Why it is not unfair to think of (nearly all) Brexiteers as racists

by Chris Bertram on August 22, 2016

The EU referendum divided the UK very deeply. Some people want reconciliation with their political opponents; for others the scars are too recent. I’m in the latter camp. A national political project requires people to think of themselves as being in some sense in community with their co-nationals and to recognize themselves as being under special obligations to those others, obligations that they don’t have to outsiders. But I now feel myself out of community with my co-nationals who voted differently. Of course, I’m not utterly indifferent to their well-being — they have their human rights after all, even though they might dispute that — but I don’t feel any enthusiasm beyond pragmatic self-interest for putting them ahead of distant others.

One reason for this is that I think of nearly all of them as racists and xenophobes. Since this is one of the most bitterly resented accusation, prone to trigger outbursts of indignation, some explanation is needed. So here goes. Most Brexiters don’t actively hate foreigners. At least I think and hope that’s true, so let me stipulate that it is. If active hatred were a necessary component of racism and xenophobia then it would follow that most Brexiters are neither racists nor xenophobes. But I don’t think such an active attitude is needed for the accusation to proceed. Rather, I have something else in mind.

Brexit triggered a wave of hate crimes against the many EU citizens living in the UK, and, indeed, against foreigners more generally and made the legal and social position of those people precarious. This was all predictable. The formerly silent haters felt that the vote gave them a licence to act. Leaving the European Union also leave EU citizen residents in a state of acute insecurity, unsure what their future status will be. Brexiters were nearly all, when they contemplated their vote prospectively, indifferent to these impacts or they failed to give them the thought they should have. Though some Brexiters now seem appalled at what they have wrought, they seem incapable of grasping the full complexity of the rights that need reviewing and protecting which go beyond residence and work but extend to family life, and many social rights.

In the UK, many policies and measures get tested by “equalities impact assessments”. We look to see whether some proposed course of action will cause disproportionate harms to groups including women, ethnic minorities, gay people and the disabled. Often policies that are not motivated by active hatred for such groups will nevertheless bring about bad outcomes for them, and that is a reason not to pursue such policies. So what to think about someone who just doesn’t care, whose commitment to some policy or slogan is such that if there were to see that it would seriously adversely affect say, black people in particular, they wouldn’t change course? “Too bad”, is their view. I’d say that such indifference to the fate of some particular group is a form of prejudice against that group, a failure to show those people respect, a failure to take proper account of their interests. And I’d say that in the case of EU migrants, that failure is properly thought of as a type of racism or xenophobia.

Perhaps some people should be exempted from this charge? Such a person might be a Lexiteer (a left-wing supporter of Brexit) whose concern for some other people, such as those who drown as a consequence of Fortress Europe or the many Greeks who have suffered from the EU’s austerity polcies, outweighs their concern for the UK’s EU citizen immigrants. As a matter of fact, I think those reasons for voting for Brexit were pretty silly. Retreating to Fortress UK won’t do anything for the Greeks or for the victims of Fortress Europe: they’be better served by fighting for them within the EU institutions. But I accept that a sincere Lexiteer, who genuinely believed such things and who thought long and hard about the negative impacts on EU residents but decided they were outweighed, shouldn’t be lumped in with the racists and the xenophobes. And I should probably extend a similar charitable thought to some right-wing sovereigntists. So I do, provided that they gave EU migrants the deliberative consideration they should have. Sadly, my guess is that most Lexiteers (and most sovereigntists) were not like this. Rather they were people who were happy to mouth slogans about the EU being a “capitalist club” (alternatively “taking back control”) and just didn’t think at all about the impact on local Poles, Estonians, Romanians etc. And failing to bring the interests of those people to consciousness, failing to notice them as deserving recipients of concern — ignorant indifference to a particular vulnerable group — is also a form of prejudice against them. So I rest my case: it is not unfair to think of nearly all Brexiteers as racists or xenophobes. Whether it is politically sensible to call them racists or xenophobes is a different matter, but I find it hard now to extend to them the solidarity they deliberately or casually denied to others.

{ 325 comments }

1

MisterMr 08.22.16 at 11:09 am

I think that the word “racism” is wrong here, and that we should use a different term here, like “nationalism” or “identitarism” or something like it.
Unfortunately the left for some reason seems to treat all this as a form of hidden racism, but really it isn’t and in fact it is the opposite, it is racism that is a peculiar distorted form of this nationalism/identitarism.

To a certain degree it is natural to root for those that are near to us than for those who we think are farther, so it is also natural in part that an englishman cares more for an unemployed englishman that for an unemploied romanian.
It is also sometimes natural to think to the economy as a place of competing interests, so that e.g. the interest of the UK competes against the interest of Germany, and if you are english it is natural to root for the UK and not for Germany in these situations.

However this nationalism/identitarism can reach excessive levels in some situations, and in some other situations (as in the case of brexit in my opinion) is just a smokescreen to paper over class issues.

But I think that if you use the term “racism” you use the wrong word for this thing.

2

Pete 08.22.16 at 11:27 am

Whether it is politically sensible to call them racists or xenophobes is a different matter

Well, yes. This is the Emily Thornberry problem. Once you’ve called people racists they’re going to stop listening to you and stop voting for you. You don’t have any solidarity with them so why should they have any with you?

More generally, the labelling tendency of the moralistic left to talk of racist people rather than racist acts results in a disastrous Corbynist search for purity. You can only be in the party if you’ve never done something that can be interpreted as racist, sexist or homophobic by a hostile inquisition that’s prepared to quote you out of context. Everyone must be without sin so they can throw the first stone.

Oh, and there’s no redemption possible either.

(The interaction between anti-racism and anti-semetism has also become weird – one is not a subset of the other)

3

MisterMr 08.22.16 at 11:30 am

“so it is also natural in part that an englishman cares more for an unemployed englishman that for an unemploied romanian”

I should also add that our perception of “ingroups” and “outgroups” are largely a social construction, so the interesting thing is that britons perceive other EU citiziens as outgroups; however the fact that everyone perceives an ingroup and an outgroup is, I think, quite natural, and the difference in language etc. make the choice of the “outgroup” quite natural.

Compare this to the fact that, in Italy, there was a large historical migration from the poorer south to the richer north, and dislike bordering to racism from northeners to sutheners (nicknamed “terroni”: dirty of mud, because the south was still rural while the north was industrial) is the basis for the party of the Lega Nord. Some 20 years ago I remember that a Lega Nord politician made this exploit: he went to the trains that came from southern to northern Italy ad sprayed deodorant on the seats, to clean out the bad smell of the “terroni” (this nice guy is currently an europarlamentarian:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mario_Borghezio
).
If this can happen in a country that is unified since more than 100 years, I’d say that brexiters, while unedifying, aren’t that bad.

4

Layman 08.22.16 at 11:38 am

“More generally, the labelling tendency of the moralistic left to talk of racist people rather than racist acts results in a disastrous Corbynist search for purity.”

I find the framing of this objection quite odd, as if racist acts commit themselves, without need of any help by racist people.

5

Foppe 08.22.16 at 11:40 am

Wrt your last para: I don’t understand why you go along with the fiction that the outcome of Brexit will be “fortress UK”. There is no way the EU is going to grant immigration controls to a country with such a terrible reputation as the UK, when it recently told Switzerland that there would be no negotiating precisely this issue. So if Brexit happens at all, it won’t be on Tory terms.

As for the “you’re better off fighting this fight while still a member” admonition to people who are to your left: I hear this from bureaucrats/”professionals” all the time, but it assumes facts not in evidence. Leaving aside that the UK isn’t part of the EZ, all we’re seeing at the moment is the inevitable, and predicted (by people as unSerious as David Harvey, as well as by MMTers and Wynn Godley — recall this 1992 article in the lrb: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v14/n19/wynne-godley/maastricht-and-all-that) fallout of the neoliberal Maastricht (and follow-up) accords. There has been no accounting of this as yet, and there will not be until the current crop of social climbers / neoliberals is thrown out of office, for reasons I hope I don’t have to get into. Changing those mindsets, throwing out the “convergence criteria” of the SGP, and changing the treaties, is not going to happen, because this mindset is far too entrenched. Consider how hard it is even for someone like Corbyn to reorient Labour, multilateral change is going to be orders of magnitude harder to effect. As such, I see no reason why one should stay in the institutional structure/straightjacket that is the EU.

Lastly: if you want to do something about the “fortress UK” mentality, the austerity programme, the constant budget cuts: organize. This is a local/national issue, caused by the economic policy choices made by every government since Thatcher. Any/all “racism” is much more usefully/fairly/honestly understood as legitimate frustrations engendered by seeing ones “government” invite people in without offering any/all alternatives for the people who are being displaced by those newcomers. Believing that “ordinary” people should basically just “lie back and think of england”/”suck it up”/”get with the times” is a conceit that encourages those whose jobs aren’t (yet) threatened by “glibalization” to pretend that those who are have character deficiencies that justify treating their interests as irrelevant or whatever. This is a fallacy, for multiple reasons, having a lot to do with politoco-economic willful blindness.

As such, I think that the overall thesis of this piece is extremely misguided. “Racism” is a consequence of socio-economic impoverishment, plus a public sphere filled with posh moralizers who tell people that anyone who objects to “the inevitable globalization of the world” is a racist hillbilly, who should preferably kill himself, or just die out. If someone has objected to that program of impoverishment on principled grounds, it does not make sense to me at all to say that they shouldn’t be allowed to vote against the status quo / against “Maastricht”, simply because other developments they object to (which are cut from the same cloth) are creating societal unrest, for reasons that are inanely predictable.

6

Sam Dodsworth 08.22.16 at 12:17 pm

Since we’re almost certainly about to have another go around who-are-the-real-racists I’m going to link to this useful glossary that was the first thing to come up when I googled “structural racism”.

https://assets.aspeninstitute.org/content/uploads/files/content/docs/rcc/RCC-Structural-Racism-Glossary.pdf

We’re all complicit in racism to the extent that we benefit from a racist society but there’s still a distinction to be made between complicity, wilful ignorance, and active support… and I agree with Chris Bertram that the vast majority of Brexit supporters clearly belong in the latter two categories.

7

Manta 08.22.16 at 12:17 pm

“they seem incapable of grasping the full complexity of the rights that need reviewing and protecting which go beyond residence and work but extend to family life, and many social rights.”

Are you claiming that Junker, when he is pushing for a quick brexit, is racist and xenophobic?

8

Pete 08.22.16 at 12:22 pm

@Layman

“I find the framing of this objection quite odd, as if racist acts commit themselves, without need of any help by racist people.”

Do you believe there is such a thing as a “criminal type”, who is necessarily and intrinsically criminal? Most people of the left would say no – crime is a product of the environment, the focus of criminal justice should be on rehabilitation, felons should be allowed to vote and be re-employed when they leave prison, and so on.

Whereas the court of public opinion on “racism”, when limited to speech acts, recognises no statute of limitations and has no concept of a spent conviction. Once someone’s ever said something racist they are forever unsuitable for public life, amirite?

( I haven’t tried trolling someone into saying “yes” to should prisoners be allowed to vote and “no” to ‘should old people and racists have been allowed to vote for Brexit’. Nobody sensible has actually come out and said that yet, but the rhetoric sometimes comes very close.)

9

Manta 08.22.16 at 12:23 pm

@1, the first paragraph of the OP seems to say the same thing that you do:

“A national political project requires people to think of themselves as being in some sense in community with their co-nationals and to recognize themselves as being under special obligations to those others, obligations that they don’t have to outsiders.”

vs

“an englishman cares more for an unemployed englishman that for an unemployed romanian.”

How from these premises the OP reach the conclusion that brexiteers are racist is a bit difficult to understand.

10

Foppe 08.22.16 at 12:24 pm

@4: This shortish interview with Mark Blyth will hopefully clarify matters some: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwK0jeJ8wxg

To add: “racist motives” are almost always imputed by people with no knowledge whatsoever of the perpetrators states of mind, and by and large never form a sufficient explanation, even as they are always treated as such — the prime tell on this front is that as soon as the ‘racist’ and/or ‘religious fundamentalist’ card is played, all other considerations are dismissed by the ‘judge’ as inconsequential “because it is categorically wrong to act on racist beliefs”. This line of argument is wholly circular, unprovable/dogmatic.

11

Rich Puchalsky 08.22.16 at 12:26 pm

There never was any solidarity, so what you are missing is the death of a fiction.

12

Rich Puchalsky 08.22.16 at 12:32 pm

And I’ll add that Foppe (and Pete) seem to me to be correct. The idea that you can reject solidarity with a majority of your country people because they’re racists in favor of a moralistic “solidarity” with the peoples of the world seems to me like a particularly academic / professional deformation of morality as naturally being how academics and professionals think about their interests.

Solidarity is usually not one way — usually that is called something like patronage or clientelism. What kind of reciprocal or universal solidarity is being imagined here that operates in any real way and that requires anything in return from its objects?

13

TM 08.22.16 at 12:36 pm

CB: “But I now feel myself out of community with my co-nationals who voted differently.”

Just now? You have never before felt “out of community” with a large part of your co-nationals? Quite surprising.

“A national political project requires people to think of themselves as being in some sense in community with their co-nationals and to recognize themselves as being under special obligations to those others, obligations that they don’t have to outsiders.”

Countries and national borders are a fact of life that one can’t ignore even if one wished them to disappear, but it doesn’t follow that one has to embrace nationalism (which is the implication of your quote).

14

Chris Bertram 08.22.16 at 12:39 pm

“What kind of reciprocal or universal solidarity is being imagined here ….”

Actually just solidarity, or at least concern for, the ordinary Polish, Romanian, Bulgarian, etc families who live in your street, go to your school, work in your workplace, shop in your supermarket and are in all ordinary respects social members of British communities. Let that be taken as a reply to Manta also. So please quit the straw manning.

15

Tim Worstall 08.22.16 at 12:43 pm

“In the UK, many policies and measures get tested by “equalities impact assessments”. We look to see whether some proposed course of action will cause disproportionate harms to groups including women, ethnic minorities, gay people and the disabled. Often policies that are not motivated by active hatred for such groups will nevertheless bring about bad outcomes for them, and that is a reason not to pursue such policies. So what to think about someone who just doesn’t care, whose commitment to some policy or slogan is such that if there were to see that it would seriously adversely affect say, black people in particular, they wouldn’t change course? “Too bad”, is their view. I’d say that such indifference to the fate of some particular group is a form of prejudice against that group, a failure to show those people respect, a failure to take proper account of their interests. And I’d say that in the case of EU migrants, that failure is properly thought of as a type of racism or xenophobia.”

How excellent. So we must consider all such possibilities and courses of action in this light?

So, when we decided to have that freedom of movement in the first place, we considered the effect upon the working class who would lose out from it? Or was that we considered it and then said “Too bad” just classism?

Or how about this globalisation stuff? Global inequality is down, global absolute poverty is hugely down. In rich- country inequality is up and to the extent that we measure poverty as inequality that has risen too. There’re plenty of people out there insisting we’ve got to stop this neoliberal globalisation stuff for the sake of the poor in hte rich countries.

Are they all racists for just saying “Too bad” for the poorer and browner people who benefit from globalisation?

16

Manta 08.22.16 at 12:44 pm

Chris, so your definition of racist is “has a different concept than you of who is a member of his community (and deserves special considerations) and who is not”?

17

Manta 08.22.16 at 12:50 pm

I clarify: it’s perfectly reasonable to disagree on who is a “social member of British communities” (seems to me that the point of citizenship is precisely to decide that question).
It’s also reasonable to declare that anybody that has a more restrictive view than you is racist.

It’s not correct, however, to do it in an unspoken way, as you did in the OP.

18

Foppe 08.22.16 at 12:51 pm

@14: That’s all well and good, but that presupposes that joining the EU’s “open market” (at the speed that they have, furthermore) was the best way to help out the Poles, Romanians, Bulgarians, etc. — including those who still live in those countries. I am not at all convinced that joining the neoliberal (again, see the Maastricht Treaty, David Harvey’s books, e.g. A Brief History, for my reasons as to why I call it that) institutional framework called the EU was in fact the best solution (leaving aside that it was highly desired, for reasons having to do with public perception) for the people living in those countries.

19

Manta 08.22.16 at 12:55 pm

Foppe@18, that decision was taken by their democratically elected governments. It may have been a bad decision (but the Poles at least seems to like it), but it was theirs.

20

Foppe 08.22.16 at 12:59 pm

@19: Not just theirs. Also ours, insofar as we then had control over our governments when they acted in concert as the rulers of the EC. And “we” had very specific ideas wrt under what terms they could/should accede, at which speed, etc. etc.

21

Mrs Tilton 08.22.16 at 1:00 pm

Manta @7:

Are you claiming that Junker, when he is pushing for a quick brexit, is racist and xenophobic?

And when Jesus said to Judas, “That thou doest, do quickly“, are you claiming that He was of Satan’s party?

22

Manta 08.22.16 at 1:03 pm

Mrs Tilton@21, I am a bit rusty with the Gospel, but did Jesus mention “the full complexity of the rights that need reviewing”?

23

Layman 08.22.16 at 1:12 pm

@ Pete, I don’t believe racism to be at all analogous to petty crimes of profit driven by economic strife. When Jean Valjean steals a loaf of bread, he does not do it because he views the baker as less than human and therefore eligible for persecution.

“Whereas the court of public opinion on “racism”, when limited to speech acts, recognises no statute of limitations and has no concept of a spent conviction. Once someone’s ever said something racist they are forever unsuitable for public life, amirite?”

Yet we don’t imprison people for their words and thoughts – or we should not! – and no one is excluded from public life for being a racist. It may be the case, though regrettably not always, that such a person will find there is little public interest in or support for his/her views and proposals, and they may indeed be publicly criticized, but no one has a right to be appreciated by his/her fellows without limit, or to be free from criticism; and to be unappreciated is not the same as to be imprisoned, nor even the same as to be silenced.

24

casmilus 08.22.16 at 1:14 pm

@5

“glibalization”

The process by which economic problems become easy talking points?

25

Layman 08.22.16 at 1:15 pm

Shorter Foppe: There are no racists, there are only anti-racists.

26

casmilus 08.22.16 at 1:17 pm

It must be difficult to be an English RC UKIPper. Are the Poles in your in-group or not?

I knew a conservative English RC who used to attend Polish masses as it was a modern language he didn’t know, and thus the next best thing to getting a Latin Mass.

27

Foppe 08.22.16 at 1:25 pm

@24: If anything makes it easy to dismiss criticism of the processes that occur that are cast as “associated with globalization”, it is attempts at character assassination in order to silence, be it via “racist”, “luddite”, “jealous person”, or what have you; ensuring that the policy changes being made remain undiscussed, taboo, while the political nature of said choices is forgotten.

@25: I’m sorry, I’m having a hard time trying to discern your point. Is it your hope to cast me as someone who makes excuses for others, and denies that there are problems / denies responsibility for any/all actions taken? If so, you are mistaken in your diagnosis.

28

Tabasco 08.22.16 at 1:26 pm

It’s a bit much to expect Englishmen to act in solidarity with Poles, when they can barely bring themselves to act in solidarity with Scots. Come to think of it, how much solidarity is there between Yorkshiremen and the residents of the home counties? Lack of empathy isn’t necessarily racism.

29

Layman 08.22.16 at 1:33 pm

“Is it your hope to cast me as someone who makes excuses for others, and denies that there are problems / denies responsibility for any/all actions taken?”

No, I am not so ambitious, and in any event I find your comment at #10 to have already done that work.

30

Richard Craven 08.22.16 at 1:33 pm

Hello Chris
You may not be surprised by the revelation that I voted for Brexit. I wonder whether you can find it within yourself to accept that my reasons for doing so have absolutely nothing to do with racism. I voted for Brexit because of this ONS population projection published in 2010, according to which the UK’s population will rise from 62.3m (2010) to 73m by 2035:-http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20160105160709/http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/npp/national-population-projections/2010-based-reference-volume–series-pp2/results.html

How is the UK is going to absorb enough extra people to fill Edinburgh every year for twenty years. Where will they be housed? Where will their kids go to school? What hospitals will they be treated in? Which parts of the countryside are you content to see handed over to the road-builders?

And what on earth do these concerns have to do with the ridiculous and irrational belief that people should be evaluated on the basis of their race?

31

Foppe 08.22.16 at 1:40 pm

@29: Oh, okay. Shame you are unable to take away a different message from my comment(s) than that one. I’ll leave you to it, then.

32

Manta 08.22.16 at 1:41 pm

Tabasco, the ones who want to leave the Union are not the Englishmen, but (some of) the Scots: I realize that it’s difficult to tell the difference, but they are quite picky about it (narcissism of small differences and all that).

Come to think of it: a new independence referendum seems likely; would Bertram accuse the Scots voting for leave of being racist?

33

Will G-R 08.22.16 at 1:44 pm

Whether or not we make the political decision to label it “racist” or “xenophobic”, the bottom line is that all this talk about the UK or the US or the West or whatever as constituting some sort of innate natural community, the citizens of which have a set of special obligations to each other (including those to whom they have essentially zero geographic/economic/cultural proximity) that they don’t have to the rest of humanity, can’t help but remind us of fascism because that’s precisely what it is in embryo. And as with the much-discussed “racism without racists” trope, which I seriously can’t believe still need to be argued for in allegedly left circles, it’s also not necessarily the case that anybody has to explicitly believe or defend all the Blut und Boden ideological BS for it to play the desired role. Global capitalism has been built in part on the sorts of stark inequalities between nations and continents that allow for the working classes of the most developed nations to be bribed away from revolution with what ultimately amounts to shares of the plunder extracted from the least developed ones, which absolutely precludes us from actualizing the basic humanist principle (allegedly a basic liberal principle as well) that all people are actually equal and actually warrant equal ethical consideration. Hence all the BS about nations as natural communities, complete with a natural aristocracy of nations themselves, is made into a sort of ideological background condition that functions best when it doesn’t have to be explicitly articulated at all. At the point when it actually does have to be explicitly articulated in order to remain effective, then it’s time to start worrying about brownshirts.

34

Manta 08.22.16 at 1:51 pm

Will, with that criterion, everything must remind you of fascism.
Including most people and countries that actually fought against it.

35

Rich Puchalsky 08.22.16 at 1:53 pm

“Actually just solidarity, or at least concern for, the ordinary Polish, Romanian, Bulgarian, etc families who live in your street, go to your school, work in your workplace, shop in your supermarket and are in all ordinary respects social members of British communities.”

And what kind of reciprocal concern are they supposed to have? One-way concern is not solidarity. Like it or not, they are not in all ordinary respects social members of British communities unless they have political rights, or unless you’re positing some kind of separation of politics from social life. Is there anything that they are supposed to be doing as Polish, Bulgarian, or Romanian citizens to make their societies good places for English people to live and work? Could the old, uneducated, and poor people who voted for Brexit move to Poland, Bulgaria, or Romania where it’s presumably cheaper to live and have a pleasant retirement? If freedom to travel for jobs means that professionals can travel there for work, and that lower-income jobs in the UK can be taken by people traveling in, but that there’s no particular reason to travel the other way, then it’s easy to see that you’re losing nothing by this concern but that other people are. Blaming people for not being willing to sacrifice something in support of other people is OK, but calling it racism is a lot too convenient.

36

Manta 08.22.16 at 2:03 pm

Who is a member of the national community and who is not is one usually decided by the community itself, and the laws governing it are called citizenship laws.
Those who are not Polish citizens are not members of the Polish national community, and the same holds for UK.

The laws themselves may be unjust, or too strict, or whatever.
But once Bertram posits that there are special obligations to member of one’s national community he cannot then pretend that those obligations extends to people who are not member of said community, and call racists those who don’t vote accordingly.

37

Layman 08.22.16 at 2:06 pm

“Shame you are unable to take away a different message from my comment(s) than that one. “

Well, it’s hardly encrypted, is it? You say that virtually all accusations of racist motives are unfounded, because it is impossible to know the state of mind of the accused; and in fact that virtually all such accusations are unfair attacks on the accused. I’ll accept for the sake of argument that you don’t mean to make excuses for racists, or to deny that there are racists, or deny that racists are responsible for their racists acts; but I admit that I can’t think how your dismissal can have any other outcome.

38

TM 08.22.16 at 2:06 pm

34: “And what kind of reciprocal concern are they supposed to have?”

Rich, CB is referring to foreigners who *live in the UK*, “who live in your street, go to your school, work in your workplace, shop in your supermarket and are in all ordinary respects social members of British communities”. Of course there is reciprocity, they pay the same taxes and obey the same laws as Brits do. The effect of Brexit is that of unilaterally taking away their rights. If you find it hard to even understand the call for solidarity for members of your community whose fundamental rights are being called into question on account of them not having the right nationality, maybe you have spent too much time making up excuses for racist Trumpists.

39

Will G-R 08.22.16 at 2:07 pm

Manta, absolutely it does! The classic line from Churchill about how “if Great Britain were defeated in war I hoped we should find a Hitler to lead us back to our rightful position among the nations” doesn’t lose its force just because it’s followed by a bunch of hollow ideological prattle about how Hitler should just, like, mellow out and get cool with peace and tolerance, maaaan. Churchill made his early career in conflicts like the Sudan and the Boer Wars, so unless he was a total idiot he knew perfectly well that the vocabulary of “taking our rightful place among the nations” is ideological doublespeak for concentration camps and mass graves. Hitler’s great mistake was to do what the British Empire did to people the West has a harder time dismissing as less than human.

40

Rich Puchalsky 08.22.16 at 2:08 pm

As I wrote in another recent thread here, people should figure out what they really believe. As an anarchist, I’m against both the nation-state and large-scale democracy. But if you support them, then you can’t suddenly say that they are irrelevant when that’s convenient. You also sort of have to think about the differences between sham democracy and real democracy and about what happens when people make a democratic decision that you don’t like.

41

Pete 08.22.16 at 2:10 pm

In re Scottish independence, I got fed up of Unionists standing in front of giant Union Jack billboards in order to denounce “nationalism”. Total lack of self-awareness. Just like the people calling the SNP minority government a “one-party state”.

I believe that the SNP’s inclusive “civic nationalism” approach is largely working, although the proportion of immigrants in Scotland is comparatively low. I suspect that part of the Brexit problem is that nobody’s been trying to maintain and modernise British or especially English nationalism (last attempt was “Cool Brittania”, buried with Blair), so the only kind left is the ugly kind.

@Rich Pulasky “Could the old, uneducated, and poor people who voted for Brexit move to Poland, Bulgaria, or Romania where it’s presumably cheaper to live and have a pleasant retirement?”

One of the stranger classes of Brexiteer are the expats who live in Spain and write comments on the Daily Mail complaining about “immigrants”. That’s kind of hard to make sense of other than as racism. But not every Brexit voter is like that.

42

dsquared 08.22.16 at 2:13 pm

If freedom to travel for jobs means that professionals can travel there for work, and that lower-income jobs in the UK can be taken by people traveling in, but that there’s no particular reason to travel the other way

Writing something like this really does indicate that your level of knowledge about how free movement of labour works in the EU isn’t all that great. Yes, professional people also move to the UK to take jobs, particularly in professional services and management. And indeed, British people work overseas in bars and building sites, among other occupations.

43

Manta 08.22.16 at 2:17 pm

TM @37
“If you find it hard to even understand the call for solidarity for members of your community whose fundamental rights are being called into question on account of them not having the right nationality…”

You are burying one of the main point of disagreements, when you simply declare that they are “members of your community”. What you seem to consider a meaningless piece of paper (the right nationality) is how the community itself (via democratic decided procedures and rules) has decided that point.

44

Will G-R 08.22.16 at 2:18 pm

Also Manta, if we want to talk about “most of the people who fought against fascism”, just based on casualty counts on the Eastern and Western fronts (to say nothing of “premature anti-fascists” like the International Brigades) the median person we’re talking about would be a communist. And while the resemblance between the USSR and Nazi Germany can be debated in both productive and unproductive ways until the cows come home, it’s certainly not unreasonable to claim that an unapologetic embrace of Russian nationalism is a major reason reason why Stalin is popular in today’s Russia while Lenin isn’t.

45

TM 08.22.16 at 2:20 pm

39: if that’s supposed to be a repsonse to 37, it’s extremely weak. It’s exacxtly the other way round: You are the one who suggested that Brits need not show solidarity with the Poles living next door.

46

Yan 08.22.16 at 2:26 pm

Interesting article that may be relevant to the discussion: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/21/magazine/the-easiest-way-to-get-rid-of-racism-just-redefine-it.html?_r=0

Particularly the point about how essentializing and moralizing racism serves to divert attention away from systematic kinds (Pete’s comparison to the concept of criminality is apt, though I don’t think you have to accept entirely environmental explanations of crime to recognize instances of intending crime don’t require an entire essentialist human typology for their causal explanation–a shame Foucault never wrote about racism…):

“Soon, nearly everyone could agree that racism was the evil work of people with hate in their hearts — bigots. This was a convenient thing for white Americans to believe. Racism, they could say, was the work of racists. And wherever you looked, there were no racists: only good men like Wallace, minding the welfare of their black fellow citizens, or the segregationist South Carolina senator Strom Thurmond, defending states’ rights. Racism definitely existed, at some point — no one was out there denying that slavery had happened — but its residue had settled only in the hearts of the most unsavory individuals. Society as a whole didn’t need reform for the sins of a few.

Racism ceased to be a matter of systems and policy and became a referendum on the rot of the individual soul. Calling people racist was no longer a matter of evaluating their opinions; it was an accusation of being irrevocably warped at the very core.”

47

Rich Puchalsky 08.22.16 at 2:27 pm

TM: “Rich, CB is referring to foreigners who *live in the UK*”

Sorry, I don’t discuss things with people who go into a ridiculous hissy fit when anti-Semitism is pointed out. Read what I wrote above if you care.

dsquared: “Yes, professional people also move to the UK to take jobs, particularly in professional services and management. And indeed, British people work overseas in bars and building sites, among other occupations.”

Doesn’t contradict what I wrote, but really I don’t discuss things with people who ban all dissenters from their threads either.

48

Manta 08.22.16 at 2:27 pm

TM, people who don’t care about those who live next door are usually called “misanthropes”, not “racists”…

49

TM 08.22.16 at 2:33 pm

42: So there’s nothing wrong with taking rights away from people on account of their nationality? But it totally has nothing to do with racism/xenophobia? Well I disagree.

“when you simply declare that they are “members of your community”” By any ordinary definition, your neighbors are members of your community.

50

TM 08.22.16 at 2:38 pm

Manta 47: when people decide that they don’t want the brown-skinned people living next door in their community, that is racism pure and simple. When they decide they don’t want the queer people next door in their community, it’s homophobia. When they don’t want the Poles next door in their community, one can quibble about the right terminology but racism or xenophobia are good enough.

Rich, you can be an asshole all you want but don’t derail the thread.

51

Chris Bertram 08.22.16 at 2:40 pm

I’d basically decided to sit this one out and not get involved in the comments thread (corrective above excepted). But one of the things we have been concerned about recently is how commenters deal with one another. Rich @47 you are in danger of outstaying your welcome.

52

Faustusnotes 08.22.16 at 2:43 pm

Rich why do you expect anyone to extend solidarity to Jewish people when you dismiss Chris for wanting to extend mere concern for non British people living in the same street as him?

This whole thread seems to be a series of justifications for racism. Mediocre!

53

Manta 08.22.16 at 2:49 pm

TM,
they have (and will still have) the rights of all the other non-citizens living in UK.
Or they can get a UK citizenship and become members of the national community.

If you think those right are not enough, then fight to expand them.
If you think the citizenship laws are too strict, then fight to relax them.

The laws can be changed, but for now the British community (even before the Brexit) decided that those should be the rights of outsiders and those should be the rules to become members.

54

TM 08.22.16 at 2:55 pm

Manta, at issue is that Brexiters want the rights that they currently have taken away.
You just said that’s ok because they are not part of the community anyway. I won’t say more.

55

Faustusnotes 08.22.16 at 3:00 pm

Manta, effectively the only rights non citizens have are voting rights. But the rights Chris is discussing are things like the right not to be assaulted in the street. Are you suggesting they should lose those rights to basic security?

This thread has become an exercise in excuses for racism. Depressing.

56

Phil Koop 08.22.16 at 3:02 pm

(nicknamed “terroni”: dirty of mud, because the south was still rural while the north was industrial)

OT: there is a familiar process whereby the out-group adopts the in-group’s derogatory label as a badge of honour. There is a southern Italian restaurant here that has done this with “Terroni” (http://www.terroni.com/, originally “I Due Terroni”.) I don’t know anything about the location(s) they’ve opened in LA, but they’re worth a visit if you ever find yourself in Toronto.

57

Mercurius Londiniensis 08.22.16 at 3:03 pm

Brexiteers “seem incapable of grasping the full complexity of the rights that need reviewing and protecting”.

Indeed, and this is one reason why it is still unclear whether Brexit will ever happen. Despite nine weeks’ intense cogitation, the luminaries at the apex of the Government Legal Service remain *very* far from seeing how long-established rights can be extinguished without putting the UK in various forms of legal jeopardy. (This difficulty is in addition to the constitutional and economic problems in Brexit.) For well-informed commentary on this aspect of the Brexit conundrum, see the blog and twitter feed of David Allen Green.

58

Manta 08.22.16 at 3:04 pm

Faustusnotes,
I am pretty sure that assaulting people on the street is still against the law, and it will continue to be against the law after Brexit. And that the perpetrators get investigated and arrested (but maybe you have some sources telling otherwise? then I would like to see it).

But please do go on talking with yourself: at least you will feel smug.

59

Manta 08.22.16 at 3:06 pm

Phil Koop, there are mafia-themed restaurants too…

And, according to wikipedia, the origin of the word terrone is different:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terrone

“The term … was historically used, after the unification of Italy, to describe the landlords of the former Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, highlighting the fact that they profited from a land property without working.”

60

Will G-R 08.22.16 at 3:10 pm

TM, if there is anything more to be said about it, it’s about the ease with which people who might otherwise have many complaints about actually-existing liberal democracies as imperfect or insincere manifestations of classical social contract theory, or who might otherwise expound at length about the processes by which ruling elites “manufacture consent” among the governed and so on, are suddenly willing to articulate this link in a totally uncritical way (i.e. “the community itself decided via democratic procedures and rules…”) as soon as the time comes for the people of wealthy nations to assert their economic self-interest in keeping the wretched of the Earth in a proper state of wretchedness.

61

Marc 08.22.16 at 3:10 pm

I think that the approach in the OP is guaranteed to backfire, guaranteed to antagonize, and deeply lacking in basic human empathy. I live in a country that voted – twice – for &(*%)$ Reagan and &$(%_# Bush the Lesser. Overwhelmingly, in some cases. Rather than making up reasons why this made them bigots, thus evil, thus as a group worthless, liberals in the US had to do the hard work of persuasion.

Self-satisfied posturing like this may feel good, but it falls apart under the least scrutiny. If I follow what is passing for logic here, anyone who rides on an airplane or drives in a car is contributing to global warming; this will lead ultimately to large-scale human catastrophe and mass migration; this is genocide; therefore, anyone who does either of these things should effectively be treated as an advocate of genocide, because these consequences are completely predictable.

62

Richard Craven 08.22.16 at 3:12 pm

Indeed, and on an analogous basis, I’m quite tempted to pen a piece titled “Why it is not unfair to think of (nearly all) Marxists as gimlet-eyed mass-murderers”.

63

Manta 08.22.16 at 3:17 pm

Will@60, the ruing elites that you think are manufacturing consent are usually in favor or more immigration, path to citizenship, and so on.
It so happens that often the ruled commoners don’t like those things.

(By the way, I am all in favor of making it easier to become citizens).

64

Faustusnotes 08.22.16 at 3:24 pm

Marc, where did Chris say they were evil? How many times do we have to go through this conversation before you admit that your fantasy of the spittle flecked leftist telling people they’re evil is just that – a fantasy?

Manta, you’re the one arguing that the uk polity has defined a bunch of rights that poles don’t have, without specifying what they are or how these lost rights conflict with the op. But I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt – it’s obvious that the uk polity gets to define who has the right to work in the uk, and they just voted to take it away from 4 or 5 million of their neighbours on the basis of (let’s not be wankers here) race. How is that not racist?

65

Manta 08.22.16 at 3:31 pm

1) “Manta, you’re the one arguing that the uk polity has defined a bunch of rights that poles don’t have”

The very first paragraph of the OP posits special obligations towards members of the same “national community”. If you don’t like it, discussi it with Bertram: I am starting from his assumptions. Where we seem to disagree is on WHO is member of the national community.

2) It’s true, the OP didn’t use the word “evil” (or “gimlet-eyed”, for that matter): it only used the word “racists” and “xenophobes”.

66

Will G-R 08.22.16 at 3:34 pm

So Manta@61, the existence of nationalist sentiment in the first place is totally organic, right? Not manufactured at all? Innate? As soon as the infant opens its eyes, it starts crying “waaah I pledge allegiance to the flag waaah foreigners are taking our jobs waaah”?

Seriously, if your critique of ideology has no room for the idea that an ideology’s implicit and explicit proscriptions might actually contradict each other (as in, for example, a ruling class tacitly promoting xenophobia as an outlet for populist anti-establishment sentiment precisely so it can have a progressive-sounding excuse to dismiss populism altogether) then TM is right that there’s really nothing more to be said.

67

Will G-R 08.22.16 at 3:35 pm

I mean, Manta@63

68

Marc 08.22.16 at 3:38 pm

Faust: Because I understand the English language, and I’m well aware, as are you, that calling someone a racist is pretty much the worst insult that you can toss out on the left.

If, unlike every other time that large groups of people are slurred and stereotyped, that diagnosis gives some positive course of action, or some measure of listening to people as opposed to labeling them, then it could be useful.

Is being a racist something that can be changed? Once you’ve called someone a racist, what course of action do you take? How do you treat them? Why is stereotyping people an answer to having them adopt stereotypes about others?

69

Sebastian H 08.22.16 at 3:41 pm

The EU referendum divided the UK very deeply. Some people want reconciliation with their political opponents; for others the scars are too recent. I’m in the latter camp. A national political project requires people to think of themselves as being in some sense in community with their co-nationals and to recognize themselves as being under special obligations to those others, obligations that they don’t have to outsiders. But I now feel myself out of community with my co-nationals who voted differently. Of course, I’m not utterly indifferent to their well-being — they have their human rights after all, even though they might dispute that — but I don’t feel any enthusiasm beyond pragmatic self-interest for putting them ahead of distant others.

This is such a strange paragraph because it is so correct yet so lacking in self-reflection.

You have exactly identified the impulse which caused the Brexit vote, you claim that the you are now experiencing that feeling, and then you go to identify that impulse as racist in them, but not for yourself.

The reason why the Brexit vote went as it did is because the Brexit voters have been feeling increasingly excluded from the sense of community with their co-nationals. They feel they have been increasingly and repeatedly asked to bear the sacrifices of globalization while the benefits of it go to others. Communities bear sacrifices together AND share the rewards. They have repeatedly been treated as rubes who need to just suck it. Brexiters felt that they were not treated as being in the same community when it came time for rewards (London got to reap all the rewards of cosmopolitan influence while everyone else got pushed out by housing prices, or saw their communities flailing for economic success while London got most of the money) so after a few decades decided that they were no longer in the same community with respect to sacrifices.

Your side of the divide (and I say your side only to distinguish it from their side, I tend to buy into much of the cosmopolitan argument so to that extent I’m on your side) has repeatedly acted as if their community isn’t really your community. Repeatedly the cosmopolitan side has taken the rewards of globalization while leaving their side with the costs.

So when you write “A national political project requires people to think of themselves as being in some sense in community with their co-nationals and to recognize themselves as being under special obligations to those others,” I’m certain Brexiters would say “just so, and you stopped acting as if you had special obligations to us decades ago.”

I’m in a weird position because I really think that from an institutional point of view this is a strong and obvious case of institutional failure of a cosmopolitan idea I mostly support.

But there is a big problem when you try to other-ize too much of the community. The key mistake in this post is that you think the rift happened at or near the Brexit vote. No, that is just when the institutions on your side finally noticed it. The institutions on your side have in a very real sense been creating that rift for decades. I don’t think YOU have intentionally been creating it. You just haven’t been aware of it very much. But the institutions you like and support have very much been creating it.

70

Manta 08.22.16 at 3:42 pm

Will: you seem to think that the alternative to “the ruling elites like xenophobia” is “hating foreigners is innate”.
I claim that there are other possibilities: like, for instance, that a child living in a house where everybody hates gypsies will also, ad an adult, hate gypsies, no matter what the rulers want.

And anyhow, claiming that the ruling elites are in favor of xenophobia in a thread about Brexit, where all the big wigs were against it, it’s a bit silly.

71

TM 08.22.16 at 3:45 pm

“where all the big wigs were against it” – Wtf? All the important newspapers and at least half of the Tory establishment promoted Brexit.

72

PGD 08.22.16 at 3:46 pm

If you don’t want to call people evil, you describe what you believe to be the effects of the policies they favor using terms other than ‘racist’ and ‘xenophobe’. This is not hard to do.

73

Manta 08.22.16 at 3:50 pm

TM@71:
“half of the Tory establishment promoted Brexit”
it must have been a quite small half then, since both the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer lost their jobs.

74

Will G-R 08.22.16 at 3:56 pm

“And anyhow, claiming that the ruling elites are in favor of xenophobia in a thread about Brexit, where all the big wigs were against it, it’s a bit silly.”

Whoosh went the point, which to simplify to the utmost is this: ruling elites would rather face xenophobic populism than non-xenophobic populism, because they can pretend they oppose it on the basis of its xenophobia and not on the basis of its populism. Accordingly, they promote allegedly non-xenophobic ideas that directly imply xenophobic ones, e.g. Gordon Brown’s “British jobs for British workers”, and then act shocked when their constituents make the connections they deliberately avoid. (Their willingness to abide any particular populism also appears negatively correlated with its level of xenophobia, e.g. Corbyn faces the Chicken Coup while Boris becomes Foreign Secretary, or Sanders is sidelined while Trump is the GOP nominee.)

I really don’t see what’s so hard to understand about this unless you’re actively trying not to.

75

Richard Craven 08.22.16 at 3:57 pm

@TM/71
‘“where all the big wigs were against it” – Wtf? All the important newspapers and at least half of the Tory establishment promoted Brexit.’

Your comment is somewhat wide of the mark. Firstly, the Huffington Post seems to think that The Times, Guardian/Observer, Mail on Sunday, Mirror, & FT all promoted Remain.
http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/which-newspapers-support-brexit_uk_5768fad2e4b0a4f99adc6525.

Secondly, my impression was that the Tory establishment were by and large Remainers, with Gove, Grayling, IDS, Johnson & co being regarded very much as renegades.

76

Chris Bertram 08.22.16 at 3:58 pm

@Sebastian H I thought about putting something in the OP to make explicit what I take to be the difference between the two attitudes. Basically, it comes down to the difference between taking yourself to be out of community with someone because of facts about their identity over which they have no or little control (sex, race, ethnic origin) and taking yourself to be out of community with them because of things they do (including political stances they adopt). I take it you get the difference?

Then there’s the other question you raise about the “left behinds”. But they were only a fraction of Brexit voters, there were many who voted to leave who were not in any sense victims of globalization etc. And of those who believed themselves to be victims of globalization, immigration, whatever, and who are genuinely doing badly, globalization may not be the actual cause. I would agree, though, that great hardship can mitigate responsibility, and to the extent to which that’s so, I ought to be more charitable to some Brexit voters.

77

Manta 08.22.16 at 4:00 pm

The OP didn’t call Brexiters “Evil”.
It only started by:
“Some people want reconciliation with their political opponents; for others the scars are too recent. I’m in the latter camp… But I now feel myself out of community with my co-nationals who voted differently. … One reason for this is that I think of nearly all of them as racists and xenophobes.”

It’s quite a minor thing, but Marc@68 is correct.

78

Will G-R 08.22.16 at 4:04 pm

A relevant quotation from Sam Kriss:

This is why they’re trying to depose Jeremy Corbyn – he refused to be racist enough. The real nature of the complaint is of course buried in metaphor; the preferred euphemism is electability. For years, Labour has attempted to endear itself to the populace by adopting the language of the far right – Gordon Brown’s ‘British jobs for British workers’; Ed Miliband putting the words ‘controls on immigration’ on an official mug and the rock that would become his tombstone. It’s a curious form of self-abasement: a metropolitan elite, terrified of what it is and desperate to be seen as something else, takes its worst prejudices about the working classes and upholds them as a positive. Unsurprisingly, it hasn’t worked – people who do subscribe to racist ideologies will tend to vote for parties that espouse them out of the genuine conviction of evil, rather than those who openly announce that their evil is only a cynical ploy. But it has had the effect of entrenching the language of the far right across the political spectrum, and thereby reinforcing the idiot axiom that you have to speak it to win popular support.

79

Manta 08.22.16 at 4:07 pm

Richard@75, it’s not simply “being regarded as renegaded” (which is a quite subjective criterion) is “not being in position of power”: how many of the Brexiters had cabinet positions?

Will, your points is not even wrong: essentially, no matter what happens, it’s because the ruling elites wanted it. Since we don’t seem to be talking the same language, it’s better we stop polluting the comments with our disagreements.

80

TM 08.22.16 at 4:11 pm

Ok I exaggerated but you claimed that “all the big wigs were against it”. That’s BS. Rupert Murdoch alone gives marching orders to half the political class.

“The establishment” was divided. It clearly wasn’t a case of “the ruling elites” backing Remain and “the people” voting Leave. Also you must recognize that even those Tories who backed Remain had spent much of their careers demonizing the EU. EU-bashing in Britain is definitely an establishment sport even if it likes to pretend to populism. That some of the “bigwigs” who engaged in that sport didn’t actually want the outcome that they factually promoted is ironic but that can happen – plutocrats beware!

Re newspapers: From your link: “The University of Loughborough looked at the tone of coverage of the EU Referendum in the papers and claimed that, weighted by circulation, Leave has an 82% to 18% advantage over Remain.”

81

M Caswell 08.22.16 at 4:11 pm

It would be helpful to de-demonize racism a bit. (The OP is compatible with this, I think.) Racism is immoral and unjust, but it is not the sum of all evils. It should not be implicitly associated with ignorance, stupidity, or backwardness, as I’ve seen done in some threads. It is commonplace, but not universal; ordinary, but perfectly evitable. Obama suggested that political coalitions with racists were possible in his famous ‘More Perfect Union/Jeremiah Wright’ speech from the 2008 campaign, but heads weren’t ready.

82

Faustusnotes 08.22.16 at 4:12 pm

no manta, you were arguing it too. So tell me: is it racist to take away the right to work if 5 million people on the basis of their race? Once we have an answer to that we can then discuss whether the people who voted that way are racists or not.

Marc, there are many worse things you can be called than racist, and there is nothing in the word that connotes evil. How is it evil not to like a polish person, or to think they’re taking jobs that English people could do? It’s not evil, it’s racist. Attacking someone on the street for speaking polish is racist and evil, but we’re talking about the vote here not the consequences.

I do wonder how people who equate calling someone racist with calling them evil think. I suspect that people who think these things are equivalent have a personal opinion that anyone who doesn’t see things their way is evil, and therefore assume Chris must have the same way of thinking. I can’t speak for Chris but I know I don’t see racists as evil. Their views are normal, I meet them all the time, we get along, we work together, we play together, it’s a viewpoint. Sure I think it’s bad but evil? No, and it doesn’t make people “worthless” or “beyond the pale” either. it is just the background lose of western politics.

Also, if you think the series racists object to being called racists you need to get out more. For serious racists it’s a badge of honour.

83

PatinIowa 08.22.16 at 4:15 pm

Richard @ 62.

Do it. You’ll probably get a cushy gig at the Cato Institute. You may even have it extracted in a Texas history text.

Hell, the NY Times might give you a column.

84

Manta 08.22.16 at 4:17 pm

TM@80: fair enough.
I tend to think that Murdoch is over-estimated as political player, but I recognize that I can be wrong.
Regarding the ruling elites: Labor was for Remain, the faction of the Tories which was actually governing was also for remain; the economic elites (as far as I can discern) were broadly for remain. But you are right of course that there was a substantial faction of the Tories for (at least, nominally) leaving: otherwise, there would have been no referendum.

85

Faustusnotes 08.22.16 at 4:17 pm

Manta, after brexit Johnson got foreign minister. He benefited from brexit. But yes, by all means, the bigwigs were against it. So against it they promoted its key Tory proponent after the two key remainers disappeared into the wilderness.

Seriously, crooked timber comments have become a simultaneous exercise in racism apology and fantasy politics, where the opposite of the facts is presented as truth at every turn. Is the left really in this dire a position or is it just CT that has lost touch with reality?

86

bruce wilder 08.22.16 at 4:21 pm

The ‘four freedoms’ of the European Union are the freedom of movement of goods, people, services and capital over borders. These are conceived in classically liberal terms as no state responsibility or capacity to control these flows. If these are principles, and they are to be cast in classical liberal terms as vacating all but a purely administrative accommodation by the state, then it is simply nonsense to talk of “fighting for [anything related to the absence of related authority] within the EU institutions.” Even if there were a fully functional democratic politics in the EU (above the nation-state level) — which is questionable in itself — these principles are sacrosanct and as a consequence there are no policy levers to be grasped even if it were possible to get one’s hand in.

As a liberal cum mild social democrat, I do not have much patience for the classical liberal political philosophy now being held up as sacred in the EU. I want the state to be democratically controlled but powerful, powerful enough to act in the public interest. I do not want the state to manage every detail or even most details — this is how I am not a socialist — but I do want the state to hold the last residual of latent power so that it can respond to emergent problems effectively. I see the problems of corruption and oligarchy and the ease with which electorates are manipulated and I question whether my faith in democracy makes much sense, but I do not see disabling the state as a solution — it seems like surrender, because in the absence of the political capacity of the state, power doesn’t disappear, it shifts to other actors and forces.

Saying the state should have the authority and institutional capacity to manage immigration, or capital flows, or trade flows as needed does not seem like it should be such a huge stretch of the political imagination. Nor that the state should be accountable to a democratic electorate as a way of keeping open the possibility of public policy driven by a public interest.

Of course, I do not want racial epithets being used to rally miscreants among the mob. But, that just seems like a distraction from a legitimate and fundamental issue: whether the classical liberal four freedoms are good political design.

I don’t see how Greece can be helped, without enabling the state to manage capital flow and trade flows, something that is simply not allowed under the current structure and for which no institutional means are available. Instead, the country must be looted and labor must see wages and public services ground down, the democratically elected government helpless.

If Britain or Switzerland wants to manage immigration, there should be reasonable means instituted to permit that, in my view.

87

Manta 08.22.16 at 4:22 pm

Faustus, please do reread the first paragraph of the OP (the one before the actual words “racist” and “xenophobes”): do you still thing Bertram doesn’t regard brexiters are evil?

Moreover, my position is that the OP is incoherent, so I am not interested in discussing why Bertram took his positions, only to the fact that they cannot stand together.
So I take his premise as an axiom, and see no need to justify it.

88

kidneystones 08.22.16 at 4:24 pm

I’ve read and re-read both the OP and the comments.

What strikes me most is the utter lack of charity expressed towards those in the Leave camp because, according to the OP, nearly all the Leave supporters themselves ‘must’ all be so lacking in charity themselves as to be fairly judged racist.

The possibility of an awareness of others is simply denied to half the British populace in a strange world where competing concerns suddenly no longer not exist.

@69 Sebastian H seems very sensible.

Finally, shouldn’t we all be able to think what we like? I mean, in theory, at least.

89

Faustusnotes 08.22.16 at 4:25 pm

I’d also like to point out that I copped a lot of trouble here a few years ago (I recall vaguely a threatened ban hammer) after I returned to Japan from London for pointing out how viciously racist Britain was, with examples from daily life there. Back then the comfortable left wing position was that Britain was “tolerant” and racism was a thing of the past. I told then the stories of my childhood and the experience of vicious racism towards non British people that I experienced in London – how every time I went out j public with a Japanese man we got attacked, of being called a criminal because I was Aussie, of housing and work discrimination and the terrible treatment of Japanese women I knew, of the nasty attitude towards and exploitation of Eastern European workers. I was laughed at and dismissed then for being negative and told to pull my head in.

Even back then I said that the British left needs to come to terms with this problem. Of course they kept running from it and as a result they got brexit. I hope perhaps now they will finally listen to those of us who were saying these things back then.

90

Chris Bertram 08.22.16 at 4:35 pm

@SebastianH, on my ride back home it occurred to me to add. 1. That millions of working-class people, even white ones, managed to vote for Remain, so homogenization should be avoided. And 2. (more homogenization), you write of “the cosmopolitan side” as if I and others bought into the whole so-called “neoliberal” programme and didn’t in fact vote for something much more redistributive to the extent to which it was on offer.

91

Sebastian H 08.22.16 at 4:35 pm

“But they were only a fraction of Brexit voters, there were many who voted to leave who were not in any sense victims of globalization etc.”

Couldn’t they have been people who felt solidarity with those who were victims of globalization? Perhaps the brothers and sisters of those?

“Leaving the European Union also leave EU citizen residents in a state of acute insecurity, unsure what their future status will be. Brexiters were nearly all, when they contemplated their vote prospectively, indifferent to these impacts or they failed to give them the thought they should have. Though some Brexiters now seem appalled at what they have wrought, they seem incapable of grasping the full complexity of the rights that need reviewing and protecting which go beyond residence and work but extend to family life, and many social rights. “

Look at what you do in this paragraph. You want to blame Brexiters for the secondary and further removed problems of their votes. This is appropriate from a policy perspective but I’m not sure that is how politics usually works. I tend to think that people vote very tribally and tend to at best have contact with the primary effects of their votes. But let’s assume that is how people vote. Does your side take that approach for the secondary effects of globalism? The effects of letting the EU take charge of all sorts of economic decisions has left a large number of people in a state of acute insecurity, with cosmopolitan proponents of globalization when they contemplated their vote prospectively, indifferent to these impacts or they failed to give them the thought they should have.

The globalization proponents (of which again to be clear, I am one) have repeatedly marginalized their concerns while taking shelter under average GDP gains with insufficient attention to the effect on median stagnation and lower-on-the-totem-pole actual losses. Repeatedly we have argued that their concerns can be taken care of out of the national bounty which follows and repeatedly we have failed to do so.

Now we of course want to offer the defense of “our opponents were worse and didn’t let us deal with the problems the way we wanted to” which is partially true. But the failure to be able to help never caused us to say “we will stop going further on this path until we deal with the problem” because WE were still reaping the rewards without being forced to pay the costs. We were treating them as if they were community not worth making sacrifices for. We have been doing that for decades, so it shouldn’t be shocking that they decided that having been rejected as a member of the community, that they didn’t need to keep making sacrifices for the community.

The ‘racism’ lens doesn’t help you analyze the problem at all. If racism is a mostly fixed trait, then somehow our political forebearers were able to work with them very effectively, including such things as actually joining the EU. So why are we such idiots as to be unable to work with them?

If it isn’t mostly a fixed trait, if it tends to be the ugly end of other problems bubbling up (which is my view) then you’re just treating the end stage lung cancer instead of being willing to work against people smoking. Now I’ll agree that when lung cancer shows up you have to fight it, but if you have been actively giving away cigarettes to the population you might want to consider stopping that too.

There is also a function of political re-inforcement. If the elite resist listening to their concerns EXCEPT when they express them through a racist lens, aren’t we training people to express it through a racist lens more and more?

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Chris Bertram 08.22.16 at 4:40 pm

@Faustusnotes, yes, I remember. The funny thing is though, that, for a European multicultural society, the UK does quite well, Brexit notwithstanding. No Burqini bans here yet, and it is better to be black here than in, say, Poland or parts of eastern Germany, or Italy. But yes, there is a lot a racism out there and it got permission to express itself more openly in June.

93

Chris Bertram 08.22.16 at 4:44 pm

@SebastianH, again, I’d resist your desire to ascribe something like the politics of George Osborne or Tony Blair to me.

94

Sebastian H 08.22.16 at 4:45 pm

Just to be clear, we cross posted. My comment immediately after yours (currently 91) was not a response to your comment (currently 90).

My response to 90 is:
Yes we shouldn’t over-homogenize, but you should be aware that you took a very homogenizing approach in your OP (nearly all, etc.).

“as if I and others bought into the whole so-called “neoliberal” programme and didn’t in fact vote for something much more redistributive to the extent to which it was on offer.”

I’m aware of that completely. But we weren’t willing to sacrifice any of the globalization project until we sorted it out. That was probably fine in 1973, less fine in 1983, much less fine in 1993 and so on. As it became more and more clear that the gains weren’t helping the losers enough it became less and less defensible to keep going forward before dealing with that fact. The EU project specifically has been moving for more EU power and money to the winners without ever dealing with what was happening to everyone else.

From their perspective, they have already been very community-oriented about this. They have paid the sacrifices repeatedly, and frankly been treated like crap for decades. You’re right that the sense of community has been broken but come off as clueless about how much our side has done to break it.

95

Will G-R 08.22.16 at 4:54 pm

Faustusnotes, compare the comfortable British position of which you speak, and US Democrats’ similarly comfortable position that “America Is Already Great”. There’s definitely a pattern of near-hysterical hostility among center-left folks toward too strident a condemnation of right-wing racism, both historically and in the present, and I assume the source is their own deep-seated anxiety about their own complicity in this racism. If you self-identify as a tolerant liberal yet you spend enough time agreeing with the right about the problems with black/Arab/Roma/etc. culture, or the need for reasonable means to permit the management of immigration, or whatever, the possibility that you’ve already compromised too much must contain quite a bit of ideological trauma.

96

MisterMr 08.22.16 at 5:15 pm

@Manta 59

About the ethimology of the term “Terrone”, after a short search on the italian Wikipedia and some website about ethimology (in italian) I get this story for the ethimology:

1) the word “terrone” is first attested in a manuscript of the 17th century with the meaning of “big landlord”;
2) the term later become associated to land laborer, not land owners;
3) at a minimun in the postwar period the word came to mean southern italians, with clear derogative undertones.

No site that I found states clearly when the change of meaning happened, so I think that the english version of wikipedia oversimplify the story (note that the word can be a politicized one in Italy). When applied to southeners, it clearly already had derogative meaning.

97

engels 08.22.16 at 5:28 pm

The EU project specifically has been moving for more EU power and money to the winners without ever dealing with what was happening to everyone else.

To be fair, the EU did at one time have plans for dealing with what was happening to everyone else but they were scuppered by Britain.

98

Manta 08.22.16 at 5:32 pm

MisterMr@96, my apologies for not being clear: I fully agree with your point that “the word came to mean southern italians, with clear derogative undertones”.

My disagreement was about the etymology: but of you think the English Wikipedia got it wrong (and, as it seems, you can back that claim), then please do edit it!

99

Richard Craven 08.22.16 at 5:32 pm

@79/Manta

I said:
“my impression was that the Tory establishment were by and large Remainers, with Gove, Grayling, IDS, Johnson & co being regarded very much as renegades”.

You replied:
“it’s not simply “being regarded as renegaded” (which is a quite subjective criterion) is “not being in position of power”: how many of the Brexiters had cabinet positions?”

My response:
I’m not quite sure whether you’re disagreeing with me, or requesting further detail. Whichever, I think you’re positing some kind of link between being part of the Tory establishment, and being in the Cabinet. There is nothing intrinsically unreasonable about such a contention, although it probably requires some embellishment. Anyway, I found a BBC report listing the Referendum stances of Cameron’s Cabinet on the eve of the vote. I think you will agree with me that it supports my view of Remain as the Tory establishment view.

Here’s a link:-
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-eu-referendum-35616946

The salient details:-
Among Tory mp’s, Remain 185 vs Leave 138
Among Cabinet Ministers, Remain 42 vs Leave 6

The 6 Leavers [and their portfolios] were:-
Grayling [Commons Leader], Whittingdale [Culcha], Villiers [N Ireland], Gove [Justice], Patel [Employment], B.Johnson [London Mayor]
The last two named aren’t Cabinet Ministers, but do attend Cabinet meetings.

All the traditional big guns – Cameron [PM], May [Home], Osborne [Treasury], Hammond [Foreign] – voted Remain.

100

Igor Belanov 08.22.16 at 5:38 pm

One of the problems of the OP is the referendum campaign wasn’t conducted as a choice between cosmopolitanism and racism, or international solidarity versus ‘looking after your own’. They are just motivations that people have read into the various choices made by the electorate.

What the voters were offered was a clash between one side that claimed that a leave vote would turn the UK into a third world country, and another that essentially claimed that the UK already was a third world country, but leaving the EU would make it the world’s richest. Some people also made some slightly racist claims. Many leading politicians (from the Tories and Labour) campaigned for remain despite showing virtually no enthusiasm for the EU or internationalism through their political careers, and indeed making it a scapegoat for their own failings when it was politically convenient. Other politicians had no real record of public Euroscepticism, but supported leave when they thought it was expedient for their careers.

When the politicians, media and business establishment were so utterly cynical and opportunistic about the whole exercise, it is not surprising that the result came as it did. Given the lack of solidarity in British public, social, economic, and I dare say private life, to single out one particular instance of rather selfish, short-sighted behaviour and to call it racist seems a little over the top and somewhat short-sighted itself. If the referendum campaign, and general political discourse on the EU, had taken the form of internationalist principle and human solidarity against fratricidal excess and petty hatred then the OP might be fair. But unfortunately it didn’t, and it isn’t.

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bruce wilder 08.22.16 at 5:39 pm

the whole so-called “neoliberal” programme incorporates as part of its framework of ideas the notion that compensating re-distribution is the legitimate category of remedy for results or consequences. Whether or not that provides a morally satisfactory means to expiate guilt, there are still questions regarding whether that framework of ideas isn’t ultimately a counterproductive straitjacket on policy.

The EU does provide highly visible local aid, presumably as part of the politics of securing popular support as well as a matter substantive policy, and one now standard journalistic narrative is the irony of a local community that voted Brexit despite that aid.

And, of course, the Tory press waged a more than decade-long dishonest campaign against the EU’s accommodative apparatus as if it represented an oppressive nanny state.

Welcome to cross-currents of political propaganda.

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Richard Craven 08.22.16 at 5:45 pm

@86 Bruce Wilder
Excellent and incisive comment. I agree with almost every word. It makes me realise how much there is in common between the left-ish sentiments to which you subscribe and my own more or less liberal rightwing sentiments.

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Manta 08.22.16 at 5:53 pm

Richard@99
very informative, thank you.

104

Manta 08.22.16 at 5:57 pm

bruce wilder @101,
my impression is that, at least in the last 10 years, whenever it could the EU has been pushing for the dismantling of the social state.

105

Will G-R 08.22.16 at 5:58 pm

@102 Richard Craven
As a socialist, I couldn’t have illustrated what’s wrong with Bruce’s perspective better than you just did if I’d tried.

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Richard Craven 08.22.16 at 6:00 pm

@105/Will
How quaintly tribal of you, LOL!

107

Richard Craven 08.22.16 at 6:01 pm

@103/Manta
Mon plaisir!

108

engels 08.22.16 at 6:35 pm

109

Stephen 08.22.16 at 6:37 pm

Some questions aboutwhich I am not sure of the answers:

It is alleged that opposition to the uncontrolled immigration of Poles, etc., who tend to drive down the wages of British workers is in some way racist. In what sense are Poles of a different race? In the US, are they regarded as racially different from other Europeans? Should they be so in the UK?

UK Leave voters, the majority, are condemned as racist or at least xenophobic. Does it follow that Remain voters who appear to despise and distrust the majority of their fellow-citizens are sympatrophobic? (I’m not sure that word exists, but I think it ought to.) Why is xenophobia unspeakably bad but sympatrophobia virtuous?

110

TM 08.22.16 at 6:41 pm

BW: “I want the state to be democratically controlled but powerful, powerful enough to act in the public interest.”

Your criticism seems to be that the EU is a laissez-faire regime. And yet one of the most potent anti-EU “arguments” is that the EU regulates too much. Too many directives, too heavy regulatory burdens on business, too much consumer protection, protection of privacy, protection of the environment, labor protection (you remember, that’s why Britain needed all those opt-outs and special deals). The latest howler that I have recently read about is that the EU soon requires oven mitts to be tested for heat resistance. For the anti-EU crowd, it’s outrageous.

I’m not too sure that your reading of the EU debate is even close to reality.

111

Will G-R 08.22.16 at 7:10 pm

TM @110, this illustrates a problem with compromising one’s leftist principles by chaining them to nationalism: at some point, to the pure “national sovereignty” argument it makes no difference whether the EU is trying to impose a stronger welfare state or a weaker one. The bankers and investors on whose behalf Brussels seeks to dissolve the welfare states of Europe must be immensely satisfied to see so much pro-welfare-state resistance diverted through nationalist channels — it means all they have to do is successfully sponsor ruling parties of capital-aligned technocrats within each individual nation to “oppose” the pan-European regime of capital-aligned technocrats in Brussels, and voila! all the confused pseudo-leftist nationalists in all the little nations can enjoy their little victories, never mind that it ends up looking exactly like their defeat but with more fences and more racism.

112

RobinM 08.22.16 at 7:46 pm

Is Chris Bertram urging me to believe that, no matter what they themselves think they are about, “nearly all Brexiteers” are ‘objectively’ racist and xenophobic? If so, it’s disturbing to see that charges of the “social fascism” sort are being resurrected and reapplied.

113

bruce wilder 08.22.16 at 8:01 pm

Manta @ 104: my impression is that, at least in the last 10 years, whenever it could the EU has been pushing for the dismantling of the social state.

TM @ 110: Your criticism seems to be that the EU is a laissez-faire regime. And yet one of the most potent anti-EU “arguments” is that the EU regulates too much. . . . I’m not too sure that your reading of the EU debate is even close to reality.

The four freedoms are as close to EU dogma at the moment as anything that can be named, and the EU leadership is articulating them as a take-it-or-leave-it proposition, with moral overtones, and as the reason that there can be no adjustment within or without the EU structure. These four freedoms are a laissez-faire straitjacket on the policies of the nation-states. It is also true that the EU has a bureaucracy and a judicial scheme dedicated to elaborating what I called an accommodative structure. This does include harmonizing various kinds of labor, health and safety standards, an international payments system for the Euro and so on. The latter doesn’t repeal the former.

My general point was that liberal cum social democratic political philosophy would want the government to be able to regulate the flows of capital, trade and immigration. That would be different in philosophy from the neoliberal regime in place, which disables government in these domains, apart from the aforementioned accommodative role.

The dynamic of the neoliberal regime is one that will grind down the social welfare state, even if it doesn’t get to Britain any time soon.

114

UserGoogol 08.22.16 at 8:45 pm

The four freedoms of the EU aren’t really inherently laissez-faire. Even a fully socialist economy could in principle satisfy them: as long as goods, services, labor, and capital can freely move around, who controls the means of production is a separate question. The problem is that as long as long as we have a basically capitalist society, capital mobility and trade gives capital owners increased leverage over governments since they can take their capital and leave and keep on doing business. But that’s not absolute leverage. With the United States all the four freedoms are internally satisfied but some states do in fact have more regulations and more of a welfare state than others, and to the extent that the United States is overall a pretty neoliberal country, the dormant commerce clause isn’t really the first reason people would generally pick for why that is.

115

novakant 08.22.16 at 8:47 pm

116

Rich Puchalsky 08.22.16 at 9:01 pm

Chris Bertram says that it’s OK to take yourself out of community with a group of people because of something they do, including political stances they adopt. Didn’t British Labour recently participate in killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqis? Or is that all water under the bridge now that Blair is gone?

This rejection of racists trope does kind of ignore what Lupita keeps trying to point out, which is that this is really one group of killers rejecting another. I think that other people are justified in regarding the whole process as a kind of hand-washing fetish rather than anything serious.

117

Watson Ladd 08.22.16 at 9:17 pm

The EU could have managed the Greek crisis had the ECB the power to print money and the Parliment enough sense to use transfers. But the nationalism of the Germans prevents this: the ECB targets the core countries rather than the whole EU economy.

Brexit is about the political failure of the EU. Today we read in Buzzfeed about Belgium’s crime and terrorism problem, a border-free train ride away from Paris and the gateway to Syria, Turkey. The US has no internal borders, and yet we can contain the crime of one region: if crime crosses states, the FBI gets involved. Yesterday it was the refugee crisis, where the bordering states were given no assistance in housing, processing, and settling thousands of refugees. In the US immigration is a federal matter.

Germany has benefited tremendously from the expansion of the EU, but has been unwilling to share those benefits with the countries that disproportionately bear some of the costs. There is no desire for a federal Europe, and so the need for increased integration is denied and resisted at every turn.

118

F. Foundling 08.22.16 at 9:22 pm

@OP (haven’t read the comments, so repetitions are likely)

>A national political project requires people to think of themselves as being in some sense in community with their co-nationals and to recognize themselves as being under special obligations to those others, obligations that they don’t have to outsiders. But I now feel myself out of community with my co-nationals who voted differently. … One reason for this is that I think of nearly all of them as racists and xenophobes.

They pay taxes in the same country as you do. If you need healthcare, education, police protection, military defence etc., you will get it from a system that they have contributed to and are participating in, just like they’ll get it from a system that you have contributed to and are participating in (each according to their income, according to fiscal legislation that you and they together have participated in dertermining). They also allow you to participate in the making of collective decisions – such as the Brexit vote – just as you allow them to do so, and that on an equal basis. *These* are the special obligations that make you all a national community. Holding political views that you find agreeable, on the other hand, is *not* a requirement for someone to qualify as your fellow citizen.

>I’d say that such indifference to the fate of some particular group is a form of prejudice against that group, a failure to show those people respect, a failure to take proper account of their interests.

Most of what you mention, especially the legal uncertainty and trouble, is a consequence of any secession, so by this logic every secession is xenophobic. In general every decision has positive and negative effects, and these are often distributed unequally within the population. A nation has the right to make decisions even when they impact negatively some part of its population, if the positive effects are deemed to outweigh that. Such a decision is not necessarily discriminatory or reflective of a belief in a lower inherent value of the humans suffering the negative effects. I understand that your assessment was that the negative effects in this case, assuming a non-discriminatory weighting of interests, were *not* outweighed by the positive ones. This assessment may well have been correct (FWIW, I did and still do have the impression that it was), but I don’t think it was also so *obviously* correct that everyone having a different assessment of the consequences automatically had to be a xenophobe in any sense of the word.

119

Layman 08.22.16 at 9:25 pm

@ Stephen,

It can be possible both that Poles are not of a different race, and that racists believe them to be of a different race. In fact, this is rather the standard approach of racism, isn’t it? There isn’t even any consensus on whether there are races, but this does not cause racists to pack their kit and call it a day, does it?

I sure you’re aware of the history of bigotry by Northern Europeans against Southern Europeans, or by their American counterparts and those same Southern Europeans, not to mention Eastern Europeans. If you want to say that wasn’t racism, go ahead, but don’t expect the objection to get much traction.

120

Richard Craven 08.22.16 at 9:27 pm

@118 F Foundling
“… I understand that your assessment was that the negative effects in this case, assuming a non-discriminatory weighting of interests, were *not* outweighed by the positive ones. This assessment may well have been correct (FWIW, I did and still do have the impression that it was) …”

The bit in parentheses is the only thing in your entire comment I disagree with. Exceedingly well said.

121

F. Foundling 08.22.16 at 9:57 pm

To put part of my 118 differently, accepting membership in a national community entails accepting that collective decisions will be made, and that you won’t always like them. Thus, the fact that a collective decision you don’t like has been made doesn’t place you ‘out of community’. Of course, if you find that decision too unacceptable, you can choose to *leave* your community (i.e. to emigrate and renounce your citizenship), but you are not ‘out of community’ until you have done that.

122

MisterMr 08.22.16 at 10:42 pm

@Manta 98

Yeah, sorry, I too was nitpicking about the etimology. I can’t edit the english wikipedia because my main source is wikipedia in another language, that isn’t considered a good source enough for wikipedia editing standard.

123

Manta 08.22.16 at 10:49 pm

Watson Ladd,
I don’t think that those you describe are failures of the institutions.
Put it simply: different countries have very different interests, and the interests of the stronger countries prevail.
A more federalist approach would not solve the problem: the (people living in) core countries would still vote for strong money and letting the border states deal with the migrants by their own.

124

bruce wilder 08.22.16 at 11:29 pm

UserGoogol @ 114

I really have no idea what you are talking about.

125

Faustusnotes 08.22.16 at 11:54 pm

Poles coming to work in the U.K. Are not “pushing down salaries”. The employers who employ then do that – primarily British employers. When you spout this crap about foreigners in this way you are buying into exactlybthebjind of daily mail rubbish that the left has spent the last 100 years trying to overcome. But by all meanss, take this kind of thing seriously on a left wing website …

126

Sebastian H 08.22.16 at 11:58 pm

“I don’t think that those you describe are failures of the institutions.
Put it simply: different countries have very different interests, and the interests of the stronger countries prevail.”

If the interests of the strong countries prevail so much that it damages the ability of the institution to survive, that is pretty much the definition of an institutional failure. Now I’m not going to make a strong empirical claim that such is actually definitely happening, but that would definitely be an institutional failure.

127

js. 08.23.16 at 1:06 am

I’m not surprised that practically everyone in the comments section is up in arms, but I think this piece is absolutely right and makes a case that needs to be made. In particular, if people got the following point (and the associated explanation), it would help with a lot of nonsense arguments in a lot of different contexts.

If active hatred were a necessary component of racism and xenophobia then it would follow that most Brexiters are neither racists nor xenophobes. But I don’t think such an active attitude is needed for the accusation to proceed.

128

Sebastian H 08.23.16 at 1:30 am

The problem with Chris’s method in this post is that it proves way too much while either draining ‘racist’ of useful meaning or charging up much lesser sins and confusions with the valence of racism.

It is closely analogous to the “objective Saddam supporter” arguments which were so deftly taken apart here many years ago.

Is he willing to accept the charge of being objectively anti-low-wage-UK-worker because of voting for and supporting institutions willing to prioritize globalization before (never) dealing with the dislocations? No he is not. And that is fine, because he really did want other things to happen, and in the small ways he could he tried to make them happen. But in fact it was entirely obvious by any year in the 2000s that a vote for greater EU power was a vote for increased globalization under the kind of system that treats Greece the way the EU does. And that goes double for any year after the big recession. But the neo-liberals who are very much in charge of the EU banking systems are far more powerful and at least as numerous as the actual racists that he wants to tie around 50% of the voting public.

I mention that not because I think he should be damned for the neo-liberal actions, but because it reveals a pretty inequity in the treatment of politics he likes vs. politics he doesn’t like in terms of what counts when bad outcomes happen.

129

J-D 08.23.16 at 3:51 am

Foppe 08.22.16 at 11:40 am

… Any/all “racism” is much more usefully/fairly/honestly understood as legitimate frustrations engendered by …

That statement seems to suggest that there is no such thing as racism. It would be hard to read that statement without getting that suggestion from it. Recommending in this way that racism be understood as something else amounts to recommending that it not be understood as racism. But why not understand it as racism? To recommend against doing so is to suggest that racism is not a valid concept, that there is no such thing.

… “Racism” is a consequence of socio-economic impoverishment …

There is a significant difference between writing

“Racism” is a consequence of [whatever]

and writing

Racism is a consequence of [whatever]

The addition of the scare-quotes creates the suggestion ‘People who talk about racism should realise that what they’re really talking about is something else, because there isn’t really any such thing as racism’. It’s possible (and potentially useful) to discuss the causes of a phenomenon without referring to it with scare-quotes. Scare-quotes perform the function of denying the legitimacy of a concept. Racism is a legitimate concept. It has causes, and one of the consequences of those causes is racism, which is a real phenomenon, without scare-quotes.

130

Sebastian H 08.23.16 at 5:48 am

Racism is a real phenomenon but it isn’t particularly useful here because it over-explains. Why is 50% of the electorate suddenly racist when they weren’t before? If they were racist before, what has changed to make them harder to work with than before? “They are racist” (even if it were totally true) doesn’t help you understand what has happened or why. It isn’t explanatory.

But as it happens I don’t think it is particularly descriptive of what happened with the Brexit vote. It was quite literally a vote to leave the EU for reasons having to do with the way that the EU has interacted with the people who voted against it. Part of that definitely involved foreigners coming in to work. But I tend to think that if the economy was actually doing well for the whole country, and if the lower class weren’t being thrown out of London, that it wouldn’t have hit such resistance. If everyone were doing well and they still hated foreigners coming in, that would be classic racism. But it isn’t that they thought Poles were fine and Italians not fine. It was that the open borders for work were causing serious dislocations, no matter what the race of the worker. THAT is a classic jobs concern. It may very well be that for economic efficiency we as nations learn to live with that. But we shouldn’t pretend that good ‘on average’ is good for everyone. If we do that to too many people without sharing the ‘on average’ wealth, those people decide that they don’t need to vote for the ‘on average’ good policies.

A big part of this is elite failure. For 30 years we have been telling them that the economic processes of the EU are good for the member countries. We’ve been able to illustrate that with rising GDP. But for those who don’t share in the rising GDP, the whole explanation begins looking like a lie. They haven’t experienced this “successful UK”. They’ve experienced stagnant wages with skyrocketing housing costs. They’ve experienced job loss without ever getting back to replacement level income. So when they are faced with “leaving will hurt the GDP” their response is “your story about the GDP for the last 30 years doesn’t match my experience, why should I listen to you?”

It isn’t so much that they are economically ignorant, as it is that you are talking about essentially two different economies.

Summing all of that up as ‘racism’ is easy and understandable, because a lot of the economic dislocation discussion ends up as venting about migrant workers. But it misses a huge part of the actual dynamic.

131

Chris Bertram 08.23.16 at 6:49 am

Let me make it really simple for you Sebastian with a parallel. Black Lives Matter (to pick a phrase). A white voter in the US who isn’t actively hostile to black people but who simply doesn’t care about the lives African Americans often have to live and the dangers they are exposed to and who votes for policies that make those lives worse (backing the carceral state, for example) can justly be accused of racism on the grounds of their indifference to those impacts.

I’ve never been indifferent to the effects of policy on poor communities in the UK and have consistently voted for parties that proclaim they will do something about poverty and disadvantage. I also voted Remain, partly because Leave will make those people’s lives worse by blocking EU money to those parts of the country and by stripping workers of their rights, once the Tories get to work on it. You cannot make the parallel argument stick here. However, I do now feel hostile and out of community with people who voted Leave (out of their own free choice, for which they can be held responsible), but people who voted Leave come from all social classes and parts of the country.

132

Faustusnotes 08.23.16 at 7:13 am

Sebastian what has changed is that there was a referendum – there wasn’t before. This referendum came about because a large part of the Tory party are anti eu, and they have slowly been emboldened over time by the growing popularity and influence of UKIP. Rather than suddenly becoming racist, the country has had 20 years of UKIP snapping at Tory heels from the right, and finally this brought about the generational change needed to tip Tory policy, made possible by an incompetent and reckless leader who doesn’t understand anything about anything. This moment had been coming for years, it was just a matter of the right confluence of stupidity and cynicism. Just as trump has been waiting to happen, just waiting for the right confluence of swamp fever and stupidity.

so the question “why are they suddenly racist now” is an empty question. They’ve been clearly and publicly racist for the past 20 years – didn’t you notice?

133

Richard Craven 08.23.16 at 7:15 am

@131/CB

I go running two or three days a week around Bristol. Increasingly nowadays, when running through woods, I encounter small communities of homeless people living in tents. This never used to happen, even three years ago. Blame homelessness on Tory policy if you like, but the plain fact of the matter is that homelessness is the result of demand for housing exceeding supply thereof. The driver behind this phenomenon is population growth, which in turn is the result at least in large part of net inward migration. I’ve linked to the ONS’s population projection already, but here it is again.
http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20160105160709/http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/npp/national-population-projections/2010-based-reference-volume–series-pp2/results.html

This looks to me like the makings of a massive exacerbation of the homelessness issue. According to your logic, your lack of concern for the people affected by this issue, as evinced by your voting Remain, means that I should attach some epithet to you and regard myself as out of community with you. But I’ll rise above it, Chris. I’ll rise above it.

134

Sebastian H 08.23.16 at 7:49 am

“I’ve never been indifferent to the effects of policy on poor communities in the UK and have consistently voted for parties that proclaim they will do something about poverty and disadvantage.”

Are we talking about the Labour Party? They proclaim, but for the most part they have prioritized the globalization side rather than the deal with the ill effects of globalization side. They have pushed through the globalization portions and not pushed through the mitigation portions. And that was absolutely knowable by the 2001 election and certainly the 2005 election. Unless you were voting for some no hope party which I suppose is a completely different issue.

So you were voting, given the options presented to you, not “actively hostile” to those left behind by globalization, but not friendly enough to slow down the globalization regime one tiny bit before dealing with the mitigation side. Voting for governments that repeatedly chose not to deal with mitigation before globalization (and frankly to barely deal with mitigation at all).

So Labour isn’t on their side, and the Tories weren’t on their side, and they are screwed. They feel hostile and out of community with the cosmopolitans because they have been forced to bear the sacrifices for the good of the country, without being part of the rewards. They face stagnant wages and hugely skyrocketing housing costs. They feel that way at a minimum since the early 2000s if not earlier.

Finally, after at least 15 years of being completely sidelined, they are presented with the possibility of clearly voting on the issue that has been bothering them. They aren’t given the best choice–they can’t get “Remain with a slow-down of the ever increasing union and lots of mitigation so we don’t have to keep sacrificing so London can get more money”. They get “Remain or Leave”. The EU doesn’t signal that mitigation is on the way or will be easily dealt with. The EU signals a pretty clear screw you to that idea through the handling of Italy and Greece as well as hints about Spain.

So with those choices they choose “Leave”.

You are justifiably shocked that so many people felt that way. Justifiably because you have been insulated from those people. You feel that they aren’t part of the same community as you because they didn’t think ‘enough’ about foreign workers, or about how the more globalized workers would be impacted. They didn’t think enough about people like you, because they were thinking more about people like them.

You interpret that as ‘racist’. But they are just as mad at people like you as they are at the Polish worker. Maybe more mad at people like you because they feel that you should have been looking out for them in ways that the Polish worker didn’t need to.

The break in the community that you are feeling now is the break they have been feeling for at least 15 years.

Making it “nearly all brexiteers are racists” is an easy way to make the break all their fault. But it isn’t. The break is our fault as well because we who reaped the huge benefits of globalization never made keeping them in the community a priority. Sure we wanted them to do better, *but never enough to sacrifice any of the things that we wanted*. The sacrifices were always left to them with very few of the rewards.

Now did a bunch of nasty politicians seize the opportunity to enflame this situation with racism? Absolutely. But the whole point of the technocratic elite is that they are supposed to keep things running well enough that such things won’t take hold. And there is the failure I’m trying to get us to face.

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Sebastian H 08.23.16 at 7:57 am

On rereading my comment sounds accusatory. I’m not drawing the parallel to damn you. I’m drawing the parallel to inspire empathy. You’re feeling NOW what they have been feeling for 15+ years. Imagine if you had to go through this feeling for another decade. How much would you be willing to sacrifice for groups that made you feel like this for that long?

I feel the same way about black people in the US. It is AMAZING to me how patriotic many of them are. It is awe inspiring that so many of them have such hope. Frankly I would be intensely bitter.

Chris, I’m not asking you to think they were right to vote “Leave”. I’m asking you to think about the idea that you can gain insight about how to build a better government if you understand how they got there.

136

Faustusnotes 08.23.16 at 8:12 am

Richard craven, housing policy can be changed to handle growing numbers of people from Europe, but it wasn’t and the option was never put on the table for the leave voters because the party in power doesn’t care about the poor or the homeless. Voting for a choice to expel the foreigners to clear up housing, rather than voting to keep the foreigners here and try to fix the housing problem some other way, is a choice – a choice to expel people of a certain race because you want their houses.

Also, this may come as a surprise to you, but homelessness is not a new issue in the uk that just sprung up due to all those nasty foreigners. It was a big problem immediately after the 2008 crisis, when there were probably less foreigners, and it was a vastly bigger problem in the 1990s at the end of the last Tory reign, before free movement was implemented. And do you know who the daily mail was blaming then? Foreigners. In that case, gypsies and “illegal asylum seekers”. It’s shocking I know, but housing has been a problem in the uk since the 19th century, the people in the worst housing were always foreigners , and the people to blame for homelessness wee always foreigners. So when people tell me they have just noticed this problem and its recent noticeability must be the fault of this new wave of foreigners, you’ll have to forgive me for being a little skeptical. The real problem with housing for the past 100 years has been a lack of supply and a lack of investment (private and public). That problem has affected foreigners the most and ha existed regardless of britains immigration policy.

And yet, just as in the case of “the poles are pushing down salaries” it’s not the people paying the low salaries or the slum lords who are to blame, but the poles. You need to think about your political framework if you’re consistently Fallon for this bait and switch.

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Richard Craven 08.23.16 at 8:19 am

@136/Faustusnotes
“Voting for a choice to expel the foreigners to clear up housing, rather than voting to keep the foreigners here and try to fix the housing problem some other way, is a choice – a choice to expel people of a certain race because you want their houses.”

Please don’t straw-man me. I voted for Brexit because my concern is with controlling population growth by controlling immigration. Nothing to do with expelling people who already live here.

138

Ronan(rf) 08.23.16 at 8:22 am

(None of the following is personalised towards CB, but speaking more generally)
I don’t think it works because I do think a component of active hatred is necessary for racism. Prioritising your group (which we all do, see BLM for example) or wanting to live with people who are culturally similar to you does not make you a racist, imo. This is even before with get to the many reasons people voted out, a lot of which aren’t overly relevant to xenophobia.
I think there’s often a hypocrisy with the left (regardless of race). They often talk about the benefits of multiculturalism, but still segregate on race, class, values etc. The upwardly mobile working class black moving out of their old neighbourhood to live among people who better match their intellectual and new class interests, the white person moving out of the east end as it becomes “more foreign”, the middle class person living in superficially diverse areas but still socialising along class, racial, ideological lines are all engaging in the same process imo. I don’t think any are doing anything particularly untoward.

“I’d say that such indifference to the fate of some particular group is a form of prejudice against that group, a failure to show those people respect”

This seems to me to be arguing backwards from your conclusions. They are indifferent because they voted out, therefore their indifference shows they are prejudiced. I don’t know how this claim can be substantiated in any meaningful way, or how “indifference to the fate of some particular group” can tell us anything useful, being a pretty much universal human failing.

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Richard Craven 08.23.16 at 8:29 am

“Also, this may come as a surprise to you, but homelessness is not a new issue in the uk that just sprung up due to all those nasty foreigners.”

I never said it was. And I don’t think foreigners are nasty. By putting words like that into my mouth, you only succeed in demeaning yourself.

“It was a big problem immediately after the 2008 crisis, when there were probably less foreigners, and it was a vastly bigger problem in the 1990s at the end of the last Tory reign, before free movement was implemented.”

And it’s a very much bigger problem now, and it’s going to get much, much worse over the next twenty years if the population rises to 73m as the ONS predicts.
http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20160105160709/http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/npp/national-population-projections/2010-based-reference-volume–series-pp2/results.html

“And do you know who the daily mail was blaming then? Foreigners. In that case, gypsies and “illegal asylum seekers”. It’s shocking I know, but housing has been a problem in the uk since the 19th century, the people in the worst housing were always foreigners , and the people to blame for homelessness wee always foreigners. So when people tell me they have just noticed this problem and its recent noticeability must be the fault of this new wave of foreigners, you’ll have to forgive me for being a little skeptical.”

Look, please stop ranting and just do some basic maths. This has bog all to do with housing conditions in the 19th century or with hating foreigners. It’s simply a matter of how we address the prospect of housing 73m people in housing meant for about 60m, and ancillary but no less pressing issues concerning the additional public resources – schools, hospitals, offices, factories, prisons, roads etc – which will have to be assembled in order to accommodate this.

The real problem with housing for the past 100 years has been a lack of supply and a lack of investment (private and public). That problem has affected foreigners the most and ha existed regardless of britains immigration policy.

140

Faustusnotes 08.23.16 at 8:34 am

Ronan, BLM aren’t prioritizing a particular group. The police prioritize black people for death, and BLM is responding to that. Jesus this stuff is so basic how can people here be getting it so wrong?

Richard did you not consider alternatives like voting for more housing? Because unless something else changed radically you will not see any reduction in homelessness after the Europeans stop coming, and it will still be blamed on foreigners. Also, given that immediately after the vote may and others refused to guarantee the status of Europeans in the uk, and given that UKIP was very open about wanting to drive out foreigners, why did you vote leave assuming they would enact a policy they never indicated they agreed to? Could it be that you didn’t really care if UKIP got their way after the leave campaign won? Or did you not understand just how bad these people’s views are? Had you not noticed the UKIP advertising promising to force people out? How did you interpret their claims that brexit would immediately reduce overcrowding? Some magic wand? Or a specific policy to reduce the population size? What did you think that policy would be?

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Ronan(rf) 08.23.16 at 8:42 am

They quite explicitly are prioritising their group, which I don’t really have a problem with. The police kill disproportionately more African Americans, but still kill more unarmed white people. Not prioritising your group would be having a more general opposition to police violence, not a group focused one. Again, I don’t have zany meaningful priblem with this, but it is “prioritising your group”

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Chris Bertram 08.23.16 at 8:50 am

Richard Craven, your points about housing strike me as absurd. We have many towns and cities that have shrunk over the years, some to half of their peak population. In many of those towns and cities there are streets full of empty houses. Oddly, they are often in regions of the country that favoured Leave. Places with lots of EU immigrants, such as London, tended to favour Remain. If the UK had a decent regional policy, many of the imbalances could be sorted out. As for more general strain on public services, well the EU immigrants who pay more in taxes than they take out in services, are part of the solution rather than contributors to the problem.

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Marc Mulholland 08.23.16 at 8:55 am

Hmm, if you think it’s okay, even laudable, to feel ‘out of community’ with the statitical average who voted Brexit because they’re ‘objectively’ racist, it’s hard to deny the validity of those who feel ‘out of community’ with, say, Muslims, because of their statistically averaged regressive attitudes toward liberal norms, or Irish catholics because of their statistically averaged regressive attitude to reproductive rights, or something similar for pretty much any other immigrant / subaltern group you can think of. This is a pretty open road to Lijst Pim Fortuyn type politics. A political community is not a common mind, but a common frame of reference that allows rather than forbids political disagreement about priorities.

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Faustusnotes 08.23.16 at 9:03 am

Richard, homelessness in the uk has been falling since 2003.

145

novakant 08.23.16 at 9:15 am

Aaron Banks the head of the Leave.EU campaign described its strategy in the following words:

“… ‘facts don’t work’ and that’s it. The remain campaign featured fact, fact, fact, fact, fact. It just doesn’t work. You have got to connect with people emotionally. It’s the Trump success.”

Brexit supporters were either literally too stupid and ignorant to concern themselves with the facts or they were aware of them but acted out of spite, envy and/or deep-seated disdain for ‘the other’.

There was no rational reason to vote leave – nobody, including those who were fervently promoting Brexit and those now in government tasked with implementing it, even knows what Brexit actually is supposed to mean – the whole campaign was solely based on an appeal to basic emotions and make no mistake as to what kind:

“The Conservatives are now trying to rewrite the campaign that immigration wasn’t important, but boy was immigration important,” Banks said. “The first thing we did was poll everybody and we found that if immigration wasn’t the issue, the issue was schools or education, proxies for immigration. It was the number one issue by a country mile.”

Now I hate Aaron Banks with a passion, but at least he’s honest about what was going on here and doesn’t give us the ‘poor downtrodden globalization loser’ excuse. Chris is completely right and his detractors really don’t know what they are talking about – maybe you had to be there.

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Philip 08.23.16 at 9:15 am

It think that for Lexiteers and sovereignists there were many consequences that they didn’t consider and it wasn’t just the impact on EU citizens in the UK e.g. hand waving about access to the single market or the effect on UK citizens in EU countries. I keep thinking about Sunderland which voted leave apparently against its own self-interest with uncertainty over the future of a major employer in Nissan and loss of fiscal transfers. Maybe they saw whatever principle they were voting on as more important than the cost they would personally bare although they may have misjudged what this cost would be.

It is also possible that they misjudged what the cost to EU citizens would be. The leave campaign kept stating that nothing would change for people already in the UK. However they never stated that EU citizens have their legal right to remain in the UK based on EU treaties which would no longer apply after Brexit. Therefore a mechanism would need to be found to maintain people’s legal status and there will be uncertainty while this is being debated. Personally I think there will be a reciprocal agreement that works well for UK citizens in other EU countries and for EU citizens in the UK but there is no guarantee of this. I also think that people who have little or no contact with the UK immigration system do not understand how restrictive and controlled it is, instead they get the impression that we have uncontrolled immigration. In part this is to do with successive governments casting immigration as a problem so that they can then be seen to be taking action on it. Obviously this could be seen as pandering to racist voters but on the other hand it could be seen as manipulation of voters. Since neither of the two main parties have had an open and honest debate about immigration it is unsurprising that people were not fully aware of the potential effect of Brexit on EU immigrants. I am not sure if the problem is that most leave voters were racist or that an anti-racist view of immigration failed to be presented sufficiently to leave voters.

147

kidneystones 08.23.16 at 9:28 am

It’s pretty clear the some form of equitable and fair treatment for both Brits working and living abroad and EU nationals working and living in Britain will be found if enough people of good will work for these solutions.

Some here are making it very clear they possess very little good will and actually hate the same people they’ll have to work with if they are serious about improving general welfare.

That fact they’re not willing suggests to me that they are, in fact, racist.

Just kidding. But if people of good will decide to spit the dummy, there’s considerably less chance of obtaining anything close to fair treatment. The solution of some here seems to be to leave the problem to Teresa May.

How serious does that sound?

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Richard Craven 08.23.16 at 9:36 am

@144/Faustusnotes

What your link show is that homelessness fell between 2003 and 2010. It’s 2016 now.

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Richard Craven 08.23.16 at 9:41 am

@142. Yes Chris. But we’ve never been in a situation before now in which, over 25yrs from 2010 we face the prospect of adding 11m to a population of 62m. I know it’s tiresome that I keep asking this, but where are the housing, schools, hospitals, offices, factories, prisons, and roads for 73m people going to be put?

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Faustusnotes 08.23.16 at 9:50 am

Richard, do you have any other objective evidence that the problem is worse than be fro or purely your experience of a run in Bristol? Lots of cities in Asia manage to grow and add housing without problems. Consider Tokyo, which manages to find affordable housing for 34 million . Kicking out foreigners because you can’t envisage an infrastructure policy is a racist policy, or racism has no meaning. And please note that “this policy is racist” and “you are racist” are different things, and “you are racist” and “you are evil” are also different things. Although I have to confess I can’t think too highly of someone who prefers to kickb5 million people out of their jobs and homes rather than build 5 million new homes. Why not build those homes, schools and clinics?

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Faustusnotes 08.23.16 at 9:56 am

Also Richard perhaps you didn’t pay attention to the details of that population projection you linked to but more than half of the additional population is due to births. So those new schools are going to have to be built even if you stop migration completely, and in the short term at least you’ll need the extra foreign workers to build them and to provide medical services (10% of all staff in the nhs being from Europe).

So how exactly is voting leave going to help except by kicking 5 million people out ?

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Nick 08.23.16 at 10:03 am

@144

What about housing affordability? Has that also been falling since 2003.

Is someone on £13,000 a year, who won’t ever be able to save a deposit, racist simply because you say they’re racist?

So cut and dry.

153

Richard Craven 08.23.16 at 10:04 am

@142CB
http://www.emptyhomes.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Empty-homes-in-England.pdf

According to the housing charity to which I have linked, there were 200,000 longterm empty properties in England. Let’s assume another 50,000 throughout the rest of the UK, and potential occupancy of 4 people per household. In other words, perhaps there would be enough housing for 1m people if a concerted effort was made to address the issue of longterm empty properties. But, once again, right now the UK’s population is probably about 64m, and the ONS is projecting that this will increase to 73m by 2035 – enough people to fill Bristol or Edinburgh every year for 19yrs. How is the UK to accommodate this?

@Faustusnotes.
“Kicking out foreigners because you can’t envisage an infrastructure policy is a racist policy, or racism has no meaning. “

I couldn’t agree more. However, for the third or fourth time, I don’t want to kick anyone out. In fact, controlling immigration tends to preclude resorting to such measures.

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Guano 08.23.16 at 10:05 am

The UK joined the EEC on 1st January 1973 and thus accepted free movement of people. This decision was cemented by the referendum just over two years later.

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the Conservative Party and the conservative press were firmly in favour of the EEC and, with the signing of the Single European Act, took the first steps to political union. The Conservative Party under Thatcher and Major was firmly in favour of the extension of the EEC (and then EU) to southern Europe and then to eastern Europe – a widening of Europe rather than a deepening of Europe.

The Labour Party was more Euro-sceptic but was continually criticised by the press and Conservative Party for this; eventually in the late 1980s the Labour Party came to terms with Europe and abandoned Euro-scepticism. Shortly afterwards a right-wing Euro-scepticism emerged, of which Boris Johnson’s exaggerated newspaper reports from Brussels were one of the first manifestations. Gradually, newspapers that had attacked the Labour Party for not being enthusiastic about Europe started being critical of Europe themselves.

Meanwhile the UK went through a process of rapid de-industrialisation; the economy became dependent on a financial services industry that is concentrated in London and the south-east of London. Former industrial areas had to try to regenerate themselves, ironically supported by EU funds. The population of London began to grow again for the first time since 1939. The government that engineered the change in the economy from industry to finance also abolished the strategic planning authority for London, so only when the GLA was created in 2001 did real planning for the previous 15 years of population growth begin. At that point local authorities were still trying to make their budgets work by selling school buildings to be turned into flats while trying not to notice that their school enrolment figures were rising significantly.

The Euro-sceptic narrative that took hold in the right-wing media in the 1990s, and on which the Leave campaign built, knits together diverse issues in a sometimes illogical way. It has convinced certain sections of the population that the challenges that the UK faces are due to decisions taken by foreigners rather than decisions taken in the UK. There is a pressure on London’s infrastructure because of decisions taken in the UK to change the economy of the UK, relying on financial services and the supporting services that demand a flexible workforce while neglecting the infrastructure of London for almost 20 years. Few people see this because a thick smokescreen narrative has been created about the EU and immigration.

Meanwhile the UK has voted for Brexit, the pound has slumped but that could be good for exports: if the UK still had any manufacturing industry that could export its products.

155

Faustusnotes 08.23.16 at 10:08 am

5 million of those new Brits will be births Richard and you don’t have enough houses. What are you going to do?

156

kidneystones 08.23.16 at 10:15 am

Citing a nation that accepts virtually no refugees, monitors the activities of all non-nationals, and actively profiles all Muslims, native and non-native might not be an ideal model for how to address the challenge of welcoming strangers.

If Britain had Japan’s immigration and housing policy, most here would shriek Faustusnote probably the loudest. Public housing in Japan is markedly different from that in most nations, and is available to practically everyone in Tokyo precisely because Japanese people believe very strongly in preferential rights going to nationals.

There are many reasons why income inequality in Japan is among the lowest in the world. However, within Japan there is a great deal of regional inequality and that inequality extends to different regions within Kanto. Property values within Kanto vary a great deal. The population of Tokyo proper is about 13 million.

Hysterical – citing one of the most anti-immigrant nations on the planet as the model for how to treat 5 million non-nationals entering the UK.

On a more serious note, I suspect a great many Leave voters are a/not racist and b/will not be at all happy to learn that Teresa May is open to using 3 million EU citizens living in Britain as ‘bargaining chips.’

Another good reason for people who take the well-being of others seriously to sit in a corner and sulk.

157

Richard Craven 08.23.16 at 10:16 am

@151/Faustusnotes
“Also Richard perhaps you didn’t pay attention to the details of that population projection you linked to but more than half of the additional population is due to births.”

Of course I looked at the detail. I’m glad you have too.

“So those new schools are going to have to be built even if you stop migration completely, and in the short term at least you’ll need the extra foreign workers to build them and to provide medical services (10% of all staff in the nhs being from Europe).”

Firstly, in other words we’re already facing an increase in population due to a factor – birthrates – which we can’t address without resorting to eugenics or something similarly unpalatable. And this makes all the more urgent the necessity of controlling the factors we can – hopefully – control i.e. immigration.

Secondly, you are straw-manning me yet again. Immigration control, which I support, is not the same as stopping immigration completely, which is stupid and almost certainly racist. Of course the UK needs immigrants. All I’m saying is that the numbers need to be controlled, because otherwise intolerable pressure will be put on housing, public services, and the environment.

“So how exactly is voting leave going to help except by kicking 5 million people out ?”

By, eventually, allowing the UK to limit the number of people migrating to the UK.

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TM 08.23.16 at 10:19 am

Ronan 141: “Not prioritising your group would be having a more general opposition to police violence, not a group focused one.”

I don’t think that’s a fair criticism of BLM at all. They don’t want to distribute police violence more equally, they want it to stop.

159

Richard Craven 08.23.16 at 10:51 am

@155/Faustusnotes
“5 million of those new Brits will be births Richard and you don’t have enough houses. What are you going to do?”

Mitigate the impact as much as possible by limiting immigration.

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Richard Craven 08.23.16 at 10:53 am

@156 Kidneystones

Exactly. Well said.

161

Chris Bertram 08.23.16 at 10:59 am

@Marc “A political community is not a common mind, but a common frame of reference that allows rather than forbids political disagreement about priorities.”

That’s true, and sometimes you say “ok, we lost, we’ll try to do better next time”. But feeling part of the political community isn’t compulsory, and one can feel a degree of alienated to a point where you say “this isn’t me, I have no commitment to going forward on fair terms with these people. I’ll pay my taxes and obey the law for prudential reasons so long as I’m here. But if I could get out I would.” The Brexiteers took away (or are seeking to) a political community that I did feel a part of, how can they presume on my allegiance now?

162

Richard Craven 08.23.16 at 11:07 am

@161
“But feeling part of the political community isn’t compulsory, and one can feel a degree of alienated to a point where you say “this isn’t me, I have no commitment to going forward on fair terms with these people.”
But Chris, your political outlook is decidedly – how shall I put this? – niche. I imagine that a certain amount of alienation goes with the territory.

163

Faustusnotes 08.23.16 at 11:20 am

I clearly wasn’t citing Japan as an example of good immigration policy, but if a way to manage housing for a growing urban population.

Richard, maybe you don’t understand that population model. Almost none of those migrants in the model will have any impact on schools or clinics – they are mostly young and working and not having children. Almost the entire pressure on schools, clinics and day care centers is from the native population. The growing population of elderly is the reason for pressure on the nhs and the growing number of children (the uk is experiencing a mini baby boom) at the other end. In 20 years, when a small number of the migrants children will mature, those 5 million new British births will need homes. Until then the elderly, especially , are being cared for by the migrants.

In short your population model is completely wrong. Almost all the pressure is from new births and new elderly natives, and the new migrants are playing an essential role in providing cheap labour to manage that pressure. You want to eschew housing policy or sensible planning for the pressures from within, and cast out those who are doing most to deal with the immediate pressures.

You’ve been fooled by leave campaign lies about the causes of britains messed up social services and housing market.

164

RichardM 08.23.16 at 11:24 am

white voter in the US who isn’t actively hostile to black people but who simply doesn’t care about the lives African Americans often have to live and the dangers they are exposed to and who votes for policies that make those lives worse (backing the carceral state, for example) can justly be accused of racism on the grounds of their indifference to those impacts.

Here you may be confusing ‘justly’ and ‘successfully’.

If English had 200, or perhaps 400, words, then it would be necessary to use ‘racist’ for all of hatred, bias, negligence, indifference, ignorance and simple mistakes, on any topic related to any kind of large-scale grouping of people. It doesn’t, so using that word is a choice. This is a political topic, so it is a political choice.

US PoC (by and large) get to vote, UK Poles don’t. One of those facts caused Brexit, and the other will presumably cause Trump to lose. So in the US, using the word that way has a history of being a successful political choice. It’s hardly a coincidence you reached for there to find an example.

In the UK, it is the deliberate, or unconsidered, choosing of a non-viable political strategy. Which in my personal concept map sits at the dead center of the region labelled ‘evil’; Brexit is hardly high on the scale of awfulness such things have lead to.

165

Guano 08.23.16 at 11:35 am

“This isn’t me, I have no commitment to going forward on fair terms with these people.”

More than half of voters in the UK referendum appeared to accept a narrative that places the responsibility for many of the challenges that the UK faces on outsiders. This is worrying because

– a lot of the narrative is illogical and based on false premises, which illustrates how easy it is to create these narratives and get them accepted

– it implies politicians not taking responsibility for their own decisions.

I have seen people on discussion boards saying that they were going to vote “Leave” because then UK politicians wouldn’t be able to hide behind the EU when they made mistakes. Unfortunately I’m sure that they will find another reason to avoid responsibility.

166

engels 08.23.16 at 11:52 am

this is isn’t me, I have no commitment to going forward on fair terms with these people. I’ll pay my taxes and obey the law for prudential reasons so long as I’m here

My impression is this is more-or-less how most British people (certainly from centre-right outwards, cf. Thatcher on society) feel anyway. Nailing your colours to their anomic individualist mast probably isn’t going to make many of them bat an eyelid imho (not suggesting you necessarily intended to…)

167

Chris Bertram 08.23.16 at 12:08 pm

Not quite, engels. Relevant differences: (1) they won, over and over again, so their right to feel alienated seems problematic; (2) they have no commitment to making the world a better place, I’m increasing my cosmopolitan commitment at the expense of my commitment to my fellow-Englanders, not looking out for #1.

168

Marc Mulholland 08.23.16 at 12:15 pm

That’s an interesting way of putting it, Chris, and seems fair enough to me.

169

Layman 08.23.16 at 12:16 pm

Richard Craven: “I voted for Brexit because my concern is with controlling population growth by controlling immigration. Nothing to do with expelling people who already live here.”

This is a point about which I’ve been curious. What did you believe would happen with respect to EU citizens currently living in the UK as a result of your vote? What did the Brexit camp offer during the campaign?

170

Rich Puchalsky 08.23.16 at 12:54 pm

CB: “they have no commitment to making the world a better place, I’m increasing my cosmopolitan commitment at the expense of my commitment to my fellow-Englanders, not looking out for #1.”

How exactly are you not looking out for #1? This may be a tu quoque, but you’re using it as an apparently serious argument against an entire group of people.

You’re increasing a “cosmopolitan commitment” that favors the exact interests of the professional class of which you are a member. If you don’t want to read a more radical critique, try Thomas Frank’s _Listen, Liberal_ for a description of how this works in a U.S. context. Politics for what he calls the 10% is better than politics for the 1%, I suppose.

171

James Wimberley 08.23.16 at 1:00 pm

Watch Theresa Cunctatora invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. Funny how the problems keep cropping up. She’s pretty strong on the conservative (original sense) doctrine of Unripe Time.

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Chris Bertram 08.23.16 at 1:04 pm

“You’re increasing a “cosmopolitan commitment” that favors the exact interests of the professional class of which you are a member.”

With respect, you have no idea what I’m doing.

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Manta 08.23.16 at 1:24 pm

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-36849071

EU nationals with a right to permanent residence can stay in the UK after it leaves the EU and enjoy the same rights, a top civil servant has said.
Mark Sedwill said the rights of those granted residence after five years were “quite clear” in law and it amounted to a guarantee of their future status…
But he told MPs a specific distinction should be drawn between EU citizens who had obtained permanent right to residence by virtue of living in the UK for five years and everyone else

174

reason 08.23.16 at 1:31 pm

P.S. To Chris Bertram
British ex-pats in Europe are just as affected as European ex-pats in Britain.

175

Chris Bertram 08.23.16 at 1:37 pm

@reason why did you suppose I was unaware of that?

@Manta “the same rights”. Which rights exactly? For example, would a Polish resident of Manchester be able to be joined in Manchester by his now Warsaw-based gay partner to live together as a married couple in Manchester on the same basis as now. Or would that Polish resident in the future by subject to the £18.6 salary spousal visa requirement that British people who want to sponsor a non-EU spouse are currently subject to. Just one example. Glibly writing “the same” rights doesn’t start to address the problems.

176

Manta 08.23.16 at 1:40 pm

It was more an answer to Faustusnote tiresome bullshitting, like “”is it racist to take away the right to work if 5 million people on the basis of their race”?

177

Manta 08.23.16 at 1:44 pm

Anyway, you are taking about the rights of the foreign spouse, who is not yet in any commonly used sense a member of the community…

178

Faustusnotes 08.23.16 at 1:45 pm

Also eu citizens resident in the uk for five years are likely a minority. If article 50 is ever actually triggered it will be soon and the majority of the residents at risk will be 1-5 year residents. Any attempt to normalize these people by the Tories is going to be political suicide – something our “non racist” brexiters on this thread no doubt don’t believe and can’t understand because they don’t know why people voted leave – so those 1-4 year residents will have to go. Leaving britains care, construction, health and food services industries deeply screwed.

At which point I predict “leftists” like rich will blame cosmopolitan leftists for not being radical enough, and completely miss the political facts that made this disaster happen.

179

Chris Bertram 08.23.16 at 1:46 pm

Er no, I’m talking about the right of a UK resident to live in the UK with the partner of their choice. That may well change and, if so, the claim that people will enjoy “the same rights” is false.

180

Faustusnotes 08.23.16 at 1:47 pm

That’s not bullshitting manta it’s a question. Do you have an answer? Do you concede that if those 5 million are kicked out, your vote was racist? Or does the word have no meaning at all anymore?

181

Manta 08.23.16 at 1:50 pm

Chris, I am not sure what you mean: you are worrying that the people in your scenario may be harmed.
But I don’t understand if you are claiming that, as the law stands, they will be harmed, or that the rules may change and they would then face harm.

182

Manta 08.23.16 at 1:51 pm

faustusnotes, when will you stop stealing money from your employer? That is also a question.

183

Faustusnotes 08.23.16 at 1:58 pm

I don’t. Now will you answer mine?

184

reason 08.23.16 at 2:02 pm

Chris Bertram @175
Because you don’t mention it at all, and it suggests that simple lack of thought is a lot of the problem.

But a question for you – would your argument still hold if Britain had never joined the EU and the referendum was about joining. To me the referendum is like treating a divorce with children as being the same as two never-marrieds thinking about splitting up.

185

reason 08.23.16 at 2:04 pm

P.S. The issue being that it is not the same to ask “could the UK be better off without UE” as to ask “should the UK leave the EU”. But arguments were never made on that basis.

186

kidneystones 08.23.16 at 2:05 pm

It’s useful to recall at all times that a minority of people in just about every community harbor some deeply rooted and extremely hostile views about their ‘peers.’

Reality provides numerous opportunities to ‘justify’ these views.

Most A are evil and/or racist is a staple for some. Our intellectual and moral superiors argue that we’re not likely to make progress on any issue until we accept this basis ‘fact.’

As I mentioned before, I think we’re all entitled to hold whatever beliefs and opinions we like. So, I’m entirely supportive of their views, but I preserve to develop and hold my own;

I hope that’s ok.

187

Manta 08.23.16 at 2:08 pm

Faustusnotes, I thought I was pretty clear, but you seem to be unwilling to take the hint, so I will spell it for you.
Your question has nothing to do with Brexit (for the reasons discussed above): if you want to discuss your imaginary Brexit, please feel free to do it, but I won’t contribute.

188

Chris Bertram 08.23.16 at 2:12 pm

@reason I’m hardly going to mention every blindingly obvious point, am I? I assume you are American or something, because I doubt that any person in Europe could have been unaware that Brexit leaves British residents in Europe in a state of precarity. I have family members in this position, as it happens.

189

reason 08.23.16 at 2:15 pm

Chris Bertram @188
But it is extremely politically relevant – because it is not just foreigners who are affected by this. I really think that many people voting for Brexit had not thought about the dynamics of the process.

P.S. As many may know I’m an ex-pat Aussie living in Germany.

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Faustusnotes 08.23.16 at 2:27 pm

Oh manta! It was very clear that many in the leave camp wanted to see the end of residency rights for existing nationals. UKIP general election policy was to end access to all social welfare services (including the nhs) for people resident less than five years – effectively a strategy to force them to leave, but you wouldn’t believe that would you? It’s a matter of fact that leaving the EU means these foreign residents have to be granted a new residence status, and there was no promise in the referendum that there residence was safe. Theresa May refused to guarantee their right to stay, as did other candidates for the Tory leadership. Of course if you ignore the actual effects of policy and pretend it’s okay for people to vote on something like this without any regard for what the policy will be you can try and pretend that the policy was not racost, but the reality is that those 5 million EU citizens have no guarantee of a right to stay.

Furthermore, I can assure you – because I am familiar with this culture and you are clearly not – that whatever the “leftist” defenders of racism in this thread may pretend to believe, the people who voted leave understood the dog whistles, and they believed that these people would be kicked out. You can guarantee that they will vote UKIP if that assumption is not met and you can guarantee the Tory leadership know that. I’m really sorry that you don’t understand British culture and don’t understand how racist dog whistle politics work but in modern England that’s not an excuse – if you want to make any claim To being politically savvy you need to understand the daily mail, UKIP, the Tory working class and the yearning for empire. That means understanding bojo’s dog whistles and why UKIP have had so much influence over the art 20 years.

The people who voted leave are expecting a purge. Don’t think they care about the pensioners in Spain either (in any case those pensioners don’t want to return to the hk because it has too many immigrants). They want rid of the foreigners, and that’s what they will get. You can pretend this isn’t true, but you’re living in a fantasy world if you do.

191

casmilus 08.23.16 at 2:43 pm

If it cheers any of you up, UKIP are themselves mired in an internal battle right now and may not gain much lasting influence from their big success:

http://www.conservativehome.com/highlights/2016/08/ukip-would-struggle-to-pick-a-worse-moment-for-civil-war.html

(That’s a view from the Right, of course).

192

Manta 08.23.16 at 2:47 pm

Again, are we talking about what will (probably) happen , or what you and your neighbours thought would happen?

In the first case, see the link @173.
In the second case, I am not particularly interested in it.

193

T 08.23.16 at 2:50 pm

Bruce@86 Chris@OP

Bruce — That was fantastic. It demands a response from Chris.

I might add that the economics profession has now acknowledged that the free flow of capital can be incredibly damaging so that any pretense of the scientific foundations of the neoliberal enterprise in the EU context has been debunked. (and of course Greece and Spain)

The irony that the center of the “free flow of capital” is London shouldn’t be lost on the Stay crowd. Is it racist to impose rules that immiserate a whole people “the Greeks” at the alter of freely flowing capital?

Apologies in advance if this has been addressed up thread.

194

Faustusnotes 08.23.16 at 2:54 pm

You can build a theory based on not getting it if you want manta. Get back to me in two years and we can discuss how wrong you were.

195

Layman 08.23.16 at 2:57 pm

@ Manta, when you voted for Brexit, what did you believe would happen to EU citizens residing in the UK?

196

sherparick 08.23.16 at 2:58 pm

@T

Not to defend London or the Anglo-American Banks centered in London, but has not the imposition of austerity on Southern Eurozone, and Greece in particular, been chiefly a German thing, a lot of bad German thinking about an event that occurred 90 years ago and which is misinterpreted to this days. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/04/26/europe-doesnt-work-for-germany-either-as-schubles-faux-pas-demon/

197

Manta 08.23.16 at 2:59 pm

Layman, I am an EU ex-pat, relatively recently living in UK.

198

T 08.23.16 at 2:59 pm

Kidneystones@156
Stop making arguments based on you’re personal knowledge of living in Japan. Your arguments must be based on watching TV, opinion polls, and blogs. And no nuance. Carry on. :)

199

T 08.23.16 at 3:21 pm

sherparick @196
Certainly the failure to resolve the Greek crisis is an ECB, i.e., German enterprise. We agree. But the cause of the crisis is a different matter.

In the case of Spain, nearly all the suspect debt was private and funded by the free flow of capital.

Further, it’s called the European Central Bank not the German Central Bank. So other EU countries and European interest groups are complicit in the racist immiseration of the Greek people. I would argue that London is certainly one of those interest groups. Wouldn’t be good for business if debtors keep skipping town, would it?

200

Guy 08.23.16 at 3:22 pm

I wish I could muster more sympathy for the OP’s position but I just can’t.

We can’t dispute that some voters chose Brexit out of a dislike or even hatred of foreigners. This is a racist reason. I am sure that some also voted out for reasons of national sovereignty, economic deprivation or control of immigration policy. These are non-racist reasons.

The reason the OP feels out of step with his national community isn’t because of voter racism. I suspect that even if 99% of Brexiters had done so because of non-racist reasons, he would still feel the same sense of dislocation. He isn’t unhappy with their reasons but the result itself.

If I could give some modest advice to the OP (as a foreigner living in England), it would be that this cosmopolitan society he is looking to commit to does not exist anywhere in the world. How could it when there is so much inequality and uncertainty in the modern world? I’ve had the fortune of living on 3 different continents and frankly there are rude and polite people everywhere. Britain is one of the least racist countries I’ve lived in. The cosmopolitan attitudes he identifies with is a minority of society found in many countries (I hesitate to use the word “elite”) and a product of good fortune, family, education and temperament. I’ve no doubt that such attitudes are admirable, but for now, I’d encourage you to accept the reality you live in and fight for a better one.

201

Faustusnotes 08.23.16 at 3:28 pm

So Manta you really know nothing about how racist British leave voters were or what they wanted. Five years ago I made the point in this blog that the British left needs to deal with the racism of the British polity if they want to stop this. Chris has discovered I was right. So will you.

202

engels 08.23.16 at 3:32 pm

I’m increasing my cosmopolitan commitment at the expense of my commitment to my fellow-Englanders, not looking out for #1.

Happy to acknowledge you’re not acting out of individual self-interest. So as I understand, you are proposing to mentally sever all ties of fellow feeling with the co-members of the political community of which you are, as a matter of fact, as voter, tax-payer, neighbour, user of public services, etc, a member, in favour of a pan-European community that, unless I am mistaken, exists now and for the foreseeable future in your imagination. Could you give us any idea of the concrete consequences of this act of defiance?

203

Manta 08.23.16 at 3:38 pm

Faustus, I tried to give links to verifiable facts to support my opinion.
You only gave your opinions and baseless innuendos.
For instance,
@55 “the right not to be assaulted in the street. Are you suggesting they should lose those rights to basic security?”,
“is it racist to take away the right to work if 5 million people on the basis of their race”
and “
“if those 5 million are kicked out…”

All questions that don’t have much to do with what will actually happen: you know it very well, but pretend otherwise to paint your political opponents as racists.

204

Chris Bertram 08.23.16 at 3:39 pm

@engels, you are over-thinking and over-specifying. UK political parties such as the Labour Party are primarily focused on achieving social justice within the bounds of the nation state, but plenty of campaigns and other projects, such as those aimed at supporting refugees or environmental causes do not have that national focus.

205

Faustusnotes 08.23.16 at 3:58 pm

Manta I don’t need any of these questions to “paint” these people as racist so. I know how they work and how they think. I’m sorry but you don’t. Chris has just discovered he didn’t either. These questions are for people here who were so foolish as to think their leave vote woukd make the world better. They’re rhetorical in that they’re intended to tease out the contradictory and confused thinking of lexiteers.

If you don’t understand this culture you can’t understand Chris’s complaints. Most of the responses to Chris are incredibly shallow and mean spirited because they refuse to accept the racist element of the vote. Until they do, frankly they have no idea and nothing sensible to add on the topic.

206

Sebastian H 08.23.16 at 4:00 pm

Chris :”We have many towns and cities that have shrunk over the years, some to half of their peak population. In many of those towns and cities there are streets full of empty houses. Oddly, they are often in regions of the country that favoured Leave. Places with lots of EU immigrants, such as London, tended to favour Remain.”

This strikes me as a very poor use of sort-of-statistics. How about:

We have many towns and cities that have had their ability to support work snatched from them, some by losing over 50% of the jobs. Unsurprisingly these regions of the country favoured Leave because they feel they have not done well under the EU.

Places able to enjoy the benefits of immigrant labor while pushing out unwanted countrymen through skyrocketing housing prices tended to favour Remain because they get to enjoy the benefits while pushing the costs on to the dislocated.

My version is problematic for all sorts of reasons, but it is much closer to the truth than yours.

“I’m increasing my cosmopolitan commitment at the expense of my commitment to my fellow-Englanders, not looking out for #1.”

Do you really feel you are making a sacrifice with that in the sense of giving up something important to you for something more important? What specific things are you going to sacrifice? Is this new loss of commitment to your fellow-Englanders going to cause some radical change in your voting patterns? If not, isn’t it just possible that you already made the break, but didn’t really notice it the costs of the sacrifices was being borne by people for whom you “failed to give them the thought they should have”?

207

Chris Bertram 08.23.16 at 4:11 pm

@Sebastian did you miss the bit where I wrote about the need for a proper regional policy? (Incidentally, do you have any first-hand knowledge of the UK? Genuine question.)

208

engels 08.23.16 at 4:43 pm

#204 So what your mental repudiation of your British national identity means in practical terms is that instead of supporting Labour you’ll now be supporting various international environmental and social justice campaigns? Not exactly the Boston Tea Party then (and I did have a vague memory you were doing that before June anyway…)

209

Sebastian_H 08.23.16 at 5:20 pm

I didn’t miss the bit you wrote about the need for a proper regional policy. Politics is about priorities. Have you been supporting parties that have been prioritizing proper regional policy OVER continued globalization? Have you supported groups which advocate putting further globalization on hold until a proper regional policy is in place? Do you feel that the EU is right on the edge of a proper regional policy? I would tend to think it isn’t but I could very much have missed something.

Again my point isn’t to make you feel bad. You have very likely been making the best choices you could given the choices you were offered and the problems that were on the forefront of your mind. You were aware of the problems of those left behind by globalization. They just weren’t enough of a priority.

They were aware that they weren’t enough of a priority. So for the last 10-20 years they have been experiencing the break you are just discovering. Your reaction to the break is EXACTLY the same as their reaction. You feel less connected to the community and less willing to make sacrifices for it. They have been making the sacrifices for 10-20 years and when they for the first time got a vote anywhere close to what was hurting them the voted against it. Your reaction is that it isn’t unfair to think of nearly all of them as racist. But you react similarly, for non-racist reasons to far less provacation. That suggests to me that maybe the feeling of lack of community when you feel the sacrifices aren’t being equitably distributed can be non-racist.

210

Richard Craven 08.23.16 at 5:39 pm

@205 Faustusnotes
“If you don’t understand this culture you can’t understand Chris’s complaints. Most of the responses to Chris are incredibly shallow and mean spirited because they refuse to accept the racist element of the vote. Until they do, frankly they have no idea and nothing sensible to add on the topic.”

Since “Almost all Brexiteers are racist” is the propositional core of Bertram’s article, your proposal amounts to the demand that Brexiteers connive in begging the question against themselves. Logic fail.

211

Rich Puchalsky 08.23.16 at 5:39 pm

Chris Bertram: “With respect, you have no idea what I’m doing.”

Well, you judged a whole lot of people based on the political results of what they were doing, and it’s true that I have no individual information about the political results of what you are doing. So I can only write that you seem to be supporting a deeply inconsistent position.

When I became an anarchist, part of it was because I did disagree with democratically made decisions that a majority of people made. Nor do I really believe in the “”Manufacturing Consent” explanation. People voted for killing because they like the idea of people being killed. I don’t understand how you can still support institutions like large-scale democracy that predictably produce their kinds of outcomes while professing to be so outraged at this particular outcome.

I also don’t understand the “being out of community” bit. Again, as an anarchist, I don’t fundamentally agree on most things with 99% of people. But the idea that by doing so I’m not in community with them is strange. If I want to remain involved in politics, I have to be involved with them. And I don’t think it’s really possible not to be whether I want to or not. I could move somewhere else, but what’s the point?

212

novakant 08.23.16 at 5:48 pm

Sebastian, you are just wrong: the reason for the dismal state of UK society are neither the EU nor immigrants but the increasingly extreme policies of successive British governments. Denmark, Sweden and Finland are also EU members and have immigrants, duh.

213

Sebastian_H 08.23.16 at 6:11 pm

” you are just wrong: the reason for the dismal state of UK society are neither the EU nor immigrants but the increasingly extreme policies of successive British governments. “

Both of the major parties right? With both of the major parties focusing on different variations of globalization right? With neither of the major parties successfully implementing strong mitigation measures, right? I’m happy to admit that I don’t live in the UK so I could be wrong about that. Am I wrong about that?

214

Igor Belanov 08.23.16 at 6:18 pm

I’m not sympathetic to the OP, but I have to add that many commenters seem to have constructed a bit of a mythical ‘typical’ leave voter in their head.

In a very secular country like the UK, nationalism is effectively the ‘opium of the people’. But you have to remember that while religion did provide some consolation for the poor and downtrodden, it also gave justification and a mission to the wealthy and powerful. There are as many affluent nationalists in Britain that voted leave as there are those from the disadvantaged. Many middle and upper-class leave voters have a strong sense of Empire nostalgia and a commitment to many socially authoritarian ’causes’ like hanging and flogging, deference to ‘betters’, homophobia and cultural conservatism. They share this with some working-class people, but have little else in common apart from a feeling that they have been ‘left behind’ by modern metropolitan society.

I think that many people from all social backgrounds that voted leave believed that the referendum was more of a chance to state their identity than it was to express their individual or collective interest. This is partly because they did not trust the political and economic establishment (they seem mistakenly to believe the media though), and because the same establishment had in fact spent 40 years doing very little to express any feelings of shared identity with Europeans, but had justified EU membership in the most narrow, grudging sense of economic necessity. Given this situation I was actually surprised that remain won as much of the vote as it did.

When people start to feel solidarity in the sense that Inspector Goole expressed then it might be a sign that the UK as well as the EU might actually start to work for its people:

“We don’t live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other. And I tell you that the time will soon come when, if men will not learn that lesson, then they will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish. Good night.”

215

efcdons 08.23.16 at 6:31 pm

Novaknt @212
Denmark, Sweden, and Finland have had no political repercussions from increases in immigration.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danish_People%27s_Party (The DPP received 21% of the vote in the 2015 general election, becoming the second largest party in Denmark for the first time.)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweden_Democrats (The Sweden Democrats continued this success in the 2014 general election, polling 12.9% and winning 49 seats in the Riksdag, a 14% share of the seats. With a vote share of 22.16% in the constituency of Scania County North & East, Sweden Democrats out-polled one of the two major parties for the first time in one of the 29 constituencies where parliamentary seats are distributed.)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finns_Party (2nd largest party in Finland. Member of ruling coalition)

216

engels 08.23.16 at 6:36 pm

Sweden, Denmark and Finland are really not good examples of countries that haven’t seen a rise in malign nationalism.

217

efcdons 08.23.16 at 6:38 pm

engels @216.
Maybe novakant @212 was being sarcastic. It’s hard to tell on the internet.

218

engels 08.23.16 at 7:01 pm

I think Nk’s point may have been that unlike austerity Britain, Scando-capitalism looks after the left behinds, but that’s also looking a bit debatable, eg.

http://nordic.businessinsider.com/sweden—the-goodest-country-in-the-world—is-now-considering-a-ban-on-begging-2016-8/

219

kent 08.23.16 at 7:05 pm

Sebastian at #134 and #135 makes a great case IMO. He puts the point much more nicely than I could have brought myself to do.

…..

“Look how these other people don’t respect the other members of their community! How am I supposed to respect them as members of my community?” –> rinse and repeat until all sense of community is gone.

220

novakant 08.23.16 at 7:15 pm

Well, if Crooked Timber has its fair share of racists, xenophobes and misanthropic malcontents then why shouldn’t the Scandinavian countries?

But my point was that the socio-economic woes of the UK are largely homegrown and blaming foreigners/”the EU” is racist and/or xenophobic and definitely stupid.

221

efcdons 08.23.16 at 7:26 pm

novakant @220
Fair share? the anti-immigration parties have surged to in some of the nordic countries to being the second largest party displacing one of the old “mainstream” political parties.

If the backlash is similar in countries with strong welfare states and relatively large amounts of distribution as countries like the UK with relatively weak welfare states and less distribution (compared to nordic countries) it must be something common to both types of countries which rules out a uniquely UK “homegrown” cause.

It’s also scary because it suggests post-market income transfers don’t placate the anti-immigration feelings by ameliorating the negative effects of immigration (housing shortages, longer waits for NHS services etc.) that were some of the main complaints voiced by leave voters which people have said should be solved by increasing taxes and transfers instead of kicking out immigrants and stopping the flow of new ones from arriving.

222

Patrick 08.23.16 at 8:47 pm

By the author’s standard everyone is a racist. Almost every policy will have adverse consequences for some group and supporting it requires the sort of indifference you identify.

223

T 08.23.16 at 11:03 pm

efcdons @220

“It’s also scary because it suggests post-market income transfers don’t placate the anti-immigration feelings by ameliorating the negative effects of immigration (housing shortages, longer waits for NHS services etc.) that were some of the main complaints voiced by leave voters which people have said should be solved by increasing taxes and transfers instead of kicking out immigrants and stopping the flow of new ones from arriving.”

Yep. They don’t placate a lot of bad feelings. In the States, both mainstream and populist Repubs as well as many others make a big distinction between SS and Medicare as “earned” entitlements while they consider welfare and food stamps as “unearned” entitlements since there are specific taxes deducted for SS and Medicare on the pay-stub. (Of course, the SS/Medicare benefits are much higher than the payments but that never gets discussed.)

People are prideful. People want to feel productive. People have a sense of rough justice and fairness. People don’t want to be looked down upon or talked down to. This really undermines a soft neoliberal system of inequality plus transfers. In the States this even worse because healthcare and post-secondary education are considered (mostly) private goods which the breadwinner(s) are supposed to pay for. These are enormous expenses that have grown much faster than inflation during the non-liberal assent. When median wages stagnate for two generations things will eventually to come to a boil.

224

DanD 08.23.16 at 11:45 pm

Anyone here long enough to put down deep roots can get British Citizenship. (So if they have been here for 3 years then will by the time of Brexit have been here for the requisite 5 years). So they will not have to leave.

Of those EU citizens who have now been here less than 3 years, it is highly unlikely that any who are in work will be told to leave at Brexit; and more likely than not that no one here on the day of the referendum will be asked to leave. So staying in the EU is *possibly* beneficial to *relatively recent* EU arrivals.

It is not unreasonable to think that *unlimited* immigration from the EU is to the detriment of many or most British people, as is the loss of sovereignty. (Whether this is correct can be disputed of course, but it is not obviously wrong or unreasonable or xenophobic to think it – see bottom of post. )

Thus the *possible* benefits to *recently arrived* EU citizens have to be balanced against the benefits to, and right to self-determination of, the British people. It is not unreasonable, racist or xenophobic to favour the latter. It is unreasonable to think that favouring the latter is racist or xenophobic.

(Surely it can be agreed that some immigrants benefit the British people and some do not. Having immigration control enables the UK to let in only those who do benefit the British people. The question is only where to draw the line.

When working out contributions and costs you have to look at the whole of the person’s life. So you have to factor in that each low income person does not pay enough tax to cover their share of state services even during their working life; they will then retire without owning their own home or having a large savings or pension, so are likely to cost two or three hundred thousand pounds in retirement. Do the maths: pensioner minimum income guarantee or state pension, housing benefit, other benefits, NHS, care home, the usual state services etc for the 20-25 years of retirement.

Then you have to also consider that when the labour force is expanding quickly this is likely to result in lower wages amongst those in competition for jobs. And that the economy has to expand more quickly than otherwise just to prevent unemployment increasing, and this is not conducive to increasing the proportion of highly productive and highly paid jobs.

And when the population is increasing swiftly then money has to be invested in building and extending housing, roads, hospital, schools etc leaving less to be spent on training, and on the less well off etc. )

225

Faustusnotes 08.24.16 at 12:49 am

If the uk had European style voting systems it would be ruled by UKIP . Good to see commenters going from challenging standard definitions of racism to standard orthodoxy about the relative qualities of uk vs Scandinavian inequality and welfare. This thread still has a long way to go, you can fit in global warming denialist and maybe some flat earth conspiracy theories by its end, i’m sure.

226

merian 08.24.16 at 1:21 am

This is a very manichaean comment thread. A Leave voter is either racist or isn’t. The win of Leave was either caused by the losers of globalization or wasn’t. EU immigration either has a noxious effect on the lives of the domestic population or hasn’t. We’re part of a community or aren’t. We have special ethical responsibilities to the members of our in-group compared to everyone else. This is just not how the world works for me.

Maybe it’s the long 90s era discussions about internalised homophobia that give me an unfair advantage here, but racism to me is something no one can just choose not to partake in. A member of the domestic population you can avail themselves of racism as a destructive tool — with or without consciously adopting racist (or xenophobic, or Islamophobic, or anti-Semitic [insert relevant manifestations, depending on the particulars of the situation]) attitudes. So to that extent I agree with Chris B.

But the degree to which this happens in a society isn’t just random, or just an emanation of individual traits. The failure of politics and policy to address long-standing festering issues (the immigration into Europe, for example, which has cost a lot of lives and at the same time created the hot potato of an unlawful migrant population is one of them) and, possibly worse, the feeling of alienation from a democratic process, the feeling of just being despised and lied to and being a subject rather than a citizen, however privileged in the greater scheme, will cause more people to take hold of the “racism” tool. More if there are snake oil sellers who fan those flames for their own interest; more if anti-racist talk and human rights ideas can be discredited (as “PC” or bleeding-heart liberal); and more if callousness towards one’s neighbour has already been made acceptable.

(I lived in the UK for 5 years — one of those EU migrants, with at first middling, later pretty good pay, for jobs that required having both certain technical skills and being fluent in two more European languages. I certainly considered myself part of the community — and was overall treated as such. I voted where I was allowed to. One of the reasons I didn’t develop much attachment to the UK was the extraordinary harshness that ordinary struggling people were exposed to in cultural terms. Unlike in France, I never actually got to become friends with any. Society is a lot less mixed in big-city England. The most emblematic thing was those ads run by the benefits office that encouraged people to turn in their neighbours for benefits fraud — necessarily on the flimsiest of suspicions, because how on earth should I know what benefits my neighbour, exactly, is receiving? Of the same ilk: ever rising university fees (and broken promises); school and education purely as a means to economic ladder-climbing; fit-to-work assessments; EMTs so overworked that they become cynical towards the vulnerable — the poor devils that, sure, aren’t the most easy to deal with, but are at the end of their ropes.

In none of the questions in the first paragraph I can come neatly down on one side at all. As far as people moving from one to the other, they are points on time lines that come with very different time scales. Sure, racism plays in a lot of this, but realistically a change of how someone perceives their identity (“oh, it seems that I’m a racist”) takes a long time, and many won’t ever get to this level of self-examination. Do we need them to? I hold it with Jay Smooth that in practical terms, getting people to understand that what they’re doing/saying is a racist *thing*, regardless of whether they are a racist *person* is much more promising (and faster to achieve).

Where to go from here? The only way I know of that works to stave off the widespread racist and xenophobic element for a while isn’t one that anyone would recommend: let them take over, kill 6 million undesirables and start a world war; then rub their noses in the mud; finally give them a hug and help them rebuild. Yeah, no. So what else? The consequence I’m drawing from the string of political “incidents” I’ve seen first-hand — from Le Pen, to UKIP and Brexit, to Alternative für Deutschland, to Trump — is to keep pushing for those reasonable, “good government” solutions that fix some of the problems. Working time and employment protections as well as renters’ protections could have made it much less desirable to employers to replace domestic employees with cheap, abusable short-term workers from Eastern Europe. Regional policies, outstanding educational policy, a dignified style of interacting with all citizens and residents. Personally, a scrupulous commitment to politeness and listening, however firm my argument. Also, whatever can be done to get people of different horizons to respectfully talk with each other.

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John Quiggin 08.24.16 at 6:25 am

Something of a tangent, but is there any informed discussion of what Brexit will actually mean. My uninformed reading is as follows:

* The public position of the UK government implies that it is aiming for Swiss/Norwegian access to the single market, but without freedom of movement; but

* No one in the EU has given any sign that this will be acceptable, or that they are willing to engage in any kind of talks before Article 50 is invoked; so

* The government is deferring Article 50 into the indefinite future in the hope that something will turn up after the German and French elections; meanwhile

* The alternative of a complete exit is in the same position as Brexit was before the referendum – too scary to be discussed in public, even with plausible deniability that the government is contemplating it; so

* Any analysis going on within the bureaucracy is sealed off from both the public and any source of outside expertise

I’d appreciate links to any informed discussion of this.

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ZM 08.24.16 at 6:32 am

I think it might be useful to talk about different sorts of racism, descriptively.

I don’t think all Brexiteers, for instance, would be racist in the sense that all of them would necessarily

A. verbally or physically attack people based on race,

or

B. they would subscribe to outdated pseudo-scientific ideas about people of non-white races being inferior.

I think that conclusion is reasonable due to the high numbers of people who voted for Brexit, and I don’t get the idea of this high number of people in the UK meeting A. or B. as I describe them above. I am not from the UK, so I could be wrong, but at least its not the idea I get.

But in a Trump thread I mentioned I thought that you would have to be racist in a way to support Trump due to his racist policies. Even if these policies were not the ones which drew you to supporting Trump, you are implicitly saying you would accept racist policies on the basis of getting whatever the policies Trump has which you do support.

This is a different form of racism than A. or B. as I outlined them above.

I’ll call it C. where you don’t count people of other races as important, or as belonging to your community in the same way people of your own race do.

Of course we all value our family and friends and people we are close to or know more, in some ways, than strangers. We buy them birthday presents, and visit them when they are sick, and so on.

But in a Nation, we don’t know everyone, we aren’t close to everyone.

A Nation is a larger community we belong to.

If we accept racist policies, we are in effect saying that we don’t think people of other races are important in our National community as much as people of our own race, or as important of the group of races we privilege over others.

This is a different sort of racism and probably more difficult to identify.

I grew up in a small town without much racial or cultural diversity. I remember when I first lived in the City I was on a tram one day and I found myself very surprised to hear Asian teenagers speaking with broad Australian accents. I had never thought to myself before this that I had a category in my mind of the sort of people who speak with broad Australian accents and Asians weren’t excluded from this, but the great surprise I felt in the tram that day showed me that I actually had that mental category.

I don’t think that was a particular sort of racism that would have affected anyone very negatively and I corrected it that day on the tram in my surprise, but it shows that you can mentally exclude groups from being in the community you belong to quite easily without giving it much thought.

If this sort of thinking proceeds to policy making or support for policies, I think it qualifies as a kind of racism.

And I think Chris Bertram is being fair to say the Brexit vote is an example of this.

Its a bit different in Australia because we don’t belong to anything like the European Union. I think we have preferential migration policies and things for New Zealand, since we are so close and similar. I am not sure about migration policies for Pacific Islands near Australia like New Zealand but not colonised by the UK.

The EU is sort of interesting since the countries retain Nation status, and don’t quite move to a Federation.

I think this does problematise what Chris Bertram is saying in a way — because we don’t only exclude people from our National community based on race, but also Nationality.

The EU seems to be a middling sort of thing, where all the countries are not part of one Nation like the federations such as Australia and the USA, but they give some rights of Nationality to people of other Nations in the EU.

While I would agree that excluding people based on racism is not acceptable, it is less clear to me that excluding people based on their current Nationality is not acceptable, while we retain Nations as the central bodies of governance and legal jurisdiction.

I think refugees are a different case, where they shouldn’t be excluded based on Nationality due to their status as refugees.

But I don’t really know what the answer is though in terms of the EU where you have Nations and commitment to extending the rights of citizenship to people of the other nations in the EU. I think this seems like a good goal really. But if people don’t want to belong to the EU it makes it very difficult, since I can see how its not that different to how in Australia we don’t extend the rights of citizenship to people apart from migrants to Australia who take up citizenship.

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Igor Belanov 08.24.16 at 6:37 am

merian- thanks for adding a bit of nuance to this thread.

This particularly strikes a chord and explains much of the politico-cultural environment in the UK:

“One of the reasons I didn’t develop much attachment to the UK was the extraordinary harshness that ordinary struggling people were exposed to in cultural terms. Unlike in France, I never actually got to become friends with any. Society is a lot less mixed in big-city England. The most emblematic thing was those ads run by the benefits office that encouraged people to turn in their neighbours for benefits fraud — necessarily on the flimsiest of suspicions, because how on earth should I know what benefits my neighbour, exactly, is receiving? Of the same ilk: ever rising university fees (and broken promises); school and education purely as a means to economic ladder-climbing; fit-to-work assessments; EMTs so overworked that they become cynical towards the vulnerable — the poor devils that, sure, aren’t the most easy to deal with, but are at the end of their ropes.”

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ZM 08.24.16 at 6:38 am

“I had a category in my mind of the sort of people who speak with broad Australian accents and Asians weren’t excluded from this, but the great surprise I felt in the tram that day showed me that I actually had that mental category.”

should be “I had a category in my mind of the sort of people who speak with broad Australian accents and Asians *were* excluded from this, but the great surprise I felt in the tram that day showed me that I actually had that mental category.”

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Chris Bertram 08.24.16 at 6:50 am

@JohnQ, I think that’s broadly right, except that the government position is probably less clear than that. There are quite a few people who think that Brexit will never happen, because Article 50 will never be triggered because the can will continue to be kicked down the road. If there were a new referendum choice between Remain and a precise and determinate Brexit deal, then Remain would probably win. Who knows what the chances of that are (25%?). My own guess is that the UK government will at some point pull the trigger without knowing what the outcome will be, just so everyone has to commit to making Brexit work in some form. The damage will be immense.

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Chris Bertram 08.24.16 at 6:57 am

@Faustusnotes “If the uk had European style voting systems it would be ruled by UKIP .” I don’t think that’s true. What is true is that UKIP + Tories would command a majority, so long as the Tories stayed intact within a coalition with UKIP, and that’s a big assumption. You are correct to think that there’s a nasty undercurrent that has surfaced in the UK, but I don’t think things are worse in that respect from France, and probably they are better. Nadiya Hussain, who spoke the other day of her daily experience of racist abuse in the UK, is nevertheless a very popular figure. (She’d be asked to remove her head covering by police if she were on the beach at Cannes, and would have to do so whilst a crowd of racists applauded the police. )

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John Quiggin 08.24.16 at 7:15 am

Following up, Brexit seems like the first real test of tribalism as a basis for determining big national policy issues. Until now, in the UK and elsewhere, we’ve seen lots of policies that make life harder for people who don’t belong the dominant tribe (non-citizens and minority citizens) but no serious attempt to reverse or even halt the processes by which societies have become less homogenous. If Brexit succeeds (however that might be assessed) in doing this , tribalism will become a much more powerful force. At the moment, though, it seems more and more like a futile piece of gesture politics, which has accidentally come to determine the future of Britain.

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Ronan(rf) 08.24.16 at 7:41 am

Marc @143 “Hmm, if you think it’s okay, even laudable, to feel ‘out of community’ with the statitical average who voted Brexit because they’re ‘objectively’ racist, it’s hard to deny the validity of those who feel ‘out of community’ with, say, Muslims, because of their statistically averaged regressive attitudes toward liberal norms….”

Chris @148″ That’s true, and sometimes you say “ok, we lost, we’ll try to do better next time”. But feeling part of the political community isn’t compulsory, and one can feel a degree of alienated to a point where you say “this isn’t me, I have no commitment to going forward on fair terms with these people…”

But I don’t think this really answers Marc’s point. How is this qualitatively any different than the person who says they don’t feel any shared community with Muslims because of their statistically averaged regressive attitudes toward liberal norms? That they will do the legally obliged minimum to support them, but if they could get away from them they would?
The vast majority of the world’s political cultures and societies are more regressive (and I would say racist) than the UK, so how can you on the one hand (as a cosmopolitan) say you have no shared community or (moral, as opposed to legal) obligations to brexiters, yet you still have such a shared community and obligations to communities that are far more reactionary than north England pensioners?

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Philip 08.24.16 at 7:53 am

John, I haven’t seen a clear picture presented by the government of what they are aiming for from Brexit. The whole ‘access to the single market will continue’ line taken by the leave campaign was massive obfuscation as they never said whether it meant being part of the single market through the EEA like Norway or just to have access through trade agreements. If we take the EEA approach I have no idea how freedom of movement can be kept. I have seen a couple of people argue that they only voted what was on the ballot i.e. to leave the EU and their preferred outcome would be to be part of the EEA and keep freedom of movement but this seems extraordinarily naive to me.

Merian, that was a great post that reflects my feelings that many parts of this don’t have to be reduced down to one thing or another. I think people voted for lots of reasons: racism, ideological principles, frustation and anger etc. Also there are lots of consequences that leave voters did not think through, such as how to keep access to the single market, and that not fully considering the fate of EU nationals in the UK as well does not necessarily make people racist.

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novakant 08.24.16 at 8:54 am

John, as I mentioned above, nobody had any idea during the referendum campaign of what they were actually voting for, nobody expected Brexit to actually happen and nobody has any idea as to what to do now since nobody made any plans for the actual outcome.

All those rationalizing Brexit on this and the many other threads should consider this fact.

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Peter T 08.24.16 at 9:02 am

“..there are lots of consequences that leave voters did not think through” and “..the government position is probably less clear than that..”

Given that a large chunk of the political class – mostly more or less well-informed – evidently failed to think through the consequences, why should we expect ordinary voters to think through them too? Not just the economic ones, but the impacts on their neighbours or fellow residents? And should we expect them to be philosophers, self-reflectively teasing out every strand of their motives? Setting some very high bars here.

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novakant 08.24.16 at 9:07 am

John, I found these inital responses to the referendum quite interesting:

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v38/n14/on-brexit/where-are-we-now

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novakant 08.24.16 at 9:14 am

Setting some very high bars here.

The bar is for the politicians to define the policies they are proposing and for the voters to familiarize themselves with those policies in general terms. I don’t think that’s particularly ambitious or demanding – especially since this was a decision that will affect millions of people for decades to come. But hey, people apparently vote for three-word slogans based on gut feelings. I would have thought at least the politicians would care a little bit more about policy, though. Silly me.

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Pete 08.24.16 at 9:19 am

“Both of the major parties right? With both of the major parties focusing on different variations of globalization right? With neither of the major parties successfully implementing strong mitigation measures, right? I’m happy to admit that I don’t live in the UK so I could be wrong about that. Am I wrong about that?”

SebastianH: you’re not wrong. New Labour were a lot better at attempting mitigation measures, especially in the form of Sure Start and generally increased public funding, but still lacked any kind of effective regional policy or housebuilding policy. Their one great bit of regional policy was Scottish devolution.

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engels 08.24.16 at 10:13 am

Any analysis going on within the bureaucracy is sealed off from both the public and any source of outside expertise

I think that’s broadly right, except that the government position is probably less clear than that

Yep—imo this is now the most surreal aspect of this whole ‘democratic exercise’.

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John Gardner 08.24.16 at 10:43 am

I have sympathy for what Chris writes. I’m pretty sure he’s mistaken to think of nearly all Brexit-voters as racists. But he’s right to feel alienated from them, and to look elsewhere for his friends and his community. Foolish Brexit voters (I ignore the knaves) struck out at the wrong target and condemned us to a future, for as far as foreseeable, of asset-stripping low-wage homeless illiberal little Englishness. I mean even worse than what we faced otherwise. One feels this type of alienation every time the turkeys vote for Christmas at a general election. But after each Tory win one feels some hope that next time the vultures might yet be knocked off their perches for a few years, if only we can find the right leadership. This referendum is different. It has guaranteed an irreversible shift towards oligarchic-but-populist one-party rule in national politics – thereby weakening, not strengthening, our collective protection against the onslaught of global hyper-capitalism, not to mention the wars that it will in time yield. If you think it was bad to have French-owned water companies and German-owned rail franchises that leeched money out of the UK to help pay for better public services in their home countries, let’s see how you feel about their Russian- and Chinese-owned post-Brexit successors, with no public service aims at all.

The collective suicide note scribbled on 23 June 2016 causes informed people to doubt the sanity of continuing to throw their lot in with the turkeys. That is certainly how I feel. Like Chris, I wish them all a spiritual farewell, which I think is also irreversible. I never felt more Scots and I never felt more European. But I never felt less British. I now have too little in common with the inhabitants of rump-Britain. The idea that I should join them in trying to help make Brexit work, or indeed anything work, now just makes me laugh (and of course weep a little, for old time’s sake).

Even if you think I’m overreacting, my overreaction is still shared by many millions of reasonably educated people who are now, effectively, lost to the cause of progressive British politics (including my countryfolk in Scotland who will soon go it alone). This overnight busting of the longstanding illusion of solidarity is the last thing that the British left, and indeed the country, needed. It was an illusion always tenuously maintained, dangerously stretched by Blair, and finally destroyed in 24 hours of counterproductive lashing out at an unknown other. You win, Daily Mail.

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Rich Puchalsky 08.24.16 at 11:14 am

John Gardner: “This overnight busting of the longstanding illusion of solidarity is the last thing that the British left, and indeed the country, needed. It was an illusion always tenuously maintained, dangerously stretched by Blair, and finally destroyed in 24 hours of counterproductive lashing out at an unknown other.”

The first thing that I wrote in this thread was that the end of this solidarity was the death of a fiction. Why do you think it’s important to preserve a fictional politics? Was the left healthy or even more or less present while it relied on this fiction?

The fact seems to be that the little Englanders or “rump England” or whatever isn’t needed and isn’t wanted by the middle class that is talking about being out of community with them, except insofar as they are supposed to get out of the way. There is no actual basis for solidarity there. Why are they supposed to be the ones to preserve the fiction?

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Igor Belanov 08.24.16 at 11:21 am

The limited vision of those defending ‘remain’ on this thread is depressing. I voted remain and support the idea of European integration, but to invest membership of the EU in itself with such a high significance seems somewhat of an over-exaggeration. The roots of the ‘leave’ vote lie as much in the failings of the elites in the UK, the EU and other European countries as they do in the racism and xenophobia of sections of the British population.

The whole nature of these counsels of despair seems so utterly conservative in its political attitudes, and evidence of where the EU had been going wrong. Of course the referendum vote showed a lack of concern for EU nationals in the UK, the future of the single market and the UK’s economic fortunes. The electorate was offered the chance to vote once on the country’s status as an EU member and then leave everything else to the establishment to decide. That is the root of the problem, not the foolish caprices of the populace.

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Manta 08.24.16 at 11:34 am

Two points

1) The EU project is first and foremost an economic and security project.
As the last 10 years have shown quite starkly, the talk about solidarity was, well, talk.
Or better, there was some space for solidarity when things were going well, but in bad times it’s dog eats dog.

2) I have seen mentioned Le Pen as some kind of example of “evil” politician.
But, as far as I can see, her policies (regarding immigration and treatment of Muslims) are not different than the policies of the 2 other main French parties.

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Stephen 08.24.16 at 11:54 am

JQ@233: this thread started with racism and has now come to tribalism.

Can somebody please explain the difference between racism, nationalism, tribalism and classism?

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Faustusnotes 08.24.16 at 12:28 pm

Chris I am not trying to compare the uk with France or anywhere else. I am not usually interested in studies of comparative racism, as my experience has shown me that you can live in a country that allows openly racist discrimination (“no pets and foreigners” here in Japan) but where I am nevertheless treated better than I was in the uk as a white citizen returning from abroad (no access to bank account or phone contract for example) or an Aussie citizen in London (sneered at and openly insulted by a small proportion of British people I met). I am interested only in this specific issue of what is wrong with the British polity and the British lefts response to it.

I have to take issue with the claim that there is no regional policy. The eu poured money to the regions, it was a kind of centralized form of redistribution, but those regions voted leave and are now begging the uk govt to replace those subsidies i.e. To come up with a post brexit regional policy they obviously hadn’t prepared for. These people voted to cut millions of pounds a year from their own budgets. Why?

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John Gardner 08.24.16 at 12:56 pm

@Rich Puchansky: You write as if disadvantaged and dispossessed people had nothing to gain from maintaining the illusion of solidarity with the urban intelligentsia. But they weren’t being screwed primarily by the urban intelligentsia, who are naive and hypocritical but not for the most part predatory. Nor were they being screwed primarily by the EU, which for all of its weaknesses has by and large helped to protect them against the even worse manifestations of globalization that they are liable soon to be exposed to. They were being screwed primarily by the Tories. If we were ever to build serious opposition to the Tories (and the even worse stuff that lies out on the UKIP right), there was no alternative to a vaguely leftish alliance based on an illusion. Generally, there is no other way in politics but illusion. That is why, over their 200-year history, the Tories have become such expert illusionists. And why they are the main beneficiaries, politically, of the abrupt end of the illusion of solidarity that once, all too briefly, sustained the British Labour Party.

It is, alas, rather characteristic of British progressives to think that illusions are something to be ashamed of, that they make politics less ‘healthy’, as you put it. Tell that to the people who now face the even less healthy future that I described, many of them at their own misguided behest. They were the patsies (I said ‘turkeys’) of more expert and cynical illusionists than the left can muster. And now that they have signed the warrants for their own permanent impoverishment and debilitation, I (and millions like me) are duly disillusioned about them. We can’t see much that still binds us together, when previously we deceived ourselves quite nicely that we could, and thereby kept some hope of social progress alive.

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Faustusnotes 08.24.16 at 1:09 pm

Solidarity is not an illusion or a lie. Rich is just talking nonsense.

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Drew Deanez 08.24.16 at 1:11 pm

As a Remainer, I think that Professor Bertram is being unfair towards Brexiters, in that if his argument works (and I don’t buy that it does), it entails the existence of a large amount of racist Remainers. Let me explain.

Firstly, it appears that the argument takes a subjectivist line. Imagine a voter in a booth on the day of the referendum- he can either tick the box for “Leave” or for “Remain”. According to Prof. Bertram, it is not the act of ticking “Leave” in itself that makes the voter a racist. He allows that certain “Lexiteers” or “right wing sovereigntists” may tick “Leave” and not be racist. This is because of the internal thought process that led them to tick “Leave”. What is important, therefore, is not necessarily the voter’s behavior, but rather their internal decision-making process.

Why are the majority of Brexiters racist? Because, in making their decision, they did not give due consideration towards the disproportionate impact of Brexit on those ethnic minorities who are here because of the EU’s free movement laws. Lexiteers are exempt, because they did give due consideration, and thought that some other minorities’ interests outweighed that particular minorities’ interest. Leavers, for the most part, simply didn’t care. Fair enough.

However, what Prof. Bertram hasn’t considered, is that the majority of Remain voters also probably didn’t give the potential impact of BREXIT on ethnic minorities much thought. From the data we have on people’s reasoning for voting Remain, this consideration certainly wasn’t decisive. According to Lord Ashcroft Polls* the main reasons why people voted Remain were;

(a) the economic risks of leaving the EU being too great
(b) a perception that the correct balance had been struck between not having the Euro and yet having access to the single market and
(c) a feeling that leaving the EU would leave the UK “more isolated”

Because the racism or lack thereof of the referendum voter is determined by their internal reasoning prior to the vote, and not how they voted, then Prof. Bertram must come to the even more depressing conclusion that, not only are most Brexiters racist- so are most Remainers.

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TM 08.24.16 at 1:17 pm

226 Thanks!

221: “If the backlash is similar in countries with strong welfare states and relatively large amounts of distribution as countries like the UK with relatively weak welfare states and less distribution (compared to nordic countries) it must be something common to both types of countries which rules out a uniquely UK “homegrown” cause.”

It seems to me that the success of xenophobic movements both in prosperous and economically stable countries as well as in countries hit hard by economic decline proves onme thing: namely that the causes can’t be primarily economic. Other than the Scandinavians and Germany, where the far right usually polls in the teens, I would point to Austria and Switzerland – among the most prosperous countries by far with low unemployment yet the far right is close to winning a presidency in Austria and has 30% support in Switzerland. Go figure.

As a further data point that some might find enlightening: the Swiss far right party SVP currently supports drastic cuts in the country’s Social Security system and raising the retirment age to 67 years, yet they receive muich of their support from pensioners, most of whom clearly disagree with those proposals and are likely to vote for a union sponsored referendum (the date is September 25) demanding an increase. What do the CT sages make of this I wonder? Those pensioners mind you aren’t misinformed. They watch TV and listen to radio and read the papers, they know exactly where the party that they support stands in terms of policy. I can only conclude that they consider the SVP to best reflect what they care about even though they intensely disagree with many of their economic policies.

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Igor Belanov 08.24.16 at 1:20 pm

@248

“If we were ever to build serious opposition to the Tories (and the even worse stuff that lies out on the UKIP right), there was no alternative to a vaguely leftish alliance based on an illusion. Generally, there is no other way in politics but illusion.”

The politics of the Parliamentary Labour Party in a nutshell. Terrified of ‘the people’, they seek to manipulate them ‘for their own good’. Which also happens essentially to be the ‘own good’ of most of the middle and upper classes.

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Faustusnotes 08.24.16 at 1:33 pm

Every party seeks to manipulate people for their own good. People go into politics to change the world in a way that makes the people they care about better off. Ie to manipulate people for their own good. Speaking of the Labour Party as if this is somehow unusual is very naive.

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Chris Bertram 08.24.16 at 1:50 pm

@Faustusnotes yes, the EU did put money into the English regions (and elsewhere in the UK). What I had in mind was regional policy by the UK government, which barely exists, with the result that economic activity is more and more concentrated in an overcrowded South East whilst rows of houses sit empty on Merseyside, Greater Manchester and in the North East.

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casmilus 08.24.16 at 2:07 pm

Evelyn Waugh felt that living during the Attlee government after 1945 was like being in “an occupied country”.

In 1997 there were plenty of Spectator boys who thought that Blair’s Britain wasn’t a country they recognised (even before Diana Fortnight).

As a rule, if you ever feel the urge to say something like “This is not my country anymore”, what you ought to be thinking is: “This is my country, but it turns out I didn’t know it as well as I thought”.

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Faustusnotes 08.24.16 at 2:25 pm

Casmilus that has been my point for the past 6 years…

Chris that’s a regional policy of sorts though isn’t it? The bigger problem is an absence of an industrial policy, without which a regional policy is just welfare. New labour had a kind of industrial policy but it was terrible (banking and housing). Clearly industrial policy is anathema to the Tories. Corbyn should be pushing for one but he’s too busy pulling stunts on trains I guess.

Over at my blog I have said repeatedly that it is the responsibility of the unions and labour to tackle racism amongst working and middle class people and to fight the tendency of working communities to react badly to new labour supply from outside. New labour failed dismally to take that on when they were riding high, and ran scared from it when luck ran out. I have a vague memory of some heated stoush we on here back when Gordon brown was running his “British jobs for British workers” spiel. I hope it’s obvious now why this was never the right approach for a party of labour …

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Rich Puchalsky 08.24.16 at 3:00 pm

Igor Belanov: “The politics of the Parliamentary Labour Party in a nutshell. Terrified of ‘the people’, they seek to manipulate them ‘for their own good’. Which also happens essentially to be the ‘own good’ of most of the middle and upper classes.”

Yes. I also liked “They weren’t being screwed by the urban intelligentsia, they were being screwed by the Tories.” What is the British national industry that is the base of the urban intelligentsia? Primarily associated with London, of course. Might the financial industry have anything at all to do with this?

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TM 08.24.16 at 3:12 pm

Intelligentsia, really. On dit n’importe quoi.

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novakant 08.24.16 at 6:01 pm

TM @ 251 is correct

It proves my point, sadly.

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bruce wilder 08.24.16 at 7:04 pm

JQ: Something of a tangent, but is there any informed discussion of what Brexit will actually mean.

Of course, no one knows what Brexit will mean, because it hasn’t happened yet: critical decisions have not been framed, let alone taken. And, what does happen will not be a simple Brexit affecting only the UK, but another revision of the EU as a whole, part of the EU’s continuing evolution.

Peter Dorman had a post worth considering, with promising links.
http://econospeak.blogspot.com/2016/06/brexit-and-incorrigibility-of-eu.html

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bruce wilder 08.24.16 at 7:30 pm

Stephen @ 246: Can somebody please explain the difference between racism, nationalism, tribalism and classism?

I could, but I suspect what you really want to ask is, don’t they all have something in common?

All are classes of rhetorical indoctrination in personal identity as membership used as a means for social organization and exploiting primitive human social instincts, including moral feelings and ambivalent attitudes toward authority and convention.

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john 08.24.16 at 9:22 pm

Given the anger at how well government has been working for most people, it seems whatever question was put before the people, where they were to have actual power to decide, would have failed for the powers that be. The unique thing here was people had a chance to say “Oxi” so they said it. What was the question?

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Esebian 08.24.16 at 11:10 pm

@1, Mister Mr,

” I think that the word “racism” is wrong here, and that we should use a different term here, like “nationalism” or “identitarism” or something like it. “

Dude, all three of those mean the same thing. Especially “identitarian,” which is the new go-to label of neo-Nazis.

264

Manta 08.25.16 at 12:36 am

Igor @252
If those premises were true, the only good thing that the Labor party could do is to dissolve itself and send its main representatives into oblivion.
Coincidentally, it seems that’s exactly what Labor politicians are trying to do now.

265

basil 08.25.16 at 1:06 am

I’m late as always but this is fascinating. We live in a world of racisms – without racists ; things have come to this.

The most privileged people on the planet, that elevated caste that raises its voice to denounce radical voices campaigning against war, for equality, for social and economic justice cudgels its foes with accusations of racism. Yes, it performs the customary civility; gesturing at law and policy, nodding at surveys and politely making tough G4S choices while handing out blankets to some of those who breach the walls. True, it celebrates Mo Farah but it demonstrates remarkably limited solidarity with the suffering peoples stretched out across the earth.

After Greece’s scream, and with the portents of TPP about us, it would be an idea that Remainers pause before righteously denouncing those who’d consider the evidence and make different conclusions about their European Union? Even were Brexiteers racist, how did they come to be that way?

Thousands drown in the Mediterranean while Europe’s forges beat out swords with which those they left behind will be chased out of their home countries. Amardas patrol, and fences stretch across the southern sea, to keep out beached aliens. All the while Europe looks inward, slashing aid, corporatising development funding and crafting mega-deals that advertise freedom but deliver immiseration for billions. This is the world we live in, and it really shouldn’t be lost on us that attachment to the EU, to the idea of a cherished European people, is itself an odious nationalism.

Does the suffering of Corbyn at the hands of Remain’s nationalists; for NATO, for the Windsors, for the anthem, for Trident, for refusing to promise nuclear death to far away foreigners not declare the murderous racism that is mainstream? We know that in the anti-racist ranks of Remainers are dogwhistlers whispering British jobs for British workers, seizing tannoys to ask immigrants to go home and warning of swarms that threaten to overwhelm the Volk. And then there’s clever orators who move the people to tears with pleas for bombs for Syria, and a protective posse of plotters sheltering war criminals and – in their embrace of Trident – refusing to denounce genocide. These, in the establishment, in the ether and on the streets, are the Remainers. This is the anti-racist party.

Why then is this nebulous Referendum vote the final straw? What does it drag into evidence about our community that was hidden before?

*All this really ought to be clear to a writer like CB who’s done first-rate work campaigning against the second-class human-status for non-Europeans that is essential to the EU’s thinking about borders.

**Lupita’s recent comment about the limited solidarity of ethnic minorities situated on the shining hill was clarified for me in the person of the London Mayor, who reassuringly curtseys before the queen and comes out for Remain’s nationalists, and against Corbyn. Corbyn on his part is guilty of the ultimate perfidy, he refuses to perform racial solidarity.

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basil 08.25.16 at 1:11 am

This reference to Lupita’s comment is me thinking that the language and categories of racism hide much that has shifted since they became mainstream. I’ve found Imogen Tyler and Barack Obama useful for thinking about this.

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engels 08.25.16 at 1:35 am

people had a chance to say “Oxi” so they said it. What was the question?

Theresa May, Boris Johnson, David Davis et al, will be determining that largely behind closed doors over the coming months. It’s a giant exercise in democracy dontchaknow…

268

Ecrasez l'Infame 08.25.16 at 3:23 am

@reason I’m hardly going to mention every blindingly obvious point, am I? I assume you are American or something, because I doubt that any person in Europe could have been unaware that Brexit leaves British residents in Europe in a state of precarity. I have family members in this position, as it happens.

@ Chris Bertram – But your argument is that under an “equalities impact assessment” Brexit “will cause disproportionate harms” to EU citizens, and indifference to their fate is a form of prejudice – i.e racism or xenophobia. However, you never did any assessment. You just ignored Brit expats, and declared that EU migrants were hit the hardest. This is wrong. Let’s do an “equalities impact assessment”. What % of rEU citizens in the UK does this effect? 3.3 / ( 508 – 64.1 – 1.2 + 3.3 ) = 0.7%. And what % of Brits in the rEU? 1.2 / ( 64.1 + 1.2 – 3.3 ) = 2%. Brexit does not disproportionately effect foreigners, so your argument fails.

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faustusnotes 08.25.16 at 5:28 am

And so by the inexorable logic of left wing mathematics, we establish that it is better to dispossess 3 million Europeans than a million British.

Because All Lives Matter, right?

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Chris Bertram 08.25.16 at 6:54 am

“disproportionate harm” in context, is clearly in relation to the policy objective. The fact that some other group of people, British citizens living in other EU countries, were also ignored and thrown under the bus, doesn’t mitigate the charge it makes it worse.

(In any case, it was my belief that Ecrasez l’Infame was already banned from CT comments threads, though I can’t remember whether this was on grounds of unpleasantness, obtuseness or stupidity.)

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Guano 08.25.16 at 9:05 am

Engels #267

Indeed, and this is probably the most important point of all.

There appears to be an unspoken assumption in many quarters that the UK voted for an end to free movement of people, which was not on the ballot paper.

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Stephen 08.25.16 at 5:06 pm

esebian@263
I’m interested to learn that “Racism” and “Nationalism” mean the same thing.
Query how that applies to Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Catalan, Quebequois nationalists.

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Layman 08.25.16 at 5:32 pm

“There appears to be an unspoken assumption in many quarters that the UK voted for an end to free movement of people, which was not on the ballot paper.”

That assumption was spoken, shouted even, by the people who concocted the ballot and campaigned for it, and even by the people who voted for it. It will come as some surprise if everyone was kidding.

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Igor Belanov 08.25.16 at 6:12 pm

Whether the assumption that there would be an end to free movement was unspoken, spoken, shouted or transmitted through telepathy, the only question the referendum asked was if Britain should remain a member of the EU. That was one of the main weaknesses of the whole process- we all found ourself wondering what really had been decided, because most of the issues are still unresolved.

The problem is that these issues are likely to fall within the almost exclusive jurisdiction of politicians and bureaucrats, who will jealously guard their decision-making responsibilities and shut out wider participation as much as they possibly can. On some of the individual concerns this might well seem to be a benefit, but from a broader point of view of democracy and mass politics it could end up being a disaster.

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ZM 08.25.16 at 11:31 pm

I was just thinking, Britain already did this before.

I think it might have been when Britain joined the EU, or around then.

People from Commonwealth countries used to be able to live in Britain easily, and there was preferential trading agreements.

Brexit is pretty similar to ending the policy of letting people from Commonwealth countries live in the UK, and ending preferential trading agreements for Commonwealth countries.

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Karl Young 08.26.16 at 5:52 am

I thought this piece made the excellent point that complicity that arises from indifference can still be reasonably considered complicity, though on the other hand I think some of the commenters eloquently pointed out some of the dangers of wholesale labeling. But what do I know, I’m just a dumb yank, and mainly wanted to point out an odd, perhaps Brexit related, coincidence that reading this reminded me of. I was scanning the list of best movies of the current millennium so far, recently published in the Guardian and noted that I hadn’t seen Children of Men yet. I rented and watched it, and as I was watching kept having the erie feeling that someone that was cynically inclined might well want to retitle it It All Started With Brexit.

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Donald 08.26.16 at 10:19 am

This post is nonsense.

We will, if we do actually leave, be out of the EU a long time.

EU citizens legal situation will be precarious for relatively short time, and you could very well reasonably believe that those already here will be allowed to stay.

The “wave of hate crime” will directly affect relatively few people. And again you might reasonably believe it wouldn’t happen or that it would be small and short lived.

It’s also possible to reasonably believe that in the long run brexit will be better for people in Britain and have little effect in the EU. You might also reasonably believe that it would be the beginning of the end for the EU and that that would be good in the long run.

On top of this, people’s rationality is bounded and most people don’t think about things as you do.

For all these reasons your argument doesn’t follow in terms of racism and, particularly, in terms of xenophobia, where even if you are right that they mostly disregarded the well being of another group, it doesn’t follow that they’re scared of them

That said, I expect the majority or a large minority of brexiters are at least mildly racist.

Yours,

A remain voter

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dax 08.26.16 at 11:08 am

I think reason made a pertinent point, which was taken up by Ecrasez L’Infame.

Suppose you have a country Whackovia, which is 25% white and 75% black. The UK bans immigration from Whackovia. Is this best described as anti-black? or as anti-Whackovian? Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like it’s anti-Whackovian.

That is, with Brexit bad things may happen to rEU nationals in the UK, but bad things may also happen to UK nationals in the rEU. Now maybe you say that the Brexit voter didn’t really mean it, but clearly they did; I can’t be the only one who noticed articles on panicky Brits now living in EU countries begging for a Remain result before the vote. The fact is, the Leave voters didn’t care.

So with all respect I find Chris’ argument a bit self-serving. He says the Leave voters were racists; he feels alienated by the vote; and voilà his feeling of alienation becomes a kind of nobility and moral rectitude. On the contrary I think the Leave voters were anti-cosmopolitans (or tribalists, bowing to JQ’s comment above). Sure they don’t like others living in the UK, but they also don’t like Brits living elsewhere. The common feature of the people they don’t like is: not having a strong claim to British national identity. Some are coming and some are going, but none are all the way in. So Chris is right to feel alienated, but his alienation is coming from the fact that Leavers voted not against the Poles but against *him*. Christ Bertram, cosmopolitan. And, for that matter, me, dax, also cosmopolitan. Let’s face it, but let’s face it honestly; a majority of the Brexit voters don’t like us. What’s more, there’s probably not a country on Earth where a majority of voters like us. We had two maybe three decades where it was glorious to be a world citizen. But most people, while not rooted to the soil, are rooted to their nations. And they don’t seem much to like those who aren’t.

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Guano 08.26.16 at 11:22 am

Igor Belanov #274

Yes, I agree. A referendum on one question has been turned into one on a different one. And if the result had been different, some of the same people would be saying that the referendum wasn’t about immigration and something still had to be done about it.

Some of the people saying that the results of the referendum meant that era of free movement of labour was at an end were suspiciously quick off the mark with these statements after the results came in (considering that the result was supposedly a surprise). Some of the right-wing of the Labour Party really see immigration controls as a way of making the Labour Party electable, and take any opportunity to push this policy.

280

Peter T 08.26.16 at 11:42 am

“most people..are rooted to their nations”

I’ll quote again Eric Hobsbawm’s useful remark that identities are not like hats – you can can wear more than one at a time. Chris – and many others – feel that Brexit deprives them of access to/institutional expression of their identity as Europeans (in the sense of citizens of the EU). In this he is right. It’s an adjustment a great many have had to make (I personally know those who feel the loss of their Soviet or Yugoslav identities). Yet, contra those who voted to leave, the nation is an increasingly thin identity institutionally, one needing to be supplemented economically and politically, vulnerable to the pull on its elites of more powerful forms, fissioned by identities of religion and region that no longer align nationally. The EU put too little effort into building symbols around which people could rally, too much into technocratic management.

Historically, nations are recent as the dominant form of identity. I don’t know what other identities will come more to the fore, but the liberal ideal of cosmopolitan individualism doesn’t look to be a contender.

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Z 08.26.16 at 12:39 pm

So Chris is right to feel alienated, but his alienation is coming from the fact that Leavers voted not against the Poles but against *him*.

Yeah, I think I agree with this. And I also agree pretty much with everything Sebastian H wrote, especially his comment 91. That said, the feeling of being a social alien in one’s own country is nigh uncontrollable, and not pleasant at all (I am already losing sleep over the prospect of a Sarkozy/Le Pen second round in 2017; a prospect that makes a Trump presidency almost enviable).

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engels 08.26.16 at 12:59 pm

Most people, while not rooted to the soil, are rooted to their nations. And they don’t seem much to like those who aren’t.

As someone who has spent large parts of his life living outside of his ‘nation’ and surely wouldn’t have appeared ‘rooted’ to it when there, that simply hasn’t been my experience (ymmv).

283

Sebastian_h 08.26.16 at 1:12 pm

“The EU put too little effort into building symbols around which people could rally, too much into technocratic management.”

Yes, and when their technocratic management was exposed as not being all that good they had burned through huge amounts of good will by marginalizing too many ‘less important’ people for too long. So now they are in the position of having to make sure that such people never have a chance to vote against them again. Elite entrenchment will work to kill feedback mechanisms which, as killing feedback mechanisms does, will cause the system to drift further and further out of balance. even presuming there aren’t bad actors who will work to throw it out of balance.

Interestingly I suspect we’ve heard the end of pushes for mandatory voting from the European left for at least a generation. All of those arguments about the dangers of poorly informed voters suddenly are in a new light.

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engels 08.26.16 at 1:13 pm

Please provide some evidence for the astonishing claim that a significant factor in the Brexit vote was a widely shared desire to make people like Chris Bertram more “rooted to the nation” by preventing them from living abroad?

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Marc 08.26.16 at 1:37 pm

@282: That’s probably not a good explanation. Hostility to the domestic elites as a class, however, and a stronger allegiance to the UK proper than to the EU, probably were.

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Val 08.26.16 at 1:42 pm

dax @ 276

But most people, while not rooted to the soil, are rooted to their nations. And they don’t seem much to like those who aren’t.

I suggest it’s not their “nation” they are rooted to, but their imaginary nation – what they think their nation ought to be. Or as you put it elsewhere “British national identity” – it’s what they think the idealised “British national identity” is. I don’t judge that, not being English, but I think the principle that Chris is making is probably applicable more broadly and that people from other nations can understand it – that some people, like probably many or most Remainers, have an idea of what their nation ought to be, and they don’t like people who don’t conform to that idea – and often it is racist.

I haven’t said anything in this debate because I feel I don’t know enough, but as a historian I understand that the ‘imagined nation’ is the the thing that’s powerful in these kinds of debates.

287

RINO economist 08.26.16 at 2:49 pm

I am afraid that I found the OP and many of the comments pretty annoying and condescending, and I say this as a first-world immigrant living in London who, if I’d been entitled to, would have voted to remain; furthermore, I am seriously inconvenienced by the outcome. But Val and others might find a Financial Times essay on historians voting for Brexit of interest.

https://www.ft.com/content/86c8faa8-1696-11e6-9d98-00386a18e39d

“Rival historians trade blows over Brexit”
[for once, doesn’t seem to be behind the FT firewall]

What is striking to me, as an economist of sorts, is that university historians appeared to be nowhere as overwhelmingly against Brexit as were university economists.

Whatever the number of fools, rogues and bullshit merchants on the Brexit side, it doesn’t strike me as sensible to assume that most, let alone “nearly all”, are racists.

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engels 08.26.16 at 4:20 pm

‘Hostility to elites as as class’ really isn’t the same thing as ‘hostility to elites for being too “rootless”‘.

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basil 08.26.16 at 5:49 pm

We’ve recently heard from the greatest champion of Remain, so ardent in his love for Europe he wants the referendum result ignored. His love for immigrants, on the other hand isn’t as assured.

In response to the question ‘are there too many immigrants in the UK?’, he offers, ‘depends on where you are’. He colludes in the scapegoating of immigrants, expressing with certainty the falsehood that immigrants ‘definitely caused downward pressure on wages’ and in asking for an ‘honest’ discussion on immigration, he weaves an elaborate lie about his wife’s school district, claiming with no shame that it is under pressure as there are “significant numbers into South Wales of people fleeing the Middle East”.

He doesn’t stand alone. Others of his lot fought the last election with a pledge to ‘control immigration’. They were so proud of this idea that they carved it in stone and printed it on mugs to sell. To clarify this position, the burly crusader against the infiltration of Labour by Trots offered “Labour is on your side, the Lib Dems are on the side of failed asylum seekers”.

Opinion polls show that the Prime Minister, even with her extreme, barely believeable views and actually implemented policy on immigrants has a 50% poll rating, preferred by far to the geezer who can’t promise to deliver death to far away Syrians or Russians, who makes positive sounds about Argentinians and who declares emphatically for immigrants. I am with Igor Belanov, the referendum result does little to show where people stand on racism, and ZM makes a useful point about a maybe distinction between prejudice against non-Europeans versus that against EU citizens.

The way these cries of racism are deployed does little to cultivate solidarity with the differently hued downtrodden or vulnerable.

290

Z 08.26.16 at 8:19 pm

Incidentally, and even though this thread is probably dying, I think that whatever one’s own preferred framework and analysis is, the question asked implicitly by TM @251 should merit attention; namely why do far-right xenophobic parties also rise in coherent, prosperous societies like Switzerland or Austria?

291

Rich Puchalsky 08.26.16 at 11:46 pm

Z: “why do far-right xenophobic parties also rise in coherent, prosperous societies like Switzerland or Austria?”

I assume that there is some level of xenophobia in any society, so perhaps the question is why they arise as parties that could potentially take power rather than as fringe parties that everyone ignores.

Assuming that that’s the question, I think that it’s hardly ever due to some kind of cultural change through which people become more culturally xenophobic. That can follow after a right wing party takes power, but generally not before. It’s generally a reaction to events that threaten people’s sense of place or power within society. That can be economic changes that leave them worse off or feeling more precarious, it can be a reaction to political changes that make people feel powerless, it can be a reaction to cultural changes that aren’t seemingly that related, or it can be a reaction to previous successes of egalitarianism that threaten a social place of relative privilege, even if that privilege is only one step from the bottom.

In particular, most people here (determinedly) misunderstand the whole EU-has-no-democracy or economics-causes-racism theses. I’ll take the first. The EU really has no means of democratic feedback by which voting changes the policies of the EU (other than outright rejection / leaving the EU). People say the that right wing is racist and doesn’t care about this. But if people really don’t care about democracy, than why do we have democracy? Does the left believe that democracy keeps people feeling empowered in some basic sense? If not, why does the left support it? Does the left actually support it even when its results do not go as the left would choose?

When you start down the road of “the right doesn’t care about this, they’re racists” you end up pretty much where CB ends up. Is there any part of this leftism that is particularly democratic? You pretty much have to assume that people care about it *even as a premise* or you have to reevaluate what your leftism really means.

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Sebastian H 08.27.16 at 12:18 am

“Does the left actually support it even when its results do not go as the left would choose?”

No. That was easy.

293

Sebastian H 08.27.16 at 12:24 am

Ok that wasn’t fair. It is hard to commit to process because people tend to think they are right, so when the process goes against them they want to abandon the process. The trick is to understand that often times you might be wrong or at least not as right as you thought. Democratic processes go ‘wrong’ when you ignore a set of problems too long.

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SamChevre 08.27.16 at 12:38 am

TM @ 251, Z @ 287

On xenophobia in prosperous and stable societies.

Here is my hypothesis: there are societies that are doing better (Scandinavia) and that are doing worse (France). BUT–that’s an on-average, and averages here are very misleading.

Here’s the baseline “when we were doing well, we had” of most vaguely-populist parties.

A man with an average education can get a job easily in his geographical area, and expect to keep it. That job will provide an income sufficient to support a family.

Neither the US, nor any of the countries in western Europe, provide this nearly as well as they did in 1960. Some are doing better and some worse, but very few give an average-education 25-year-old anything like the job availability that his father or grandfather had at 25.

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John Quiggin 08.27.16 at 12:39 am

@290 I’ve always noticed this in relation to federalism. Almost no one has views on the balance between states and central government that are strong enough to override the desire to have major policy issues decided the way they want.

And the same is pretty much true when the choice is between plebiscites and elected legislatures.

296

Faustusnotes 08.27.16 at 1:00 am

Yes, British brexiters are so opposed to British people living in Europe that their generation has a much-loved comedy, auf weidersehn pet, about a group of British men stealing German jobs in Germany.

This is an even more pathetic attempt to pretend the vote wasn’t about racism. And yet another example of not really getting this group or their generation at all.

297

Sebastian H 08.27.16 at 1:01 am

I’m pretty committed to process. I believed really stupid things 10 years ago. Even stupider things 20 years ago. I could be wrong.

298

Collin Street 08.27.16 at 2:48 am

Ok that wasn’t fair. It is hard to commit to process because people tend to think they are right, so when the process goes against them they want to abandon the process.

Most people are usually right, or are willing to tolerate right. Reasonable people can find a modus vivendi: you only basically get significant dispute when, you know, there are unreasonable people involved.

Processes work, except when they don’t. But you only see the failures, because “works like it’s supposed to” is invisible: when you get shitty, stupid ourcomes like “we need to hold a referendum and we’ll ignore the result if we don’t like it, but don’t think we’ll be happy if you do the same thing”, then absolutely you should reject the process. Delivering sensible outcomes is what political processes are for.

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bruce wilder 08.27.16 at 3:09 am

Here’s an interesting little paradox: UKIP has a grand total of a single member in the British Parliament, but with 22 MEP, are the largest British Party in the European Parliament elected in 2014. (Labour and the Conservatives each have 20 MEP.)

National political parties generally associate with one of the transnational political parties and members in the EP cooperate with one of the trans-national groupings in the European Parliament.

Three political groupings currently form the Commission Majority and British Labour is a member of one of those groupings (and the single British Liberal Democrat belongs to another of the Commission Majority groupings). So, arguably, these Parties support the neoliberal governing majority in European politics. The Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, a former Prime Minister of Luxembourg, belongs to the largest EP grouping, the European People’s Party Group which has no British participation. (The Group exists only in Parliament and is not quite the same as the transnational European People’s Party, an amalgam of Christian Democrats and centre-right liberals, which also has no British participation though it is predominant across institutions in EU politics.)

British turnout for European Parliament elections has generally been fairly anemic all along, always in the mid-30s as a percentage of the eligible electorate. (Except for 1999, when it fell off to 24%.) Turnout for EP elections across Europe varies markedly by country, but it has been, on average, declining, dragged down by a combination of low standards of turnout in some of the old Communist countries with some ebbing of enthusiasm in Germany and France and among the victims of the Euro. Turnout of 62% in 1979 declined to just over 42% in 2014 overall. Italy has gone from 85% in 1979 to 57% in 2014. Spain went from over half voting in EP elections in 1989 to about a third in 2014. In three elections, Poland has never mustered even a full one-quarter of its eligible electorate.

Turnout for the Brexit referendum was 72%, somewhat higher than the 66% turnout for the 2015 General election.

It’s a civic ritual, voting.

Voting doesn’t really decide anything usually. The voter is voting for other people to decide things. Even a referendum like Brexit, as other comments have pointed out, may be neither binding in policy nor specific in its meaning.

At best, elections provide a veneer of legitimacy and at least a theoretical possibility for a political entrepreneur to assemble support for a change of personnel or policy that might incidentally improve institutional adaptation to circumstances, without shooting massive numbers of people (locally). But voters are not policy analysts. If elections sometimes mark out radical change, it is because policy can fail or just run out of road, improving the political entrepreneur’s chances to use a crisis.

I can not muster much faith in the wisdom of the process, but at the same time as elites are focused more and more on manipulating the led and feeling less attached to the old national structures, I wonder if legitimacy doesn’t become an acute problem in the face of policy failure.

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bruce wilder 08.27.16 at 3:36 am

Collin Street: Processes work, except when they don’t. But you only see the failures, because “works like it’s supposed to” is invisible: when you get shitty, stupid outcomes . . . then absolutely you should reject the process. Delivering sensible outcomes is what political processes are for.

It seems like there’s a risk in this line of thinking of turning to a politics of immaculate conception, where good policy arises not from any recognizable human intercourse, but only from an inexplicable divine intervention and revelation.

The process can go wrong, but some process is always necessary. If I cannot get it together to bake a cake, I can go to the bakery and buy the damn cake, but I do not think polities get that sort of option in the main. If the polity or the economy is to develop along certain desirable lines, it is the polity that must do the developing. Process is the only means available and can not be disposed of; it is necessary to the ends to make the process work toward those ends.

Politics is, as one the other posts has it, a long slow boring of hard boards. Five steps forward, four steps back sometimes. Nothing is invented once and for all. We reproduce it, redesign, rebuild, reform.

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basil 08.27.16 at 3:36 am

But Faustusnotes, two facts ought to unsettle this certainty.

First, Remain is filled with ‘racists’ or at least with people with publicly expressed xenophobic and anti-immigrant views. What explains their vote? How many people did the then Home Minister persuade with their extreme rhetoric and implemented policy?

Second, the EU is far from an anti-racist institution. While it engenders a new nation, bringing into being a new people with a broader nationalism, it also promotes very hard, intolerant boundaries about belonging. It isn’t a broad and permissive cosmopolitanism. You can be very pro-EU while harbouring prejudicial views about Eastern Europeans, Southern Europeans, Russians, Africans, Turks, Arabs, Muslims, etc. Discussions and policy about the economies of the ‘PIIGS’ has been a useful site at which these boundary making, racialising processes play out. It needs saying that one can be pro-EU and be revolted by ‘chavs’, ‘pikeys’, northerners and Scots.

My sense is that the referendum had both a xenophobia that trusted the ruling establishment to keep the hordes out, and another that didn’t trust the establishment. The revolt won the vote, but ugly sentiment against those racialised as other remains in evidence on both sides.

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basil 08.27.16 at 3:44 am

Charges of racism are of course racialising.

303

Val 08.27.16 at 4:24 am

Basil @ 299
Charges of racism are of course racialising

We subordinate groups, we people who are ‘under-represented’ in the halls of power – people of colour, Indigenous peoples, women etc – have an unfortunate habit of noticing things about the ruling classes.

Of course it would be much nicer for everybody if we didn’t and then we wouldn’t have any of this nasty divisive stuff about racism, sexism, imperialism and so on. So rude.

304

Val 08.27.16 at 4:34 am

@ bruce wilder
While I’m on the subject of imperialism, I’ll repeat my comments that you – and others – seem to generalise from your own unfortunate voting systems. In countries with preferential or proportional voting systems (especially where there is high turnout as in Australia where it’s compulsory) you get more diverse representation and legislation has to be argued out amongst a wider range of viewpoints.

I’m not saying the outcomes are necessarily better – I think they are sometimes but not always – but voting counts and democracy means something.

I seriously think that voting reform should be a major cause in the US and UK. I can see that it might seem too hard (genuinely, I’m not saying that to be snarky) but at least you could try to accept that governments elected by 30% of the population are not inevitable, and where there has to be more negotiation between different blocs, ideas get aired more.

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Val 08.27.16 at 4:36 am

30% is off the top of my head, of course – I don’t know precisely what the figures are but they are minority of the population aren’t they? It’s not even majoritarian democracy then.

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Collin Street 08.27.16 at 4:55 am

It seems like there’s a risk in this line of thinking of turning to a politics of immaculate conception, where good policy arises not from any recognizable human intercourse, but only from an inexplicable divine intervention and revelation.

Byzantine generals problem: no decision-making system can generate sensible results if less than two-thirds the decision-making population is sensible. And declining participation rates aren’t declining uniformly.

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Collin Street 08.27.16 at 4:55 am

Can reliably generate.

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Sebastian H 08.27.16 at 5:06 am

“We subordinate groups, we people who are ‘under-represented’ in the halls of power – people of colour, Indigenous peoples, women etc – have an unfortunate habit of noticing things about the ruling classes.”

The people who voted for Brexit are very much NOT the ruling class. The whole problem with Brexit is that the ruling class was caught with its pants down on the vote.

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Faustusnotes 08.27.16 at 5:47 am

Basil this strange contradiction can be easily understood if you understand that the majority of leavers were Tory voters or Tory-leaning voters. These people are terrified of government debt and subscribe to all the Tory ideas about debt. To them, the European neo-liberal order’s signature achievement – the punishment and impoverishment of Greece – was entirely right. This act of transnational cruelty was barely raised as a reason to leave, which is strangely inconsistent with the views out here that leavers were revolting against the neo liberal order – revolting so much that it’s headline policy was barely mentioned and replaced instead with fears about Syrian refugees and nebulous stiff about “taking back control”. Were you to ask “of what”, “the ability to raise national debt” would not have been the answer. It’s as if concerns about neo liberalism m, or the nuances of intra-European racial prejudice, don’t really matter to these people! I wonder why!?

Once you accept that Britain is a Tory country the last 20 years of this unfolding disaster make sense. New labour won govt from a tired and unpopular Tory govt by being Tory lite, but soon after they took power the eastern countries entered the EU. This gave the Tory press – always willing to use racism to con the bulk of the British public into betraying their own interests – a powerful weapon to bring down labour and they wielded it with bloodthirsty abandon. The EU referendum is the natural consequence of the anti- European forces unleashed and invigorated by this campaign to use the easiest available racist tool against labour. But this racist tool wouldn’t work if the British workin and middle class was not stocked full of racists, and in particular if the people sympathetic to leave were not also very sympathetic to racist arguments.

A principled campaign for lexit, founded on horror at the treatment of Greece and a demand for a more left wing, Keynesian project, would have failed horribly. Because the people who wanted to leave were motivated by racism and xenophobia, not economic uncertainty.

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Val 08.27.16 at 6:09 am

Sebastian H @ 303
I wasn’t suggesting the people who voted Leave were ruling class – just responding to Basil’s apparent suggestion that the people who talk about race are the ones who are making the discussion ‘racialised’.

Race, like gender, becomes a factor when people are disadvantaged or oppressed on the basis of race. Pointing out that people are discriminated against or disadvantaged on the basis of race is not ‘racialising’ the discussion.

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Igor Belanov 08.27.16 at 9:28 am

Z @290

“Incidentally, and even though this thread is probably dying, I think that whatever one’s own preferred framework and analysis is, the question asked implicitly by TM @251 should merit attention; namely why do far-right xenophobic parties also rise in coherent, prosperous societies like Switzerland or Austria?”

The question itself is one that is vulgarly economically deterministic. Issues of identity arise due to shifting relationships, and while these relations are affected by rapid economic change, they are not usually due to a rise in poverty or unemployment in themselves. One of the major factors in the EU referendum was the strong leave preference in places who considered themselves ‘left behind’ by modern soci0-economic changes. Some of these places could be poor towns or areas that have never quite recovered from deindustrialisation, while others are relatively affluent districts based on farming, tourism or with wealthy pensioners. Both these types of area have fewer educated, liberal people as they ‘seek fortune’ elsewhere, and fewer immigrants as there are less opportunities for unskilled/semi-skilled labour (apart from in certain arable farming areas). Some cities that voted convincingly to remain have much poorer sections of population than these areas, but because of a feeling that they are benefiting more from the wider economy and more accustomed to living and working with people of different backgrounds, they are more at ease with ‘modern’ life.

The rise of identity politics itself has made the situation worse. The French ‘burkini’ ban farce is a case in question on both sides. The ridiculously authoritarian situation of enforcing a discriminatory dress code on the beach was unlikely to survive very long. But on the news yesterday they were speaking to a Muslim woman sat on the beach in t-shirt and shorts who declared she was overjoyed that the ban had been overturned and would be wearing a ‘burkini’ the next day! Freedom of choice and all that, but it does seem that there are an awful lot of people who assert their identities in a way that antagonises others. These trends have little to do with economic problems, but identity politics as a whole reflects the decline of politics based on solidarity and common interest, and has undoubtedly been affected by warped ideas that have their roots in consumer capitalism rather than any ‘blood and soil’ fascism.

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Marc 08.27.16 at 12:40 pm

@310: Stereotyping large groups of people is bigotry, and that phenomena is not reserved to one gender or ethnic group. I think that basil is making the point that sweeping stereotypes, such as asserting that everyone who disagreed with you on a vote is a racist, is also dehumanizing the other.

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Rich Puchalsky 08.27.16 at 3:04 pm

I don’t think that the right way to look at it is commitment to process as such. It’s about what democracy is for. Democracy clearly is not a process by which people can find the best decisions, but it is supposed to be a process by which people make decisions that they can live with: i.e. it is supposed to respond to popular concerns *whether those concerns are good or bad*.

Basil is clearly right, I think, that charges of racialism can be racializing. In particular the charges of racialism here have required that Jews, who had Klan members burn crosses on their lawns and who are discriminated against or attacked by white nationalists, be classed as white and as supporters of white nationalism.

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faustusnotes 08.27.16 at 4:04 pm

Marc what about stereotyping people who openly claim to be racist? Is it bigotry to say someone is racist when they themselves demand that mantle?

Rich, your arguments about anti-semitism are undermined by your solid theory that solidarity is an illusion and a lie. And isn’t this racializing? It’s so hard when you go down this path isn’t it?

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Rich Puchalsky 08.27.16 at 6:23 pm

I have no idea what faustusnotes is on about. I don’t expect any solidarity from the people who I’m pointing this out to: I’m simply pointing it out and telling them that it’s offensive. It’s up to them whether they want to do anything with that information. If they seriously believed the tripe about how people should view having their racism pointed out as a learning opportunity and a chance to change their behavior, they would, but no one really believes and acts on that.

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bruce wilder 08.27.16 at 7:15 pm

Collin Street: Byzantine generals problem: no decision-making system can generate sensible results if less than two-thirds the decision-making population is sensible. And declining participation rates aren’t declining uniformly.

That’s potentially the basis of a very sophisticated view of the coordination problem constitutional democracy solves imperfectly (except when it doesn’t and hasn’t).

One Point: I think an argument can be made on that basis that Britain’s twoplus-party, first-past-the-post system is better than it looks by Val @ 304’s criteria (maximize the practicing electorate by making voting compulsory and voting’s effectiveness as an expression of preference by better counting procedures). The Conservatives won a constitutional majority in Parliament with slightly less than 37% of the vote and with a turnout of 66% that means the government needed the active support of only one-quarter of the whole electorate. One might naively think democracy puts the minimum threshold of consensus at 50% plus one (extended for legitimacy purposes by whatever the loyal opposition gets), but the British have reduced it, in practice, to about 25% (again plus what the loyal opposition garners — and in Britain, the loyal opposition is supplemented by the possibility of potentially large third parties of self-alienated punters, like the Liberals or Scottish Nationalists).

Britain makes it easier to have a coherent policy, by reducing rates of effective voter participation.

Second Point (unrelated to the first): What constitutes “sensible” becomes itself a strategic and contested variable, in terms of how voters are encouraged to think and decide, and how leaders are encouraged to think and decide, which ideas are given the imprimatur of “sensible” and which ideas are marginalized, and, finally, which political groupings are alienated or marginalized and which elevated to legitimacy.

In the EU, centre-right liberals have achieved a neoliberal consensus. We’ve arguably been here before, with the idea of the self-regulating market economy achieving hegemonic dominance in the realm of ideas, but encountering resistance. This was Polanyi’s point in the Great Transformation, no? And, in stronger terms, Marx’s idea. A ruling class pursues its interest in economic dominance by means disguised by ideological rationalizations, while disabling the opposition by the same means.

For many participants in the political decision-making process for the EU, neoliberalism constitutes all that is “sensible” and “there is no alternative”. This is largely true in Britain as well as a matter of ideology, but (and this is a big but) Britain has not joined in the EU consensus; for circumstantial reasons, it keeps asking for exceptions.

My point in outlining certain facts of EU politics was that Britain hasn’t been participating in EU political governance for some time. The Brexit referendum may have surprised the ruling class in Britain, but it also reflected political reality. Britain has a generally exceptional relationship with the EU and does not participate so much as it asks for exceptions that put it at odds to the neoliberal structure of the four freedoms. The result has been a mutual antipathy between the EU leadership and the British ruling class. And, it should not be lost on anyone that Britain despite this odd-man-out role in the formal mechanisms of EU decision-making is nevertheless a dominant player. Britain’s capital, London, is the world financial capital — its only global rival, New York, well outside the EU. And, as a consequence, British law governs European finance in many technical details.

Third Point: Does marginalizing “the racists” solve the Byzantine Generals problem? Or exacerbate and exemplify it?

It is not just that “those people” have become insensible (if they have), but that they are being treated as insensible.

There’s good reason to believe that if we isolate authoritarian followers in one political grouping, that will make that political grouping insensible and the remaining political groupings, deprived of authoritarian followers, less capable of disciplined action.

How we segregate political viewpoints and sentiments and ambivalence affects the ability to reach consensus. It isn’t simply a matter of how many may be natively “sensible” and therefore amenable to persuasion and organization, but also how they are distributed and organized. (I’m sure that’s too abstract, but I’ve run out of time.)

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Sebastian H 08.27.16 at 7:17 pm

It’s too bad the thread is near dead, because we are right on the edge of the key.

Those who argue against Chris’s formulation aren’t arguing that racism isn’t present among the Remain voters, but that it isn’t explanatory.

If the elite of the EU and the British governments had been doing their job, the vote wouldn’t have been close. It would have been a landslide for Remain. In that world, all the same people would have been ‘racist’ but there would be no serious pro-Brexit vote. That is a difference which is explanatory.

Blaming it on ‘racism’ isn’t explanatory because that half of the British electorate (and a huge portion of Remain under Chris’s very expansive definition of racism) were racist before the vote and after and all during the last three decades. So racism, even when probably too broadly defined, isn’t explaining very much useful about why you got a Brexit vote.

The problem with focusing too much on non-explanatory racism and letting that get you worked up into writing off half of the electorate is that it lets the elite of the EU and the British governments very much off the hook as they go merrily on their way.

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basil 08.27.16 at 9:14 pm

When Gordon Brown met Gillian Duffy, they thought their ‘questions’ about immigrants taking jobs so extreme, they called Duffy, ‘a bigoted woman’. This judgment didn’t stop Brown declaring ‘British jobs for British workers’ and standing by the sentiment even after being called out for it, nor after the call got taken up by the xenophobes, and not even after leaving office. Brown of course was an eager campaigner for Remain. Duffy declared for Exit.

++
John Howard’s ‘Pacific Solution!!!’ brought back by Julia Gillard, affirmed by Kevin Rudd. Swarthy foreigners in cages on faraway islands. Gillard, even without the electoral/governing pressure that liberals use to excuse their vilest actions, goes about telling TV that they think it was a brave and necessary decision. I’ve never heard anyone call Gillard racist.

Barack Obama lectures Africa, asking the continent to take responsibility for its economic and political situation, and to stop blaming the West for it. They tell ‘black’ fathers to stop acting like boys, instead of men.

Bill Clinton starts to build a wall between the US and Mexico in 1994(?). This and other anti-immigrant measures become bipartisan policy. Today, with record breaking deportation numbers under Obama, prejudiced profiling practices and with anti-immigration measures filling the carceral complex, Trump’s adoption and extension of these policies elicits shock and denunciation.

++
I’m interested in how, and when, it is permissible to label an opinion, action or policy racist. I’m interested in how mainstream political opinion and explanation reproduces and nurtures race divisions and their antagonisms, and in how available some of the most put upon, vulnerable people are for ex-communication when they take refuge in, affirm, and vocalise exclusive and destructive identities.

Yes, racism is a real and growing problem in these times, but we might think more carefully about how racist and racialist attitudes are popularly engendered, indulged and legitimised. We oughtn’t ignore how the pressure to migrate to alien country in the first instance, or to resist such migration, is produced by a cruel, and racist political and economic system.

*I really hope I’ve typed out racism/racist a sufficient number of times to inoculate myself against recurring charges of trivialising racism.

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Collin Street 08.27.16 at 9:37 pm

There’s good reason to believe that if we isolate authoritarian followers in one political grouping, that will make that political grouping insensible and the remaining political groupings, deprived of authoritarian followers, less capable of disciplined action.

How we segregate political viewpoints and sentiments and ambivalence affects the ability to reach consensus. It isn’t simply a matter of how many may be natively “sensible” and therefore amenable to persuasion and organization, but also how they are distributed and organized. (I’m sure that’s too abstract, but I’ve run out of time.)

Hrm!! Some of this is stuff I’ve already considered from a different perspective, some of it is new to me.

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faustusnotes 08.28.16 at 4:35 am

basil if you’ve never heard anyone call Julia Gillard racist you need to get out more.

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Z 08.28.16 at 5:00 am

Thanks Rich, SamChevre and Igor Belanov for your answers!

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J-D 08.28.16 at 7:46 am

basil 08.27.16 at 9:14 pm

I’m interested in how, and when, it is permissible to label an opinion, action or policy racist.

Permissible? It’s the first I’ve heard that anybody requires permission before using the label. I can’t imagine who’d be responsible for issuing this permission.

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Chris Belshaw 08.28.16 at 5:59 pm

There’s a lot that might be said about Brexit in general, and about the many postings in this thread in particular. But my focus here is just on Chris Bertram’s original posting, and some of the thoughts that one might have about that.
The claim is that most Brexiteers are, in some important even if not standard sense, racists or xenophobes. Take England alone: a little over 15 million people voted Brexit, a little over 13 million for Remain. The claim that almost all of these people, and by extrapolation around 50% of this country’s population, are racists or xenophobes, might seem far-fetched, and especially so when you factor in that the UK is generally regarded as one of the more tolerant and racially open minded societies in Europe. So we should consider the argument. The gist is that post-Brexit the number of hate crimes has increased. This was predictable. Those who voted Brexit nevertheless thus reveal themselves as indifferent to such crimes. Hence, as less than active hatred is required for charges to stick, they are (almost all) racists or xenophobes. Some points about this argument:
1. Was it predictable that hate crimes would increase? Perhaps. Was it predicted? Perhaps, but I don’t recall the Remain campaign making much of a thing of this, in their listing of bad consequences of a vote to leave. What was predictable was that certain sections of the Remain-leaning media would play up any increase, or reports of an increase, for their own political ends. We should, perhaps, treat the figures here with some scepticism.
2. Let’s allow, however, that there has been a significant increase in hate crimes after the vote. This does seem to have been the case. In assessing how bad this is we need to consider the alternatives. What would have happened had Remain won? There might well have been a similar, or even larger increase in hate crimes as disaffected racists viewed themselves as having no other option. What if there hadn’t been a referendum at all? The fear of many is that in the longer term unchecked EU immigration would have led to increased disaffection, and a substantial increase in hate crimes. Certainly, not everything is good post-referendum. Even so, the leave vote might, on the hate crime front, represent the least bad option.
3. Suppose this isn’t so, and that a referendum with a leave vote generates the worst option, regarding hate crimes. And suppose this was predictable, and predicted. These are, obviously, quite big suppositions. But supposing all this, are Brexiteers then racists and xenophobes? They might simply not care at all about the victims of these crimes. But they might instead see this as a bad outcome, yet one that is nevertheless outweighed by some good. Perhaps they foresee, and regret these hate crimes but believe that there will be medium term benefits, say in terms of social stability and job security, that will be enjoyed by all UK citizens, including the victims of the hate crimes.
4. But suppose Brexiteers do foresee, but simply don’t care about hate crimes and their victims. Are they then racists or xenophobes? Perhaps these people don’t care about anyone but themselves, and their families, and vague notions such as getting their country back. People who don’t care about other people are bad people, sure enough, but they are not (at least, not in virtue of this alone) racists or xenophobes. Chris Bertram, for example, doesn’t now much care about what happens to millions of people in the UK. But I doubt he is a racist or xenophobe.

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Rich Puchalsky 08.29.16 at 3:22 pm

I was passing by this on my way to something else on the main page and this caught my eye:

CB: “Though some Brexiters now seem appalled at what they have wrought, they seem incapable of grasping the full complexity of the rights that need reviewing and protecting which go beyond residence and work but extend to family life, and many social rights.”

I estimate that it takes an advanced degree to truly grasp the full complexity of these rights, so the common mass of uneducated people are de facto unable to engage in politics under this understanding. People used to say “socialism or barbarism”, but the equivalent for our day is technocracy or anarchy.

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novakant 08.29.16 at 10:12 pm

Well, if it makes you feel better, even those Brexiteers with advanced degrees had no idea what ‘Brexit’ is supposed to mean and how it should work – in fact nobody does.

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