Working to Rule

by Maria on October 23, 2017

“Not my circus, not my monkeys”.

That’s what I mostly say these days when asked about British politics. Up to about a year ago, I was an active member of a political party and involved in a fair amount of volunteering. I saw myself as being part of things, an enthusiastic party to the social contract. Those days are done.

I’ve been an immigrant in four different countries, and in only one of them did I ever feel at home. I used to tell this story about being a civil liberties lobbyist in the UK in the early 2000s. I’d go and do a briefing over tea and biscuits with some member of the House of Lords. They’d start a little in surprise at my accent, and then the meeting would go on as normal, with me offering talking points about the surveillance and police state as counter-productive in fighting terrorism. Then at the end, when the business of the meeting was finished and everyone relaxed and munched the biscuits, the peer would make a point of telling me how much they liked Ireland, had relatives there, had visited or wanted to, some day. As if they were saying “It’s ok for Irish people to lecture us on human rights and terrorism, now.” My story was about tolerance and civility, and how no way could an Arab have a similar meeting in Paris or Washington D.C.

Maybe it’s just as well we white, well-to-do professionals are getting the same stick other immigrants or minorities always have. The gloves are off. An Italian friend was accosted by two men in the cinema queue in Oxford and told to “go home”, for the crime of speaking Italian. (Because she’s a badass, she bought them popcorn and they didn’t know what to do with themselves.) A woman I met last week was abused in the street for speaking Polish on her phone. I can pass until I open my mouth, and if I try I can sound fairly British. But I don’t want to.

Perhaps the UK only feels significantly nastier because it now treats white, middle class EU people more like how it treats the brown-skinned, less connected, less wealthy, or less likely to be able to kick up a stink people. My kind can still get a Guardian sad-face piece if the Home Office messes us around. We have our liberty and our voice. But can any of us say we know what is going on in, say, Yarl’s Wood detention centre, or that its secrecy, authoritarianism and arms-length contractual deniability are not the perfect conditions for institutional abuse? We’ve all heard that kind of story a dozen times, but can no longer even be arsed to say “never again”.

I live in Theresa May’s “hostile environment” for immigrants, seeded several years ago, and bearing poisonus fruit just this morning as the first day when foreign-seeming people can be stopped from using the NHS. EU citizens are still a lot more equal than other immigrants. (And Irish people more equal again, in terms of our legal status, because of history.) I’m extremely lucky. All I have to worry about are the value of my home slipping (frightening for us, but a property crash would help more people than it hurts, generationally), my ability to find work (most of mine comes from outside the UK, anyway), and the rather bad luck that every time I try to send money to my under-water Irish mortgage, the prime minister opens her mouth and the pound plummets, again. My concerns are incredibly minor and show just how privileged I am.

I’m not getting letters from the Home Office, telling me to leave, or bills from my local NHS’s fraud department, insisting my newborn had no right to treatment. I have no relatives caught up in the grey netherworld of the asylum system, being told they weren’t actually raped and they’re not actually gay, and will therefore be detained without time-limit. I don’t have to prove to a sociopathic immigration regime that, although I spend my time caring for children or ill family members now, I will in the future earn enough money to not be a “burden”. I don’t need to fear that calling the police to protect my children from domestic violence will result in the Home Office being alerted to our presence, and the whole family being deported.

The UK has become a nasty little country. It sticks out a bit less in a neighbourhood with Austria, Hungary, Poland and Turkey nearby. But as a country, the UK is working hard to make itself objectively nastier, and to suppress the voices of those in British society who could curb its sharpest, most small-minded insecurities. Charities here are gagged from speaking about poverty, church-leaders and protesters go unreported and ignored. Xenophobic attacks are up by almost a third, since the Brexit vote. The government and media thinks it’s unremarkable for people on benefits – and their children – to go without a penny of income for two or three months at a time. (And when they eventually get paid, to go without when there’s a fifth Monday in the month.) Women inmates in the prison system have a lower chance of survival than did British soldiers in Afghanistan. The education system is expressly designed to herd the 93% with rote-learning, box-ticking and arbitrary discipline into a life of menial under-employment, while the 7% enjoy Olympic-sized swimming pools and theatres better equipped than most professional ones. And when privatized state school “academy” chains go tits-up, the funds raised by their Christmas fairs and sponsored runs are asset-stripped by company directors, but private schools for the wealthiest are officially charities, with £100 million in tax benefits a year. The country’s flagship news programme thinks “balance” is pitting a soft versus a hard brexiteer, and the millionaire-funded Leave campaign admits using botnets to spread its lies, but no one even shrugs.

But there you go. That’s how I would see things, wouldn’t I? What with being a saboteur and enemy of the state, and a foreigner, to boot.

Anyone who thinks being an immigrant, even a deluxe EU three million-type immigrant, is easy, should try it. We compete on equal terms with all comers, but with no social or economic safety net and, for many, hustling like mad in second and third languages. No dole, no network of couches to sleep on, no contacts and no introductions; qualifications from institutions you’ve never heard of, references from employers you aren’t sure are real but can’t be bothered to check, acting as daily fodder for stereotypical jokes we laugh off to show we’re one of you. You don’t hear us complaining about it because it’s just part of the deal. But when the terms of the deal change, and you tell us we’re social welfare parasites who are also, somehow, taking all the jobs and are the reason the country is failing, then the deal is probably dead.

The government and brexiteers’ empty claims that “it’ll be fine” are not reassuring. They unwittingly communicate the contempt we are held in, the manifest unimportance of our plight. I don’t see acres of think-pieces on why the government and the Labour party should ‘reach out’ to economic migrants and try to understand us. Ironically, we’re the ones keeping the stiff upper lip because we know we’re not allowed the luxury of an epic, country-wide tantrum.

Right after the brexit result, I felt sorriest for my British friends who were having part of their identity yanked away. I’ve even been told once or twice in the last year that it was worse for them, because at least I could move away. And I agreed. But I don’t any more. Their lives are going on as before, albeit in a poisonous political atmosphere. But ours have changed. EU citizens in the UK worry about their ability to stay employed, are being refused mortgages and rental contracts, are shouted at in the street, don’t know what will become of their pension contributions and fear they could be just one family crisis away from losing their “right to remain”.

I thought I would feel better over time. That the sorrow and fear at being in a country turning its back on internationalism at the precise historic moment when our biggest problems are cross-border would be replaced by something less painful and more constructive. After the referendum I went to a few more meetings. Over the winter I made signs for protest marches. After the women’s march last January, I felt I could almost breathe again. But since then it’s just gotten worse. A couple of times this year, I’ve been on the phone to my mother in Ireland and she’s repeatedly asked “But don’t they know…” about certain pertinent economic facts or how treaties work or what happens when the peace process collapses. And I have to answer that no, honestly, a lot of people don’t know the basic facts of their own existence, and it is no longer politically feasible for politicians to mention these facts. And that most newspapers do not report these facts because these facts have become unpatriotic. And that there is no opposition. And that lies, repeated often and brazenly enough, are pretty much all that is left of British politics.

I suppose part of my feeling worse over time is that Britain is actively choosing to be this way. The liars lie and you pretend to give them a hearing. The poor suffer, and sometimes burn, but can’t be saved or housed. The immigrants take their lumps, and plan, and quietly disappear. And the politicians give a week and more to standing around, whining about a fucking clock, and pronounce any work on fixing the mess they’ve made impossible until a farcically bad election campaign has been fought, or party conference season is over or whatever the next Conservative psycho-drama is going to be has played out, while the country stumbles over the cliff because democracy, it now appears, was a one-shot deal.

In all that mess, here’s one thing among the many that seems to have gone unnoticed. When you reduce all your dealings with a group of people to the purely transactional, you may think you are being very clever and forcing a better deal, but you have changed the way those people will interact with you, and also whether they will trust you in future. I used to be an immigrant who, for all the UK’s shortcomings, felt loyalty to my chosen home. And gratitude, though it’s embarrassing to admit that, now. I knew there were certain ways of acting and being the UK had developed for itself – to do with tolerance, civility, self-deprecation, humour, curiosity, a general broad-mindedness and the underlying cultural confidence of a country that knows cooperation isn’t a zero-sum game – that meant there was room for people like me to belong.

(That same expansiveness could be seen in how this country treated its poor, less educated, chronically ill, disabled people, to mention just a few groups. Britain has never had much of a political culture of solidarity or shared purpose, whatever World War II fantasies claim, but it wasn’t vindictive. Now it is. Turn on the television. “Factual television” doesn’t inform or entertain; it pits people against each other in artificial competitions with ever more theatrical ways to tell the losers exactly what they are.)

By reducing the British state’s relationship with the three million EU citizens who live here to a single cost-benefit analysis (calculated with striking actuarial incompetence), the UK has made the mistake so many employers make when they put the bean-counters in charge. They have failed to account for the value of good will. Good will of a company’s suppliers and customers – analogous to a countries’s partners and allies – has a value and can be destroyed. Similarly, working to rule is often one of the first steps employees – in this analogy, immigrants – take towards industrial action. Working to rule demonstrates that for all the Taylorist calculation of what a job entails, it’s the extra 15-20% we do that makes the world go round. The government seems to think it is grown-up and serious to treat us like economic widgets that can be ordered when needed and discarded when not. It’s wrong. It will lose out, too, from making citizenship and belonging purely transactional.

Many immigrants who had felt loyalty, affection and feelings of grateful belonging are now emotionally working to rule. We will go through the motions, paying our taxes and being decent neighbours, perhaps even wearing a poppy, as that ever-lengthening season draws near. But we know our place, now. We get it. We’re not proper citizens, just “economic migrants” or “citizens of nowhere”; assets to be sorted, milked of taxes and then disposed of when no longer revenue-positive. The loyalty that makes people stick around when you’re going through a tough time, as the UK is clearly about to, has gone. The soft power it yielded, by way of people who moved here and, when the time came, moved on with deep ties and happy memories, has gone. This isn’t about revenge, it’s just how the human heart works.

Because it hurts, for me at least. I believed all that inclusive, expansive, tolerance stuff in the first place. Never, in my couple of years as an army wife, did anyone grimace or hesitate or show hostility or even surprise at me being a non-national. There were lots of us amongst the spouses and soldiers; Irish, South Africans, Fijians and more. I baked, fund-raised, spent half a year in the permanent nausea of low-level fear while he was on tour, sat uncomfortably near the front of the church by a coffin with the Union Jack draped over it, comforted – insofar as anyone can – a grieving father, wrote letters of condolence, stood for hours on parade grounds and performed dozens (hundreds?) of the little tasks and favours that just make things go round when you live inside an institution that can ask you for almost anything.

And now I feel like a stupid, naive little fool. I look back on that time and think what baseless, idiotic, pathetic faith I had in something it turns out didn’t exist. Or if it did, it’s gone, so it all meant nothing, anyway.

Whatever the UK does now, the trust, loyalty and affection are gone, and they won’t come back. We know we can’t plan our lives with any certainty. We know we are despised by a large amount of the country, including the government itself. We know the majority of people voted to make our lives unmanageable because they didn’t want to know or just didn’t care. We have all the hurt feelings of kids who used to be in the clique and got kicked out for some unknown slight, but still have to go to school every day anyway. And I use that metaphor advisedly, because I understand that there is something slightly child-like in this feeling of rejection.

But, well, tough luck. It’s a fall from grace but it could be much worse. It has opened our eyes to the truth of the UK’s narrow and punitive social contract. I hope that many of us make common cause with people in the detention centres or at the mercy those who exploit May’s “hostile environment” for their own ends. I hope privileged immigrants join the dots and do what that calls for. God knows I hope the vast number of EU citizens staffing the NHS do all they can to subvert the myth of expensive “health tourism” (a phenomenon I suspect is as rare as false claims of sexual assault and rape, not that you’d know either from reading a British newspaper).

We have a place to live, for now, though it isn’t home, and will never feel like it again. I used to say “we” when I talked about politics in the UK. Now I say “you”, or better, nothing at all.

{ 156 comments }

1

Glen Tomkins 10.23.17 at 5:57 pm

Put not your faith in princes, still less in mobs.

And no, this is not an argument that we should go back to rule by princes. Mob rule is still the best sort to misrule to have, if only by comparison.

It is an argument to stop treating govts and societies as if they were people, as if you can have any of the sort of bonds of trust and affection with them as you can and should have with people. That mistake, treating a society’s institutions as if they were people, and deserve personal loyalty, is basically fascism. Our societies are way too big to function by the same bonds as tribes, to have tribal loyalties founded on the trust of some leader that you know personally, because the tribe has only a few score members, and you know all of them personally.

Just as many and just as few of your neighbors deserve your respect and loyalty as before the Brexit vote. The UK never deserved either. The UK doesn’t really exist, and never has. Treat it exactly as the unreal fantasy it has always been, rendering unto it what you have to in order to get by, but never counting loyalty or affection as anything any govt deserves.

2

Guano 10.23.17 at 6:11 pm

“By reducing the British state’s relationship with the three million EU citizens who live here to a single cost-benefit analysis ….. “

They are pawns in the UK Government’s desperate efforts to make some kind of deal with the EU that would allow the UK to continue to trade in some way with the rest of Europe. They are victims of Vote Leave’s rash promises that it would be easy to negotiate access to the Single Market despite wanting to opt out of most of its rules; as this, predictably, was revealed to be untrue, the rights of EU citizens have become bargaining chips and their status has to remain in doubt.

The fact that this is hardly commented on is an indication of how the UK has indeed become a nasty little country.

3

Francis Spufford 10.23.17 at 6:21 pm

Too fucking true, Maria. But you weren’t a fool to think that Britain might have been capable of those decencies, unless hope itself is foolish. And I won’t believe that.

4

Doug K 10.23.17 at 6:41 pm

I used to be an immigrant who, for all the USA’s shortcomings, felt loyalty to my chosen home. And gratitude, though it’s embarrassing to admit that, now.

The Russians have been spectacularly effective in sowing dissension in the fertile fields of Facebook, all across the world. The sad part is that so many people were susceptible to the lies. It turns out that fascism, not liberal democracy, is the end of history.

These days when people say, “you don’t sound like you’re from around here”, I tell them, “no, I am European-African-American” and let them stew in their puzzlement.

“Not my circus, not my monkeys”.
– thank you, I can use that..

5

JohnT 10.23.17 at 6:48 pm

I don’t really know what to say. I think you said it all.
I am one of the very many children born to a British citizen and a non-British EU citizen during the golden period between 1974 – 2016. I had an identity as a British European and the Brexit voters decreed it should end. Now I and those like me must build a new identity, and I think most of us will consider ourselves as less loyal to the new British state than the one that preceded it.

6

Maria 10.23.17 at 6:49 pm

Amen to that, Francis.

7

Stephen 10.23.17 at 6:52 pm

Maria:

Of course I sympathise with your distress. Still and all, hyperbole doesn’t help. This is rather a long reply, to a long post.

“Foreign-seeming people can be stopped from using the NHS”. The way I heard it, if they don’t have an EHIC card they are stopped from using the NHS without up-front payments. Why is that wrong? Hint: if you, not being an Irish citizen, want medical treatment in Ireland you need an EHIC card. Indeed, even if you are an Irish citizen you will often have to pay.

“All I have to worry about are the value of my home slipping”; a worry shared by rather a large number of UK citizens in SE England, Hint: the values of homes in Ireland …

“every time I try to send money to my under-water Irish mortgage, the prime minister opens her mouth and the pound plummets’ So why is it underwater? The collapsing of homes in Ireland: can’t you blame that on the UK government?

Do have a look at https://www.pounds2euro.com/charts.
The recent peak in sterling/euro values was in November, 2015, when T May was not prime minister. The great drop was in early July, 2016, when T May was not prime minister. Since then the exchange rate has fluctuated around what it was in the desperate days of 2013. Every time she opens her mouth …

“I don’t need to fear that calling the police to protect my children from domestic violence will result in the Home Office being alerted to our presence, and the whole family being deported.” No, because being Irish you aren’t here illegally. So, should illegal immigrants stay forevr?

“Women inmates in the prison system have a lower chance of survival than did British soldiers in Afghanistan.” Very sad if true: source? And how many women inmates in the prison system are going around alive but with parts blown off?

‘We compete on equal terms with all comers, but with no social or economic safety net and, for many, hustling like mad in second and third languages.” So if you move of your own free will to a country where you know very few people and you have an imperfect grasp of the language, you have problems. Strewth.

“When you reduce all your dealings with a group of people to the purely transactional, you may think you are being very clever and forcing a better deal, but you have changed the way those people will interact with you, and also whether they will trust you in future.” Jean-Claude Junker please note. 

“It’s ok for Irish people to lecture us on human rights and terrorism.” Was that in the time when Irish people were setting off bombs in London and other places in the cause of, presumably, human rights?

8

Eamonn 10.23.17 at 7:26 pm

An outstanding piece and I share much of the emotion expressed in it. I have spent most of my adult life sneering at/arguing against the traditional Irish republican view of Britain’s attitude to us. Since the Brexit vote I’m finding it ever harder to resist the evidence that it was at least partly right all along

9

Chris Bertram 10.23.17 at 7:30 pm

Yes things are bad, very bad. As a British person who wants to stop Brexit I feel pretty grim right now, and I blogged after the referendum about the loss of identity issues. And I feel keenly for EU citizen friends who are having to deal with the new dispensation.

And yet, and yet …..

My hesitation is just this: that white EU citizens in the UK are feeling just a tiny bit of what black people have to put up with as a matter of course. And I’m not sure that it is better to be black on the streets of Germany or Italy than it is on the streets of the UK … actually probably it is worse.

One group who I feel keenly for at the moment are the Somalis in the UK (20,000 in Bristol) many of whom have EU nationalities rather than British and who, being poor and marginalized, will probably be much worse placed to “regularize” their position after Brexit. In other words they are in much greater danger of being kicked out on a technicality with nobody to stick up for them (and don’t expect the Dutch or French governments to stick up for “their” Somali residents in the UK. Many of the moved to the UK in the hope or belief that they would get a fairer shake in the UK than elsewhere in Europe. I don’t think they were entirely wrong.

10

Neville Morley 10.23.17 at 7:31 pm

Yes, because the right response to a post that says “I’m well aware of my privilege as a middle-class Irish citizen, but the UK is now starting to treat us more like it treats the brown-skinned, less well connected, less wealthy immigrants” has to be “ah, but you’re the good sort of white, English-speaking immigrant we’re prepared to tolerate, so that’s all right”.

11

F 10.23.17 at 7:35 pm

Impressive for someone to show up so quickly to prove exactly the point of the essay. Christ, what an asshole.

12

Andy in Germany 10.23.17 at 8:01 pm

I read this blog post with a deep sense of shame and embarrassment, mainly because for us, a British/Japanese family here in Germany not much changed since Brexit: if anything we have been treated as the last person off the Titanic.

After the vote went through I decided to get German citizenship, even though everyone including the immigration office was quite convinced our status wouldn’t change. It was possibly the worst time to do this as we are on income support as I get retraining due to health issues, which would have disqualified me from remaining in the UK let alone from citizenship, and yet the German government allows citizenship anyway if I can prove my unemployment wasn’t my fault. Suddenly I had offers of help: college tutors wrote supporting letters to show I would soon be in work again, a friend who worked in immigration told me that to write on specific questions, and the immigration office answered questions and offered reassurance.

A major reason our family is here is that my wife is Japanese, and was barred from the UK. We have never experienced racism in Germany, just acceptance and interest. My children are obviously of mixed race and have never had to deal with racist comments (One of them actually looks Turkish, and has never had any trouble, before someone says it’s because they are too exotic) I work among people of colour in my new job, and although it isn’t perfect here, they experience a lot less racism on the street or in institutions than in the UK. Germany is working hard to integrate people into German society.

As of about six months ago, I have German nationality, so we can relax a little about what happens next because in Germany, if one of the family is allowed to remain we all are, unlike the UK where we’d be in constant fear of one of us being deported.

Every now and again, I get asked about the situation in the UK, usually by people who can’t believe what the UK is doing. They are usually unaware how the UK is treating EU citizens and respond with disbelief when I tell them.

So, I read this with embarrassment but also -selfishly- with relief that seventeen years ago the UK government did us the favour of refusing my wife a visa and pushed us here, where we are still accepted and welcomed and not treated as bargaining chips.

13

Phil 10.23.17 at 8:04 pm

I’ve never felt any ‘national pride’ – always treated the whole idea as irrelevant. But since last year I’ve come to realise that there are – or were – things I love about being British, and particularly about the work-in-progress of being British in the 21st century: combine our inherited stoicism and reserve, my generation’s ironic creativity and the millennials’ instinctive liberalism and egalitarianism, and this could have been a very civilised place to live. But it turns out that if you add up the desperation of “the worst that can happen is that things stay the same”, the ignorance of people who have never met an immigrant but know they don’t want to, the light-minded cynicism of careerist politicans and the smug resentments of the Daily Mail, it comes to 52% of the vote.

I think we’ll get Britain back, eventually – and I don’t agree that there’s no opposition, although they’re playing a long game and doing it quietly. But I couldn’t begin to blame Maria, or anyone else in a similar position, for taking this stance. I hate what this country is becoming, or (to put it more optimistically) is in grave and immediate danger of becoming.

14

anon 10.23.17 at 8:19 pm

“Not my circus, not my monkeys”.

My friends have a similar statement, here in the US.

“Its not my country; I just live here.”

Note that my friends are stating this from a right-wing perspective, but the sentiment is the same.

anon

15

novakant 10.23.17 at 8:39 pm

Thanks Maria for putting my thoughts and feelings into words with almost uncanny precision and also so heartfelt and eloquently.

16

Mario 10.23.17 at 8:56 pm

I grew up in a country where it was always clear that I did not belong to, so I can relate to your pain to some extent. It was a bit worse, for since I am white and blonde, and the country was brown to black, I never really had the official option of feeling a victim. As a result, I developed an understanding for these peoples’ nationalism.

So perhaps that gives me a different perspective, or perhaps it is just that I am reactionary (I don’t feel that way, but hey) but please allow me to say this: I find it a bit incoherent to mourn about loss of identity (not only by you, but by others in this thread) while at the same time refusing to understand the nativist point of view. They feel their country is their identity and that it was taken away from them. And they want it back.

That’s ugly if you don’t belong to their version of it, but it is ugly for them feeling the loss of it. Pretty ugly. And what I mean is that that’s a real, genuine feeling they have, and they don’t have it out of spite for you or people of any color. They just sit there reading the news and are genuinely angry and sad, and have been so for decades.

Had their grievances been taken seriously earlier, compromises would have been possible. But now? They have been given the role of enemies and that’s what they figure is what they have to be.

17

Mercurius Londiniensis 10.23.17 at 9:21 pm

Even more alarming is that this may well be only the beginning.

Even leading Brexiteers are starting to worry that the outcome of the negotiations will be a disaster. Thus Mr Peter North — who, with his father, has been promoting Brexit for as long as anyone can remember — now predicts a ‘ten-year recession’ which will ‘wipe out the cossetted lower middle class’ (see his blog, entry for Monday 9th October). Of course, the predictive track record of these characters is far from stellar, but this may be a moment when the stopped clock tells the right time.

To be sure, Mr North also predicts that ‘culturally, it will be a vast improvement on the status quo’. I suppose he has to try to convince himself of that. But since he also expects (with rather better reason) ‘major cuts to the forces and a number of Army redundancies’, those of us who have read a bit of history may start to worry about the ‘cultural’ impact of hordes of unemployed ex-squaddies.

If the dismal business turns out to be a disaster — or, better, even more of a disaster than it is already — it would be nice to think that the rage of the betrayed and the dispossessed will find its proper target. But history does not encourage confidence on that score either.

18

nastywoman 10.23.17 at 9:30 pm

That put a damper on my current love for ”Small Britain” – as I so often get on this flight from Baden Airpark to Stansted for 40 or 50 Quid (Round Trip) – and then –
London!! –
where you can go for days – meeting all of Europe(ans) in one city – and so the first night you spend in Greece – and the next night in Ireland – and then all of these dry-humored ”Brits” who suddenly tell you that they know nobody who voted for the silly Brexit and tell you: ”If you don’t laugh – you cry” –
AND this ”Circus” (still) seems to be a lot more ”fun” than the German one.

19

nick s 10.23.17 at 9:56 pm

while the country stumbles over the cliff because democracy, it now appears, was a one-shot deal.

This, I think, is the most disturbing aspect to all of the shitty spitefulness: the sense that a profound shift in British governance took place under the auspices of “taking back control.” There was a Vote; there may be other votes, but there will only be one Vote Almighty. When Eddie Mair asked Amber Rudd on PM how long the referendum’s remit lasted, it was as if he’d asked her “so, who made God?”

But maybe it was there all along, just papered over. I don’t believe this shit is embedded or unsalvageable, but it will get worse before it gets better because intolerance feeds off uncertainty and vulnerability.

20

Chris LaHatte 10.23.17 at 9:57 pm

There is something ugly about the attacks on immigrants, sadly not exclusive to England, and certainly not unknown in New Zealand. It is essentially very artificial, because once you go into most family trees you will find immigrants of one sort or another. But much of the underlying thinking about immigration is essentially racist when you unpick the details. I don’t know how to change the thinking of those who hate immigrants, but there are some models and individuals who have done great work on breaking through the cultural barriers such as Padraig O’Malley.

21

Gareth Wilson 10.23.17 at 10:00 pm

“My story was about tolerance and civility, and how no way could an Arab have a similar meeting in Paris or Washington D.C.”

Spencer Abraham, Darell Issa, Donna Shalala, and both John Sununus could give it a try.

22

novakant 10.23.17 at 10:03 pm

also, @16

WTF?

23

novakant 10.23.17 at 10:04 pm

sorry, I meant @9

24

J-D 10.23.17 at 11:58 pm

Mario

If A and B say ‘We are hurt by your desire to share identity X with us’ and M and N say ‘We are hurt by your unwillingness to share identity X with us’, their positions are not parallel, they are converse. Immigrants don’t (in general) want to take away the identity of natives, they want to share in it. If nativists experience the desire of others to share in their identity as a devaluation or destruction of that identity, what do you call that if not spite? (That doesn’t mean it’s not a genuine feeling; spite is a genuine feeling.)

25

J-D 10.24.17 at 12:12 am

Stephen

Of course I sympathise with your distress.

Really? It doesn’t seem like it. That ‘Of course’ seems like the ‘Of course’ of lip service.

26

Anna Feruglio 10.24.17 at 12:19 am

Every one of these words could be mine. I never cease to be grateful for the people who manage to articulate coldly and with the required cruelty the sceam of incoherent rage with which I have been living since June last year.

27

Peter T 10.24.17 at 12:20 am

Lovely piece, Maria.

I have some of the same feelings about Australia. That in immigration and welfare we have institutionalised meanness, cruelty, to the approval of far too many people.

Working to rule – i am reminded of how a friend who worked with me in a London restaurant left. The usual clueless British management noticed that, if we put in some extra effort, we could make a half-hour to take a walk between double shifts. So they docked his pay the half hour. “Just a commercial decision, the way it works” he was told when he queried the reduction. He woke up next morning, thought about how he really did not need the job, thought about phoning to let them know he was leaving and decided that, no, that would cost him. Just a commercial decision. I would bet money that the management never joined the dots…

28

faustusnotes 10.24.17 at 1:25 am

Thank you for writing this Maria, I also agree. Also what Phil said. I’m an Australian with British citizenship and living in the UK from 2008-2009 I really had many of the feelings you do, and so did many of hte foreign residents I spoke to.

I would add, there is a separate world for foreigners in the UK that British residents don’t understand, so that even if you’re a middle class white with a decent salary and a British passport you get treated differently, get different opportunities, and everything is slightly harder. As a simple example, even though I had citizenship I couldn’t open a bank account or get a phone contract. It was hard finding decent housing, and I couldn’t understand how my British colleagues were living in so much nicer places for the same or less rent than me. There is a world of scammers and arseholes preying on foreigners in the UK, and we move in a slightly different, parallel UK that is a bit nastier and rougher than the one our British friends and colleagues know.

This is true everywhere of course but I really noticed it in the UK. I live in Japan now and the debate here is about making foreigners more welcome, who and how to bring in more, etc. Since I arrived here 11 years ago things have just kept getting better for foreigners, and I find it amazing that the UK is going the other way. It’s disgusting, and your essay really gets at some of the emotional resentments that the British attitude builds in the heart of its foreign residents. Thank you for saying it.

29

Omega Centauri 10.24.17 at 2:36 am

And yet, as one 5000miles (8000KM) away from Britain, so I only know it from reading, it feels very similar to the situation in the USA. Now I’m a (somewhat) high income white male, so I’m
not directly affected by this stuff (and the Bay area is about as far removed culturally as you can get from the mentality that brought us Trump). Yet its profoundly disturbing anyway, and I fear for the future for my kids. Where I work about half the people (all PhD engineers of high caliber) are dual Chinese-American citizens -most did post secondary education in the USA). And I see them in this situation of being in a country that has given them great economic opportunity, but which now seems capable of violent resentment. So we are all suffering from social-political uncertainty, we just don’t know how things are going to evolve.

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Nia Psaka 10.24.17 at 4:28 am

@16

I don’t think this can be chalked up to real grievances against Europe so much as avid anti-Europe propaganda. The English right wing seem like the sort who steals your pension and then tells you, “Someone in Brussels must have done it.”

I don’t love the EU’s institutions, but my problems have been more with Eurogroup and the folly of putting Spain and Greece on a German-run currency. Great Britain had its own currency, they weren’t in the pit the Mediterranean states are in; the UK’s deal with the EU was rather a pleasant one.

Giving Britain over to the current bunch of Tories is making things far worse. They are Anglo-Americanised, and hoping a “special relationship” with the USA will make up for losing their privileged spot in the EU. There’s a certain sort of Anglo-Saxonist nitwit who wants the whole Anglosphere to believe that Maggie Thatcher and Ronnie Reagan were Mum and Dad. But the USA is about to explode. With the present bunch of ignorant man-children in charge in Washington, war is a near certainty, civil war not out of the question. What horror are the UK going to sign on to? Not partnership, not sovereignty, just being Oceania’s Airstrip One, probably. For the memory of Iron Mother Maggie? I want to scream, “The USA doesn’t care about the UK, get it through your thick bovine heads!”

31

J-D 10.24.17 at 5:06 am

Mario

I never really had the official option of feeling a victim.

Do you not realise what nonsense that is? There are not official feelings and unofficial feelings; your feelings are what you feel. What’s the literal meaning your words are obfuscating? Could it possibly be ‘I feel as if brown and black people get more sympathy than white people like me, even though they don’t deserve any more sympathy’?

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bruce wilder 10.24.17 at 6:24 am

Mario @ 16

This seemed a clunker in what was an impressive rant: “We know the majority of people voted to make our lives unmanageable because they didn’t want to know or just didn’t care.” I thought you were right and quite artful in bringing attention to this projection.

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Chris Bertram 10.24.17 at 6:33 am

The big shift here is that a group of people, principally white and west EU citizens, will be moved to a less secure category where they fear losing status and becoming valued for purely instrumental reasons. That is bad, but it is part of a more general change whereby full membership is the preserve of those in the white British ethnic core who earn enough to count as “taxpayers”. So you get a differentiation of legal and social status of people present on the territory that undermines stuff like equality before the law (more and more semi-citizenship). Some of what’s driving this is economic (“workers versus shirkers” excludes even citizens) and some is the obsession with immigration and its control, and some is a combination (such as the spousal visa MIR that gives lower rights to citizens not earning enough). Symptoms and effects include the fact that black and brown British citizens are the group most stopped by immigration enforcement, and the deportations of people who are functionally British as “foreign criminals”. A nasty combination of “neoliberalism” and xenophobia in other words with everyone’s rights to some extent dependent on “contribution”.

How much of this is specifically British? I’m not sure (quite a lot) , though I think obsession with border control in particular has the potential for similar effects everywhere, especially once whole societies get conscripted into monitoring and enforcement. There has been and will continue to be some pushback from the judiciary I think.

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Irene Jago 10.24.17 at 6:52 am

I have an issue with your use of “UK”. Surely you mean England and Wales?
I believe I’m correct in thinking the number of racist attacks went down in Scotland after the referendum.
The Scottish Government has said immigrants are welcome and does not want any of what is happening.

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faustusnotes 10.24.17 at 7:14 am

Nia Psaka makes an ominous point about how effectively the right in the UK blames everything on foreigners. Once Brexit happens and the economy nose dives you can bet that the Daily Mail, the Sun et al, and their apparatchiks in the Tory party, will make sure to blame all the new economic problems on Johnny Foreigner. There’s no way they’ll ever admit that it was their own stupid fault. Which will bring in another round of xenophobic nastiness, and even more bullshit about how the country is over crowded and foreigners are stealing all the hospital beds.

36

phenomenal cat 10.24.17 at 7:59 am

“And yet, as one 5000miles (8000KM) away from Britain, so I only know it from reading, it feels very similar to the situation in the USA. Now I’m a (somewhat) high income white male, so I’m not directly affected by this stuff (and the Bay area is about as far removed culturally as you can get from the mentality that brought us Trump).” @ 29

No, you’re not removed from the “mentality” that brought Trump. Seriously, no offense, but all the good people living in Menlo Park and Brooklyn and Boulder bear proportional responsibility for the current state of play. That this hasn’t dawned on these good people is part of the problem.

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nastywoman 10.24.17 at 8:28 am

@35
”Nia Psaka makes an ominous point about how effectively the right in the UK blames everything on foreigners”

Perhaps more ”blamed” – as I see and experience it as the last reactionary rant – and perhaps London – which always was an open-minded Anti-Brexit City is the exception of some (British) rule of reactionary has -(in my mind) improved a lot since the Brexit vote –
as the idiocy -(like in the US) has kind of ”galvanized” the international community of the city NOT to take it ”lying down” and to fight back with such a great and creative cosmopolitain force that a city like Berlin -(which also struggles with ”the blaming foreigners”) looks utterly ”provincial” compared to London…

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b9n10nt 10.24.17 at 9:00 am

Thank you for this post, Maria.

I’m encouraged that Glen Tomkins @1 immediately finds a crux.

Should he and we expect ourselves to regularly engage passively and disinterestedly with modern social institutions without bonds of trust and affection? Is that necessary? If it is necessary, is it healthy? I mean…this is already our reality, right? We no longer stop at the grocery store and expect to find out how aunt ginger is doing with her hip, right?

The soft underbelly of liberal capitalism has been and will be its inability to foster or encourage Small Egalitarian Communal TribeS that systematically address male status anxiety. “You made it through our initiation. You are equal with all those around you. You will daily practice the rights and responsibilities of your community knowing that these codes will change according to ourselves, collectively. I belong here. I am valuable here. Inherently.”

The solution (beaurocratic religion) keeps getting recreated throughout history within evolving forms of beaurocratic economic organization and progress, but with less and less conviction (popular culture and the liberal individual)?

And the males especially are prone to getting confused if they don’t know who can tell them where they fit, confused is afraid, afraid is angry, and angry is mean. Not that the beaurocratic system won’t co-author new cultural kludges to keep the party goin’, but…you can see the appeal of zombie movies to express some of this stuff.

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sarah 10.24.17 at 9:27 am

thank you, you’ve articulated my thoughts exactly, the UK is our home, but it’s on shaky ground and more and more we talk about it also in terms of ‘you’ rather than we. it never used to be like that.

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Metatone 10.24.17 at 9:33 am

Thanks for writing this Maria. It says many things that need to be said and as Guano notes, there’s a sickness in our public sphere that keeps them out of circulation.

I’m a brown person born and bred in Yorkshire, but I’ve also lived in a number of places around the world. I wasn’t all happy when I ended up back in the UK in 2004, but I’d come to feel that some of the worst experiences of my youth were a thing of the past. I’d talk on Twitter to some PoC younger than me and marvel that for as bad as things remain (c.f. Chris Bertram’s posts) they seem to have experienced less violence on average and are, in parallel, a bit more confident and a bit less wary than I am.

Of course, summing up my experiences, I’ve always been inherently more sceptical about the “tolerance, civility, self-deprecation, humour, curiosity, a general broad-mindedness and the underlying cultural confidence of a country that knows cooperation isn’t a zero-sum game” of UK, but I was looking over how things had changed and feeling well, you know, (Whig klaxon) things really are getting better overall. All those stories are slowly actually sort of coming true. Still huge problems, but getting better.

It’s very hard to feel that now. Of course in writing this one looks back and realises that there’s no obvious inflection point. The diseases that have erupted were always there, the Daily Mail never went away, New Labour Home Secretaries were just awful on all sort of issues. Yet, I’ll say something shifted after the Financial Crisis, the nastiness started to rise in profile. Helped along of course by the political strategies of the following governments. And it builds and continues, most depressingly as people say “you have to understand the nativist impulse”, meaning of course actually that they want to pander to it. Britain used to feel like it might turn out to be better than that. Right now it’s really hard to hold on to that hope.

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CivisPeregrinusFuturus 10.24.17 at 9:53 am

Politicians like to say that the British are a tolerant people. Sadly, this isn’t true – the British are an indifferent people, provided you don’t make yourself too noticeable. Of course, you can be noticeable by having the wrong accent, skin colour, style of clothes… And the thing about indifference is that it turns so easily to suspicion and resentment given the right whispering voices and malevolent propaganda.

My assessment is that Britain is fast becoming the Russia of Western Europe: corrupt, ignorant, drunken and bigoted, while chasing the illusion of a long-vanished imperial past. Brexit is slowly, but surely, ripping off the masks that part, at least, of British society wore for public consumption, while pursuing lives of vicious degeneracy and swinish greed. There isn’t a credible politician in a position of power in any of the major parties, much less a statesman. The Tories are a divided, worthless rabble, facing a divided worthless rabble in opposition. The British have lived too long in a haze of ignorant, alcoholic, xenophobic and angry self-pity, while doing little to improve their situation and squandering their intellectual and cultural inheritance. Self-indulgence is always punished and the brutal impoverishment that Brexit will bring is only the first of many floggings that the British are due for. Alas, the “elite” will find a way to scurry off to safer climes before their delicate skin is endangered.

Speaking only for myself, I intend to relocate and become a European. Vorsprung durch Technik usw.

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Chris Bertram 10.24.17 at 10:26 am

@civis I don’t dissent from your negative view of the UK as such, but I fear that your hope of finding these non-xenophobic non-racist European countries will be disappointed.

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CivisPeregrinusFuturus 10.24.17 at 10:32 am

@Chris Bertram

I don’t hold out any hope of finding a perfect, non-racist, non-xenophobic country – but I do think I can find a higher level of intelligence, work ethic and willingness to face facts than Britain is capable of offering. I should say that I’ve lived in the US, China, Korea and parts of Europe as well as Britain, so I am not unaware of the issues faced by other countries. If London decided to become a free city and leave the putrid carcass of Brexitia behind (alas, unlikely!), I would happily participate in doing what I could to help my birthplace flourish.

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Matt 10.24.17 at 10:33 am

faustusnotes at 28 said:

even though I had citizenship I couldn’t open a bank account or get a phone contract. It was hard finding decent housing, and I couldn’t understand how my British colleagues were living in so much nicer places for the same or less rent than me. There is a world of scammers and arseholes preying on foreigners in the UK, and we move in a slightly different, parallel UK that is a bit nastier and rougher than the one our British friends and colleagues know.

This is true everywhere of course

Can you say a bit more about this? (Real, not rhetorical request.) I moved to Australia recently, and had no harder time opening up a bank account here (w/o even a permanent home address) than in the US (showing up saying “I’d like to open an account so that I may deposit this couple thousand US Dollars” helps in some ways, but hurts in others), and got a phone account by walking in to the phone store and saying, “hi, I’d like to get an account!”, again, just as easy as it would be in the US. (I actually had a harder time moving from Philadelphia to NY City than from Philadelphia to Australia on these criteria.) Unless there was some way that people advertising housing on line (surely the way to find housing even in 2008, right?) could know if you were from Australia, how would they make you pay more or less? Maybe they did – but I’d like to hear more about it. I mean, the rental market in Melbourne is brutal – worse than in many good cities in the US – but not _especially_ for foreigners who can use the internet in English, I think. So, I would be interested to hear a bit more about what you had in mind.

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Chris Bertram 10.24.17 at 10:49 am

Hmm. In both the UK and the US recently we’ve had bad political outcomes that are highly contingent consequences of quirks of electoral systems. In Germany and France features of their systems have protected against the same. Yet commenters here casually reach for an essentialist view of national character as the real explanation? Where I live there are decent tolerant people and racist arseholes, hard working people and lazy ones…. There are a lot of systemic problems in the UK and ignorance and denial about the past is important. But if you think the decent/arseholes mix is massively different in Bavaria or the Languedoc ….

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CivisPeregrinusFuturus 10.24.17 at 11:04 am

@Chris Bertram

“In both the UK and the US recently we’ve had bad political outcomes that are highly contingent consequences of quirks of electoral systems.”

I’d suggest that political outcomes emerge from culture.

“Where I live there are decent tolerant people and racist arseholes, hard working people and lazy ones”

Personal anthropology is a wonderful thing, but it doesn’t refute or even address the point that there are observable dominant trends/characteristics in societies/countries.

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kidneystones 10.24.17 at 11:21 am

First, I sympathize with anyone who feels shunned, or ostracized, by in-group values. So, I’ve no problem with the feelings, but a very different take on the cause and on the solution. My own tiny story of shunning in the UK was at a private/public school in Scotland, not England, and the cause, I suspect, had as much to do with the fact that my family were temporary residents as well as ‘colonials.’

I don’t doubt for a second that Brexit has emboldened the yobs, but we need recall for a moment at least that the ‘w&gs start at Calais’ reality rightly mocked by Monty Python et al is the product of at least three centuries of inculcation explicitly setting England and Wales against everyone, including the Scots, and especially the Irish. That never fully disappeared. Chris is, of course, correct. Xenophobia is as bad elsewhere.

The causes are economic, that’s the change – the perception that ‘we’ are going to be left behind in a world changing for the worst, not by ‘foreigners’ but by technology and/or cheap foreign labor. Borders are the illusory faux controls the frightened hope to erect against an enemy that has yet to take on clear and well-defined contours, other than the external enemies whipped-up by race-baiting populists.

One can either believe that racists and fascists are magically appearing out of the woodwork, or one can take studies such as this a tiny bit more seriously: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/oct/04/robots-artificial-intelligence-machines-us-survey

70 percent of Americans fear that robots are taking over their lives. The reality is not the issue, because the fear is real. And this real fear, also present in other western nations, and also pooh-poohed by precisely the same folks dismissing the other concerns of the less enlightened, is only going to increase.

The principal message of Farage, Corbyn, Sanders, and Trump is ‘yes, we can take control of our lives and build a world where our children thrive.’ The path to that world differs according to the candidate, but the central theme these visions share is one of hope and of empowerment for those ignored by our elites.

Work to rule is, of course, an individual choice, but it’s very difficult to see how anything is going to get better by pretending large sections of society (70 percent) have real fears about their future.

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Eamonn 10.24.17 at 11:49 am

the basic arseholes/decent ratio is indeed likely to be the same everywhere. But I think the past makes a huge difference, France’s empire ended with two humiliating defeats, the Germans had their pretensions of specialness knocked out of them by defeat, destruction and long -term military occupation. The British (#manynotall) continue to live the summer of 1940 and the empire as a kind of overseas charity and training in governance mission. That doesn’t mean that the British are intrinsically more racist than the Germans or French or anyone else but this is an enduring myth of national power and greatness/goodness which licenses certain discourses and behaviors.
And btw I certainly don’t see Irish people as intrinsically less racist than the British but our elite (for all its faults) doesn’t bear the psychological scars of once having ruled over others

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Z 10.24.17 at 11:53 am

Maybe it’s just as well we white, well-to-do professionals are getting the same stick other immigrants or minorities always have.

Not only immigrants and minorities, I fear. I’m sure many, many people have had the experience of having central aspects of their social life wrecked by mindless (or mindful) social forces, from workers laid-off by a profitable company to care workers whose ability to work depends on the continuation of a government subsidy that is abruptly stopped (not to mention what happens to the people being cared for by these people) to people on a welfare program which is cancelled to civil servants tied to their employments (hello, military forces) who are suddenly laid-off etc. etc. Being socially destroyed because someone reasoned that you were an interesting variable to tweak in their own utilitarian calculation is becoming a rather common experience. Or perhaps it always were like this. Whatever the case, I wonder as always at the apparent lack of opposition.

The big shift here is that a group of people […] will be moved to a less secure category where they fear losing status and becoming valued for purely instrumental reasons.[…]A nasty combination of “neoliberalism” and xenophobia in other words with everyone’s rights to some extent dependent on “contribution”

That sounds precisely correct to me.

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Maria 10.24.17 at 11:53 am

I’m moderating this thread closely, now, with an eye to the increasing bad-temperedness. I’ve just zapped a comment that had a lot of interesting stuff in it, but ended with an insult to someone else on the thread. Feel free to re-submit, but without the hackle-raising finale. Others, please take note.

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novakant 10.24.17 at 12:38 pm

principally white and west EU citizens

Well this is factually wrong, Eastern EU citizens are the biggest group affected.

I find it rather strange that despite Maria clearly being aware of her privileged status and explicitly mentioning this several times, you feel the need to somehow minimize this as a “first world / white people problem”.

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Matt 10.24.17 at 12:44 pm

I’d suggest that political outcomes emerge from culture.

Without wanting to deny that culture is real and important, I worry that this is edging close to a state-version of the Fundamental attribution error. I’m pretty sympathetic to Chris’s claim, and think that institutions are really important here, at many levels. The trouble, though, is, first, it’s really hard to know how different sorts of institutions will work, and how to change them, outside the most obvious cases, and second, less than ideal institutions in the US and UK gave bad results this time because we were too close to the margin of error – we need to figure out ways to back away from that.

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SamChevre 10.24.17 at 12:56 pm

If nativists experience the desire of others to share in their identity as a devaluation or destruction of that identity, what do you call that if not spite?

I don’t think it is necessarily spite: after all, Hallowe’en is coming up. (Replace “nativists” with “Native Americans” or “Blacks” and read it again.

I do wonder if some countries are more or less xenophobic, or if the difference is only in the targets. I suspect being Mexican in France is easier than in the US, and being a Lebanese Christian is easier in the US than in France.

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Jwl 10.24.17 at 1:11 pm

I see this as a long-term process that reared its head during the Scotland IndyRef vote. Many commentators here said that British nationalism was somehow different from nasty Scottish nationalism, which we now see to be wrong. I do think there has been great cowardice from the British political classes, but that’s been true since the early 90s. The attempt to foster an inclusive, accepting British identity seems to have failed, and the forces of reaction are dominant.

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Nicholas Gruen 10.24.17 at 1:28 pm

Well it’s some kind of compliment to this thread and CT generally that I loved the post but agreed with the comment disagreeing with it from Stephen!

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Ronan(rf) 10.24.17 at 2:10 pm

“I’d suggest that political outcomes emerge from culture.”

And

“Personal anthropology is a wonderful thing, but it doesn’t refute or even address the point that there are observable dominant trends/characteristics in societies/countries”

Still, the UK by any measure is still richer, more tolerant, more liberal than 90% of the world’s countries. So what does this line of thinking say about pretty much the entirety of the non western world?

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faustusnotes 10.24.17 at 2:14 pm

And again, kidney disease comes on here to give a recitation of right wing talking points, with sly digs at the left and the ludicrous claim that Farage cares about working people, and someone else gets zapped even though they had “many interesting points” (a skill that has escaped mr. bile since he was born). I know the moderators are reading these complaints. When are you going to do something about it?

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JanieM 10.24.17 at 2:30 pm

This is mostly just to thank Maria for writing a different framing of a lot that I’m feeling myself. Between the post and the comments I don’t have much to add, but this bit struck me:

And now I feel like a stupid, naive little fool. I look back on that time and think what baseless, idiotic, pathetic faith I had in something it turns out didn’t exist. Or if it did, it’s gone, so it all meant nothing, anyway.

I think both the thing you had faith in, or a version of it, and the thing that’s wrecking the place now, are always there, but the balance changes back and forth over time. We’re unlucky enough to see the reversal of what we (or at least *I* in my own stupidity, naivete, and lack of perspective) thought was an irreversible trend — the arc bending toward justice and all that. I fear, as someone said above, that the US is going to blow up, and even if it doesn’t literally do that, I don’t know how we’re going to knit ourselves (I won’t say “back”) into a functioning country again. I fear for my kids and the next generation(s) in general, in so many ways….

“May you live in interesting times” used to seem like a joke.

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Maria 10.24.17 at 2:31 pm

Sorry, Faustus, it really is harder than you might think to moderate comments. I’ve had another look at that comment and while I disagree with it, it’s not calling anyone stupid or aggressively assuming bad faith. So it stays.

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Ronan(rf) 10.24.17 at 2:43 pm

The idea that the British are somehow uniquely malevolent(not in the OP,but some comments) is unconvincing imo. As has been noted, another world is absolutely plausible where there was never a brexit vote called, which was a contingent act of political opportunism, so imagine our alternative world where instead of debating how awful the British are for their(certainly quite prevalent)xenophobia, we’re merely discussing the everyday banalaties of UK politics. So (1)don’t assume universal cultural truths from the news cycle.

How wonderful really are these European countries which have MUCH more vocal and strongly supported nativist movements? Or indeed a lot of immigrant communities which have considerably more reactionary values than the mainstream? Opening up culturally essentialist lines of reasoning(which is the flavour of the day, admittedly)is a game that must be played with consistency. Imagining the UK as being exceptionally awful is parochialism imo. (Take The case I know best, ireland, where the locals are now trying to claim to be the poster boy of enlightened progressivism. This was a country that was incarcerating single mothers and murdering each other by ethnicity up until quite recently. Anyone who spent time in the country during the 00s and heard the endless diatribes against “Nigerians” would know that the fact that immigration isn’t politically salient in a country doesn’t mean there’s not a lot of societal bigotry. So(2) we all need some humility.)

Finally, by any reasonable global comparison the UK is still in the top 1-10% of countries for open, liberal societies. It takes very high standard to imagine a unique malevolence for a society that is actually, comparatively, exceptionally tolerant. So (3) let’s stop using the culture wars/identity politics as our analytical frame, and develop a more restrained and sensible position that accepts a high enough proportion of all countries population are,values wise, a***oles, that culture is obviously important but doesn’t deterministically lead to political outcomes, and spare a thought for our alternative selfs living in a different timeline who aren’t aware of the fact that we’re all actually awful, and doomed, people.

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JanieM 10.24.17 at 2:43 pm

J-D: If A and B say ‘We are hurt by your desire to share identity X with us’ and M and N say ‘We are hurt by your unwillingness to share identity X with us’, their positions are not parallel, they are converse. Immigrants don’t (in general) want to take away the identity of natives, they want to share in it. If nativists experience the desire of others to share in their identity as a devaluation or destruction of that identity, what do you call that if not spite? (That doesn’t mean it’s not a genuine feeling; spite is a genuine feeling.)

I think this is a great comment and I’m glad J-D pointed out that the positions are converse and not parallel.

I’m still not sure it’s always spite, though, or if it is, I think for many people the spite is rooted in genuine fear of losing something that feels essential to selfhood. From the outside we might think that’s a sign of defining identity in wrong or destructive ways (“white,” let’s say, vs “British” or “American” more generally, or even “earthling”), but from the inside — well, change comes hard. And the more the fear gets fed, manipulated, and played on by forces that couldn’t care less about identity per se, the more it turns to spite, hatred, demonization, and viciousness.

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nick s 10.24.17 at 3:16 pm

The diseases that have erupted were always there, the Daily Mail never went away, New Labour Home Secretaries were just awful on all sort of issues.

The “Home Office View” divides the nation into two groups: one that doesn’t interact much with the Home Office and needs to be protected from the other group that does.

(It’s an open question whether Home Secretaries are warped by the institutional culture or choose it. What’s more certain is that Mrs May was an enthusiastic supporter during her six years in the job and has brought that culture to Number 10.)

Any post-Brexit settlement will require a lot more interaction with the Home Office, and MEPs’ insistence that any registration scheme for EU27 citizens also be applied to UK citizens will put pressure on that division.

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Mario 10.24.17 at 3:36 pm

Hmm. In both the UK and the US recently we’ve had bad political outcomes that are highly contingent consequences of quirks of electoral systems. In Germany and France features of their systems have protected against the same. Yet commenters here casually reach for an essentialist view of national character as the real explanation?

When the quirks in the electoral system is all that stands between power and what the establishment considers “the wrong people”, the essentialist part has run its course. It’s too late.

Incidentally, Germany’s electoral system, by being less unjust, favoured the AfD a lot more than UK’s system favored Ukip, as these pretty dramatic numbers show:

Data compiled by the Electoral Reform Society (ERS) for the Observer showed Ukip had received 3.86m votes for the one MP it had elected to the Commons. This compared with an average of 26,000 votes for every SNP MP, 34,000 for every Conservative, 40,000 for every Labour MP and 299,000 for every Liberal Democrat. (Source)

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Eamonn 10.24.17 at 3:38 pm

@60 The Irish “murdering each other by ethnicity up until quite recently. “

1. as you are no doubt aware, one of the groups involved was killing to protect its non-Irish, indeed uber-British identity

2. the idea of us savages senslessly slaughtering each other is beloved of precisely the sort of British mind
set the thread is all about. It allows them to think of their role in Ireland as “honest brokers” etc

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TM 10.24.17 at 4:06 pm

I don’t think Maria is advocating any “essentialist view of national character”.

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novakant 10.24.17 at 4:23 pm

Ronan, I think you’re being way too self-congratulatory about Western liberal democracies, but then that is incredibly common and I’m a bit of a bleeding-heart / left-wing crank who would ask why the UK sold £5bn worth of arms to repressive regimes in the past 22 months alone – and who will be killed with those arms eventually… and why nobody cares about this.

But anyway, assuming that 50% of the population in any given country are a bunch of fascist @&#^ is indeed a good baseline, but, and now I’m getting to the point:

Usually even these people don’t wilfully ruin their country’s and their children’s future completely just so they can stick it to the man, the foreigners and whoever else they don’t like. The question does need to be asked as to what must be wrong with these people and their society that they embark on a suicide mission of epic proportions with no end in sight just of spite.

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novakant 10.24.17 at 4:25 pm

out of spite, sorry

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Gil Franco 10.24.17 at 4:55 pm

I heard that Thatcher “ruined” the UK frequently when I lived there in the early 80s and again during the Cool Britannia of the late 90s. I didn’t buy the complaint then and Brexit angst seems way overblown. Just look at some 70s British television to how much more cosmopolitan the country is now: people found it absolutely hilarious if someone merely spoke with a foreign accent like the waiter in Fawlty Towers or if someone just said the name “Goldberg” aloud. Ah, the good old days.

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Dipper 10.24.17 at 5:17 pm

@ Chris Bertram @ 9 “One group who I feel keenly for at the moment are the Somalis in the UK (20,000 in Bristol) many of whom have EU nationalities rather than British and who, being poor and marginalized, will probably be much worse placed to “regularize” their position after Brexit. “

… and here we go with why lots of people voted to Leave and would still do today. Is it your case that the entire 14 million population of Somalia should have the right to come to the UK, settle, and avail themselves of housing benefit, free education and free health care? If so then what about everyone else in the world? And if not then who should have the right to control entry and access? The other EU nation that is granting nationality is effectively writing a cheque from the UK bank account. We have no control over this.

If you have a generous and open public services and have no control over who has access to it then you will soon find yourself with public services collapsing from massive demand, a housing crisis, and public finances in permanent deficit, which is exactly where we are and why millions voted to Leave.

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hix 10.24.17 at 5:25 pm

Xenophobia in peoples attitudes is probably just as widespread in Bavaria as in Texas or England. But Trump or a leave the EU vote would still get no significant number of supporters, no matter what the electoral system. In general, more overt far right wing parties got a harder time in Germany simply due to the NS past, not the electoral system.

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Cosima Doerfel Hill 10.24.17 at 5:58 pm

Have you heard of the book “In Limbo – Brexit testimonies from EU citizens in the UK”? It was written at the time A50 was triggered, but sadly the situation has not improved. In fact it has worsened in many regards as we are not actually being told to brace ourselves for a no-deal Brexit….
We do indeed live in interesting times and it is a hard and heavy yoke.
You are quite right that we (the 3million) are “deluxe-immigrants” and have far more agency than many others who are worse off….that does not make it ok though!
I did not come here as an immigrant at all! For 29 years I was a citizen exercising the right to Freedom of Movement. It’s a very different mindset to “making a new life in another country”.
And what about my British partner and children?
Brexit is a direct cause of my forthcoming divorce.
My 7 year old regularly bursts into tears in school, because she does not know how much longer she will be going to that school and is scared of moving.
My 10 year old should be doing the 11plus exam in 11 months time – what’s the point if we don’t know whether we will still be here….?
It is not easy for them to study under these circumstances. It is also not easy for my husband and myself to keep work going (well, my business has already folded thanks to brexit).
Even if there was the most monumental U-turn tomorrow and the UK abandons Brexit, as far as I am concerned, the damage is done and i will never forgive the betrayal of the last 16 months.

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Chris Bertram 10.24.17 at 6:25 pm

@novakant, as annoying anonymous trolling as ever ….

I’m hardly minimising this, unless you think contextualising is minimising. But I thought we’d done with that sort of rhetorical move circa 2003. Yes, east Europeans are the biggest group affected, but I don’t think they experience this (on the whole) in the same way because, given their class position, their expectations were always lower.

E Europeans are already targeted by the British state even pre Brexit, as soon as they have problems with jobs and housing. Something I’ve been active in trying to address.

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Cian O'Connor 10.24.17 at 6:26 pm

As a British ex-pat living in the US I find it kind of fascinating that liberals in both the US and UK seemed to have retreated into a passive pit of despair. In the US it’s barmy conspiracy theories about Russia, while in the UK it’s a dystopian excitement for all the terrible things to come when Brexit finally happens). But there’s no actual politics there – just a weird mirror of the nativist right’s resentment of the other. Instead of focusing on the terrible things that maybe can be fixed (the housing crisis, inequality, indebtedness), they focus on things that can’t be (reversing Brexit, reversing Trump’s election).

Thank god for the young. If anyone should be despairing it’s the under 40s – but they’re the ones with optimistic visions of a better world, doing the hard work of fighting for it.

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Cian O'Connor 10.24.17 at 6:31 pm

I also agree entirely with what Ronan said. And while I accept that Britain may have become more intolerant (though I hesitate to judge the population for the actions of a reactionary government that most of them didn’t vote for), it was way way worse in the 70s and 80s.

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Cian O'Connor 10.24.17 at 6:31 pm

Maria:
I believed all that inclusive, expansive, tolerance stuff in the first place. Never, in my couple of years as an army wife, did anyone grimace or hesitate or show hostility or even surprise at me being a non-national.

And this is a thing now? Because none of my Irish relatives who live in the UK have mentioned this being an issue. Now 30 years ago it would have been a different story.

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Stephen 10.24.17 at 6:43 pm

CivisPeregrinusFuturus@41: “My assessment is that Britain is fast becoming the Russia of Western Europe: corrupt, ignorant, drunken and bigoted… The British have lived too long in a haze of ignorant, alcoholic, xenophobic and angry self-pity”.

Well, much of that is personal impressions and not amenable to factual comment. But when it comes to the British being alcoholic, I can only refer you to the WHO data for per capita consumption of alcohol, for persons over 15:

For 2010, UK came in among EU nations below Lithuania, Romania, Czechia, Slovakia, Portugal, Poland, Latvia, Finland, France, Croatia, Ireland, Luxembourg (despite a heroic contribution from J-C Junker), Germany and Slovenia. They were also, perhaps of interest to some of our contributors, well behind Australia.

For 2013 UK came in below Austria, Estonia, France, Ireland, Czechia, Hungary, Luxembourg, Germany, Slovenia, Denmark, Poland, Portugal, and marginally above Australia.

So either the British have turned to drink in a big way over the last few years, or you have decided you don’t like the UK and are throwing around insults at random.

I would advise you also to consider this report: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/7903584.stm
showing that the Remain-voting Scots drink a good deal more than the Leave-voting English and Welsh. Not that anyone with some experience of Scotland would be surprised.

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TM 10.24.17 at 6:43 pm

I think what some commenters are missing is that while the Brexit vote was close and might have even been a random fluke (as Trump’s losing the US election but still becoming president was clearly a random fluke), such events can still be extremely disruptive and put society on a different pathway. I think what Maria is describing is the erosion and degradation of social and political institutions that many of us have taken for granted. The question now is how liberal society (which still exists of course) responds to that erosion. And that response depends on a realistic understanding of what is happening, what is at stake, how bad things already are and how much they will get if people don’t wake up. And what keeps frightening me is how many CTers haven’t woken up yet.

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TM 10.24.17 at 6:49 pm

Moderation’s strange results…

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Dipper 10.24.17 at 6:52 pm

@ Maria – firstly I sincerely hope you stay and help the country post Brexit.

Secondly, your post doesn’t ask an obvious question. It is as if the country just woke up one morning and decided to stop being nice and start being nasty. I think it is important to ask what it has happened that turned a welcoming people to people putting the shutters up.

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nastywoman 10.24.17 at 6:54 pm

@72
”If anyone should be despairing it’s the under 40s – but they’re the ones with optimistic visions of a better world, doing the hard work of fighting for it.”

Well – thank you!

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Stephen 10.24.17 at 7:04 pm

Nicholas Gruen@55: thanks for your even-handed compliments.

Maria: I really do sympathise with you – obviously you are deeply distressed, which is not something I like to see in any innocent person – but I did mention some factual or logical matters that seem to me to indicate your distress is in some ways unfounded. Would it be too much trouble for you to reply?

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Ronan(rf) 10.24.17 at 7:09 pm

Eamonn I wasn’t meaning to imply any of that, just noting the complacency of current rhetoric in ireland(I imagine we’ll have a nativist reaction sometime over next couple of decades)

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nastywoman 10.24.17 at 7:18 pm

– AND I really think we can turn this thing around – or as a French Friend of mine always likes to say in English -(with a real great French accent)

”We made this place” – (London)
And ever since our British friends learned to cook – we knew ”progress” is unavoidable!

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Eamonn 10.24.17 at 7:22 pm

My mother lived in the UK for a decade a lot longer than 3o years ago and never had anything but good to say about it. But the country she was coming from and her own hopes and expectations were quite different to what they would be now. And that’s a good thing

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Maria 10.24.17 at 8:08 pm

Sorry, folks, I’m not responding to or moderating comments as quickly as some may like as I have some other commitments.

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JanieM 10.24.17 at 8:24 pm

Sorry, folks

Maria, don’t worry about it. We’re scattered around the globe, we’re all busy, sometimes days go by.

If people don’t like it they can ask for a refund. ;-)

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Sashas 10.24.17 at 8:28 pm

@68 Dipper
“If you have a generous and open public services and have no control over who has access to it then you will soon find yourself with public services collapsing from massive demand, a housing crisis, and public finances in permanent deficit”
I believe this is only true if you also refrain from taxing the people who are using your public services. People come to the UK to live and, presumably, to work. I am not directly familiar with the situation in the UK, but the question of whether immigrants to the US are a net economic drain or benefit (including cost of services) seems to be hotly debated among experts. (Full disclosure: I had been under the impression that the question was largely resolved among experts, with the consensus being that immigrants are a net economic boon. Upon review, I don’t really have the expertise to support anything other than “it’s contested”.)

@72 Cian O’Connor
What you wrote looks like the sort of off-the-cuff response that one gives when one is stating obvious facts that everyone either knows or should know. To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with that. I just want you to be aware that my first reaction upon reading what you wrote was that I wanted to put “citation needed” annotations after literally every sentence*. (*Ok, excluding “Thank god for the young.”)

I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing citations, but my primary interest is that you take a moment and ask yourself how you know the things you know.

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Lupita 10.24.17 at 8:28 pm

Is it your case that the entire 14 million population of Somalia should have the right to come to the UK, settle, and avail themselves of housing benefit, free education and free health care?

When reading this thread, a similar question popped up into my mind: Should Europeans and Americans be able to move en masse to Mexico and avail themselves of free education and health care plus housing benefits? I fear that whatever Westeners decide regarding what rights are extended to immigrants, it will later be imposed on the rest of the world via the IMF, a trade agreement, a color revolution, or whatever, as the only civilized way to be, just like criminalizing homosexuality and granting legal privileges to males was imposed in colonies were these laws did not exist until, of course, the opposite became the only civilized way to be. I can just see it coming, Westeners complaining of third worlders being nationalistic, xenophobic, and racist because their IDs and credentials are not valid wherever they go.

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Kenneth Almquist 10.24.17 at 9:21 pm

“The principal message of Farage, Corbyn, Sanders, and Trump is ‘yes, we can take control of our lives and build a world where our children thrive.’”

I don’t think that was Trump’s principal message. Most politicians will take a stab at saying something like this, but in the recent U. S. Presidential election, Clinton pushed this message more than Trump. I see two things as central to Trump’s campaign messaging. One is his appeal to authoritarian followers. (Google “Bob Altemeyer” if you’re not familiar with the term.) Second, and somewhat related, was his ability to channel anger which had been stoked by Fox News and other right wing media. It seems to me that the typical Trump voter is less interested in building a better world than in simply smashing stuff.

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Mario 10.24.17 at 9:27 pm

If nativists experience the desire of others to share in their identity as a devaluation or destruction of that identity, what do you call that if not spite? (That doesn’t mean it’s not a genuine feeling; spite is a genuine feeling.)

I wouldn’t call it spite because the primary desire is not to hurt, but to keep an identity. Of course, if boundaries are repeatedly broken, and complaints on this are answered with insults, at some point there is hate, and this of course causes spite. But that is late in the game and not the original motivation nor feelings.

I’m using the official definition of spite: a desire to hurt, annoy, or offend someone. My experience on being on the receiving end of “you don’t belong” is that this is not the motivation. They are fine with you being happy, just somewhere else, please.

Brexit surprised me, BTW. I thought that elites in the UK would just find a way to ignore the vote by fudging it and making a couple of maneuvers and then, at the end, call the thing off. I’m still not really believing they will pull it through because this xenophobia thing is a working class thing. It’s they who get to live next door to most working class immigrants with their many virtues, problems, and different identity. And it’s they who take the most solace out of their national identity – and they who often have little left if you take that away from them.

The rich and the academics get a different deal and a different reality. You can see that in the OP and elsewhere on this thread.

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novakant 10.24.17 at 10:07 pm

Yes, east Europeans are the biggest group affected, but I don’t think they experience this (on the whole) in the same way because, given their class position, their expectations were always lower.

This will be news to my Eastern European friends, colleagues and acquaintances: they don’t feel the same way I do about Brexit because of their “class position”? Seriously?

That’s completely preposterous, they bitch about Brexit all the time and are just as defiant, scared and sad as I am – but hey, whatever…

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Matt 10.24.17 at 11:36 pm

Ronan(rf): Finally, by any reasonable global comparison the UK is still in the top 1-10% of countries for open, liberal societies. It takes very high standard to imagine a unique malevolence for a society that is actually, comparatively, exceptionally tolerant. So (3) let’s stop using the culture wars/identity politics as our analytical frame, and develop a more restrained and sensible position that accepts a high enough proportion of all countries population are,values wise, a***oles, that culture is obviously important but doesn’t deterministically lead to political outcomes, and spare a thought for our alternative selfs living in a different timeline who aren’t aware of the fact that we’re all actually awful, and doomed, people.

novakant: Ronan, I think you’re being way too self-congratulatory about Western liberal democracies, but then that is incredibly common and I’m a bit of a bleeding-heart / left-wing crank who would ask why the UK sold £5bn worth of arms to repressive regimes in the past 22 months alone – and who will be killed with those arms eventually… and why nobody cares about this.

This must be a rhetorical “nobody” since you obviously care, I care, and the people who write and read the Guardian and the Independent care.

Is “arms dealer to tyrants” the polar opposite of “open, liberal society?” I don’t think that it is. Selling weapons to repressive governments is wrong and infuriating by my lights, but it doesn’t have much to do with whether a nation exhibits open, liberal attitudes domestically. (Neither Afghanistan nor Vatican City export weapons. I’m still not going to call them more liberal than America no matter how many more cluster bombs Americans sell.)

It’s most often conservatives who I see conflating the domestic experience of living in the West (or more specifically, the USA) with the West/USA’s malignant actions abroad, and the attitudes those actions produce. “They hate us Over There, but people from Over There still want to come Here?! Explain that, libs!” (Preferred conservative explanations: the people Over There are crazy/idiots, or just want to move Here for revenge attacks on Us.) I think that such reasoning relies on contradictions that aren’t actually there. The USA does horrible things abroad. People living abroad in victimized countries know all about it and hate it. They also know that they’d be better off in many ways living inside the borders of the USA. If you can get inside you’re safer, better off economically, can plan a more stable future. American cruise missiles rain down on too many places, but never America itself.

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CivisPeregrinusFuturus 10.25.17 at 12:16 am

@Stephen

“Well, much of that is personal impressions and not amenable to factual comment.”

Sure, let’s all line up and chant in chorus that this is the best of all possible worlds and we must cultivate our gardens.

After 47 years of knowing Britain and the British, I decline to waste more time on them.

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Matt 10.25.17 at 12:24 am

Sashas at 87:
the question of whether immigrants to the US are a net economic drain or benefit (including cost of services) seems to be hotly debated among experts.

My recollection is that, in the last really comprehensive study of this (which was a long time ago, so things may have changed some), the result was that immigrants to the US with less than a high school diploma were net consumers of public funds (using more public services than they contributed), even when the (typically positive) contributions of their children were taken into consideration. Immigrants with a high school diploma or more were net contributors in the sense that they paid more in taxes over their lifetimes than they used in government supplied services. (There are, of course, other ways to be contributors.) Immigrants with a more than high school education were significant contributors on this scale. All of this was taking into account that most immigrants to the US are typically not able to access public funds for several years – almost always at least 5. I’m sure there are ways to slice up the data more finely and get interesting results, and perhaps some levels have changed, but I don’t think the basic answer has changed. (Note also that this is a different question from whether current residents benefit from more migration – that, too, doesn’t seem to have an interesting general answer given the current political situation in the US (*), with different groups being impacted in different ways, though most people do seem to benefit. I would be surprised if the results for other wealthy countries were very different, though of course there are bound to be some differences, some of the significant.

(*) with a more just social system, one easy to imagine but hard to think we’ll get soon, I expect everyone could be made better off from reasonable immigration programs.

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J-D 10.25.17 at 1:40 am

SamChevre

If nativists experience the desire of others to share in their identity as a devaluation or destruction of that identity, what do you call that if not spite?

I don’t think it is necessarily spite: after all, Hallowe’en is coming up. (Replace “nativists” with “Native Americans” or “Blacks” and read it again.

Please note that I did not affirm that it is necessarily spite. I did not even affirm that it is sometimes spite. That was a considered choice. I asked what to call it if not spite. For clarity, I add that the implied antecedent of the pronoun ‘it’ in this context is ‘the emotional state which underlies the reaction of nativists who, when others desire to share in their identity, experience it as a devaluation or destruction of that identity’. Probably ‘spite’ is not the best term for it, but at the moment I can’t think of a better one; I would appreciate any suggestions. In any case, whatever the best term for it, it is approximately as unpleasant as spite and for approximately the same reasons.

I don’t understand the intended relevance of the reference to Halloween.

The historical experience of Native Americans was that people came into their country and took it away from them. They are still experiencing the negative consequences of that dispossession. That is not the same thing as people trying to share their identity. Possibly you have in mind other examples which could fairly be described under the heading of ‘people trying to share in the identity of Native Americans’; if so, I’m not sure what those examples might be, and I don’t know how Native Americans react to them, but if there is a negative reaction it is unrealistic to appraise that independently of the historical context of dispossession. The historical experience of African-Americans was of a different kind of dispossession (or perhaps it would be better to call it a different experience with some points of similarity to dispossession), but the basic point would be the same.

JanieM

J-D: If A and B say ‘We are hurt by your desire to share identity X with us’ and M and N say ‘We are hurt by your unwillingness to share identity X with us’, their positions are not parallel, they are converse. Immigrants don’t (in general) want to take away the identity of natives, they want to share in it. If nativists experience the desire of others to share in their identity as a devaluation or destruction of that identity, what do you call that if not spite? (That doesn’t mean it’s not a genuine feeling; spite is a genuine feeling.)

I think this is a great comment and I’m glad J-D pointed out that the positions are converse and not parallel.

I’m still not sure it’s always spite, though, or if it is, I think for many people the spite is rooted in genuine fear of losing something that feels essential to selfhood. From the outside we might think that’s a sign of defining identity in wrong or destructive ways (“white,” let’s say, vs “British” or “American” more generally, or even “earthling”), but from the inside — well, change comes hard. And the more the fear gets fed, manipulated, and played on by forces that couldn’t care less about identity per se, the more it turns to spite, hatred, demonization, and viciousness.

I don’t get what difference it’s supposed to make if the feelings are genuine. If, for example, I say ‘I hate you’, how does it make things better if I really do have a feeling of hatred for you? The question is, it seems to me, what the reason is that I feel that way, and also whether it is a good reason for feeling hate.

I think of it this way. If somebody says ‘My home city has changed since I grew up, it isn’t a city of white people like me any more’, that may well be true. If somebody says ‘It is part of my identity that I am white’, that may well be true. If somebody says ‘It is part of my identity that this city is my home’, that may well be true. But all of those things can go on being true at the same time. Somebody can continue being a white person in a city full of people who aren’t white. You can be at home in a place where other people are not like you—in fact, it’s the normal human condition to spend your life in the midst of people who are unlike you, in varying ways and to varying extents. It is possible to have a sense of identity which includes, for example, a home city and a racial type, even when the home city is inhabited mostly by people of a different racial type. If your home city fills up with people of a racial type different from yours, it doesn’t change what your racial type is, or which is your home city, so it doesn’t change your identity. If people say (and feel) things like ‘I cannot feel at home in a city where most of the people are of a racial type different from mine’ or ‘I feel my identity is threatened when my home city fills up with people of a racial type different from mine’, what are their reasons for feeling that way and are they good reasons? I can’t figure any way they can be.

It doesn’t have to be a home city; it could be a home neighbourhood, a home region, or a home country. Also, it doesn’t have to be a racial type; it could be a religion, or a native language, or something else again. If my home city (or country) changed so much that the majority of people spoke a language different from mine and that language became the language of the city (or country), it would cause me a great deal of practical inconvenience, and for that reason I hope it doesn’t happen; but it wouldn’t threaten my identity. My individual identity as an English-speaking inhabitant of Australia couldn’t be changed just by Australia changing its language. Yet, as far as I can tell, that seems to be the kind of thing that people are afraid of. They have two different things, both of which they feel connected to, as part of their identity, and they feel threatened by the idea of the connection between those two things being weakened. They shouldn’t. If you feel strong connection to both of your parents, and if that is part of your identity, and if your parents become estranged, it may be difficult for you to adjust to, but the change to the connection between them need not threaten your identity as a person strongly connected to both of them. It’s not a perfect analogy, but does it make my point?

Dipper
Your account is incomplete in the absence of evidence to support the conclusion that public services in the UK are collapsing as a result of massive demand from people whose entry to the country could not be controlled.

Dipper, again
I would not expect anybody to accept it if I said that I should not be called to account for my actions and my attitudes because they are the product of circumstances beyond my control; I can’t figure why I should be expected to accept this from, or about, anybody else. There are always reasons why people do the things they do and feel the way they feel, and it can be important to figure out what they are, but it is also important to realise that they aren’t always good reasons. For example, there are reasons why people are bigoted (and why they act out their bigotry), and it is important to figure out what those reasons are, but it’s also important to realise that no matter what the reasons are there are no justifications for bigotry.

Stephen

I really do sympathise with you – obviously you are deeply distressed, which is not something I like to see in any innocent person –

That could naturally be taken as suggesting that you might feel differently about the deep distress of a person who is not innocent. Would that be the case, and why? and how would it work in practice? when you encountered people in deep distress, would you by default feel sympathy unless you found out that they were not innocent, or would you by default not feel sympathy until you confirmed that they were innocent?

– but I did mention some factual or logical matters that seem to me to indicate your distress is in some ways unfounded.

My impression was that the majority of the points you raised would have been relevant if you were supposed to be carrying out a comprehensive copy-edit of Maria’s post but had no relevance to the foundations of Maria’s distress.

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Ronan(rf) 10.25.17 at 2:14 am

“such events can still be extremely disruptive and put society on a different pathway”

Of course,but we’re also.seeing the implosion of the Tories, a somewhat resurgence of labour,more support for immigration in polling. In Europe the “populist rise” has been a mixed bag, to say the least. Trump is a disaster, and if we manage to forestall nuclear war and he doesn’t complete erode US political institutions,they might emerge intact(until the next disaster). So it’s not all doom and gloom.

“Ronan, I think you’re being way too self-congratulatory about Western liberal democracies”

Not self congratulatory so much as quietly hopeful the forces of sanity will triumph. Fair point ‘re western foreign policy, which I agree with you about.

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felwith 10.25.17 at 2:23 am

(Replace “nativists” with “Native Americans” or “Blacks” and read it again.

OK, let’s give it a try.

If Native Americans experience the desire of others to share in their identity as a devaluation or destruction of that identity, what do you call that if not spite?

I call it an attempt to retain some level of dignity in the face of idle japery perpetuated by the descendants of those who waged a campaign of ethnic cleansing against them.

If Blacks experience the desire of others to share in their identity as a devaluation or destruction of that identity, what do you call that if not spite?

I call it a desire to not be required to brush off a reminder of a history of expropriation of labor and culture tracing back hundreds of years.

If nativists experience the desire of others to share in their identity as a devaluation or destruction of that identity, what do you call that if not spite?

I call it…I’m sorry, I think this was the bit where enlightenment was supposed to strike, but I’m still just coming up with spite. Maybe you could tell me what you were thinking would go here?

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carolanne walters 10.25.17 at 2:24 am

I agree with you and I am Scottish, British and EU citizen for the moment. I live in the UK and I don’t recognise it. This is not what I want or voted for, and I can’t believe the way people are behaving or how they are treating people. If I could I’d be looking for another place to call home, but I can’t and all I can do is get depressed and continue to tell them they are wrong to do this.

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Yan 10.25.17 at 2:34 am

I enjoyed the way FesteringNose referred to kidneystones as kidney disease in a post to the moderator complaining about the state of The Discourse.

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Chris Bertram 10.25.17 at 6:36 am

… and here we go with why lots of people voted to Leave and would still do today. Is it your case that the entire 14 million population of Somalia should have the right to come to the UK, settle, and avail themselves of housing benefit, free education and free health care?

Interesting that Bristol, with a large Somali population, was one of the strongest Remain-voting areas in the UK.

Interesting too, that Dipper is fine with the predominantly white Irish but has nightmares about Somalis.

Noting that Nigel Farage’s predictions about the entire populations of Romania and Bulgaria did not come to pass, even with freedom of movement.

I doubt Dipper has ever had a conversation with a Somali. My most recent one was with a young psychology student (not at my university) who was wearing hijab and reading Mill’s On Liberty. I certainly want more people like her in the country.

But as for my direct answer to Dipper’s rhetorical question: you’ll have to wait for my Does the State have the Right to Exclude Immigrants? (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2018). Should be out in May. (Prediction: you won’t like the answer)

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nastywoman 10.25.17 at 7:11 am

@
”When reading this thread, a similar question popped up into my mind: Should Europeans and Americans be able to move en masse to Mexico and avail themselves of free education and health care plus housing benefits?”

– or should Europeans and Americans NOT be able to visit en masse London and avail themselves of all the… ”Cute Britishness ” – to a dimension that some Pubs sometimes become a lot less… ”cute”?

When reading this thread, such a ”strange” question popped up into MY mind.
As there are so many now – who have outgrown Disneyland and ”consume” London –
(and ”Small Britain”) – like some weirdly entertaining Monty-Pythonland…

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dbk 10.25.17 at 7:19 am

I hadn’t realized that it was becoming this bad in GB, thanks for this.

As an American who has lived in SEE (Greece) for 40 years, both of whose children have left Greece along with about 500,000 of their peers in the past eight years, I can’t say I’m all that surprised. Neo-liberalism or whatever (choose your term), which long relied on the mantras of “free movement of goods, capital, and persons” is now drawing back from the last of these. As for the free movement of capital in search of profit … that continues, at an ever more frenetic pace.

The exceptions seem to be so-called “international cities” which continue to be open to all comers, at least in theory.

But this isn’t the solution, either, because it encourages divisiveness between the center and the periphery, as witnessed both in the Brexit vote and the U.S. 2016 election.

You see this hostility a lot in the progressive U.S. political blogs/comments these days – the coastal educated elites demeaning/insulting everyone who lives in between without any willingness to accept that the Rust Belt (I guess like the NE of England) has been shafted by the current economic regime. It becomes a vicious cycle.

Meanwhile, Greece has lost its young, educated population–doctors, teachers, researchers, engineers, you name it–and the EU powers that be have decreed that Greece will become the final destination of those ME/NE refugees it already hosts (perhaps as many as 100,000; nobody has an accurate estimate) and will also become the final destination of all remaining arrivals for the foreseeable future.

103

Nile 10.25.17 at 7:38 am

I worry that my new Irish passport will jeopardise my wife’s indefinite leave to remain; but, if it comes to that, in a country like that, my job with a French corporation is a lifeboat for us both.

I don’t have to live here; and my job, like many, many others, doesn’t have to be here, and probably won’t be in a year or two, whether Brexit happens now or not.

Meanwhile, *those* letters from the Home Office are still going out to families with every right to be here. If it seems like they are ‘making a point’ of expelling the whitest, most settled, most economically- and culturally-valuable people that they can, consider this: it ‘seems’ like that, because it is exactly that.

Consider the agenda that exists beneath that, and the kind of people who would get behind it, and set to work with such determination.

None of it is accidental; none of it is an administrative error; none of it is any individual official ‘overstepping their authority’.

No meaningful attempt is being made to stop it, and it’s hapoening routinely – not just repeatedly – despite the consequences being raised, by foreign governments, in the most serious negotiations Britain has ever entered into in our lifetimes.

There is no ‘benefit of the doubt’ here: all of these threats and actions are a matter of policy, whether stated publicly or not; and the agenda is supported all the way into highest levels of administration and political oversight.

Whose policy, and whose agenda, are a matter of conjecture: no-one’s being open about it and there’s only so much to infer from opportunist ‘dog whistles’ from elected politicians. But the shape of it is large, and ugly, and very real; and it is looming over my life, and yours.

This is no longer a country to be loved, nor even to be tolerated with a bit of grumbling hiding our unstated but deep-seated loyalty; this is a country to be feared, and we citizens or denizens are meant to live in fear.

104

Mario 10.25.17 at 7:52 am

I doubt Dipper has ever had a conversation with a Somali. My most recent one was with a young psychology student (not at my university) who was wearing hijab and reading Mill’s On Liberty.

That’s precisely what I meant when I wrote, above, that the rich and the academics get a different deal and a different reality from immigration than the working class. From Somalia they may get to see the psychology student reading Mill, but never will they get to be the neighbor of a traumatized and violent ex-pirate.

105

Dipper 10.25.17 at 7:52 am

@ Chris Bertram – 100 – “Dipper is fine with the predominantly white Irish but has nightmares about Somalis.”

As you well know Ireland was an integral part of the UK until the southern part gained independence nearly 100 years ago. My understanding is the Irish retain all their UK citizenship rights and I’m perfectly happy with that.

Nearly all surveys have shown that for most Leavers the predominant issue was democratic accountability. So this article “Schauble has reduced Europe to rubble” hits the nail on the head for me.

“I certainly want more people like her in the country”. And you can get more people like her in the country through your elected representatives controlling non-EU immigration policy. At the moment any one of 27 other governments can grant people the right to come to the UK.

@ Andy in Germany, Faustusnotes.

Both Germany and Japan are experiencing rapid declines in population so have an urgent need for immigration. The UK is projected to have a 25% increase in population in just 50 years. It is all to do with numbers not some perceived inherent racism.

106

TM 10.25.17 at 7:59 am

Ronan 96, agreed that the outcome of this is still up in the air. Trump has certainly mobilized the opposition and perhaps politicized a whole generation. He may in the end spectacularly fail, and be seen as a failure. “Doom and gloom” isn’t the only possibility but people need to perceive – I mean not just understand rationally but feel emotionally – that the end of liberal society is a real possibility, if liberals don’t fight back seriously. Because the enemy is serious about this and they have gotten so far because our side has been complacent – “this can’t happen here” and so on. In the UK case, just a reminder what is now possible: a media campaign to abuse High Court judges as traitors. It’s probably unprecedented. If you aren’t appalled and scared by what happened, you are way too complacent.

107

faustusnotes 10.25.17 at 8:13 am

Did SamChevre actually just compare the experience of white brexiteers feeling anxious about growing immigration with the experience of Native Americans being forced onto reservations?

108

nastywoman 10.25.17 at 8:15 am

@
”Meanwhile, Greece has lost its young, educated population–doctors, teachers, researchers, engineers, you name it–”

Each time I celebrate with parts of the Greek Colony in London -(aren’t around 40 000 Greeks in London?) – the strange question popped into my mind: How strange that all these rich Greeks are in London while their ”capital” was needed so much in Greece and so I agree that ”the free movement of capital in search of profit … continues, at an ever more frenetic pace” – and I also agree – that the Rust Belt (I guess like the NE of England) has been shafted by the current economic regime BUT I have a bit of a problem with the idea that ”the EU powers have decreed that Greece will become the final destination of those ME/NE refugees it already hosts” – as nearly a million of them are now in the EU country I currently reside in – AND I spend around four weeks every year in Athens and Nafplion AND once a week I eat at the Greek around the corner – working against encouraging divisiveness between the center and the periphery.

And about the so-called “international cities” which continue to be open to all comers, are NOT only open ”least in theory”.

And so there can be as much ”Brexiting” as anybody wants – there is now way in London to stop Londons way to a smaller version of whole Europe in one city – or as the members of the French ”colony” are insisting: It’s much more ”admirable” for London that France came to London than Small Britain comes to Paris.

109

TM 10.25.17 at 8:20 am

dbk 102: “the coastal educated elites demeaning/insulting everyone who lives in between”

Stop peddling these Fox News falsehoods. Frankly you are the one who is insulting millions of educated coastal Americans. Most of them are neither “elite” nor do they bear any ill will towards those living in other places. For example, they don’t deny rural Americans federal emergency help when hit by a natural disaster (http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/08/texas-lawmakers-who-voted-against-relief-for-hurricane-sandy-now-ask-for-help-with-harvey/). Maybe you are ill-informed after 40 years abroad. That is no excuse for mendacious propaganda.

110

TM 10.25.17 at 8:27 am

Dipper 106: “Both Germany and Japan are experiencing rapid declines in population”

Japan experiences a slow population decline (about .1% p. a.), Germany’s population has been remarkably stable over decades and is currently increasing. It shouldn’t be so hard to get at least those facts straight.

111

Chris Bertram 10.25.17 at 8:28 am

“Meanwhile, Greece has lost its young, educated population–doctors, teachers, researchers, engineers, …”

The attitude in this comment is that people are the property of their states and should be fenced in if necessary. They aren’t and they shouldn’t be.

112

Chris Bertram 10.25.17 at 8:35 am

That’s precisely what I meant when I wrote, above, that the rich and the academics get a different deal and a different reality from immigration than the working class. From Somalia they may get to see the psychology student reading Mill, but never will they get to be the neighbor of a traumatized and violent ex-pirate.

I had the conversation not in an academic context but at a public outdoor event in Bristol with people from all walks of life. I live in a fairly working-class area of the city and often see Somalis on the street. As far as I can tell, none of them are ex-pirates, though some of them may have been traumatized. When I was in hospital last year, the guy in the bed opposite me (football injury) was Somali. We talked a lot, about things such as the way his visitors switched seamlessly between English, French, Dutch and Somali. He was kind enough to share his biscuits with me when I was finally allowed to eat. He didn’t seem to be an ex-pirate either, but who can tell?

113

TM 10.25.17 at 8:41 am

felwith 97: “If Native Americans experience the desire of others to share in their identity”

Historically, native Americans often adopted members of other tribes – including many of European descent – into their community. Otoh, General Custer didn’t come to Indian Country out of a desire to share the Natives’ identity.

This, and SamChevre’s earlier comment are appalling. The racists are now trying to instrumentalize the suffering of Native Americans and other victims of racism for their political purposes.

114

Peter T 10.25.17 at 8:58 am

From J-D’s comment @ 95

“If my home city (or country) changed so much that the majority of people spoke a language different from mine and that language became the language of the city (or country), it would cause me a great deal of practical inconvenience, and for that reason I hope it doesn’t happen; but it wouldn’t threaten my identity.”

This seems to me to separate identity from social environment – not the way that most people live their lives. The two are one, changing much as one’s body and ideas change, but certainly not isolated, not “matters of practical convenience”. Else we would never mourn the destruction of a building, the loss of a tree, the desolation of a deserted village. Humans, like most animals, have their territories, matters of smells and sights and sounds, and are disoriented by their sudden loss or change.

re Chris @110, is the issue one of fencing them in, or observing that the loss of these people has both a material and a social impact on those remaining? Is it of no importance that the peasants and pensioners of Greece have to eek out their lives in slow decay? Or will they be given tickets to London too?

115

nastywoman 10.25.17 at 9:05 am

@ ”ex-pirates”

– and I would love to meet an ”ex-pirate” and discuss with him what he thinks about Tom Hanks?
-(or why people have this urge to ”exit” from something what they are)

116

MFB 10.25.17 at 9:05 am

I’d imagine that most traumatised Somalis are traumatised either by the actions of the occupation armies or the guerrillas.

Incidentally, South Africa has a fair amount of rising xenophobia, assiduously stoked by the right wing. Our new cowboy police minister says that farm crime is caused by farmers hiring foreign workers, while the opposition Mayor of Johannesburg says that foreigners (except white ones, of course) have no right to social services.

What fun we all are having in this brave new world we have built for ourselves!

117

nastywoman 10.25.17 at 9:17 am

– and perhaps Greece is the best example – as Greece has around 10 Million… could we call them ”natives”?
BUT each year around 12 Million people from all around the world ”reside” -(for some time) – in Greece – and Greece kind of totally lives from these ”fureigners” -probably NOT as much as Banking and Real Estate Agents used to live from ”Fureigners” in London – but anywhoo where was I?

At the fact that there are already whole countries who live – or used to live (Like US) – from -(temporary or long term) ”migration”.

AND then such a country – city – state just can’t ”un-entangle” itself from such a reality – it is as impossible as Greece or London or even the whole of Small Britain going back to a society where some Irish can’t say also:

”We made this place”!

118

J-D 10.25.17 at 9:41 am

Mario

I wouldn’t call it spite …

That is an answer to the question ‘What wouldn’t you call it?’, but I didn’t ask that question; I asked ‘What would you call it?’, and you haven’t answered that question. For clarity, I repeat that the implied antecedent of the pronoun ‘it’ in this context is ‘the emotional state which underlies the reaction of nativists who, when others desire to share in their identity, experience it as a devaluation or destruction of that identity’.

Of course, if boundaries are repeatedly broken, and complaints on this are answered with insults, at some point there is hate, and this of course causes spite.

I cannot figure out what that is supposed to be about. To me the statement seems too vague to be useful.

Brexit surprised me, BTW.

Have you considered that being surprised by events is likely to be an indicator of significant imperfections in your understanding of the world?

I’m still not really believing they will pull it through because this xenophobia thing is a working class thing. It’s they who get to live next door to most working class immigrants with their many virtues, problems, and different identity. And it’s they who take the most solace out of their national identity – and they who often have little left if you take that away from them.

If you have people living next door who have a different identity from you, it doesn’t take away your identity; and if you have people living next door who aspire to have the same identity as you, that also doesn’t take away your identity.

My understanding was that the areas with lots of immigrants and therefore lots of people living next-door to immigrants mostly voted Remain, while the areas voting Leave mostly had fewer immigrants and therefore fewer people living next-door to immigrants. If that’s not correct, I am eager to be corrected.

Dipper

Nearly all surveys have shown that for most Leavers the predominant issue was democratic accountability.

The probability of departure from the European Union leading to improved democratic accountability in the United Kingdom is, and always was, negligibly small.

On the other hand, there was always a high probability that it would lead to negative consequences for many people in the United Kingdom of the general kind described in Maria’s post and many comments.

119

nastywoman 10.25.17 at 10:23 am

@114
”Is it of no importance that the peasants and pensioners of Greece have to eek out their lives in slow decay? Or will they be given tickets to London too?”

There is this cousin of mine who used to be the son of a… and I know it sounds pathetical ”stereotypical” – but his family used to grow olives – and his fathers preferred mode of transportation was a… and that probably even sounds… ”worst”? was a donkey… and I only write that – as this cousin of mine use to joke about it as he really made it ”from donkey to an Audi in just one generation -(after the Euro hit Greece and his family went heavily into the Tourism Business) – and then somehow the party suddenly was over.

And just like all of these my fellow Americans -(or EU investors who invested in London Real Estate) and who thought they could get ”rich and famous” -(in just one generation) couldn’t even afford a ticket to London anymore – and as I’m from a family of gamblers – I always asked myself why is this other cousin of mine complaining that he now -(with the Brexit vote) has lost about 20 percent of his Euro investment in London Real Estate.

And I hope that answers the question about ”will they be given tickets to London too?”

120

Orlando Quarmby 10.25.17 at 10:29 am

Gleams one bright star in toxic Britain – Scottish independence and continued EU membership for residents of Scotland. And Scottish nationalism, as Billy Bragg has pointed out is civic nationalism – ie it’s where you are not where you were born that counts – and therefore very different from toxic British nationalism with its dreams of the glory days of Empire and ‘punching above its weight’ as an international power.

121

kidneystones 10.25.17 at 10:36 am

I very much doubt that anyone sensible believes the Conservative government has much interest in anything but feathering their own nests. We are all equally worthless, more or less.

Conservative people are a very different matter. Many of the wealthier support globalization, Remain, and the orthodoxies of the border-free trade. Others conservatives, especially among, Sikh, Hindu, Muslim communities prize charity and compassion as virtues. It’s convenient perhaps, to forget that Martin Luther King was the Reverend Martin Luther King and that William Wilberforce and his activist Christian allies ended the British slave trade. The Underground Railroad and the abolitionist press in America had deep connections with the various Christian communities.

We are witnessing/experiencing a change that is momentous to those on the sharp end and these folks have my sympathies. I do not, however, look back on the glory days of Tony Blair and the invasion of Iraq with any particular fondness, or nostalgia. I don’t see any part of what’s taking place as anything near as dangerous as the first fifteen years of this century.

And as much as some may cheer the notion of a border-free Europe and a world without borders, nobody is cheering louder for that tune than Farage and company. Because it is this – the notion that the citizen of a state has no right to set borders and establish community norms that makes it so easy for Farage and Trump to convince ordinary citizens that elites are willing to give away the farm, their farm, even if that farm is in fact owned by some faceless globalist corporation.

Corbyn and Sanders are both wise enough to recognize that the most citizens see citizenship as something to be awarded on merit, of a kind, not given away to all-comers. The notion that supporting the Clintons, for example, or Tony Blair is part of a fight against the ruling class is pure delusion. Until the left starts to actually stand for the left – single payer, for example, and free college education, and a ban on all war, the globalists will continue to win – globalist neocon brand blue, or globalist neocon brand red.

Who said we don’t have a choice? We do actually, but we’re going to have work a little harder for it than we have to date.

122

J-D 10.25.17 at 11:11 am

Peter T
I have experienced loss of things and of people that were important in my life, for example the death of my parents; but I didn’t experience those things as a threat to my identity. Having people move into my neighbourhood, or in some other way enter my life, who are in one way or another strange to me, might make my life stranger to some extent, and I suppose that could be considered a kind of loss, not of anything tangible, but of a sense of familiarity; but that does not change who I am, just as the death of my parents did not change who I am, which is what I take identity to mean. If that’s not what identity means, then what does it mean? If what people mean is ‘The extreme unfamiliarity of this makes me feel disoriented and uncomfortable’, I think they should say that, and not ‘My identity is being threatened’.

123

PJO 10.25.17 at 11:31 am

Ireland an integral part of the UK? It depends how you define integral. It was colonised and oppressed for hundreds of years (see for example http://www.downsurveytcd.ie/religion.php — it was the first country to have a full ordnance survey, in order that confiscated land could be given to English settlers). Most Brits are clueless about their country’s shameful history in Ireland and a lot of them imagine conflict in NI is a result of Irish fighting among themselves. The level of ignorance about Ireland in the UK, even among graduates, is astonishing. (“You still have the Queen, right?” etc., to say nothing of David Davis’s assertion that the Irish border was “internal to the UK”).

I was roughed up by London policemen in the 70s for having an Irish accent at a time when British citizens from NI were bombing London. We saw the lynch mob culture when innocent people were convicted of crimes they didn’t commit. The attitude of being able to behave with absolute impunity and a large measure of condescension toward Ireland permeated the British establishment. Cooperation as allies in the EU and the Good Friday agreement moderated that at official levels but the rise of Islamic terrorism after peace in NI, and short memories, has helped rehabilitate the Irish, who, after all, are white and speak English. But we retain a memory of what it is to be “othered” in a hostile culture.

A couple of years ago I returned to Ireland after more than 30 years abroad, on 4 continents. In my absence Ireland had changed a great, entirely for the better. It’s more prosperous (average incomes are higher, inequality is lower, and social mobility is higher than in the UK). Ireland has become more diverse. 12% of the population is from other EU countries (v 4% in the UK, which is said to be “overrunning” the country by the tabloid press, but is merely the EU average figure), and there’s another 5% from non-EU countries.

Whereas the UK govt is run, as usual, by Eton/Oxbridge/PPE alumni, the Irish Taoiseach symbolises the change next door; he is a half-Indian medical doctor among whose first words on his appointment were that “prejudice has no hold in our republic” (he is also gay). It’s not entirely true. I met an Indian immigrant from Goa, a fundamentalist Christian, bitterly opposed to equal marriage; undoubtedly a few others share his views. I met him when canvassing for a candidate in the last election, which proved an eye opener. On a day to basis I do not meet many immigrants but going door to door I did. Sadly, only the British had a right to vote at he moment, but I chatted with many, anxious to hear that they had been treated well (they had) and to pass on any concerns. One couple were amused to have a conversation in their own language unexpectedly (the house name was a give away). It was an interesting experience. It might have been alarming if I was concerned about people taking jobs but everyone in Ireland knows that immigrants bring jobs with them and, as they do in the UK, and contribute more than they take. We also have a deep cultural memory of having been in their shoes.

My message to the British is this: send us your best people. They will be welcome, British and immigrant alike. Ireland will remain a friendly environment. 277,000 from the UK mainland live here now and more arrive each week.

On my visits to London I find the Irish both excluded from the “them” by some British and included in the “us” by other EU citizens. Nobody should doubt where our hearts reside. It’s not with those nostalgic for an imperial past into which we were forcibly conscripted and have happily escaped. Search nybooks.com on “Fintan O’Toole Brexit” for a very clear Irish perspective. Some emotional rather than intellectually clarifying moments happened for me as I waited for a former colleague from Kenya at Dublin airport recently.

I saw a Spanish grandmother meeting her first (half Irish) grandchild at arrivals; a stunning black girl passed with a clearly Irish voice etc. London has been like this for a long time. For Ireland it is new and most of us embrace the change gladly. A few days later the landing of an Aer Lingus flight from Lisbon in crosswinds went viral on Twitter. An exultant quote from a Portuguese woman passenger resident in Dublin for 15 years and relieved to be home safe, yet another reminder of change embraced and stronger European connections than we ever had before becoming home to Europe’s largest airline and joining the EU. Better still, as the “buy the pilot a pint, he deserves it” tweets rolled in from around the world, it emerged that “he” was a 26 year old Irish woman called Niamh Jennings.

If you’re unhappy with Brexit come to Ireland. It’s already global and becoming more so, but we are and will remain committed Europeans.

124

Dipper 10.25.17 at 11:40 am

@TM

World Bank projections between now and 2050. Germany -8%, Japan -15%, UK +12%. Note EC projections of UK population were significantly higher. No need to thank me.

@ Chris Bertram 111

“The attitude in this comment is that people are the property of their states and should be fenced in if necessary. “

Well the debt is the property of the state. Individual Greeks can avoid paying the debt by moving, but the debt stays firmly bound to the land. This leads to an incentive for Greeks to leave, and ultimately create a situation where geographic regions of the EU have a curse on them, in that anyone living their becomes liable for unmanageable debts.

The conflict between the EU as a single harmonious institution with common rules and states with individual economic policies and debts is one of the main challenges facing the EU. One country on the receiving end of this is Ireland as Germany threatens to enforce uniform Corporation Taxes on all EU countries which brings us back to the OP. Is growing resentment in Ireland over Germany’s threats to Ireland’s rate of Corporation Tax a sign of intolerance in Ireland?

125

Mario 10.25.17 at 11:47 am

J-D,

I repeat that the implied antecedent of the pronoun ‘it’ in this context is ‘the emotional state which underlies the reaction of nativists who, when others desire to share in their identity, experience it as a devaluation or destruction of that identity’.

I don’t have a name for it. What I said is that ‘spite’ is clearly the wrong word for it. If you are somehow not satisfied by this answer, then that’s basically not my problem, sorry.

If you have people living next door who have a different identity from you, it doesn’t take away your identity; and if you have people living next door who aspire to have the same identity as you, that also doesn’t take away your identity.

Obviously, that depends on the source of your sense of identity. If you derive it exclusively from yourself, as you probably do, then, sure. If you derive it in part from properties of your group and the place where you, together with this group, live, then your assertion doesn’t necessarily hold. There is indeed a lot of evidence for the fact that many people have a sense of identity that is not compatible with your assertion. See also the comment by Peter T above.

There is a way of looking at life that considers human beings as isolated particles that do not belong to anything and thus must be able to move freely, without owing loyalty to much of anything, their identities defined by whatever they like to choose. It is fine by me if that’s the way you look at life, but then don’t expect loyalty from anything, either.

126

TM 10.25.17 at 11:47 am

“Nearly all surveys have shown that for most Leavers the predominant issue was democratic accountability.”

I guess that’s why the Brexiters started screaming treason when somebody who disagreed with them went to the courts demanding that laws are passed by Parliament, not by the unelected prime minister. Turns out “democratic accountability” just means “if we like the outcome, it’s democratic; if we don’t like the outcome, it’s undemocratic”. Observe the identical attitude among the extreme Right in the US (Obama was illegitimate; Obamacare is illegitimate; Trump won the biggest victory in history, but if he had lost it would have been election fraud, and so on) and pretty much everywhere.

Concerning democratic accountability, you might want to study the Swiss example a bit. Because people there vote on policy all the time, the idea that any one vote is absolute and overrides all the others is ludicrous. The Right tries anyway, of course.

127

Layman 10.25.17 at 12:35 pm

Dipper: “Nearly all surveys have shown that for most Leavers the predominant issue was democratic accountability.”

I don’t think this is actually a true statement. Post some links to surveys which support that claim.

128

AC 10.25.17 at 2:42 pm

Hi Maria,

Thanks for this; it resonated. I still feel that there is some hope that the B-word won’t happen — bonkers, I know! I lived here a long time ago for a couple of years then moved away for a few years and returned to Scotland in September 2014. Even then, it was very obvious that the U.K. had changed in a very disturbing way. Sadly, I wasn’t remotely surprised at the referendum result last year.

You mentioned: “I live in Theresa May’s “hostile environment” for immigrants, seeded several years ago, and bearing poisonous fruit just this morning as the first day when foreign-seeming people can be stopped from using the NHS.”

I’m Irish too and while (for now) I’m not quite in the same boat as other E.U. people, my husband is American. However, I’m worried that he might be stopped using the NHS. (He is in stable full-time employment contingent on his 5 year working visa which we’re going to have some fun trying to extend in 2020.) Is there anywhere online with a decent discussion of this? I’ve gone googling but the NHS webpages are not that great…The rules are changing so quickly at the moment, it’s hard to keep up!

Cheers,

129

Lupita 10.25.17 at 3:14 pm

The attitude in this comment is that people are the property of their states and should be fenced in if necessary. They aren’t and they shouldn’t be.

Of course, people should be allowed to emigrate but this should not be used as a justification by rich countries to pouch nurses from Peru and leave it with a shortage instead of training their own nurses and paying them adequate wages for a modest living in a rich country. There is also the issue of the families left behind, children growing up without a parent, and the consequences of that for the society left behind. Lastly, there is the issue of trade agreements, such as NAFTA, that immiserated millions of Mexican peasants and forced a mass migration that only enriched the elites of both Mexico and the US.

People should not be fenced in, but neither should societies be destroyed and millions forced to emigrate because their labor is more profitable for the elites if they were elsewhere. People should not be treated as property, but neither should they be treated as pawns in the great game of global capitalism.

130

Dipper 10.25.17 at 3:17 pm

@ Layman – “Post some links to surveys which support that claim.”

from Lord Ashcroft’s Poll:

“Nearly half (49%) of leave voters said the biggest single reason for wanting to leave the EU was “the principle that decisions about the UK should be taken in the UK”. One third (33%) said the main reason was that leaving “offered the best chance for the UK to regain control over immigration and its own borders.”

so 49% clearly on a democratic accountability issue, and then a further 33% on an issue that required the restoration of democratic accountability to control.

131

TM 10.25.17 at 3:45 pm

Dipper 124, you claimed that “Germany and Japan are experiencing rapid declines in population”, that is factually false. When you insist on a falsehood after having been corrected, i. e. knowingly, that is called lying.

Just as an aside, I have heard that Germans are “going extinct” and similar claims all my life. It’s really not hard to get accurate information (Try https://www.google.ch/search?q=germany+population).

132

Baoigheallain 10.25.17 at 4:27 pm

Hi Maria,

Brilliant article, thanks for writing and sharing.

Irish people habitually refer to Britain as England, and the British as the English. I suppose it harks back to when the English aristocracy ruled Ireland, it’s laziness to refer to that country on the other side of the sea as England. Irish moving to the UK have to learn to use “UK” and “British”.

I’ve lived in London now longer than I lived in Ireland, where I was born. Since June last year I’ve rediscovered the words England and English. I’m using them again.

133

Dipper 10.25.17 at 5:08 pm

TM I’ve given you the projections from the World Bank. I’ve no idea what your problem is but we are done.

134

Ronan(rf) 10.25.17 at 5:09 pm

” but never will they get to be the neighbor of a traumatized and violent ex-pirate.”

This is kind of a ridiculous exaggeration of an already silly talking point, but purely as an empirical matter I dont think this is true. What we’ve seen from Brexit and Trump is that less diverse areas were generally more anti immigration. This can be qualified in two ways (1)more diverse areas are going to have more immigrants in them to begin with, more inward selection of people favourable towards diversity and more outward movement of people not favourable to it. (2)there’s evidence that places with *recent* immigration from a homogeneous base also voted Brexit/Trump. But acknowledging those two caveats it really isnt that plausible that the average B/T voter has more experience of diversity than the average ‘metropolitan elitist.’ (even if accounting for the fact that they might experience diversity differently because of different occupational/class/geographic characteristics) Actually what you do see is places that are relatively homogenous, but close to rapidly diversifying areas (ie ‘halo regions’), are likely to be more hostile to immigration because they fear the changes but havent actually really experienced them.
To go full Tom Friedman and tell an overly long anecdote. Where I grew up would mostly fit the criteria for (b). Relatively large (compared to other Irish towns/cities)though shrinking industrial base, rapid economic expansion in the 90s-00s, deep crash in 08, high unemployment, outward migration of a lot of younger people, particularly those more skilled and educated. It also went from a fairly culturally homogenous place(when I was growing up most non whites were children of Chinese or Arab middle class professionals, or children of interracial marriages who had come home from England/US)to a relatively more diverse area. (ie you now have more children from those who came in the 90-00s, ie Nigerian and Polish primarily, and a larger though small Muslim community) So it’s not really diverse relative to truly diverse areas, but it has noticeably changed(particularly when combined with the outward movement of 20-30 year olds)
When I was back one time I was talking to someone, who was in his 60s and a middle class business owner, about a specific area in the city, which is one of the most diverse voting wards in Ireland and has developed a reputation for anti social behaviour. His perspective was that this area used to be the centre of the town(in the 60s, I assume), that it had a number of successful family run businesses where the family lived upstairs in the shop and everyone knew eachother etc. My perspective was that when I grew up(in the 90s) business had already shifted to another part of the town, and what was left were a handful of nightclubs, a pet shop and a sex shop. When he saw it he saw decline(a handful of Polish convenience stores, Indian restaurants, cheap take aways etc) whereas if anything I think it’s improved, slightly. I’m not saying either of us is right or wrong(though obviously I think I am)just that this seems the more sensible interpretation of these conflicts. Not people freaking out about (or experiencing) sharia law, or Somali pirates or whatever, just different feelings about changes from people at different stages in their lives with different opportunities and different recollections of the past. No? The latte drinking, guardian reading, quinoa muching elitist squaring off against the racist oiks is probably true at some trivial level, but is nonetheless pretty dumb.

135

Layman 10.25.17 at 7:30 pm

Dipper: “so 49% clearly on a democratic accountability issue, and then a further 33% on an issue that required the restoration of democratic accountability to control.”

The second point (33%) is spectacular bollocks; you’re basically asserting that any reason at all can be reduced to ‘democratic accountability’.

I don’t even grant the first point. Lord Ashcroft’s poll doesn’t mention ‘democratic accountability’. That particular poll question basically points out a tautology; they voted to end EU influence on UK law because they wanted to end EU influence on UK law, whether that influence was democratically accountable or not. It’s a cop-out.

136

Dipper 10.25.17 at 8:16 pm

@TM actually we are not done.

from the EU’s own figures here Germany and UK live births and deaths are:
2015 738,000, 925,000
2020 776,249, 930,341
2030 731,721, 991,125
2040 691,286, 1,010,942

The UK:
2015 777,167, 602,776
2020 802,650, 595,663
2030 824,239, 656,687
2040 843,029, 727,760

So as you can clearly see, in the absence of net immigration Germany’s population is decreasing between 150K and 300K per year, whereas the UK’s is increasing by over 100K per year. Germany, having seen these figures, has embarked on a programme of mass immigration (+1.139 Million in 2015) in order to avoid a falling and ageing population. Which is what I said.

137

dbk 10.25.17 at 8:20 pm

@111

Allow me to re-phrase my original comment: “As the spouse of a one-time immigrant to the U.S., as a long-term immigrant myself, and as the parent of two children who have immigrated from their birth country, it grieves me that so many Greeks are being compelled to leave their country for economic reasons.”

The rate of Greek immigration has skyrocketed since the GFC hit Greece in 2009, and from both formal and informal knowledge (I can think of only one family among my circle of friends which has not had at least one child forced to leave–most have lost all their children to immigration), this is largely because in the face of a long-term unemployment rate of 50% for under-30s and 25% overall, Greeks who would have preferred to remain in Greece (in common with the 25+ million tourists who will visit this year) are again being compelled to become economic migrants. This is the third time in a century such mass economic migration has happened to Greece.

It never occurred to me to suggest they be fenced in; rather, I was voicing personal sadness that they are being forced out.

138

J-D 10.25.17 at 8:26 pm

Mario
You aren’t sorry, so please don’t tell me that you are; it’s insulting.

If your sense of identity depends on the way that other people live their own lives, then it is true that your sense of identity is at the mercy of other people and can be threatened by their choices about their own lives, but this does not justify the conclusion that other people are obliged to live their own lives in a way that protects your sense of identity. For example, if some people feel that their sense of identity depends partly on living next to people who are the same colour, this does not justify the conclusion that people of a different colour should be prevented from moving in next door. If your sense of your own identity disintegrates because people of a different colour move in next door, then it’s truly a misfortune for you, but it’s nobody else’s fault.

Dipper
‘A decision taken in the UK’ and ‘a democratically accountable decision’ are not synonymous. There are lots of decisions taken in the UK that are not taken in a democratically accountable way. Knowing that people want decisions to be taken in the UK does not tell us whether they want them to be taken in a democratically accountable way. (Conversely, knowing that people do not care whether decisions are taken in the UK does not tell us whether they care about democratic accountability.)

139

dbk 10.25.17 at 9:00 pm

@109

TM @109
This is Maria’s post, which I found rather disturbing as I have a child who has just immigrated to England; that issue was foremost in my mind, really.

CT isn’t the appropriate venue for an extended response to your ad hominem remarks.

Please feel free to review the past several months of posts on my own blog, which covers day-to-day policy developments in American healthcare, environment, justice, and education, in addition to political analysis on my home state. If after perusing the past several months of posts you continue to consider me “uninformed after 40 years abroad,” and inclined to “mendacious propaganda,” there is a blog email.

I was already familiar with the Mother Jones piece to which you provided a link, by the way. You might also enjoy this piece, on Puerto Rico: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/42281-hurricane-victims-don-t-have-the-complexion-for-protection.

Of course, neither the Texas Gulf Coast nor Puerto Rico (nor the regions affected by Hurricane Sandy) fall technically within the Rust Belt. I’m from a small town in that part of the U.S., where I spend several months each year caring for my aged mother.

140

Keith 10.25.17 at 9:06 pm

Society certainly seems to be going backwards in various respects. Ignorance and stupidity are newly fashionable. It will not end well for anyone, this sort of thing never does.

141

Trout 10.25.17 at 10:05 pm

@Dipper – that only supports the view that leave voters were concerned with national sovereignty, not democratic accountability, which is a different kettle of fish. May’s extraordinary efforts to avoid parliamentary and indeed public scrutiny of her government’s Brexit plans (I’m using ‘plans’ loosely here) have nothing to do with democratic accountability (Henry VIII powers anyone?). Whether the conflation of these two very different ideas was a deliberate part of the Brexit con, I shall leave to others to determine.

142

Keith 10.25.17 at 11:17 pm

The idea that far right demographic obsessed cranks like dipper , or brexit voters generally, are interested in Democracy is risible. Taking back control is merely a euphemism for throwing out the foreigners. All based on phantasy dreams of economic booms produced by exit from the EU.

Brexit is the result of the Tory party becoming ever more extreme and right wing. Rather than fighting them Cameron pandered to the “bastards”as John Major referred to them. His referendum was designed to unify the right wing vote to win an election. This is the result of moral cowardice and intellectual failure. The fake idea he was some liberal figure was exploded by him putting May at the Home office, duncan smith at the DWP and hunt in the Health department and appointing as Lord chancellors and ministers of justice people with no legal training at all. A crew of reactionary whackos inflicting policies to turn back the clock to the nineteenth or eighteenth centuries. The UK is sadly following the USA in having its politics dominated by rich reactionaries allied with the ignorant lumpen elements easily manipulated by the billionaire owned media.

143

faustusnotes 10.26.17 at 1:54 am

I’d like to pipe up here to kill this bullshit about “the rich and the academics get a better deal than the working class” from the EU. This is absolute bullshit. The EU ensures that all academics across Europe, including in the UK, are in an absolutely brutal competition for work with people from all across Europe. Unlike people in other jobs they aren’t protected by language – it may be the case that 1 in 10 Polish plumbers speak good enough English to work in the UK but it is likely that 9 in 10 Polish academics do. They also aren’t protected by licensing requirements, as for example a British nurse is from a Philipino nurse, so they’re also in a competition with non-EU citizens. I had a non-EU student here in Japan who easily out-competed a bunch of British people for a prestigious fellowship in a British university, because she has the language and the skills and universities will happily take her over a native British person. Moving around in academia is part of the job, and the entire industry is set up to support that environment, and unlike small companies in the Midlands, universities always have the resources to support applications from non-EU competitors. Also British universities absolutely undercut their local employees salaries for foreigners – if you get a job at a British uni they will ask for your payslips from your foreign employer and judge your salary accordingly.

This is why many of the brexiteers who whine about how easy academics and “elites” (fuck off!) have it come from towns with no foreigners at all – because the foreigners are packing into big cities and university towns where they can out-compete the locals. Yet, academics in general are heavily supportive of this environment, even though it undercuts their salaries and forces them to tough it out against often vastly superior European or American opposition. And then we come on to supposedly academic websites like this and get told that this hyper-competitive environment that is open to the entire world is especially easy for us, and we shouldn’t judge those people in English-only workplaces, who are protected from non-EU competition by scale and by licensure, for voting leave.

That is bullshit.

144

faustusnotes 10.26.17 at 2:01 am

TM, to be fair to dipper, any decline in population is a rapid decline. Japan is entering a new phase of human history, in which its population is declining through its own wealth and happiness, not through war, famine or pestilence. This is an unalloyed good, and every rich country will follow in Japan’s footsteps. There is no “solution” to this “problem” because it’s not a problem and it’s something that Japanese people chose. Eventually every country will be as rich and as comfortable as Japan, everyone’s birthrates will decline, and there will be no immigration “solution” to this “problem”. In the short term those countries that welcome immigration – like Germany – will be in a better position to adapt to the short term consequences of aging, and the rest of Europe will regret not following their lead, but there is no solution to this problem.

Dipper might not be aware that the UK’s “solution” to this “problem” has been immigration from the EU, and without it is likely that the UK population will also soon start a “rapid decline”. This is another problem that the UK faces after Brexit and that the brexiteers are gleefully not talking about. In particular the NHS workforce is old and heading for retirement, and thanks to Dipper’s friends in the Tory party there are nowhere near enough nurses and doctors in training to replace the retiring ones. A good thing then that the desire for “local democratic accountability” is going to slam the gates on replacement doctors and nurses coming from the EU.

Dipper claims to care about overcrowding in the NHS, but his brexit fantasies will make it way, way worse. Well done you!

145

TM 10.26.17 at 7:24 am

144: “any decline in population is a rapid decline”

I can’t make sense of this statement. Surely you can only refer to “rapid decline” as opposed to “slow decline”. What that means is subjective but I have never heard anybody refer to a growth rate on the order of .1% as “rapid growth”. Again, Germany is not experiencing population decline but even if we assume the projected 8% decline over 30+ years as quoted by Dipper, that is conventionally considered a very slow rate of change.

146

nastywoman 10.26.17 at 7:37 am

and when we find the happy medium between @125
”There is a way of looking at life that considers human beings as isolated particles that do not belong to anything and thus must be able to move freely, without owing loyalty to much of anything,
and @137
”I was voicing personal sadness that they are being forced out.”

we WILL have the solution by understanding that ”they” are NOT being forced out – as they just don’t feel enough ”loyalty to much” of their so called ”homeland” that they move to other areas in the EU to get a job or – talking about the more unsympathetic crowd – that ”they” move to London in order to protect their dough from some homeland tax-men.

And that’s ”the thing” – as all of it somehow seems to be connected to the question where one can make the most dough… or let’s say it nicer: ”Where to make the best living” – and for a while it was London and GB to such an awesome extend – that there should have been the writing on every Pub-Wall –

”Protect me from what I want”.

And now -(like in Venice?) – it seems to be… a bit… too late?

147

TM 10.26.17 at 7:51 am

Dipper 136, I quoted what you said at 106 and it is not what you said at 136, and neither is it what you said at 124. You could have simply tracked back your initial claim, admitting that you expressed yourself poorly and clarifying what you meant. That you insist on a debunked claim, one that anybody can confirm false in 2 mouse clicks, doesn’t speak for you. Also your apparent inability to distinguish between a projection 30 years down the road and current reality is disqualifying.

One more before we are done: “Germany, having seen these figures, has embarked on a programme of mass immigration” Perhaps Germany intentionally arranged the wars in Syria and Libya and organized the Balkan route just so that they could “embark on a programme” of admitting large numbers of desperate refugees? What kind of person thinks in those categories? The refugee settlement was a humanitarian imperative that cost the government dearly. There is no immigration “programme” (well there was once, but that was back in the 50s and 60s – most people aren’t even aware of that any more). And the beauty of intra-EU freedom of movement is that individuals are free to make their own decisions – which is exactly why your tribe hates it so much.

148

nastywoman 10.26.17 at 7:54 am

– ”it seems to be… a bit… too late?”

– or NOT? –
as the Brexit (very ironically) will protect the UK from what they want – IF what they mainly wanted was – ”more dough”? – and I know that sounds kind of cynical and doesn’t help anybody who is currently struggling with the crazy bureaucratic backlash in ”Small Britain” – but the backlash to the backlash might be helpful as – one seem to meet more and more ”Englanders” who feel really bad about ”what they did” – and as the bureaucracy for sure will even more collapse in all these efforts to un-entangle what can’t be un-entangled anymore – one just needs a bit of patience to see it all getting much better again…?

149

Dipper 10.26.17 at 8:04 am

@ faustusnotes. Where to start?

“without it is likely that the UK population will also soon start a “rapid decline”. A glance at the data I posted shows that currently this is not the case. Amongst the current UK population births exceed deaths. So, unlike Germany and Japan we do not currently need more immigrants to maintain the population.

“NHS workforce … A good thing then that the desire for “local democratic accountability” is going to slam the gates on replacement doctors and nurses coming from the EU.” The UK allowed 500 million people the right to come and work here, and this has not been enough to staff the NHS. The UK government has gone beyond the EU to fill places by recruiting directly from countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines. It did this through direct recruitment without offering FOM to those nations. So FOM failed, and traditional inward recruitment succeeded (albeit with the consequent issues Lupita noted @ 129) . Being in the EU has proven to be not a solution to staffing the NHS. Just to bang on about this, just about every other nation in the world fills their employment gaps by recruiting directly for vacancies from other nations and not by granting other nations complete access. FOM is not a policy designed to fill employment gaps, it is a political initiative to create a single European super-state.

“thanks to Dipper’s friends in the Tory party there are nowhere near enough nurses and doctors in training to replace the retiring ones” faustusnotes is jumping the shark here. It has been a long standing policy of the BMA to restrict places at medical schools under both main parties. Brexiteers have consistently argued that we should be training many more of our own children to become doctors and nurses, and the government has announced more places so Brexit is delivering all ready.

150

Mario 10.26.17 at 8:21 am

Keith,

Brexit is the result of the Tory party becoming ever more extreme and right wing.

So it has nothing to do with voters?

J-D,

If your sense of identity depends on the way that other people live their own lives, then it is true that your sense of identity is at the mercy of other people and can be threatened by their choices about their own lives, but this does not justify the conclusion that other people are obliged to live their own lives in a way that protects your sense of identity.

This is a very strange statement in this context, and not, generically, a leftist view. It is easy to find values for “identity” for which you, J-D, would never say something like this.

For example, if some people feel that their sense of identity depends partly on living next to people who are the same colour, this does not justify the conclusion that people of a different colour should be prevented from moving in next door.

Every day, landlords act differently, which is well known. So as a statement of fact it is clearly wrong. As a normative statement it is something many openly disagree with as soon as “colour” means something else than “white” (there are even examples in this very thread). If you want to deny the right of whites to this, please say so.

As a principle that has to be enforced by law because of it being the right thing it is problematic. It seems to be an anthropological constant from pole to pole that doing so leads to xenophobic upheavals, independently of the cultural and ethnical background.

faustusnotes,

I’d like to pipe up here to kill this bullshit about “the rich and the academics get a better deal than the working class” from the EU.

Since it is me who said the words in the quotes, let me just tell you that you read that EU part into it. I said something different.

Yet, academics in general are heavily supportive of this environment, even though it undercuts their salaries and forces them to tough it out against often vastly superior European or American opposition.

This is evidence for what, exactly?

151

TM 10.26.17 at 8:29 am

J-D 138: This is very well put and goes to the heart of the matter: “If your sense of identity depends on the way that other people live their own lives, then it is true that your sense of identity is at the mercy of other people and can be threatened by their choices about their own lives, but this does not justify the conclusion that other people are obliged to live their own lives in a way that protects your sense of identity.”

fn 143: These are important points. The anti-intellectual movement has found that attacking educated people as coddled elitists is effective propaganda. It has nothing to do with reality. The academic environment nowadays breeds precarity. There are way more qualified graduates than well-paying, secure jobs, and even those who are economically secure have little power (and usually don’t want any power); they are not in charge of business or politics (although I have seen the claim, here on CT, that the NYT drama critic is the embodiment of the establishment!). The claim that “coastal educated elites” (see 109) are somehow running the show to the detriment of rural communities, coal miners and other working class heroes is likewise BS. Rural regions have disproportionate political power both at the federal and state level. I have lived both in Arkansas and in Philadelphia. Philadelphians are politically underrepresented, suffer a high poverty and deep poverty rate, their public education system is at the mercy of the GOP legislature. GOP reps from rural areas often make a point of voting against anything – school funding, transit – that would benefit the city which drives their state economy, because they just hate it. Take that, “coastal elites”! Of course the city with its educational and medical institutions has a highly educated workforce, but few of them are getting rich. Most are just hard-working people hoping to get or keep their slot in the middle class.

Briefly about Arkansas, one of the most rural and also least known of the states. The Northwest of the state with Walmart HQ is an almost lily white boom area which affords itself the luxury of a comparatively liberal college town. Most African Americans live in either Little Rock (another poor city without control over its own schools) or the rural South. Observe how in US public discourse, the mythical “rural America” is white, rural African Americans are always overlooked.

152

TM 10.26.17 at 8:44 am

“the principle that decisions about the UK should be taken in the UK”

As others have pointed out, this is not a question of “democratic accountability”. The EU parliament has more democratic credibility than the unrepresentative British one, where the current government represents only a minority of voters.

But really, the whole premise is ludicrous. Decisions that affect the UK are taken in many places – Washington, New York, Moscow and Beijing, as well as Brussels, Berlin and London. The main effect of Brexit is that some of these decisions, which formally were subject to UK participation and even veto powers thanks to EU membership, will in future be taken without the UK. Observe how in the negotiation with the EU, the UK suddenly has a much weaker position. Brexiters are crying foul, they will have to learn that their unilateral wishes are not binding on the rest of the world.

153

lurker 10.26.17 at 10:12 am

‘Noting that Nigel Farage’s predictions about the entire populations of Romania and Bulgaria did not come to pass, even with freedom of movement.’ (Chris Bertram)
It would better if Bulgaria, Romania and Greece and the entire EU were ran in a way that did not force huge numbers of people to emigrate when (given a chance) they’d prefer to stay in their homeland, where they already have homes, families, friends and communities. But that would require Full Communism or something equally impossible, so we’ll have to settle for freedom of movement.

154

novakant 10.26.17 at 11:28 am

Maybe instead of blaming all of society’s ills on foreigners, Dipper could explain to us how Brexit is supposed to work at all, how it is not going to be a complete disaster in economic terms alone – never mind be beneficial to the UK (especially considering the clown show currently passing for a government).

E.g.:

After Brexit: the UK will need to renegotiate at least 759 treaties

“The nearest precedent you can think of is a cessation of a country — you are almost starting from scratch”

Brexit ‘more complex than first moon landing’, says academic study

“Both project moonshot and project Brexit are in their own way extremely complex projects. The key difference is that the USA was aware of the complexity of its undertaking.”

155

kidneystones 10.26.17 at 12:15 pm

@99 Cheers Yan! TM displays exactly the same rhetorical vigor on another thread. Which leads some to wonder aloud about moderation. Not me, however.

The harshest and rudest remark on this thread by far, IMHO, is that of J-D towards Mario, in which J-D chides Mario for the crime innocuously admitting that we was surprised by Brexit.

“Have you considered that being surprised by events is likely to be an indicator of significant imperfections in your understanding of the world?”

So, I decided to re-read the OPs and comments posted in the run-up to the US election. I doubt very much J-D would like to live in a world where being spectacularly wrong about a single election, or referendum, or perhaps several elections compels self-abasement.

Go back, if you like, and re-read the boasts and predictions in the comments preceding the election of Donald Trump and decide how much charity that kind of hubris deserves. The OPs are much more measured btw,stand the test of time much better. My own predictive talents and other defects speak for themselves. No surprise there.

Charity begins at home.

156

Maria 10.26.17 at 12:55 pm

Hi all, I’m afraid it’s beyond my ability and time constraints to carefully read each comment and figure out if it’s fair/temperate/in good faith, which requires tracking each line of argument back through the thread. As the thread is becoming increasingly intemperate and I can’t effectively moderate it, I am shutting down comments.

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