Stephen, it would not cease but if there was an end to the free movement of people from the EU then they would have the same difficulties currently faced by non-EU nationals.

25

nick s 06.10.16 at 5:29 pm

Why do you think that would cease, or become inapplicable to UK nationals, if the UK left the EU?

Are you actually aware of the current visa regime for non-EU immigrants, particularly skilled workers and spouses? Are you actually aware of how that regime has changed in drastic, career- and relationship-destroying ways over the past six years?

The Leave campaign leaders imply that Brexit would lead to a more liberal visa regime for non-EU Tier 2s and spouses, particularly from the Commonwealth (though we know they have in mind when they say ‘Commonwealth’ and it’s not Pakistan or Nigeria) but as dsquared noted back in the day, fibbers’ forecasts are worthless, and there’s no reason to believe that the xenophobic mood would abate.

26

novakant 06.10.16 at 5:34 pm

Young people identify as Europeans in a non-trivial way – just ask some.

27

novakant 06.10.16 at 5:36 pm

There are of course some middle-aged and old Europeans as well :)

28

bjk 06.10.16 at 6:15 pm

So the 454 UK soldiers who fought and died in Afghanistan were not fighting and dying for the “salient political community,” do I have that correct? Too bad that Chris Bertram did not tell them that before he wrote “Afghanistan: A just intervention.”

29

RichieRich 06.10.16 at 7:09 pm

Philip @ 18

To me the bigger issue is the general tone and feeling of how people consider the UK i.e. cosmopolitan/multi-cultural vs. nationalist/isolationist. Whether I am better or worse of financially as a result is a much smaller issue to me.

Does Brexit have to be regarded as a nationalist/isolationist move? Re immigration, those who support Brexit support the nation state being able to determine who and how many can enter its territory. On the face of it, this doesn’t strike me as a deeply controversial proposal. After all, it’s how most nation states operate.

In theory at least it would be possible to support the Brexit view that the nation state should control who and how many, whilst at the same time arguing that the number of immigrants should increase.

Of course, in practice, most Brexiteers would wish to see the number decrease. But given that immigration is at a historical high, this view doesn’t strike me as particularly controversial either.

It seems to me that the Remain side has focused pretty much exclusively on arguing that the current level of EU immigrants is a net economic benefit and has had nothing very much to say about who should ultimately control numbers. To focus on economics at the expense of sovereignty seem to me to be something of a glaring omission.

30

Peter K. 06.10.16 at 8:10 pm

Does it look like Brexit might happen? Maybe that’s the black swan that elects Trump.

31

Philip 06.10.16 at 8:14 pm

@RichieRich, in theory Brexit doesn’t have to be seen as a nationalistic/isolationist move but in reality I can’t see how that would not be the political climate post-Brexit. Most nation states might decide how many foreign nationals it allows to enter but freedom of movement within the EU has been the normal state of affairs for a long time and one which many UK citizens benefit from. I see no reason why current levels of immigration are such a problem that Brexit is called for. If we wanted higher levels of immigration that could easily be achieved without Brexit, all arguments for Brexit based on immigration are around reducing EU immigration. I agree that the remain campaign has focused too much on the economic aspects of immigration and not other aspects. In theory we could restrict EU immigration, allow refugees to travel to the UK without a visa, allow asylum seekers to get employment while their claims are being processed, and have more sane policies around student and spousal visas, but I don’t see anyone from the Brexit camp arguing for anything like that. All I see is people saying immigration is bad we must control it. This argument never got as much traction before the financial crisis and austerity, I think there are bigger issues to deal with than EU immigration.

I don’t see how leaving the EU will help trade but the argument seems to be that it is the EU holding Britain back and if we leave Britain will be great again.
There are other criticisms of the EU that I have sympathy with i.e. that it is not democratic enough, not transparent enough, has a neoliberal agenda, and that ever closer union undermines national sovereignty. I see these as things which can be challenged from within the EU and for which we should not give up our membership. If leave win I can only see a move of the political landscape even further right, especially in the short-term, there could be a more positive response from the left but I can only see both sides being more anti-immigration and more nationalistic.

32

Philip 06.10.16 at 8:19 pm

@Peter K., I have just assume remain will win because it seems so obvious to me. This is the first time I’ve seriously imagined what Brexit might mean beyond just the economic cost.

33

Ronan(rf) 06.10.16 at 8:30 pm

On a positive note, though, what does a strong remain vote do? Best case, Domestically undermine the Tories and solidify Britain’s place in Europe? Or…..

34

cassander 06.10.16 at 8:44 pm

>This is because those EU immigrants are, in fact, paying more in taxes than they are taking in services. (Actually, the UK is free-riding in a big way, as it never paid for the cost of educating and training those workers.)

This is almost certainly not true. The median tax payer is tax negative, he will consume more in his life in services than he pays in taxes. This remains true until fairly high levels of income. Granted, if you assume immigrants are at least 18 then you get a big chunk taken out of it, but that’s almost certainly undone by immigrants’ lower incomes and larger use of social services, and it declines quickly as the immigrant in question ages.

35

Jim Buck 06.10.16 at 8:54 pm

it is an ugly prospect—having one’s EU citizenship voted away by a bunch of misinformed dunderheads. Deluded they are to imagine that to step out of the EU is to step out of a globalising world and back into the prospect that lie before the Tudor secessionists. No Eldorado, no New World, awaits this time. Fools who persist in their folly become more foolish, and poorer. Nonetheless, is likely that they will continue to fawn over their oppressors and oppose those who would liberate them. Can dunderheads be entrusted with democracy? I would say no. Are dunderheads deserving of my benefiance? I would say yes.

36

Philip 06.10.16 at 8:56 pm

I think a strong vote for remain would solidify Britain’s place in Europe and stop Brexit being a political talking point. There would have to be a debate on what Britain’s place in Europe should be and to what direction it should try and influence the EU. I’m not sure what UKIP would do, probably try and build a platform for getting more powers back from within the EU. The Tory infighting has been bitter so Cameron would either push anyone he feels he can’t work with to the sidelines and try and push through as many policies as he can or step down and trigger a leadership contest where I have no idea who might win but at least I can’t see it being Osborne now. Labour infighting will continue much the same whatever decision is made and it will be interesting to see who Corbyn will run against in the General Election. I assume he will still be leader then but I don’t know if he will have wide enough appeal to become PM.

37

Gary Othic 06.10.16 at 9:11 pm

I think this is in part down to national identities clashing with broader continental identities. Because of the way trade organizations work there does seem to be a trend to closer relations because of it, which in turn may lead to broader identities. Europe is unusual in a sense because the idea of their being a ‘Europe’ has coexisted with the idea of their being individual countries.

Taking an evolutionary and psychological approach here – it’s a problem to do with in-group and out-group mentalities. This is flexible (witness the way that, when the football is on, Britain divides down to Scots, Welsh, English, but when the Olympics is on it’s perfectly happy running as British – and when the Ryder cup is on it’s easy going with European). The flexibility means that they can coexist, but this issue is presented, sub-textually at least, as a clash of identities as much as anything else (are we British or are we European)? Hence why the emphasis on the idea of an ever closer union and Europe overrunning British ideals and institutions (I appear to be in a minority of one in thinking that the whole pan-Europeanism is a brilliant idea but anyway…)

In some respects the EU is ultimately heading towards this pan-European ideal, but it’s not something that’s going to happen for a very long while; cultures have long memories and, however silly it might be, there’s well over a thousand years of mutual loathing, acrimony and kicking each other in bollocks for Europe to get over, so it’s not going to be happening anytime soon.

38

Gary Othic 06.10.16 at 9:15 pm

As for the more local breakdown of social trust within Britain – I point the finger of blame at the Quisling’s in the Labour party (they that call themselves ‘moderates’). By doing their whole triangulating nonsense on benefit scroungers and immigrants they’ve just legitimized it and conceded terrain to their opponents to gain nothing. Now that this slime is out of Pandora’s box it’s not going to be going back in without a terrific fight, which the ‘moderates’ (obsessed as they are with power at any cost for career reasons) don’t have the stomach to fight – hence Tristram Hunt’s brainless idea of ‘let’s promote English nationalism; that’ll win everyone back!’

39

Stephen 06.10.16 at 9:25 pm

Nick S@29: you asked:
“Are you actually aware of the current visa regime for non-EU immigrants, particularly skilled workers and spouses? Are you actually aware of how that regime has changed in drastic, career- and relationship-destroying ways over the past six years?”

Are you actually aware that the OP’s statement, to which I was replying, was about the supposed difficulties UK citizens would find in living, working and forming romantic attachments inside the EU after exit? Are you actually aware that your reply is completely irrelevant?

And yes, I do know something about the current visa regime for non-UK immigrants. I’ve helped to bring some here. Highly skilled ones, though.

40

Philip 06.10.16 at 9:30 pm

Stephen, CB was talking about forming romantic attachments with EU citizens and how that would be curtailed by UK visa regulations.

41

robinm 06.10.16 at 9:45 pm

I see we’re into name calling again (e.g., “having one’s EU citizenship voted away by a bunch of misinformed dunderheads”) and into deliberately misunderstanding someone’s point of view (e.g., Guy’s remark that “I don’t see how your fear or resentment at “loss of identity” is any more valid than theirs” is misrepresented as a claim by C.B. that he is being told he is “morally obliged to take the nation state as the salient level of collective identification”; surely Guy was simply suggesting that not everyone shared CB’s own particular notion of collective identification?) But to my point.

Shortly after reading the discussion here I read a piece at opendemocracy.net that seemed to me to summarize and criticize much of what I’d read here:

https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/alan-finlayson/too-many-facts-and-not-enough-theories-rhetoric-of-referendum-campaign

I recommend the whole thing but would like to quote briefly: “We are left with two sides equally convinced of their insight and perspicacity, unable to see any merit in the opinions of their opponents or to formulate a strategy for speaking across the divide . . . Both are so wrapped up in their own theory of the world that they can’t hear let alone understand what anybody else has to say and think that all contradictory evidence must be a fabrication or a delusion.”

Other pieces at opendemocracy seem to me to be equally fair minded and thoughtful respecting the EU referendum and the future of the British people.

42

novakant 06.10.16 at 10:20 pm

45

This is nonsense: the Brexit camp doesn’t have any facts at all, only speculation, while the Remain side can simply point to the status quo and is supported by the vast majority of experts. The most irresponsible aspect of the Brexit campaign is that they have no plan, not even an idea of how all this might pan out eventually. How are the several thousand EU laws and regulations currently governing the UK be replaced, how long is this process supposed to take and how is anybody supposed to be able to do business in the meantime? It’s a bureaucratic task even bigger than West Germany integrating East Germany after reunification – and we’re supposed to trust Give, Farage and Bono with this insane undertaking?

43

novakant 06.10.16 at 10:21 pm

Bojo, lol

44

novakant 06.10.16 at 10:22 pm

and Gove, yikes

45

J-D 06.10.16 at 10:35 pm

‘We are left with two sides equally convinced of their insight and perspicacity, unable to see any merit in the opinions of their opponents or to formulate a strategy for speaking across the divide’

How extraordinarily unusual that seems.

46

Bruce B. 06.10.16 at 10:38 pm

Chris: I certainly feel sympathy with that sense of “Well, fuck ’em, then” as a left-leaning American. I think armando got it right in #2, and treat it as any other negative impulse I need to acknowledge and work past, but it’s a drag sometimes. Sometimes a really big damn drag.

47

RichieRich 06.10.16 at 11:20 pm

Philip @ 35

Most nation states might decide how many foreign nationals it allows to enter but freedom of movement within the EU has been the normal state of affairs for a long time and one which many UK citizens benefit from. I see no reason why current levels of immigration are such a problem that Brexit is called for.

Over pretty much the entire twentieth century net migration to the UK has either been negative or a low positive (see Chart 5). Net migration exploded under New Labour and rose again when the Accession States joined. In historical terms the rates of net migration in the last 15-20 years have been unprecedented.

It seems to me understandable that some are concerned about such historically high rates and see Brexit as the route to becoming like most nation states and being able to control numbers.

On the other hand, as you point out, freedom of movement has been the norm in the EU (or its earlier incarnations) for a good long time. And some argue that this long tradition of freedom of movement is positive thing even at current historically high rates of net migration.

I would simply argue that there’s room for reasonable disagreement on immigration and that it’s disingenous for Remainers to characterize Brexiters as xenophobic, nationalist, isolationist, racist and so on. (Of course, not all Remainers so characterize and, of course, some Brexiters are xenophobes and racists!)

48

Faustusnotes 06.11.16 at 12:47 am

The brexiters don’t feel their identity is threatened by immigrants. What complete tosh. Their identity is racist, and when they vote for brexit they are expressing it. The leave camp certainly know this, which is why they are pushing the immigration issue hardest. Sovereignty and pressure on services are at best secondary concerns, mostly a fig leaf to cover the racism.

I note this mornings guardian is already laying the groundwork for blaming labour if brexit wins. 61% of labour voters support remain and the entire catastrophe is a Tory idea but Corbyn hasnt done enough apparently. So while the uk was in the eu and britains Tory voting businesses and media owners were making money from cheap foreign labour it was all labour’s fault for being soft on migration; once we leave it will be labour’s fault for not making a strong enough case for staying.

truly British politics is a depressing little side show…

49

nick s 06.11.16 at 1:03 am

Stephen @43: Philip @44 has corrected your error, so perhaps you can now engage with how the post-2010 changes to the treatment of non-EU immigrants affect one’s family life and professional life? After all, both surely count towards one’s sense of identity.

50

kidneystones 06.11.16 at 1:48 am

All British females must marry ethnically ‘pure British males of Angl0-Saxon, Norse, or Celtic descent after Brexit: http://www.eastasiatribune.com/north-asia/china-bans-interracial-marriages-for-females-no-plans-to-restrict-men/

It’s easy to overstate the negative consequences of the state mandating individual and national identity. State programs to protect-promote an EU identity, over a British identity, may have unintended consequences.

Whatever the outcome of Brexit, the problems facing the members of EU member states and people in Britain will compel people to find common ground. I fully expect British citizens and immigrants from EU nations to fare well in Britain, regardless of the outcome of the vote. The problems Britain faces pale before those of many other nations.

51

Faustusnotes 06.11.16 at 1:57 am

Kidney stones that article appears to be a hoax … http://www.gokunming.com/en/forums/thread/13174/china_bans_interracial_marriage

52

kidneystones 06.11.16 at 2:33 am

Thanks for this. I just checked your link and others. The East Asia Times is the only ‘source’ carrying the story in English. It’s been picked up and is making the circle.

I don’t think it’s so far fetched, frankly. Here’s a fairly-good article on the debate in Japan. Ethnic purity is an issue of national importance still in the 21st century. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/01/06/national/social-issues/government-weighs-immigration-maintain-population-boost-workforce/#.V1t23Y7LA4A

Ditto, Turkey: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/Turkish-President-Erdogan-urges-women-to-have-at-least-3-kids/articleshow/52608713.cms

53

Faustusnotes 06.11.16 at 2:44 am

No it’s completely far fetched. China just relaxed government restrictions on reproductive freedom and has a long history of policies to encourage ethnic harmony within the country. The numbers in the article are also wrong, and if you think three boys to one girl is not far fetched you aren’t very connected to reality. Similarly if you think Japanese debates about immigration are a sign they’re about to clamp down on foreign marriage when in fact they’ve been loosening immigration laws and normalizing migrant life for years, you don’t have a clue.

I think you should use this little moment of trump-level retweetery to ask yourself two basic questions:

1) what is it about your approach to information that makes you believe such ludicrous stories?
2) could it be that your credulity in these issues has affected your judgment of trump’s popularity and success, and all related issues of pc and race?

54

kidneystones 06.11.16 at 3:15 am

58 Actually, I don’t think you paid any more attention to the link I posted on Japan than I did on the link to China. So, our laziness cancels out, in my view.

I believe you’re based in Japan. If so, you’re well aware that ethnic purity is very much an issue here, despite efforts by the government to promote immigration. Indeed, that’s precisely what the article discusses: government policies championed by technocrats, but resisted by the populace in general for a large number of reasons. You’ll be equally aware that Japan wants no refugees in the nation, but would prefer to avoid the attendant negative publicity. Again, the purity of the Japanese people, the Japanese culture, and the Japanese language are central to all policy decisions in Japan.

That this purity is a fiction produced in the 19th century for both domestic and foreign consumption is largely immaterial at this stage. The recent reversal here, btw, on ending the teaching of humanities at national universities is the result of push-back by nationalists at Kyoto and other institutions determined to protect and promote the teaching of nationalist culture and myths.

Some Japanese technocrats want immigration. Many nationalists prefer racial purity, tourists, robot workers, and wearable machines to aid the elderly.

Your point 1/ I concede laziness in this instance. I’m far from alone in this respect.
Your point 2/ I’m unfortunately willing to believe just about anything is possible. I learned that long ago watching Americans elect Reagan twice. As for PC stuff, there’s a great deal of evidence to suggest many resent PC culture.

I fully expect Trump to ride this wave of resentment and unhappiness to the WH. I expect your own record on Trump’s prospects is far, far poorer than my own. If so, perhaps you’ll care to explain why?

55

Faustusnotes 06.11.16 at 3:25 am

Are you saying that Japan is going to ban foreign marriages? Are you saying that Japan’s response to questions about immigration is somehow different to the uk (brexit) or the us (wall!) or Australia (stop the boats!) . What actually were you trying to say about Japan? And turkey, for that matter? Australia’s pm asked Australians to have three children about 15 years ago (1 for mum, 1 for dad, 1 for he government). What point are you making about turkey’s pm saying it now? It’s the first kneejerkresponse to declining birth rates, but it doesn’t say anything much about racial purity or attitudes towards foreigners or anything else.

I dont think that your problem was laziness “in this instance.” It’s bigger than that, which was my point.

I predicted trump would get the nomination in April, I think … Or whenever he burnt bush in sc and survived. I have also got a bet with some friends that the republican will be out of the presidency for a generation (I collect my six pack of beer when I retire I guess). I don’t think trump will win this election, and I think he will screw up the Republican Party in the senate, some governorships and maybe even the house. Let’s check back in November and see who is right… Although I am not, for what it’s worth, basing my prediction on the character of the American people or anything – just the way campaigns work, demographics, and trmp’s General aura of incompetence.

Are you based in Japan?

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kidneystones 06.11.16 at 3:49 am

@ 59 Thanks for the prompt response. Good for you on the predictions. Thanks, too, for the detail re: Australia. That’s a fascinating work in progress. I hope you won’t be too offended when I observe that we share a similar affection for hyperbole – yours private, mine less so. I find your views on the Republican party quite plausible.

I’ll just post the one comment on Trump here to avoid any further derailing. Feel free to respond on JH’s thread. To play devil’s advocate even further, here’s what I do predict, only somewhat tongue-in-cheek. Trump will provide a path to citizenship for all undocumented workers within a year of his election – to the shrieks and cries of the NRO and other right-wing cranks. I noted elsewhere that I expect Trump will encounter the full force of establishment opposition, much as he has so far, and that this force, along with his own bumbling nature, will severely impede his ability to get much done, should he be elected.

My initial assessment of Trump stands: he’s a media-savvy New York liberal vulgarian opportunist, and as such – an excellent candidate for the high office of president of the United States. I’m an old-school supporter of the UN, peace-keeping, and peaceful conflict resolution. I don’t support bombing anyone for any reason short of actual invasion.

The current Japanese constitution, crafted by a gang of State department twenty-somethings for a crank Christian militarist and the guy who dropped nuclear weapons twice, is the most progressive document of its kind.

That’s it for now.

57

Neville Morley 06.11.16 at 7:56 am

My reading of the OP suggested that the main target of Chris’s feelings of resentment was the *elderly* poor white population (and older Britons are much more in favour of Brexit), who are no longer contributing much but are benefitting considerably from social resources. In other words, the issue here around ‘immigrants are taking our jobs!’ is not so much whether or not this is true but the fact that this portion of the population is not actually directly affected by it, even if it is true.

58

Philip 06.11.16 at 8:08 am

@RichieRich 51, I can’t get the link to the chart to work but I am aware of the pattern of immigration. There was some anti-immigration feeling during the increase under New Labour but it never really got going until the financial crisis hit. I have empathy who had been put out of work and were trying to help support a family in the UK and seeing Eastern European immigrants, for example, living in shared accomodation and sending money to their family in their home country and taking advantage of the difference in exchange rates. However I never saw the cause of the problem as immigration and the leave campaign has failed to put an argument across to me as to why the high levels of immigration are a problem never mind why it requires paying the cost of leaving the EU. If those arguing to leave because of immigration aren’t xenophobic or nationalistic then they need to put across arguments that aren’t xenophobic or nationalistic.

@Faustusnotes 52, I think for quite a lot of older people the issue is sovereignty and some sort of misplaced nostalgia. They will have decided to vote for leave before the campaigning started and there will be no new arguments to convince them to do otherwise. The immigration line is being pushed to bring over people who were more undecided at the start of the campaign. As there is no strong anti-austerity argument being put forward about the cuts to public services then the immigration argument is dong better than it should be. It seemed to me that Cameron agreed to the referendum in a panicked response to UKIP and he has been winging it ever since and has got off incredibly lightly in the press, hint: if the issue is more important than a general election he should have backed himself to negotiate within the EU not have had a referendum and taken the loss of Tory votes to UKIP.

59

Nick Barnes 06.11.16 at 8:16 am

Twenty thousand years ago, these islands were uninhabitable. Thus: the long-term economic effect of immigration is positive.

60

RichieRich 06.11.16 at 8:20 am

Philip @ 62

Sorry about the link. Try this(it’s a PDF).

61

J-D 06.11.16 at 9:01 am

Faustusnotes @59

‘Australia’s pm asked Australians to have three children about 15 years ago (1 for mum, 1 for dad, 1 for he government). ‘

Not the Prime Minister, the Treasurer: Peter Costello in 2004 (and it was ‘for the country’ rather than ‘for the government’).

62

engels 06.11.16 at 11:22 am

If I’m made relatively poorer because of the decision of some members of the existing scheme to chuck out some other members, then it isn’t an answer to say that the wealth of society belongs to the group (who then assign it) since who is in the group is in question.

If you have no pre-political entitlement to your wealth, only what the polis grants you, then the your disagreement with the polis’ decision to expel a lot of other citizens doesn’t seem to me to me to suddenly get you such an entitlement.

I agree that in general its psychologically plausible that resenting the poor’s politics will lessen the wealthy’s support for redistribution. The significance of that after Brexit would depend on what proportion of them share your views on migration. I personally wouldn’t be surprised if for every venge-filled Guardianista there were half a dozen Farage-types toasting the basic decency of the British pleb…

63

kidneystones 06.11.16 at 12:39 pm

The OP reflects one point of view. This piece offers another: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3636164/Revenge-betrayed-Abandoned-metropolitan-political-elite-lives-utterly-changed-mass-migration-Labour-s-northern-heartlands-swing-Brexit.html

“Wendy McDonald is worried that the referendum is stirring up what she calls ‘the r-word’. As the daughter of a man who sailed to Britain on the Empire Windrush — the ship that brought the first postwar immigrants from the Caribbean in 1948 — any prospect of racial tensions appalls her.

But you won’t hear Wendy blaming Nigel Farage or Boris Johnson or others in the Brexit campaign. In her opinion, the culprit is obvious: the European Union and the Remain brigade. ‘It’s the EU that breeds this resentment,’ she tells me. ‘I’m afraid it is creating racism. The sooner we’re out of it, the better.’

Having worked in social housing in the Greater Manchester area for 20 years, Wendy says she knows only too well how community cohesion is eroded when, for example, a family from Eastern Europe gets given a terrace house by the council ahead of a local lad who is left to ‘sleep outside Asda’ night after night.‘That’s not a racist issue for me. It’s a simple question of how we are supposed to carry on letting in more and more people if we can’t house them all.’ It is a view shared by huge numbers of voters just like Wendy who live here in a part of Britain which many believe is fast driving this country towards the EU exit — the Labour heartlands of the North.

They see an ivory-towered elite telling them that the debate should be about the economy and not immigration — on pain of being labelled ‘racist’, as Labour frontbencher Pat Glass called an entire Derbyshire village the other day — when the voters themselves regard these key issues as one and the same thing. And they certainly don’t see themselves as anti-immigrant.

That is hardly surprising. For here is a crucial point: many of them are from immigrant families themselves. It’s enough to make a Hampstead liberal weep. But therein lies the problem.

After years of chattering among their own ilk around the scrubbed pine dinner tables of North London, the metropolitan grandees of the Labour Party have simply ignored the grumbles of their tiresome provincial supporters on one of the key issues of our age. Only now are they are starting to realise their mistake.

As former Labour Cabinet minister Andy Burnham put it this week: ‘We have definitely been far too much Hampstead and not enough Hull in recent times and we need to change that.’ But is it too late? Two famously outspoken Labour MPs, Dennis Skinner and John Mann, clearly think so because, yesterday, both finally announced that they were declaring for Brexit.”

I’d prefer Britain remain in the EU, but I’d be surprised if this happens. Blame for the EU exit lies squarely at the door of Labour, in my view. First, for the pro-immigration policies of Blair and then for failing completely to defend the rights of those who entered Britain legally from other EU member states. Rather than admit error, Labour elites elected to dismiss the concerns of traditional Labour voters and adopt anti-migrant policies more appropriate to UKIP and the Conservatives.

There’s a case to be made for remaining in Britain, but the rank and file long ago learned that Labour leaders view ordinary British people with loathing and contempt.

64

Chris Bertram 06.11.16 at 12:53 pm

Disappointed in you engels, I’d have thought you’d have appreciated that the identity of the polis and the scope of the demos relative to it are in question here. Instead you just help yourself to the laziest and most conservative assumptions.

65

engels 06.11.16 at 1:10 pm

Chris, I don’t feel I’m really following this argument well at all, which is probably just me, but are you declaring yourself not to be a UK citizen but a citizen of Europe then? Even if you did, imo it can’t change the fact your property is yours ultimately because the people allow you to have it, not the other way around. (Should maybe also state for the record that I’m in favour of Bremain – I’ve even got a TUC poster in my [Georgian sash] window…)

66

Thrasymachus 06.11.16 at 2:23 pm

Chris:

Do you plan to write a post about David Miller’s Strangers in Our Midst? I haven’t read it as yet, but it looks like a serious analysis of a major issue. I would be most interested in finding out what you think about it.

67

Igor Belanov 06.11.16 at 3:07 pm

I just watched non-EU Switzerland play in Euro 2016 with their collection of immigrants and descendants of immigrants, and chuckled to myself at the thought of all those Leave supporters who think that it’s the EU that brings immigrants to the EU rather than the fact that Britain is a rich, highly developed country that has, in effect, become dependent on them.

68

Igor Belanov 06.11.16 at 3:08 pm

Sorry, of course that should read ‘the EU that brings immigrants to Britain’ rather than ‘the EU that brings immigrants to the EU’!!!!!

69

Matt 06.11.16 at 6:02 pm

Thrasymachus, I too would be interested in hearing more from Chris on the book, but I’ll self-promote and will note that I’m working on a review of it for The New Rambler which I hope will be up by July, or maybe even a bit earlier.

70

EWI 06.11.16 at 7:42 pm

Somewhere under a million people with Irish citizenship, and living in Ireland, are about to (maybe) be forced out of the same EU citizenship as their fellow Irishmen and women on the other side of an arbitrary border. The Peace Process assumes, among other things, that both the Republic and the Kingdom are members of the EU.

This is, for Ireland, the elephant in the room of Brexit.

71

engels 06.11.16 at 8:08 pm

72

Ronan(rf) 06.11.16 at 8:48 pm

How would a group stage exit from the euros effect the brexit voted?

73

Colin 06.12.16 at 4:00 am

@EWI: Why would Irish citizens in NI lose their EU citizenship? They’d no longer be living in the EU, but as far as I know, there’s no EU regulation banning the granting of citizenship to people living outside EU territory. The death of the Common Travel Area would be very bad, but it’s not looking likely even in the event of Brexit.

Brexit could certainly raise the temperature of NI politics, of course. Things get really interesting if Scotland also becomes independent, or if there’s a dramatic sectarian divide in how NI residents vote in the EU referendum.

74

Philip 06.12.16 at 9:40 am

@Ronan(rf), I don’t think a group stage exit of any of the British teams will affect the referendum result.

75

djr 06.12.16 at 10:01 am

It seems that Cameron is trying the same line:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-eu-referendum-36509931

76

kidneystones 06.12.16 at 10:42 am

@79 The consensus is that Cameron has no credibility on anything at this stage, even among remain supporters. The vote to leave will trigger a vote of non-confidence forcing Cameron to resign and/or call an election. The voters may yet rescue the Conservatives, but right now it looks like Johnson will be overseeing a transition to exit.

77

djr 06.12.16 at 11:28 am

Cameron may well be lacking in credibility, and I agree with you that an out vote is likely to lead to a change of Tory leadership (though as I’ve said here before, I don’t expect a general election). But does anyone believe that a BoJo / Gove government is less likely to cut pensions? Especially if it turns out I’m wrong about holding an election, which would mean that they can claim not to be bound by 2015 promises.

78

Ronan(rf) 06.12.16 at 11:38 am

Philip, I was really only taking the piss. But thinking about it, could have some unexpected consequences (like rain on polling day depressing turnout etc)?….though I’m probably stretching it here.

Odd thing about NI is you have the side who want to maintain the union campaigning for something that might destroy it, and the side that wants to destroy it doing the opposite.

79

Thrasymachus 06.12.16 at 11:41 am

Matt: Thanks. I look forward to reading your review.

80

Trout 06.12.16 at 12:22 pm

@Ronan(rf) I was chatting to the man in charge of the Brexit campaign here in Norn Iron and he tried to persuade me that once Brexit had taken place, the obvious thing for the Republic to do was to follow suit and rejoin the Commonwealth…

81

Philip 06.12.16 at 12:55 pm

Ronan(rf), I was just trying to point out that you didn’t specify which team’s exit you were asking about and were probably assuming England. I think the violence amongst fans and the perceived lack of protection from French police might stir up a bit of anti EU feeling but it would be marginal and probably just for people who would vote leave anyway, see the link to the guardian article for a balanced view of what has been happening.

https://www.theguardian.com/football/2016/jun/11/old-enemy-rears-its-ugly-head-as-england-fans-clash-with-police?CMP=share_btn_tw

If there is an end to freedom of movement it will be interesting to see the impact on EU national footballers in the UK and how it affects the different leagues.

82

kidneystones 06.12.16 at 1:28 pm

@81 Agreed. I don’t really see the out population accepting anything other than a complete exit. Any tricks from the EU, or the Remain camp will simply lead to increased acrimony. The knock-on effect for other EU member states is likely to be significant. I was in France for about a month earlier this year and the sense of anxiety then was palpable.

I can’t see conditions there improving anytime soon. The right is generally on the march across Europe and many of these parties will likely use immigration to justify any number of cuts.

83

Ronan(rf) 06.12.16 at 1:33 pm

Trout, even by the wishful standards of the brexit crowd this seems….unlikely.
What’s the mood like in NI, exit or remain leading in the polls? Are people generally dividing on party lines? It’d seem there’s a bit of space for electorate preferences not to align naturally with party preferences ?

Philip, that is a good article. I thought the English fans had been scapegoated a little (at least in the local press), but that gives a better picture.

84

Pete 06.12.16 at 7:36 pm

My prediction for this is firstly that the turnout will be low, thanks to two very negative, confusing and alienating campaigns. Somewhere in the 50-60% range. Let’s not forget the last EP elections had 35% turnout and the AVref had about 45%. This is not going to be like the Scottish Indyref’s 85%. And we don’t have the rule from the ’79 referendum imposing a turnout requirement.

Remember also that UKIP got most votes (25%) in that EP election with the terrible turnout.

So differential turnout is going to be key. It could very well be the case that 31% of the country votes for Leave and 29% for Remain. Now, an actual Leave exit does significant damage to the power of the UK, so at this point the permanent State kicks in and refuses to allow it to happen. There’s a large enough majority for Remain to collapse the government as a first order of business after the result is declared; and some of them have suggested this might happen ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-eu-referendum-36457120 ). Of course, that looks really bad in terms of respecting the public and further inflames the underlying tensions. If the Leave campaign wasn’t mostly comprised of pensioners they’d be on the streets.

I’ve posted elsewhere that Brexit is basically anti-globalisation riots for the over-50s: it’s an opportunity to get simply angry about a very complex problem and smash something. The EU is the plate glass window and Brexit is the brick. It doesn’t matter to them that smashing it doesn’t achieve anything, it’s the symbolism that’s important.

(It’s not clear how the Conservative party survives *either* outcome without major damage. They have to either draw a line under it and forget it ever happened or purge the losing side. This is their Militant Tendency moment.)

85

Miriam 06.12.16 at 7:38 pm

Which politician said the EU is “just a massive stitch up. It is the elites and the great corporate class meeting together, cooking things up in a way that I think is I democratic.”

Which well known commentator said, the EU, “has been ruinous for the poorest Brits. Lower earners have seen a reduction in wages as a consequence of cheap labour arriving from what we once called Eastern Europe. For the better off it’s terrific, of course: that basement kitchen extension cans be excavated at a fraction of the going rate, and think of all the money we’re saving on nannies…”

How does one argue these points with brexiteers?

I was recently in Surrey there’s huge billboards with Farage and Boris on them and Brext posters in front gardens.

Is immigration tax / spending neutral or a net benefit? How does the distribution affect public services outside of macro claims?

Also why don’t most people know that the EU applies political and economic sanctions to countries whose electorate vote the wrong way, look up threats by Juncker to Austria and what happening to Poland after their national elections. Is this democratic? Is it defensible?

It seems to me that we do not know enough to vote let alone to persuade Brexiteers to vote remain.

Polemic is not enough

86

Metatone 06.12.16 at 7:49 pm

Labour and the Tories have both been in government since the 1980s and along the way largely betrayed the poorer parts of society.

It’s not surprising that said parts are inclined to vote UKIP and/or Leave.

None of that means that said poorer parts will benefit when the BoJo/Gove/Farage grouping get their mitts on the levers of power.

87

Chris Bertram 06.12.16 at 8:16 pm

Thrasymachus, Matt: well it is an important intervention, but so far I find myself inwardly shouting “begging the question!” and “burden of proof” rather a lot.

88

Trout 06.12.16 at 8:27 pm

@87 Alas, I’ve been sequestered in hospital for most of the last two months, so I don’t have much of a feel for it. The DUP are the only pro-Brexit outfit and it’s hard to see how this will square with the interests of rural DUP voters… One, very pro-EU friend rather strikingly announced that he would tear up his UK passport in the event of a successful Brexit vote. Perhaps not a representative sample. I do wonder if such a thing re to happen, if it might start to undermine the fairly relaxed attitudes of many ‘nationalists’ here towards the status quo. We we to have been wrenched out of Europe by little Englanders, we might start to see any future board polls rather differently.

89

engels 06.12.16 at 8:31 pm

anti-globalisation riots for the over-50s

Ha!

90

kidneystones 06.12.16 at 10:38 pm

@ 88 There’s a lot of truth in what you say. Riots for the over-50s is a vivid and useful image. I’d be surprised, however, if the turnout is anywhere near as low as the European elections. What I certainly expect to see is a very highly motivated core of Brexit voters, many older, but many not, vote to leave and expect to do just that.

@ 92 Hospital isn’t much fun, but describing people who want borders as ‘little Englanders’ is, at this point, about as useful and constructive as describing the Brexit voters as racists, fruitcakes, racists, and fascists.

The more xenophobic Brexit voter may well fit that profile too well, for comfort. I do not see the Brexit community as anything but stodgy. They don’t want to break government, as some of their counterparts in the US do, they want government to work for them, not people new to the system.

I very much prefer that Britain remain as part of the EU. The critiques made of the EU in a large number of cases (Greece comes to mind) have had practically no impact. The EU administration is, it seems, as bloated and corrupt as it has always been. The very vivid images of boatloads of people flooding into Greece and Italy, coupled with the booming people-smuggling business, are extremely disturbing to say the least. All British people outside London have some extremely solid reasons for believing their concerns rarely factor into government decisions. The thriving independence movements in various parts of the UK are proof enough of that.

It may be fun to regard the older Brexit voter as some sort of bad-tempered pensioner suffering from constipation. It’s perhaps more useful to see Brexit as the point at which the inequalities and lack of representation that have driven independence movements for decades, and more recently propelled the SNP to power, now inform the politics and world view of a demographic normally committed to stability and protecting what little they have.

The average Brexit voter, particularly Labour Brexits living outside London, I suggest is as committed to taking back control from London and the elites in both parties, as they are to leaving Europe. Indeed, the two goals are now fused as one.

91

Trout 06.12.16 at 11:10 pm

@94 I take your point about the fruitlessness of name calling – what I had in mind is rather the way the Brexit promise of enhanced control rings rather hollow in Northern Ireland but rather points the spotlight onto imbalances of power within the UK. As far as I can tell, our local Brexiteers have shied away from this line, for obvious reasons, and chosen to play up the expected windfall for the NHS (I did see some theological stuff on the walls of a local loyalist community too, so there are a few votes in the idea that the EU is a satanic/papist plot).

92

kidneystones 06.12.16 at 11:24 pm

@ 95 Your concluding clause made me laugh out loud. Thanks, hope you feel better.

93

Igor Belanov 06.13.16 at 7:24 am

“Labour and the Tories have both been in government since the 1980s and along the way largely betrayed the poorer parts of society.

It’s not surprising that said parts are inclined to vote UKIP and/or Leave.”

This perpetuates the myth that it is the downtrodden who are most opposed to the EU. This might be true to a point, but most of the poor and ignorant take little interest in politics and won’t vote.

I live in a largely middle-class commuter village on the outskirts of Leeds. It is my misfortune to live with a large chunk of people who put flags and bunting up for the Queen’s birthday, and who are rabidly anti-EU. They’re not suffering in any way, just bigoted, selfish and ignorant, if they think the Queen is great but the unemployed are parasites.

94

J-D 06.13.16 at 10:23 am

Ronan(rf) @87

There are reports on the Web of a couple of polls taken in Northern Ireland; they suggest that Remain is well ahead, possibly even more so than in Scotland.

95

Dipper 06.13.16 at 10:35 am

Igor Belanov I live in a largely middle-class commuter village on the outskirts of Leeds … bigoted, selfish and ignorant

That’s where I grew up. The land of the self-made man. You can tell a Yorkshireman, but you can’t tell him much!

96

Dipper 06.13.16 at 12:24 pm

One of the main fault lines thrown up by Brexit is between the public sector and the private sector.

To give crude characterisations, the public sector believes that social progress is made through co-operation of people with good intentions and technocratic skills to produce outcomes which deliver social benefits for all. A win-win game. To them, the world is an optimistic place with many disappointments when people with bad and selfish intentions or lack of vision disrupt the processes for their own ends. In that context the EU is a worthwhile institution that needs guidance and improvement. Only remaining offers the hope of a better future. Leaving delivers risks that can only be bad as they will deviate from the path of co-operation.

In the private sector the world is full of naked self-interest, scheming and double talk. Risks are everywhere, but managers in the private sector welcome risk as opportunity for advancement. Occasionally self-interests can co-incide to produce useful alliances, but loudly professed commitments are to be treated with suspicion. In this world, the EU is by definition a vehicle for screwing money out of other people. It is completely unreformable.

I work in the private sector, and everyone I know is for out. At least that’s what they say. Who knows where their cross will land on 23rd.

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Jay 06.14.16 at 9:58 am

I have spent half of my life in the UK ( I’m an EU national) and consider myself ‘virtually British’. So I can relate to the “loss of identity” the OP refers to. It makes you think whether you’ve just wasted many valuable years thinking that you were a part of something – something a very large section of the population actively want you -not to be a part of. With long term residents, I would argue, I feels like not being wanted in your own country. I don’t think I’m exaggerating, as this is exactly how I feel. It’s very depressing. Like the OP, I have to admit, I’m starting to resent those who don’t seem to have any regard for the future of millions of EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens living in the EU. This is how deep divisions start, by considering yourself more ‘valuable’ than other members of society, whose futures and lives are simply ‘collateral damage’

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Faustusnotes 06.14.16 at 12:27 pm

My grandmother (a brexiter) told me that I was not welcome in Britain because I am a foreigner.

I have British citizenship and my parents are British. I grew up in Britain but my parents (British) took me to Australia when I was 13, where I took citizenship at 21.

My grandfather is Spanish, which means my (British) father has told me on several occasions that I am not English.

He selects “white(other)” on the census and writes in “English”.

They all hate gypsies and welfare scroungers. My father lives in a mobile home and has been engaged in welfare fraud since he was 55. He is a polio survivor with many special disability rights (parking privileges etc) who sneers at the human rights act.

My family’s friends make them look sane.

When people tell me that brexiters have genuine concerns, I have to laugh!

99

engels 06.14.16 at 12:33 pm

This is how deep divisions start, by considering yourself more ‘valuable’ than other members of society, whose futures and lives are simply ‘collateral damage’

Welcome to capitalism

100

Dipper 06.14.16 at 12:40 pm

Jay – @101 “I’m starting to resent those who don’t seem to have any regard for the future of millions of EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens living in the EU.”

Jay – you are missing the point. Many Brexiters would be happy with a looser federation of states. If you want to get angry with someone, get angry with those Eurocrats who despise national democracy and insist we have to abandon national sovereignty to be part of Europe. They are the ones who put ideology above all other considerations. Its an “all or nothing” deal, and in my experience, most people who demand all or nothing end up with nothing.

Faustusnotes @ 102

Well thanks for that. Most amusing. Any other crude stereotypes you want to engage in whilst you are here?

101

Layman 06.14.16 at 1:06 pm

“Many Brexiters would be happy with a looser federation of states.”

This sounds good, but I doubt it is true, if the ‘looser federation of states’ is one which includes the right to free movement, residence, access to employment and social services, etc, to which many Brexiters seem (to this outsider) to object.

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Jay 06.14.16 at 1:10 pm

Dipper – @101

I’m not entirely sure how “I’ missing the point” . Brexiteers think that we should leave the EU – whatever it takes. Now, they’re saying that even an economic downturn and the pound falling ‘will be good’ for us. So, as an EU citizen whose job depends on trade with the EU and EU freedom of movement, I’m facing the possibility of not having a job and not being able to live in the UK after 20 years. Nice. And don’t give me the Vienna Convention nonsense (only Leave thinks this is some form of guarantee – no immigration lawyer has agreed) Again, this is ‘collateral’ damage for Brexiteers. So, it’s OK for you to decide on my entire future. I have no say whatsoever in it. How would YOU feel? How is the EU having such a massive negative impact on you? just give me a daily example of how immensely unbearable it is for you, personally? Is it so unbearable that you’re happy to destroy people’s livelyhoods and even the basic right to live where you choose in the EU. Please tell me how my life is going to be made better by not having a job or being able to live where I’ve a permanent resident for 20 years?

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Dipper 06.14.16 at 2:01 pm

Jay @ 106

thanks for the reply. Here’s some more thoughts:

“even an economic downturn and the pound falling ‘will be good’ for us”. And who says that will happen? I spent decades in FX and no-one has any idea what will happen to a currency. Only fools pronounce on the future value of a currency; the available information really is all in the current value. And would these economists who predict an economic downturn if we leave the EU be by chance the same economists who said we would be better off in the Euro?

“I’m facing the possibility of not having a job and not being able to live in the UK after 20 years.” firstly, the correlation between you not having a job and Britain leaving the EU is roughly zero. Secondly, if you’ve been resident in the UK for 20 years you could apply for citizenship. The immigration Brexiters object to is the low-paid work that drives down wages and the welfare-shopping. Given you’ve been here for 20 years, post sensible coherent comments on here, it probably isn’t you they are thinking of, and my guess is you won’t be asked to leave in any meaningful time horizon.

“So, it’s OK for you to decide on my entire future. I have no say whatsoever in it” and that is exactly why so many people want to leave the EU, because we have no say whatsoever in what the EU decides. David Cameron asked for nothing and got less. He has opt outs, but everyone knows that as the EU moves toward a political union those will, one by one, be taken away.

“even the basic right to live where you choose in the EU”. Since when has this been a “basic” right? Why is it a basic right for me to be able to go and live in Sweden but not a basic right for me to be able to go and live in Norway? Why isn’t it a basic right for anyone anywhere in the world to go and live anywhere they like in the world? Why just the EU?

Seriously Jay, I have no ill will towards you or many other EU citizens living and working here. I’ve worked with lots of professionals from all over Europe (and from outside Europe too) and its been a joy. I’m proud of being in a country which people from all over the world come to to live and work. But I feel that I’m being taken for a ride here, that I’m being told that in order to continue with this I have to give up my democratic rights to elect the people who make the laws under which I live. And once that is gone, these nutters who are pursuing some unrealisable dream will impose disastrous law after disastrous law and no-one will be able to stop them. Greece is the template, not the exception. so if you want to get angry with someone, get angry with the people in the EU who put at risk all that you have listed above for their own despotic anti-democratic agenda.

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engels 06.14.16 at 2:15 pm

Shorter Dipper: you’re alright, Jack

105

faustusnotes 06.14.16 at 2:56 pm

Dipper they aren’t crude stereotypes, they’re my family and my family’s friends, ordinary British people in favour of Brexit.

I just watched a guardian video about Brexiters in Stoke-on-Trent, which is apparently a labour heartland. It has the labour member walking through sun-drenched streets of good quality, pleasant middle class homes, talking about how the “concerns” of her constituency are a world away from the “comfortable, middle class lives” of londoners. This is bullshit. British people are rich. Brexiters are rich. They’re responding viscerally to Brexit because they’re racist, not because of their serious economic concerns. If they had serious economic concerns the stupid Tories wouldn’t be in power, trashing the British economy.

In Britain, race consciousness trumps class consciousness every time.

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Dipper 06.14.16 at 3:00 pm

faustusnotes. Apologies. It wasn’t a stereotype, it was an extrapolation.

Your family and their friends are just that. They aren’t everyone who believes in Brexit. I’m sure they speak equally highly of you.

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magari 06.15.16 at 5:51 am

In return for enabling you to “feel” European, you cede tremendous power to Brussels. I’d be much more strongly in the remain camp if, in addition to the identity building and freedom of movement, the EU project were a democratic one. Instead, it’s a set of institutions deliberately insulated from everyday politics and the lives of ordinary people. I’m not sure the trade-off is worth it.

The left answer to this left argument is that the EU can be reformed, and that the UK would play an important role in this process. But I don’t really see how, unless UK politicians suddenly start caring about more than negotiating exemptions for the UK vis-a-vis EU common policy. History suggests that UK parties are more interested in preserving benefits for UK citizens (freedom of movement) while avoiding EU-imposed policy restrictions than helping form a EU more respondent to concerns of social democracy.

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RichieRich 06.15.16 at 7:07 am

British people are rich. Brexiters are rich. They’re responding viscerally to Brexit because they’re racist…

In your view, if one is in favour of Brexit, is one necessarily racist? Or is it possible to be in favour without being so? Was Tony Benn a racist? Are, for example, Kate Hoey, Gisela Stuart, Kelvin Hopkins and John Mills all racists?

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Igor Belanov 06.15.16 at 7:34 am

“Are, for example, Kate Hoey, Gisela Stuart, Kelvin Hopkins and John Mills all racists?”

No, but certainly nationalist. In the case of Hoey and Stuart I would add cynical, and in Hopkins’ case, delusional.

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Ronan(rf) 06.15.16 at 7:50 am

faustusnotes , you’re a statistician, right? What would be your professional opinion of the insights that could be gleaned from someone generalizing from their racist family ?

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RichieRich 06.15.16 at 9:07 am

Igor @ 113

“Nationalist” appears to be used in this thread in a pejorative sense. Many on the left who are in favour of Leave would describe themselves as internationalists. It seems to me entirely respectable to wish to Leave and explore other means by which nation states can co-operate.

112

Pete 06.15.16 at 9:59 am

Yes, nationalism has long been condemned on the progressive left. Unfortunately in practice the opposite of nationalism isn’t internationalism but globalisation.

113

Igor Belanov 06.15.16 at 11:10 am

“explore other means by which nation states can co-operate.”

If you’re ‘exploring other means by which nation states can co-operate’ but are unwilling to give up any national sovereignty, then you’re nationalist. It’s a simple fact. Once you start talking about ‘we’, ‘us’ and ‘our’ in relation to nation-states then you are in effect talking about competing with other nation-states and discriminating against them, as well as maintaining the fiction that ‘our’ nation-state shares a common interest or identity against others. That’s why I described the Labour Leavers as cynical and/or deluded.

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novakant 06.15.16 at 12:04 pm

But I feel that I’m being taken for a ride here, that I’m being told that in order to continue with this I have to give up my democratic rights to elect the people who make the laws under which I live.

Funny how Brexiters don’t even seem to be aware of how incredibly undemocratic British ‘democracy’ is. And how EU legislation has consistently favoured the rights of citizens against national governments that consistently try to curtail them.

Why is that? Because they don’t care – at all. They’re irresponsible and cynical rabble-rousers. Or they are simply too stupid to understand these matters. Bit of both I guess.

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RichieRich 06.15.16 at 7:08 pm

Igor @ 117

as well as maintaining the fiction that ‘our’ nation-state shares a common interest or identity against others.

Are you really suggesting states don’t have common interests?

Nationalism as you define it may be an honourable alternative to remaining a member of a Union with a well-recognized democratic deficit, a disastrous single currency and an elite committed to ever closer union. I simply don’t accept that Remain is self-evidently the morally superior choice.

116

engels 06.15.16 at 9:27 pm

117

bob mcmanus 06.15.16 at 9:51 pm

116: Yes, nationalism has long been condemned on the progressive left. Unfortunately in practice the opposite of nationalism isn’t internationalism but globalisation.

Nah, Globalization> has always been and still is a cluster of concepts available and useful to the anti-capitalist left, and more useful in its extra-national rather than international definitions and dimensions.

“As summarized by Noam Chomsky:

The dominant propaganda systems have appropriated the term “globalization” to refer to the specific version of international economic integration that they favor, which privileges the rights of investors and lenders, those of people being incidental. In accord with this usage, those who favor a different form of international integration, which privileges the rights of human beings, become “anti-globalist.” This is simply vulgar propaganda”

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magari 06.15.16 at 10:15 pm

The opposite of nationalism in this case is not globalization but the EU. If nationalism means an attack on postdemocracy and steps towards popular sovereignty then I am, at present, in favor of nationalism.

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engels 06.15.16 at 10:32 pm

…In working-class communities, the EU referendum has become a referendum on almost everything. In the cafes, pubs, and nail bars in east London where I live and where I have been researching London working-class life for three years the talk is seldom about anything else (although football has made a recent appearance). In east London it is about housing, schools and low wages

120

Igor Belanov 06.16.16 at 7:29 am

@ 122
“If nationalism means an attack on postdemocracy and steps towards popular sovereignty”

It doesn’t. Leave campaigners are not interested in making the UK more democratic by abolishing the monarchy and House of Lords, changing a voting system that gives majorities to parties that have gained a clear minority of the vote, or introducing democracy in the workplace. Neither were they interested in making the EU more democratic, because that would mean moves away from national vetoes and towards a more federal system. They are only really interested in their idea of national exceptionalism, which actively discourages democracy except where they can use it as an argument. Their demand for a referendum on this issue shows their contempt for parliamentary sovereignty, for example, but they still hypocritically use it as a argument against the EU.

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Faustusnotes 06.16.16 at 8:34 am

Yes Ronan I am generalizing from my experience of growing up in a tradesman’ family in southwest England, living amongst communities of working class and uneducated people with precarious employment and difficult housing situations. I’m aware of the statistical limits on this kind of thing. I’m also aware of the woeful lack of interest in determining comprehensively and scientifically how the communities I grew up in think, or anything really about them all except how to keep them silent. In the absence of decent data and analysis I’ll take the best I’ve got, which is the relentless, numbing atmosphere of constant racism that imbued the lives of my peers when I was a child. If you’ve got a better explanation for why the leave campaign started tearing ahead as soon as they started with the racist slogans then I’m all ears.

At some point the British left is going to have to come to terms with the fact that “British values” are steeped in a colonial and racist past, and that has consequences for the way the British working class view politics. Maybe this is the moment where the left realizes that Britain isn’t actually a “moderate, tolerant” polity, but that it actually has a wide streak of intolerance and racism. Perhaps gove, Johnson et al are aware of that, and that’s why they’re suddenly seeing their campaign take off just as they start fear lingering about turkey…

122

novakant 06.16.16 at 12:11 pm

123

Well, if your East London working class heroes are not xenophobic/racist why are most of them blaming immigration for their misery? Why do they use a referendum on EU membership to air their at best tangentially related grievances instead of taking on the real culprits? Why do they swallow Vote Leave’s xenophobic and racist disinformation campaign whole and support people like Farage, Gove and Johnson?

123

engels 06.16.16 at 12:39 pm

Why do they use a referendum on EU membership to air their at best tangentially related grievances instead of taking on the real culprits?

I know, they’re such idiots for missing the referenda on all those other… oh wait

124

Chris Bertram 06.16.16 at 1:58 pm

@Faustusnotes “Maybe this is the moment where the left realizes that Britain isn’t actually a “moderate, tolerant” polity, but that it actually has a wide streak of intolerance and racism.”

Well of course it does. But it has made at least as good an attempt at building a tolerant multicultural society as any other state in Europe, and much better than some. Black people are widely accepted as British, in a way that they aren’t accepted by white Italians as Italian, for example. Sadly, I fear that much that we’ve gained is at risk now.

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engels 06.16.16 at 2:51 pm

Appalling news today, which will surely do significant damage to ‘Leave’

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engels 06.16.16 at 5:00 pm

Actually worse than I thought – Jesus

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engels 06.16.16 at 5:23 pm

And here’s the market reaction

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Lynne 06.16.16 at 6:01 pm

engels, I came here to post about this and found you already had. Just awful. I’m surprised it has happened in England.

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Lynne 06.16.16 at 6:01 pm

I note that campaigning for Brexit has been stopped, at least for now.

130

Dipper 06.16.16 at 6:08 pm

@Faustusnotes – to repeat, the community you grew up in is just that. It isn’t everyone who supports Brexit. And the constant “White working class is racist” mantra is an attempt to make the white working class non-people, people who don’t deserve political representation, or to have their needs considered by the political system.

131

Igor Belanov 06.16.16 at 6:08 pm

@ 132

What an amazing indictment against capitalism.

132

Igor Belanov 06.16.16 at 6:30 pm

‘ “White working class is racist” mantra is an attempt to make the white working class non-people, people who don’t deserve political representation, or to have their needs considered by the political system.’

White working-class people are just as entitled as anyone else to have political representation, just not on the basis of their skin colour.

It is a misleading term anyway, because I’m pretty sure the people using the term ‘white working-class’ aren’t including working-class white Poles or Romanians.

133

Sebastian_H 06.16.16 at 7:41 pm

The dismissal of working class concerns as ‘racist’ and just carrying on as if nothing bad were happening is going to be a big problem. Even if it is true that working class concerns are being wrongly expressed through the lens of racism, it doesn’t make most of their concerns non-existent

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novakant 06.16.16 at 8:31 pm

poor working class racists, being forced to become racists by an inability to express themselves and communicate their concerns properly – good thing they have wise leaders that make their point for them using NAZI STYLE PROPAGANDA

http://www.newstatesman.com/2016/06/nigel-farage-s-anti-eu-poster-depicting-migrants-resembles-nazi-propaganda

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Jim Buck 06.16.16 at 8:35 pm

The big problem that is around, right now, is that masses of poorly educared individuals who used to be supplied a world -view on the approval of press barns and media moguls are now experiencing all manner of epiphanies on line. Sophistries which were once the exclusive resort of elite interlocutors are now available off the peg—i.e the notion of “reverse racism”. Formerly, the British tabloids were not at all reluctant to stir up racial and other antipathies whenever it suited their political agenda, but were usually careful to rein the reader in before things got too out of hand. Now, I fear, things are out of hand to the extent that, being unable to douse the rising inferno, the right wing press can only glee the flames.

136

Metatone 06.16.16 at 8:50 pm

@Sebastian_H 138 – what grinds my gears is that our political discourse is at a point where people can actually suggest with a straight face that Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Nigel Farage and Daniel Hannan (to name some prominent Leave campaigners who have all written extensively about what kind of society they seek to build*) are seeking to address the concerns of the working class with their policies, just because they have alighted on some useful rhetoric.

It’s all the more painful when you have this double act now at the top of Labour (Corbyn & McD) who actual go around proposing policies that would make a difference to the working class, but continually have scorn poured on them.

*The bonfire of the regulations, the Britain as a European Hong Kong, the free-trade utopia these figures endorse is not at all going to address the complaints of the working class. And that’s before you get to how they have promised the Asian and Nigerian communities that Brexit will open up a lot more space to loosen immigration rules for those communities…

137

Sebastian_H 06.16.16 at 8:56 pm

The working class isn’t sharing in the wealth of the finance class. They are misinterpreting that fact as “immigrants are making me poor”. Or maybe even they are latently racist and feeling squeezed and lashing out. Either way the underlying “not sharing in the wealth of the nation” problem seems important unless you believe that the very same people ten and twenty years ago have suddenly, out of no where, become dramatically more racist then they were before. (Even if you believe that you might want to wonder why.)

The problem is that EU elites (including London elites) want to dismiss all of the other working class concerns because racism is present among the concerns. That makes it easy to dismiss in the current climate, but doesn’t actually fix anything. It makes the whole edifice very fragile.

138

Sebastian_H 06.16.16 at 9:00 pm

“what grinds my gears is that our political discourse is at a point where people can actually suggest with a straight face that Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Nigel Farage and Daniel Hannan (to name some prominent Leave campaigners who have all written extensively about what kind of society they seek to build*)”

But this is what happens when the EU has spent well over a decade, and arguably two decades very studiously ignoring their concerns. Politics is much more emotional than people like to pretend. If the EU unity side seems to have abandoned a group for a decade or two, they may very well latch on to someone who claims to be for them EVEN IF their policies don’t look very helpful because they have identified you as the enemy, and therefore your enemies are friends.

139

kidneystones 06.16.16 at 9:11 pm

@ 126 ” If you’ve got a better explanation for why the leave campaign started tearing ahead as soon as they started with the racist slogans then I’m all ears.”

You’ll need dates and evidence to support this change in rhetoric and the matching surge you claim results, please.

My understanding is that a great many Remain folks deployed charges of racism and xenophobia against working-class supporters of the EU referendum for years prior to 2015. The Labour Party elite decided all by themselves to deny Labour voters the right to a referendum, adopted Conservative policies in the run-up to the 2015, and got hammered in many parts of the UK and wiped out in Scotland as a result of this straddle.

The consistent thread among Remain supporters is that referendum supporters and now Brexit supporters have ‘always’ been racist and xenophobic.

So, which is it? The rhetoric of Brexit supporters has changed in recent weeks/months revealing their long-hidden racist agenda, or not.

My own view, as a Remain supporter, is that the public rightly regards the EU administration as bloated, corrupt, and beyond reform. The percentage of racist and xenophobes has likely remained constant. Support for Brexit must result, therefore, from an increase in racists attitudes (which will require evidence), or factors other than racism and xenophobia.

Yes?

140

bianca steele 06.16.16 at 9:34 pm

The dismissal of working class concerns as ‘racist’ and just carrying on as if nothing bad were happening is going to be a big problem. Even if it is true that working class concerns are being wrongly expressed through the lens of racism, it doesn’t make most of their concerns non-existent

“To call working-class people racist is always wrong and is always meant simply to dismiss their concerns and keep them from having a voice” versus “working-class people who are anti-racist are incapable of accurately observing the world around them”: choose one.

141

JeffreyG 06.16.16 at 9:37 pm

bianca
Who said those things? I can’t find those quotes written anywhere other than in your comment?

142

bianca steele 06.16.16 at 9:40 pm

JeffreyG:

Funny, it’s usually said to be women who are incapable of abstract thought and insist unreasonably on writing always in the most concrete way possible.

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JeffreyG 06.16.16 at 9:41 pm

uh… what?

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JeffreyG 06.16.16 at 9:44 pm

Are you insinuating that I am stupid for asking for the source of those quotations?

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bianca steele 06.16.16 at 10:50 pm

@149

You’re hilarious! You insinuate that I’m too stupid to understand the previous comments, and try to get me to explain that those weren’t quotations. And that will prove that I’m insinuating you’re stupid and don’t know how quotation marks are used!

Or do you really think using quotation marks for things that aren’t quotations is inappropriate for a setting as formal and serious as a comment box?

which you think will show me as sloppy and too casual to write in a comment box–and besides that, will prove that I’m insinuating that you’re too stupid to understand how quotations marks are used.

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bianca steele 06.16.16 at 10:51 pm

Too sloppy to scroll down and notice I hadn’t deleted a paragraph from an earlier draft! I guess you got me!

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Faustusnotes 06.16.16 at 11:17 pm

When did I say racists are non-people? What a strange idea. I simply pointed out that this was the real reason for many people supporting brexit, and that this racism was common in the working class communities where I grew up. Did I even say they were white? Why would I think my own family are non people? I think it says more about the person who thinks I said that, than about me. Perhaps that person thinks everyone who has objectionable ideas is not a person? I certainly don’t . I haven’t even said these people shouldn’t vote- just that you can’t convince them to vote remain if you don’t address the reasons.

If my impression of these communities is not in some sense generalizable, how come britains two most popular newspapers are famous for their racist content? They got popular amongst working class people because of their incite full class analysis and accurate reporting of the real issues, and everyone just tolerated the inexplicable racism? I don’t think so…

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bruce wilder 06.16.16 at 11:17 pm

bianca steele @ 150

So glad to see that settled so amicably.

149

bianca steele 06.17.16 at 12:13 am

Bruce, is there something you think I owe to this discussion at this point? Did my comment need you to respond that badly? Do you expect a response yourself? Are you trying to draw this out until I get banned for hijacking the thread?

150

Helen 06.17.16 at 2:12 am

Igor Belanov 06.10.16 at 11:17 am

It’s the whole point of nationalism. It either aims to force one conception of national identity on the rest of the population, or uses national identity to obscure a political programme backed by minority interests. Thus the rhetoric of unity is mobilised in a way that provokes grave disunity…

A rhetoric of unity which is mobilised in a way that provokes grave disunity: That’s a great, devil’s-dictionary-ish description!

151

J-D 06.17.16 at 4:41 am

Ze K @141

‘Even if they happen to use some ethnic slur, once in a while.’

Some people strive to avoid the use of slurs; some people don’t. It’s not something that just happens.

152

RichieRich 06.17.16 at 4:05 pm

Relevant (?) article by John Harris in today’s Graun: Britain is in the midst of a working-class revolt. Extract below.

Yes, some people – from bigots in the stockbroker belt to raging gobshites in south Wales shopping precincts – are simply racist. But in a society and economy as precarious as ours, the arrival of large numbers of people prepared to do jobs with increasingly awful terms and conditions was always going to trigger loud resentment. For many places, the pace of change and the pressures on public services have arguably proved to be too much to cope with.

Before anyone with a more right-on view of all this explodes with ire, they might also consider the numbers. Between 1991 and 2003, on average about 60,000 migrants from the EU came to the UK each year. Between 2004 and 2012, that figure rose to 170,000. The 2011 census put the number of UK residents from Poland alone at 654,000.

To state the obvious, that’s a lot. If people had felt more connected to politics, public services had been quicker to adapt, and the Blair/Brown government had opted for transitional controls, perhaps such huge changes might not have triggered quite so much rage and worry.

153

novakant 06.17.16 at 4:50 pm

Yeah, let’s blame the foreigners – after all, appealing to the reptile brain always works.

154

Jim Buck 06.17.16 at 6:58 pm

The man who was arrested at the scene of the murder is reported to have spent many hundreds of pounds purchasing items from a neo-Nazi organisation in the US. Other information, that has been published about him, indicates that he was long ago diagnosed with a disabling mental illness. I wonder about the impact of the recent ATOS agenda to “get the long-term unemployed back into work”. I write anecdotally, of course, but a number of males known to me have been in the position of having to abruptly confront the modern workplace– after a couple of decades or so of comfortably living on Disability Living Allowance. The individuals known to me were quite settled into modest life-styles based on a regular disposable being available to them each month. An example is a man who—during the latter months of John Major’s premiership– was diagnosed as psychotically depressed. Following a single episode he was told that he would never be able to work again. He was provided with enough money for: rent, food, energy, and clothing. And he had enough spending money left to allow him to get online during the days when such people were still novel enough to be designated newbies. A couple of years into Coalition Government rule, he was deemed fit for work. It was a savage blow to our man. He had found a bride online and– after calculating that the two of them could manage nicely–was in the process of bringing her over to live with him. His plans crashing around him, he did attempt to salvage the situation by taking a job which was offered to him. He found though the the conditions he was expected to work under, and the pace of the work itself, was wholly unacceptable to him. He physically attacked a supervisor, then attacked the police sent to restrain him then attacked hospital staff in whose care he was placed. The last time I saw him he had stopped taking any medication—convinced (as he is) that there is nothing wrong with, all his misfortunes being due to cabals, cliques, and conspirators—in a phrase: the usual suspects. The unmedicated insane have long added colour to the US scene. I wonder if that phenomenon is now more established here in the UK.

155

kidneystones 06.18.16 at 3:38 am

156

engels 06.18.16 at 5:38 pm

Does this mean they are skeptical of the integrity of voting, vote-counting?

They’re sceptical of reliability of polls (actual outcomes have been consistently more pro-establishment than polls predicted).

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Jim Buck 06.19.16 at 9:33 am

Lear’s exit-referendum:

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engels 06.19.16 at 1:30 pm

159

engels 06.20.16 at 12:11 pm

160

engels 06.20.16 at 12:34 pm

161

novakant 06.20.16 at 12:36 pm

162

Jim Buck 06.20.16 at 1:37 pm

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Dipper 06.20.16 at 2:22 pm

Jim – “smacked on stage for underperforming” is a very good description of what the EU has done to Greece.

164

Jim Buck 06.20.16 at 3:13 pm

Ouch! Dipper!

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novakant 06.20.16 at 5:51 pm

166

Sebastian H 06.20.16 at 6:22 pm

Presuming Brexit is avoided the important question is whether or not the policy elite will consider it a close call/dodging a bullet or if they will decide they were vindicated and can continue to ignore the problems of the working class. If they do the latter, as I suspect, they are just storing up more chaos for the end.

167

RichieRich 06.20.16 at 6:43 pm

From Trade Unions against the EU.

The EU attacks wages and collective bargaining

168

novakant 06.20.16 at 6:58 pm

169

RichieRich 06.20.16 at 8:19 pm

This.

All of this begs the question: why have trade unions, from Unite to Unison to the GMB, opted for Remain? ‘Let’s get the facts straight’, interjects Nicholls. ‘There’s 150 trade unions listed by the certification officer, 52 of those affiliated are to the Trades Union Congress (TUC), and of those 52 affiliated to the TUC, 15 are affiliated to the Labour Party. Of those, 13 and only 13 declared publicly for a Remain vote. So, one has to ask is the tail wagging the dog? But even among those unions that have taken strong Remain positions… there is a lot of discontent with their EU position, and most [members] as we can sense it are voting for Leave.’

170

novakant 06.20.16 at 9:31 pm

Oh come on, this is pathetic, these unions back Remain and they happen to include the biggest unions representing millions of members:

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jun/05/trade-union-members-should-vote-to-stay-in-the-eu

Please enlighten us which unions “Trade Unions against the EU” actually represents, because they conveniently omit this fact, and how many members these unions have.

171

F. Foundling 06.21.16 at 12:51 am

@Igor Belanov 06.15.16 at 11:10 am
>Once you start talking about ‘we’, ‘us’ and ‘our’ in relation to nation-states then you are in effect talking about competing with other nation-states and discriminating against them, as well as maintaining the fiction that ‘our’ nation-state shares a common interest or identity against others.

A democracy, i.e. egalitarian collective decision-making, can’t exist without a concept of a ‘we’ who make collective decisions and have a collective identity and collective interests (if only ones based on the arbitrary fact of the existence of the self-governing unit, which doesn’t make them ‘fictional’); and yes, this entails that there are other parts of the observable universe that are not part of this ‘us’. This self-governing unit can be, among other things, a block of flats, a village or town, an association, a cooperative of some sort, a trade union, a state, a federation such as the EU, or humankind. Being against this means being against democracy.

@novakant 06.15.16 at 12:04 pm

>And how EU legislation has consistently favoured the rights of citizens against national governments that consistently try to curtail them.

The EU is particularly concerned about the rights of citizens to fire other citizens, not only in Greece, as we saw earlier, but also in France:

http://www.euractiv.com/section/social-europe-jobs/news/commission-backs-french-labour-law-reforms/

AFAICS, this is a choice between two evils, and between aligning with two vicious groups of enforcers of neoliberalism. One may nevertheless argue that it is necessary to do so, but if so, one should at least try to maintain a position clearly distinct from that of one’s temporary allies.

172

Dipper 06.21.16 at 8:18 am

Ze K – yes. Exactly.

this has been a bizarre, unnecessary, and ultimately tragic campaign. The Leave side is lead by someone who is deep down a Remainer, and the Remain campaign is full of people who would like to leave.

Perhaps the most bizarre spectacle is the side who believe immigration should be unlimited for predominantly white-skinned Europeans and very difficult for people of colour calling out as racist the side who believe immigration should be on the basis of skills and/or need and should be colour-blind.

and just to go on, before someone says “Brexiters think this” or “Brexiters think that”, the thing all Brexiters believe about immigration is that the UK immigration policy should be determined by the UK parliament, and the think all Remainers believe is that UK immigration policy should be handed down to the UK by the EU commission.

173

engels 06.21.16 at 9:22 am

I read Novakant’s comments and was leaning slightly towards Brexit but reading Ze’s pushed me back towards Remain.

174

J-D 06.21.16 at 9:48 am

Ze K @171

‘It’s a class-war battle, plain and simple.’

Whatever else it is, it’s neither plain nor simple.

175

ZM 06.21.16 at 11:13 am

This is very cute, Europeans have formed human kissing chains to try to get the UK to stay in the EU

https://youtu.be/Jebt06es15w

176

novakant 06.21.16 at 12:09 pm

engels wants to have his cake and eat it – like Boris

177

engels 06.21.16 at 1:05 pm

Er what? To be clear, I’m voting ‘in’, I just think you’re both idiots.

178

Dipper 06.21.16 at 1:51 pm

engels I sense where you lead the nation will follow.

Anyone want to place an order for an “I told you so” T shirt? It could be like one of those tour ones where the dates are all crossed out on the back up to the one where the band are playing tonight, except it will be a list of things that were never going to happen if we remained in the EU, all crossed out as one-by-one they come to pass.

179

engels 06.21.16 at 2:13 pm

this is a choice between two evils, and between aligning with two vicious groups of enforcers of neoliberalism. One may nevertheless argue that it is necessary to do so, but if so, one should at least try to maintain a position clearly distinct from that of one’s temporary allies

Agreed—and I think Corbyn actually did a pretty good job of this. The CTelligentsia ummm maybe not so much…

180

Dipper 06.21.16 at 2:16 pm

“two vicious groups of enforcers of neoliberalism”

well to be picky, whilst lots of people on the Brexit side say all sorts of things, the vote is about the sovereignity of the UK parliament, not a vote for a particular group of people or a political party.

181

engels 06.21.16 at 2:49 pm

182

engels 06.21.16 at 3:20 pm

Thinking about it, maybe it would be more fun not to spend the rest of the afternoon arguing about the British with people who (a) aren’t British, (b) know jack shit about the British situation and (c) in general have a really dumb and annoying ‘anything-but-the-neoliberal-elite’ politics which is clueless (at best) when it comes to the Far Right—I dunno…

183

Dipper 06.21.16 at 4:46 pm

So, engels, in order to avoid giving any encouragement to racists, you are going to vote for the UK to maintain a blatantly racist immigration policy.

Par for the course in this bizarre campaign.

184

Stephen 06.21.16 at 6:08 pm

Ze K @196: but surely, under the relaxed rules of American identity politics, anyone who wishes to insist that they are British, must be British? Unless I have misunderstood things, someone who claims to be Native American must rightly be treated as Native American; someone who claims to be Black must be treated as Black. Why discriminate agents would-be British?

Or have I got things wrong about the US? An easy mistake to make.

185

F. Foundling 06.22.16 at 12:41 am

@Ze K 06.21.16 at 6:48 am

‘Sovereignist’ and ‘nationalist’ don’t exclude ‘neoliberal’, because the weakening of national sovereignty isn’t the essence of neoliberal policies – it’s just one of the various means they employ to an end, namely class warfare through privatisations, deregulations, austerity etc. in service of capital, national as well as transnational. Sovereignty can be used in order to enforce neoliberal policies – and UK commenters here have argued, not unconvincingly to my non-British (and non-Anglo) ears, that the forces on the Leave side are both keen and likely to use it in exactly that way. Note also that the choice is between two political entities, the UK and the EU, both of which can theoretically be used to serve the interests either of the population or of capital; the argument is about which one is more likely to do one or the other.

In general, you have the unsavoury habit of replacing ‘left vs right’ with ‘national vs international’, and of viewing each and every chauvinist and quasi-fascist as a valuable ally against neoliberalism (cf. the ‘better Trump than Hillary’ nonsense about the US). This position and that of the anti-democratic, ‘enlightened’ and ‘cosmopolitan’ elitists complement each other in a rather harmful way. The reduction of politics to a choice between fascists/reactionaries and neoliberals is a very real and dangerous tendency in many countries.

Personally, my observations of the EU’s behaviour and functioning in the last decade or so make me naturally inclined to gravitate towards the ‘just burn the whole bloody thing down’ position, but in view of who and why has initiated the referendum in the real world, I can see why the perspective of strengthening the hand of the xenophobes and the Thatcherites can be considered worse, especially from the point of view of those who have to live with them.

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J-D 06.22.16 at 1:18 am

Stephen @198

Since you ask: yes, you have got things wrong.

187

JoB 06.22.16 at 7:40 am

Neo-liberal includes nationalist because it is only by making competitive sovereign nation states endure that this neo-liberal agenda of a fiscal race-to-the-bottom in favor of capital can continue.

The question for capitalists is not whether to endorse nationalists (they do this all over the world and constantly) but whether they can keep the cat in the bag. In Russia and Turkey, and maybe already in the UK, they’ll get worried whether nationalism will not get into the typical expansionist drive where the bad effects for the people at large need compensating by the rulers by aggression across the borders.

It’s such a stupidity to endorse the universal right to nationalist backwardness.

188

RichieRich 06.22.16 at 7:48 am

F. Foundling @ 199

Personally, my observations of the EU’s behaviour and functioning in the last decade or so make me naturally inclined to gravitate towards the ‘just burn the whole bloody thing down’ position, but in view of who and why has initiated the referendum in the real world, I can see why the perspective of strengthening the hand of the xenophobes and the Thatcherites can be considered worse, especially from the point of view of those who have to live with them.

This sets out my dilemma well. Don’t know if Richard Tuck is overly optimistic about Brexit enabling the UK Left to regain ground.

Many of my English friends on the left reply to these arguments with despair: nothing can now be done to change the situation, the forces of globalization are too strong, the political culture of Britain is too conservative. Membership of the EU offers shelter, despite its patent lack of democracy and its basic sympathy with capitalism. But this is to rationalize defeat. There have been times in living memory when the left in Britain could assert itself successfully, but those were times when it understood the nature of Britain’s political structures and could use them. The lack of political possibilities perceived by so many people today is the result of quite specific decisions, above all to enter the EU, and I see no reason why reversing that decision would not open up real possibilities for the left in Britain again.

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engels 06.22.16 at 9:29 am

either the national government makes and enforces the rules (‘Leave’, sovereignism), or transnational capital does it (‘Remain’, neoliberalism).

I once asked Rupert Murdoch why he was so opposed to the European Union. ‘That’s easy,’ he replied. ‘When I go into Downing Street they do what I say; when I go to Brussels
they take no notice.’

190

engels 06.22.16 at 10:45 am

you can (presumably) kick the bastards out and elect a different group of bastards who won’t listen to Rupert Murdoch… This is, like, sovereignty 101.

Marxism 101

191

Layman 06.22.16 at 11:21 am

“…kick the bastards out and elect a different group of bastards who won’t listen to Rupert Murdoch.”

This would be good advice, if those other bastards were listed on the ballot…

192

faustusnotes 06.22.16 at 11:50 am

I’m sympathetic to the idea that the EU migration rules are racist, and to the idea that the UK should be more open to greater migration connections with the commonwealth and ex-colonies.

Then I remember that the main proponent of these ideas just proudly unveiled a poster based on a Nazi anti-immigration poster, that tries to scare people into voting leave through fear of non-European migrants.

The idea that Johnson, Gove and Farage are going to usher in an era of non-racist immigration policies that take skilled workers from anywhere, or indeed that the British populace that voted Leave will accept such a policy, is ridiculous. The goal of that trio of clowns is to ensure that the British working class are trapped on an island of zero-hours contracts and sub-minimum wages, and all domestic politics straight-jacketed within a white nationalist framework. They don’t want Indian doctors, they want a return to the GP in his corner surgery, operating 7 hours a day and to hell with anyone who can’t see him during the week. They don’t want Filipino cleaners, they want the children of the British working class doing that, and doffing their caps to their betters while they do it, grateful to have any job at all.

Engels is right, as is Corbyn: Whatever your concerns about EU, from a left wing perspective withdrawing would be a disaster. Such a decision will obviously cut the left off from its European allies just as they’re beginning to recover in countries like Italy and Spain and Greece; it will instead put Britain on a path of industrial and economic collapse, ruled by a Little Englander clown and his soulless apparatchiks. This isn’t about neoliberalism vs. sovereignty, it’s about neoliberalism constrained within a vibrant economic community of 300 million, or neoliberalism with its jackboots on, stomping over a tiny fading nation of 60 million who have no escape and no money.

Don’t do it Britain!

193

RichieRich 06.22.16 at 12:21 pm

I’m sympathetic to the idea that the EU migration rules are racist, and to the idea that the UK should be more open to greater migration connections with the commonwealth and ex-colonies.

Since 1998, three-quarters of net migration to the UK has been net migration from non-EU states.

Whatever your concerns about EU, from a left wing perspective withdrawing would be a disaster.

This is contested on the left.

This isn’t about neoliberalism vs. sovereignty, it’s about neoliberalism constrained within a vibrant economic community of 300 million, or neoliberalism with its jackboots on, stomping over a tiny fading nation of 60 million who have no escape and no money.

Wow! You think the Eurozone is a “vibrant economic community”. As Larry Elliott put it

Economic policy has been relentlessly deflationary. The interests of bankers have been given a higher priority than workers’. Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Cyprus and Spain have been the laboratory mice in a continent-wide neoliberal experiment of a sort Tea Party Republicans in the US can only fantasise about.

Given the obscene level of long-term unemployment, the idea of Europe as the guardian of labour rights is laughable.

194

faustusnotes 06.22.16 at 12:31 pm

Ze K, the UK is made up of different regions with different economies and cultures. Why do we care about the scale of one but not the other? And since when do left wing people say cultural and economic differences are a reason to stop collaborating?

Localism is a popular concept on the right in the UK. Can you think of any reasons why that might be? Why atomizing the polity and fragmenting governance structures at the local level might benefit the right? Why should the left fall for this snake oil?

If neoliberalism has infected Europe uncontested, why do you think it will be different in the UK once it leaves? If you can’t fight neoliberalism at the European level, how are you going to fight it locally? What is your prescription to solve this problem? Is the British radical left more effective than Syriza or Podemas? Will a UK sovereign alternative to the European Court of Human Rights be more progressive, given that the conservatives have a permanent majority?

Until the Tories implode the EU is British workers’ only protection. How will leaving help them?

195

stevenjohnson 06.22.16 at 1:02 pm

F Foundling, Ze K, Lupita seem to think Enlightenment and its historical heirs are European or white or industrialized country or something else, no doubt equally confused or unlikely. This is pretty much the same thing as saying science is European or white or industrialized, which is to say, vaguely chauvinist nonsense. Disagreement on whether to attack human progress because it’s white etc., or to attack the non-whites who don’t have it, are not precisely irrelevant…but they are futile, obstructionist and inhumane because they are based on a false premise.

Enlightenment and successors like socialism are internationalism, or they are nothing. These ideologies were and are foreign to every country. The people of each country has one meaningful choice, to enrich the world with their contribution to the city of man. Or they can vainly try to build the city of their national God.

196

novakant 06.22.16 at 1:03 pm

regarding the much bandied about “democracy deficit” of the EU:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/may/20/eu-democratic-deficit

It would be nice if people could acquaint themselves with the basic facts before talking about the EU – or the UK for that matter, which is rather undemocratic in so many ways..

197

novakant 06.22.16 at 1:07 pm

And everybody should be given complimentary “Yes, Minister” / “The Thick of It” box sets.

198

faustusnotes 06.22.16 at 1:48 pm

British sub-national differences don’t just happen at country level. Ask the people of the south-west about “incomers”, or people in Liverpool about The Sun (not the star of the same name – they’ve never actually seen that).

Why do you think local control is beneficial for people? We don’t live in the middle ages anymore, and things like risk pooling always work better on a larger scale – and solutions to problems like energy distribution and clean air and water are impossible at the local level. The problems the world faces now require global solutions, localism is a spanner in the works, and yet here you and the Brexiters are recommending going back in time to exactly teh system that won’t solve any of the problems we face.

If you want local redistribution to help local people, fight for global control with good governance. If you want some petty-minded local fool to stop anything that might benefit you, then sure, go local. Boris Johnson would love your vote.

199

Faustusnotes 06.22.16 at 2:57 pm

It’s not about syndicalism or any other ism, it’s about the scale of the problems we face. You don’t fix global warming by local meetings, but by international agreements. You don’t build cross border train networks through local council meetings. A local union committee in Myanmar can’t fight drug resistant malaria if the cause is bad artemisinin prescribing in Cambodia. Antibiotic resistant staph isn’t fixed by the syndicalist local committee in Bordeaux if the cause is overuse of antibiotics in pig farms in Germany . You need organizations that transcend national boundaries and parochial issues.

And in any case you won’t get a perfect syndicalist local politics. You’ll get the local conservative club with a picture of Boris Johnson over the bar. Good luck negotiating a minimum wage with them …

200

stevenjohnson 06.22.16 at 6:10 pm

“I’m not attacking human progress. I’m attacking the eurocentric definition of ‘human progress’.”

Nonsense. You are attacking the notion of human progress as “Eurocentric,” in defiance of history. The Enlightenment had no national home, was foreign to every country in Europe. It was not a magical discovery by special “European” people (who were various nationalities any how) but a generalization from the knowledge provided by other societies, starting with the brute fact of their independent existence without a Christian God. You’re driveling about “Europe” when you apparently mean “Christendom.) When you remember this, the notion the Enlightenment is uniquely Christian inspires only a guffaw.

201

engels 06.22.16 at 7:27 pm

I don’t understand why empiricism, as practiced by other cultures (and parts of this culture), has to be belittled

Like these inscrutable non-European natives?

202

Jim Buck 06.22.16 at 7:52 pm

If unreality is an illness, is this its political dimension:

http://www.ukipdaily.com/assassination-jo-cox-mp/

203

Sebastian H 06.22.16 at 8:20 pm

This thread got weird, I may be misreading, but originally I thought he was attacking the idea that “the EU” represented “human progress” and then everyone got meta talking past each other.

204

Jim Buck 06.22.16 at 8:28 pm

My understanding is that Chris Bertram was lamenting that fools allowed to persist in their folly may prove expensive to the rest of us, and is that fair?

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Collin Street 06.22.16 at 9:19 pm

Why do you think local control is beneficial for people? We don’t live in the middle ages anymore, and things like risk pooling always work better on a larger scale – and solutions to problems like energy distribution and clean air and water are impossible at the local level. The problems the world faces now require global solutions, localism is a spanner in the works, and yet here you and the Brexiters are recommending going back in time to exactly teh system that won’t solve any of the problems we face.

Conservatism, yesterday’s solution to the problems of today.

But it’s bullshit even on those terms: the EU is all over local control. Subsiduarity, or however you spell the damned word; the guiding principle of the EU governmental… philosophy?… is that problems should be solved at the lowest reasonable level. This is a rejection of the english “supremacy of parliament” model, centralised in Westminster, in favour of increased local control.

It’s Westminster, or specifically the tories in westminster, who are blocking local control, not Brussels.

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Faustusnotes 06.22.16 at 10:58 pm

Ze K, preventing antibiotic resistance is about stopping farmers using antibiotics on their herds, not about a lab doing research. It requires coordinated action, which is something the EU is supposed to do, although it isn’t doing it very well. Handling Syrian refugees is another obvious example. They’d all be trapped in greec if not for the EU. How do you think that would have worked out for them?

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casmilus 06.23.16 at 9:45 am

I’ve voted Remain this morning, even though I think there are good reasons for leaving and that the UK should do so eventually if and when the Eurozone states move to closer integration.

The trouble is, the current Leave campaigns have turned the event into a referendum on immigration plus a dozen other changes in UK society over the past 40 years that have nothing to do with the EU, and problems which are entirely self-caused and don’t require Brexit in order for us to deal with them – housing shortages, for example. And none of the wishful thinking they have encouraged will get satisfied by the reality of a Brexit at this time. So this movement has to be defeated, as it’s going to get disappointed anyway.

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