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Giles Fraser: Families for Brexit, “the ability to stay put and care for each other.”

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Said to be Featuring on “This Time with Alan Partridge”.

“….one of the most common—and strangest—ideas found in the Labour-left anti-Market movement was that of Europe’s being somehow more capitalist in nature than Great Britain and the British State.”

Tom Nairn.  The Left Against Europe. 1972. New Left Review. 1/75.

In Nairn’s 1972 broadside against the nationalist anti-EU left, he cited the German sociologist, Ferdinand Tönnies.

Tönnies was concerned to define and contrast two ‘ideal types’ of human society. Society typified by Gemeinschaft or community is natural human society, founded upon the ties of family, kinship, shared labour and territory. It is based on ‘naturally rooted’ relationships, which issue in instinctively accepted common customs and traditions, and are voiced in a natural language or ‘mother-tongue’. Natural community is in this sense the village, the society of a stable neighbourhood—at most, that of a small town. It is rural rather than urban. It is (like the family) not necessarily democratic, and relies on common experience and shared values to balance its inequalities. It rests upon ‘natural will’ (Wesenwille) expressive of real human nature, and laws ‘in which human beings are related to each other as natural members of a whole’. Gemeinschaft stands (so to speak) for the concrete and personal, the ‘fully human’, as against the abstract and impersonal; for habit and instinct, as against artifice and calculation; for the close, the familiar, the inherited, as against the remote, the intrusive novelty, the alien way of life; for the tribe, as against the metropolis.

This is contrasted with “Gesellschaft” in which (as the common definition goes) “relationships arose in an urban and capitalist setting, characterised by individualism and impersonal monetary connections between people. Social ties were often instrumental and superficial, with self-interest and exploitation increasingly the norm.”

Nairn, who was to pay his own penance on the road to a nationalist Canossa, continued.

The politically crucial point is the identification of romantic Gemeinschaft with the nation. This, surely, is the shared terrain of the left and right wing oppositions to Europe.

Echoes of this distinction can be found in the present Brexit literature, Roger Scruton’s contrast between the impersonal rationalist European law, and the organic British common law, and  Maurice Glasman’s Blue Labour (which re-teweeted the above and published Fraser, Giles Fraser on People’s Vote: what will they say to Walsall’s people?)

Blue Labour ‘s ideas include the following:

The family is the fundamental social institution. It nurtures us from the start of our lives. It is where we learn about love, relationships, and the give and take needed to live good lives. Inspired by the effort of feminism to broaden our idea of worthwhile work, Blue Labour recognises the struggle families face to combine work and car

We want Britain to be a nation of energetic cities, towns and villages, each of which is free to develop its distinct identity. When people feel rooted they can achieve their potential; if power is dispersed, we have the freedom to take greater responsibility for our communities.

The eminent Germanist and thinker Giles Fraser is, in his spare time, a  Canon and Vicar of St Mary’s Newington. 

Fraser’s  political career spans backing for Occupy! at Saint Pauls, floating the idea of a new party, or not (Liberalism has broken us – we need a new party to call Home) and a friendly visit to Syria:

We need to talk about Giles, as a well established rumour has it that he will appear on next week’s Alain Patridge Show.

The priest in residence at Unherd, begins his latest missive.

Why won’t Remainers talk about family?

Last week the Evening Standard – now, of course, a propaganda rag for George Osborne’s Remain-inspired end-of-the-world fearmongering – led with the following front-page headline: “Who’ll look after our elderly post Brexit, ask care chiefs”.

I’m still spitting blood at the arrogance and callousness of that question. It summed up all that I have against the Osborne neoliberal (yes, that’s what it is) world-view. And why I am longing for a full-on Brexit – No Deal, please – to come along and smash the living daylights out of the assumptions behind that question.

Skipping the immediately following ill-wrought paragraph, which include a swipe at Luciana Berger, we come to this.

Fraser opines,

This is the philosophy that preaches freedom of movement, the Remainers’ golden cow. And it is this same philosophy that encourages bright working-class children to leave their communities to become rootless Rōnin, loyal to nothing but the capitalist dream of individual acquisition and self-advancement.

From where I was sitting it is these people – and not George Osborne swanning off to his new £3 million chalet in Verbier – that have got it right. For the attraction of socially conservative and traditional values are that they constitute a highly successful form of mutual care. Indeed, these are the values that have formed the basis for the most effective form of social security the world has even known: family and community life.

The idea that this form of life constitutes “lost earnings” shows how far the Remainer free-market, free-movement philosophy is a threat to the web of support on which the poorer and the most vulnerable especially, have to rely. Remain is all about ever new opportunities for the rich. Brexit seeks a reclamation of something we have lost. The ability to stay put and care for each other.

There is a short response by Steve Peers on the issue of the family:

Family values and Brexit: a reply to Giles Fraser

Fraser’s argument – such as it is – is that children should look after their parents as they get older. To that end, interspersed with three random anecdotes, he criticises “that much over praised value of social mobility”.  The problem is people leaving their communities, in particular in the form of free movement within the EU. But furthermore “it is this same philosophy that encourages bright working-class children to leave their communities to become rootless Rōnin”. I was the first Peers in a thousand generations to be able to go to university. And it seems Fraser would like me to be the last.

In his view, “No amount of economic growth is worth sacrificing all this for”, because “robbed of their most go-ahead young people, working class communities become ghost towns of hopelessness. And this nirvana of social immobility takes a very familiar form: “It is the daughter of the elderly gentleman that should be wiping his bottom”. The rich man in his castle; the poor woman at her picket fence.

The blindingly obvious omission here is that EU membership enhances family reunion for those who exercise the right to free movement. There’s a right of admission for spouses, children under 21 or dependent, and dependent parents or parents-in-law. This literally matches the extended family in one of Fraser’s anecdotes (and see the actually relevant anecdote of how free movement can facilitate care for elderly parents here). The EU withdrawal agreement would preserve this position in a limited form, but the position would be more difficult for families in the no deal outcome that Fraser says he longs for. As for future relationships, while some people will still move between the UK and EU, family reunion rights will be more restrictive, not less. With friends like Fraser, family values don’t need any enemies.

More vehemently,

A shit argument for Brexit 

The broader point Giles was trying to make, the one I am struggling to get to through the crap, is that freedom of movement breaks down families because it makes it easier for people to move away. There was of course not the slightest recognition in his piece that ending freedom of movement breaks up families. Neither was there any awareness that the Brexit fetishisation of tackling immigration has led to thousands of children being separated from a parent, many thousands of spouses separated from their significant other, countless grandparents separated from their grandchildren.

But no, in Brexitland we can all be stuck in the towns and villages of our birth, trapped by a lack of opportunities and the newly valueless nature of a British passport. And then we’ll be able to wipe our parents’ backsides when they become frail and incontinent because the arse has been ripped out of social care services by the very same right wing politicians who are so keen to foist the hardest possible Brexit upon us.

Brexit supporters once promised us the sunlit uplands. They promised shedloads of cash for the NHS. Now they’re reduced to making the argument that suffering is good for us, that we should be nostalgic for antiquated gender roles, and telling us to restrict our horizons and not to dare to dream of spreading our wings and flying.  Now they’re reduced to sophistry and telling us that Brexit is good for you because you too can get to wipe the arse of an infirm relative. Giles’ article is quite literally and in every sense of the word, the shittiest of arguments for the shitshow of Brexit.

Apart from being fucking well said, this should put an end to all the gobshite about a Hard Brexit Britain being some cosy Gemeinschaft.

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Written by Andrew Coates

February 23, 2019 at 12:48 pm

Roger Scruton Scandal, the “detachment of a Superior Being” faced with the Rabble.

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Fortnight’s Anger, Roger Scruton: “These commissars of political correctness aren’t fit to tie his boots.”

“Roger Scruton claimed sexual harassment “just means sexual advances made by the unattractive” and said date rape victims were “withdrawing consent in retrospect”.

Alex Wickham

BuzzFeed continues,

Conservative pundits leapt to the defence of Scruton in response to BuzzFeed News’ revelations yesterday.

The commentator Toby Young said it was “depressing to see the social media cops trawl through everything Roger Scruton’s ever written in the hope of finding things to be offended by”.

Historian Niall Ferguson praised Scruton as “the greatest living Englishman”, adding: “If only he could be prime minister.” The Guido Fawkes blog tweeted: “He is a moral giant being attacked by midgets.”

Update: Following publication of this article, Roger Scruton said in a statement:

“These highly selective quotes grossly misrepresent an entire lecture. I was in no way suggesting that victims of date rape are not victims of a crime and could have worded my point differently to make this clearer. I’ve spent my life arguing for greater respect between men and women and anyone who takes the time to read my books or listen to my lectures will realise this.”

One of Spiked’s minions writes,

Roger Scruton: thoughtcriminal?

One of his supposedly controversial comments unearthed by Buzzfeedis, ironically, about the marginalisation of conservative viewpoints. ‘In a society devoted to inclusion, the only “phobia” permitted is that of which conservatives are the target’, Scruton wrote, adding that conservatives are ‘frequently marginalised or even demonised as representatives of one of the forbidden “isms” or “phobias” of the day – racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, etc’.

Those calling for Scruton to be sacked are proving his point. You do not have to agree with a single thing he says to see that the intolerance towards his conservative views has been remarkable and alarming.

Another flunky fumes,

Don’t let the offendotrons take down Scruton

If Twitter offendotrons manage to get Maybot and Co to sack Sir Roger Scruton from his new job advising Building Better, Building Beautiful on housing policy, you can safely stick a fork in British civil society. It’s done.

Poor old Scruton:

Written by Andrew Coates

November 8, 2018 at 12:58 pm

Michael Mansfield Withdraws backing from Labour Against the Witch Hunt.

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Greenstein faces New Blow After Michael Mansfield’s statement….

For over 50 years I have been committed to fighting racism in all its forms. Equally I have been a staunch supporter of the rule of law and due process.

I joined the campaign LAWH in order to defend the right of those who wished to voice legitimate criticisms of the government of Israel and their repeated violation of International,law from being unfairly categorised as anti Semitic. An objective shared by fellow campaigners Moshe Machover, Ken Loach and Noam Chomsky.

Recently I have been alerted to the material being promulgated by the campaign,( not by the supporters named above). I was unaware of this and both the tenor and content are unacceptable. For these reasons I wish to,withdraw my sponsorship of the Campaign, whilst at the same time wishing to maintain my enduring support for a responsible and vigorous critique of any government which flagrantly undermines the rule of law.

Michael Mansfield QC

30 September 2018

Official Statement.

More here: Jeremy Corbyn-backing lawyer severs ties with group that calls Labour antisemitism ‘witch hunt’  Lee Harpin

“Michael Mansfield says he was shown ‘material’ the campaign circulated that is ‘unacceptable’.”

All you need to know about this is the following, “The vice-chairman of LAWH is Tony Greenstein.

In another blow to LAW this is today’s news:

Tony Greenstein’s Blog.

Medium Censors Remove My Blog – Outing Zionists and Fascists is ‘targeted harassment’ and contrary to the Corporate Rulebook

Medium have decided, without warning, to make my blog ‘unavailable’

Meandering and ponderous articles are fine but try uncovering foul deeds, tricksters, shysters, fascists and assorted thugs and Media’s Corporate Admen will be onto you like a flash.

Are these two blows related?

Here is one of Greenstein’s previous hits in the medium still left open to him;

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Written by Andrew Coates

October 4, 2018 at 12:57 pm

Verso Publishes Norman Finkelstein’s diatribe that “Jews have too much power in Britain.”

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Finkelstein, “Jew have too Much Power in Britain” – to join Gerry Downing in Socialist Fight? 

The chimera of British anti-Semitism (and how not to fight it if it were real)

Amongst Finkelstein’s pseudo-learning we hear that,

Jews have too much power in Britain. The three richest Brits are Jewish.[12] Jews comprise only .5 percent of the population but fully 20 percent of the 100 richest Brits.[13] Relative both to the general population and to other ethno-religious groups, British Jews are in the aggregate disproportionately wealthy, educated, and professionally successful.[14] These data track closely with the picture elsewhere. Jews comprise only 2 percent of the US population but fully 30 percent of the 100 richest Americans, while Jews enjoy the highest household income among religious groups.

Jews comprise less than .2 percent of the world’s population but, of the world’s 200 richest people, fully 20 percent are Jewish.

Jews are incomparably organized as they have created a plethora of interlocking, overlapping, and mutually reinforcing communal and defense organizations that operate in both the domestic and international arenas. In many countries, not least the US and the UK, Jews occupy strategic positions in the entertainment industry, the arts, publishing, journals of opinion, the academy, the legal profession, and government. “Jews are represented in Britain in numbers that are many times their proportion of the population,” British-Israeli journalist Anshel Pfeffer notes, “in both Houses of Parliament, on the Sunday Times Rich List, in media, academia, professions, and just about every walk of public life.”

The wonder would be if these raw data didn’t translate into outsized Jewish political power. The Israel-based Jewish People Policy Planning Institute rhapsodizes that “The Jewish People today is at a historical zenith of wealth creation” and “has never been as powerful as now.”[18]

It is certainly legitimate to query the amplitude of this political power and whether it has been exaggerated,[19] but it cannot be right to deny (or suppress) critical socioeconomic facts.

He continues, froth speckling,

Were it not for the outsized power of British Jews, it’s hard to conceive that British society would be interminably chasing after a hobgoblin. True, although fighting anti-Semitism is the rallying cry, a broad array of powerful entrenched social forces, acting on not-so-hidden agendas of their own, have coalesced around this putative cause. It cannot be gainsaid, however, that Jewish organizations form the poisoned tip of this spear.

He (provisionally) concludes with that mind-reading ability that is the gift of those able to see beyond mere appearance,

..the truth is, Jewish elites do not for a moment believe that anti-Semitism is a burning issue. If they truly feared that it posed a clear and present danger now or in the foreseeable future, they wouldn’t be shouting from the rooftops that Corbyn was a “fucking anti-Semite.” For, if the UK was awash with closet anti-Semites, then, logically, broadcasting this accusation would hand Corbyn free publicity as it would be dulcet tones to the ears of potential voters. Far from damaging him, its diffusion could only facilitate Corbyn’s victory and pave the way for a second Holocaust.

On the contrary, Jewish organizations know full well that vilifying Corbyn as an anti-Semite would drastically reduce his appeal, as anti-Semitism resonates only among assorted antediluvians, troglodytes, and fruitcakes. In other words, the irrefutable proof that Corbyn’s pursuers don’t believe a word they’re saying is that by labeling him an anti-Semite they hope and expect to isolate him.

However, as the accusation is manifestly a red herring, it’s also possible that the current hysteria will pass most people by entirely, not because they are unconcerned by anti-Semitism but because it hardly occurs to them as an issue at all. If the controversy has an effect it will be restricted to exacerbating divisions in the Labour leadership and perhaps also adding to a more general perception that the stories promoted by mainstream media are fake news.

Here is another aspect of Finkelstein’s politics that makes this Blog loathe him even more: he spat on the graves of the victims of the Charlie Hebdo massacre.

“World renowned political science professor says he has ‘no sympathy’ for staff at Charlie Hebdo.”

 

New Left Review and Verso Stalwart Tariq Ali has had many friendly echanges with Finkelstein.

Perhaps he will invite him to the follow up to this event:

It would be remiss, surely, if Gerry Downing and Ian Donovan, pioneers in this matter, did not get an invite as well.

Why Marxists must address the Jewish Question concretely today

…the outcome of WWII, and then the rise of Israel, destroyed this worldview among the imperialist bourgeoisie. What took its place was an emerging understanding that the Jewish bourgeoisie was an important reserve for the survival of capitalism itself, particularly in its ability to see beyond narrow national horizons and look out for the interests of the bourgeois class on a broader basis.

As a distinct caste, this depends on the Zionist project for its internal coherence; without it this caste would disappear through assimilation into the separate imperialist bourgeoisies. The end of ethnocracy in Israel would spell the defeat of this extra resource of imperialism, which today’s Western ruling classes value highly indeed.

 

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Written by Andrew Coates

August 22, 2018 at 11:50 am

Brexit, Racism and the Far Right: what some new anti-Fascists ignore.

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Image result for bookmarks shop britain great peoples charter

Hard-Line Brexit Right.

“The fight against racism is indivisible – which is why the left has always made it central to its politics.”

Lindsey German.  of the Left pro Brexit group Counterfire. August the 13th.

Brexiteer Arron Banks wants to mobilise Leave supporters to join the Tory Party and vote Boris Johnson as leader reports the Tendance’s favoutie daily print paper, the ‘I’.

Former Trump strategist Steve Bannon says Johnson has potential to be a ‘great prime minister’

Brexit-backing businessman Arron Banks is planning an attempt to ensure that Boris Johnson becomes prime minister by flooding the Conservative Party membership with his anti-EU supporters. The former Ukip donor, who gave £9m to the Leave.eu campaign in the 2016 referendum, has proposed a digital advertising campaign to encourage backers of his Brexiteer movement to join Tory ranks and back Mr Johnson in a future leadership election.

..

Trump adviser In the immediate aftermath of Mr Trump’s election victory, Mr Banks travelled to meet the president-elect along with close political ally and former Ukip leader Nigel Farage. Steve Bannon, Mr Trump’s former political strategist and architect of his White House victory, yesterday reiterated his support for Mr Johnson, saying he has the potential to be “a great prime minister”. Mr Bannon, who is attempting to sway Mr Johnson towards supporting his plans for a populist anti-EU movement, insisted that Mr Johnson had “nothing to apologise” for over his remarks on the wearing of the burka. The US right-winger told the Sunday Times: “Boris just needs to be Boris – true to his nature and his calling – and I think he has potential to be a great prime minister, not a good one.”

In her account today of the Johnson’s Burka scandal Germain discusses racist coverage of Muslims, Islamophobia, and Boris. She defends women’s right to choose their oppression with the Burka. (Boris Robinson and Tommy Johnson: two sides of the same racist coin – weekly briefing)

For a second one’s attention is caught by this curious sentence, “Islamophobia in the 21st century targets women heavily, reproducing all sorts of issues to do with fear of sexuality, or of independent women. “

But disappointingly the role of the Burka and Niqab in promoting sexual independence is not developed.

After rushing around to mention media attacks on Jeremy Corbyn, she then ends with the one phrase which makes some political sense in the whole overladen adjective-strewn, rant against “toxic” “scapegoating”,

There is a deliberate process here where fascists and the far right hitch themselves to mainstream politicians, and use them to further spread their doctrine of hate and division.

Now how did we come to a political scene in which these highly funded, media, Net obsessed alt-right can have an impact?

Why is there a cross-over between the far right and ‘mainstream politicians’?

How is that when the SWP bookshop, Bookmarks, was assaulted recently members of the vehicle of this cross-over UKIP, were involved (Ukip suspends three members over socialist bookshop attack) ?

Why is Boris the favourite of these forces?

The answer is the Carnival of Reaction that fed into and broke out after Brexit.

This was and is itself based on racism and xenophobia, the motor of that form of alt-right-driven populism which focuses on defending national sovereignty against the foreign EU and migrants.

While some on the left keep imagining that a People’s Brexit will be magicked out of economic and political thin air this continues to develop.

As observers have stated:

UN: Racism has risen since Brexit vote 11.5.2018.

The UK’s Brexit referendum has caused a growth in the acceptability of racial, ethnic and religious intolerance, the UN special rapporteur on racism said Friday.

After finishing a two-week fact-finding mission in the UK and Northern Ireland, Tendayi Achiume said in a statement that she found a “growth in volume and acceptability of xenophobic discourses on migration, and on foreign nationals including refugees in social and print media.”

Racial and religious-based intolerance was also noticeable in political discourse on both the left and right to the point that it has gained ground in mainstream political parties, she said.

DW

Perhaps one reason why Germain does not want to talk about this is because a part of the pro-Brexit left was heavily implicated in the process that has led to present conditions.

Paul Embery, National Organiser, Trade Unionists Against the EU. (a body given publicity and support by the Morning Star, the Socialist Party, and parts of the trade union left)  expressed (the  Sun 4th of May 2018)  the view that the left should be against uncontrolled migration permitted by EU rules on freedom of movement.

He went further than talking about competition over jobs and social resources, or employers’ use of (un-unionised) migrant labour to threaten wages and conditions.

Migration has created a cultural threat:

“The demographic convulsions meant stable, settled Barking and Dagenham found itself in the eye of the storm of the debate over mass immigration. The indigenous population cried out for respite. The letters page of the local paper was filled with correspondents begging to be heard. But nobody in power took a blind bit of notice, other than to patronise them with trite arguments about improved GDP and cultural enrichment.”

Our working class is not racist — they’ve just been shafted by the liberal elite

Embery’s defence of what he calls the “indigenous population” and their “their sense of order” ““faith, family and flag” against the “liberal elite”.

If this sounds like a call for something like the politics of Arron Banks (who donated £54,000 and gave other help to the Trade Unionists Against the EU) that is because beyond being the right-wing of Blue Labour it teeters on the fringe of the hard right.

There are wider issues about the relationship between Brexit and racism and the far right.

One way to look at them is through this emerging coalition of mainstream Tories and the far-right.

But it’s still important to look into the background.

In the lengthy article below Chris Gilligan, author of Northern Ireland and the crisis of anti-racism argues that the pro-Brexit left has ignored or tried to explain away the role of racialism in the Brexit vote.

It is not necessary to agree with the author’s support for Marxist-Humanist ideas on non-state social liberation (they took no official position for Leave or for Remain) to see that,

“If the Lexiteers are aiming to lead the working class, then they are invoking the working class to advance some other  project—such as promoting parliamentary sovereignty, justifying immigration controls, promoting social cohesion or building the Party. They are not immersing themselves in, and learning from, the struggle for human freedom.”

Left Brexiteers Evade the Charge of Condoning Racism

‘It was a popular revolt, not an anti-immigrant vote’: Left Brexiteers evade the charge of condoning racism

by Chris Gilligan, author of Northern Ireland and the crisis of anti-racism

The majority vote to leave the European Union (EU) has been celebrated by many on the Left (Lexiteers) as a revolt by the ‘left-behind’ working-class. The same vote has been condemned as enabling substantial racism and anti-immigrant sentiments. This article critically examines various Left attempts to defend the ‘Leave’ vote against the accusation of racism. According to these defences, a vote to leave the EU was in the interests of the working class, or of human liberation more broadly. The article highlights some contradictions between the goal of human emancipation and the defence of the Leave vote against the accusation of racism.

The article is divided into four main parts. The first part points to the ample evidence that anti-immigrant sentiment was a significant factor in the Leave campaign and vote. (This part also provides a substantiation of the assertion, in the MHI document Resisting Trumpist Reaction (and Left Accommodation), that: ‘In the UK, the surge of support for Brexit last year, which secured the victory of the “Leave” forces, was driven largely by anti-immigration backlash’ (p. 49).) The second part outlines a number of different attempts to evade the ‘it-was-racism-that-won-it’ argument. The third part provides a critique of Goodhart’s defence of Brexit voters from the accusation of racism. The fourth part does the same for Bickerton and Tuck. The article concludes by noting the importance of challenging racism as part of the broader struggle for human emancipation.

Amongst the many important  sections this is particularly telling:

Studies conducted after the referendum confirm that immigration control was a crucial issue. A poll conducted on the day of the vote, for example, found that a third of Leave voters who were polled (33%) said that the main reason for their vote was that leaving ‘offered the best chance for the UK to regain control over immigration and its own borders.’ An analysis of data from the British Election Study survey of referendum voters concluded that the data suggested ‘that the decision taken by the Leave campaigns to focus heavily on the immigration issue … helped to drive public support for leaving the EU while also complicating the ability of Remain campaigners to “cut through” and galvanise support for continuing EU membership’. A study of the British Social Attitudes survey used the data to test two popular explanations for the Brexit vote: firstly, that it reflected ‘the concerns of more “authoritarian”, socially conservative voters about the social consequences of EU membership—and especially about immigration’; and secondly, ‘that the vote was occasioned by general public disenchantment with politics’ (a version of the ‘revolt against the elite explanation’). The study found that the survey data provided more evidence to support the first explanation than it did to support the public-disenchantment one.

Until people like Germain recognise this link between Brexit, racism,  and the growth – still very far from a mass movement – of the far-right in Britain, it is unlikely that those outside their limited circles will take their calls for anti-fascist and anti-racist unity seriously.

 

 

 

Giles Fraser, The Poet of Brexit, Shreds Liberals’ “grin of intellectual superiority.”

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“Why do Remainers find it impossible to consider the possibility that some people were prepared to accept a relatively poorer country as a price worth paying for a more independent one?” Giles Fraser.

This approaches the heart of the matter. Rensin argues that what is often behind liberal smugness is the philosophical assumption that the difference between people politically is always a difference of knowing various facts, not a difference of ideology. This is the problem with the empiricist approach to politics: the fact-based assessments and belief that evidence only should drive our disagreements. For when fact-based empiricism comes to dominate the cultural and intellectual apparatus of the liberal world-view, then it can only be a knowledge of the facts that divides people.

This is where progressive smugness comes from: the idea that I know stuff that you do not. It is not that we disagree ideologically, because ideology is dead. All that is left is facts and knowing facts. And either you know the facts or you don’t. And we do. And you don’t.

When it comes to Brexit – as with Thomas Frank and Kansas – it is widely insisted upon that no one could possibly have voted against their own economic interests knowingly. No one voted to be poorer, Anna Soubry told the Commons in an impassioned speech last week. The argument goes on thus: because Brexit will make us poorer, the Brexit-voting working class cannot have known what they were doing. So either they are stupid or (which amounts to the same thing) easily manipulated by the dark forces of those who do have much to gain.

But what if people did indeed think that there was something about Brexit that was more important that GDP? Why is it impossible to consider that possibility, that some people were indeed prepared to accept a relatively poorer country as a price worth paying for a more independent one? That some things are more important than money?

What middle-class liberals really do need to appreciate is that the difference between their perspective and that of the Trump supporter or the Brexiter is not one of ignorance of facts, but one of basic philosophy. It is not a mistake or ignorance that other people want to live in a very different world with very different values.

The smug sneer that progressives direct towards those who are “too stupid to know what is in their best interest” is premised upon a massive misreading of the situation. The Trump supporter and the Brexiter – and yes, of course I generalise – has a different philosophical perspective. Ideology has not gone away. It has returned in popular form. And that grin of intellectual superiority only feeds the opposition to the liberal perspective.

Indeed.

The material power of Brexit ideology:

 

One could remark that one thing that the British radical left opponents of Brexit and supporters of a People’s Vote are not is ‘liberals’, either economically or socially. Tolerance, to start with, does not include putting up with the intolerable, or being silent about the intolerant.

Democratic socialism  is a very different animal to US progressivism. Issues of poverty and class are not, from this standpoint, submerged under “meritocracy” “equal opportunity”  and “diversity”.

But there are more pressing issues.

In the less exalted world, also enlivened by a poetry,  where economics and Gradgrind Facts matter,

Brexit Is Dying. Time For A People’s Vote

The depth of the UK’s ties with, indeed dependence on, EU trade for its economic vitality was and is too great. Imports and exports are a crucial component of the UK economy – and over 50% of these involve the EU. By imposing barriers on trade with the UK’s largest market, Parliament would be inflicting a negative supply shock upon the economy, with ruinous effects for incomes, living costs, and the competitiveness of business. Many Brexiteers insist this would propel the UK to invest in markets further afield – but it is an economic fantasy, detached from the realities of geography, supply and demand.

Then what alternative? In the interest of addressing their own internal expediencies, the major parties have been flagrantly irresponsible, explaining neither the unattainability of a Hard Brexit nor the destructiveness to the UK’s international influence of its various softer alternatives. Though rarely mentioned publicly, the truth is common knowledge among the majority of MPs: no success may be made of Brexit.

Therefore, the possibility of No Brexit, via a second referendum, must be put back on the table. The deal that Theresa May, or another leader, negotiates with the EU must be explained to the public, its benefits and costs set against those of remaining an EU member. Let the choice be clearly laid out: the negotiated deal vs no Brexit at all. A People’s Vote may produce the same result as in 2016. But let it, this time at least, be a vote grounded in clarity of meaning and direction. Let the people make this last decision, for the political class is too divided and the future too precious. It is not too late to turn Brexit around. Indeed, failure to pursue the possibility, given what is at stake, would be an historic error. Else, the UK – divided, directionless and isolated – will continue on its present dangerous course, worryingly evocative of Edwin J. Milliken’s great poem ‘The Clattering Train’ (1890), which might now be adapted thus:

Who is in charge of the clattering train?

The axles creak and the couplings strain;

The pace is hot and the points are near;

And sleep hath deadened the driver’s ear;

Signals flash through the night in vain…

But who can now stop the clattering train?

 

The Independent Backs Referendum on Brexit Deal.

with 3 comments

Image result for Left anti-=Brexit tour

 

Britain in the EU is the best chance to constrain the power of big money and big business.

Amongst continuing chaos on the Brexit right and left this is worth flagging up: how some of the leading ideologues of Leave are now becoming disaster theorists.

In the Great Deception (643 pages long, long) Christopher Booker (who is also a climate change denier) and Richard North argued that that British membership in the EU is a “slow-motion coup d’etat” with an “agenda of subordination” to invasive centralised regulation that is economically harmful to the UK. “an entirely new form of government, one which was supra-national’ beyond the control of national governments, politicians or electorates” Everything else would become subordinate to this entity.

Those who have plodded through its weary pages, and bothered to retain more than the name of Jean Monnet (there are 3 other apocalyptic horsemen, Arthur Salter, Altero Spinelli and Paul-Henri Spaak), will probably remember only that the project the authors refer to was a United States of Europe. 

And that it was doomed, “…like the vision of Le Corbusier and a much grander scale, it would eventually leave a great devastation behind it: wasteland from which it would take many years for the peoples of Europe to emergence.”

The Great Deception, Can the European Union survive? Christopher Booker. Richard North. 2017 ‘Referendum’ Edition (First published 2005).

It seems, nevertheless, that now it’s the Brexit victory that can claim to have created a desert and called it their peaceful victory.

As both authors now say.

Theresa May’s Brexit proposal is so detached from reality that it can only end in disaster. CHRISTOPHER BOOKER (1)

It is this context which makes the Independent’s call today make sense.

The referendum gave sovereignty to the British people, so now they deserve a final say on the Brexit deal

Independent.

Morally, emotionally even, another referendum is needed to help bind up the wounds of the past two years

The Independent today launches a campaign to win for the British people the right to a final say on Brexit. Come what may in the months ahead, we maintain our commitment to our readers to retain balance and present many different points of view. But on this subject we believe a referendum on the final deal is right. We do so for three reasons.

First, amid the chaos of recent months, one thing has become increasingly clear: Theresa May’s approach – and indeed the chaos in parliament – is not working. We are simply not close enough to resolving so many big issues about which people care so much. The enormity of the task, the contradictions in both major parties and the ferocious divisions in their ranks have now stretched our parliament to its limits, to the point where the impasse leads us ever closer to an “accidental” Brexit, as foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt most recently acknowledged, without a deal.

Second, sovereignty rests with the people – the people should have the opportunity to finish what they began, to pause and consider whether they still want to go ahead with the Brexit course we’re on, just as they would any other major decision in their lives.

Third, while there are questions about the validity of another referendum – shouldn’t the original outcome be delivered? – we clearly know more now than we did in 2016, amid such deeply flawed campaigns on both sides. Ignoring these shortcomings and ploughing on regardless is a far bigger problem for democracy. Faced with the current turmoil in our politics, and with dangers ahead coming into focus, it is surely undemocratic to deny people a chance to express their opinion afresh.

The Independent also publishes this important commentary on Corbyn’s Labour Brexit speech by Nick Dearden, director of UK campaigning organisation Global Justice Now.

It makes many of the points those backing The Left Against Brexit would make, but is too sanguine about the lingering influence amongst the Labour leadership of the view that Parliament, embodying Popular Sovereignty, can effectively work socialist wonders free from the kind of pooled sovereignty the EU works with. Those Corbyn listens to include influential voices from the ‘British Road to Socialism’ tradition which believes not only that, but that the EU is a particularly hard form of what used to be known (pre-Trump) as “neo-liberalism”.

Corbyn was brave enough to tackle the reasons why people voted for Brexit – and now he’s being savaged for it.

Nick Dearden

The real criticism you might make of Corbyn’s speech is that it’s not radical enough. After all, much of this analysis is common sense in many parts of Northern Europe where “industrial strategy” and “economic intervention” have not been dirty words for the past four decades. But Corbyn pushes the envelope, for instance insisting that those businesses who benefit from government intervention must be held to account for their levels of pay equality, for their climate impacts, for what happens in their supply chain.

This couldn’t be further from Donald Trump’s vision of the world. In fact, Corbyn explicitly eschews Trump’s protectionist trade wars. But, as economist Dani Rodrik consistently argues, if you want low tariffs and an open economy without high levels of inequality and poverty, you must have strong regulation on big business, coupled with high levels of investment and welfare. The alternative is a free-for-all for big money.

That’s what we’ve lived through in Britain – a “market knows best” approach in which all that mattered was slashing regulation and liberalising the economy. That’s what drove Brexit, and indeed it’s what is driving far-right votes in the US and elsewhere. Sadly, it’s not being listened to by the government because the hard Brexit being successfully pushed by Liam Fox and Jacob Rees-Mogg would turbocharge this model.

I want the EU to survive because I believe it can fulfil the dream of some of its founders to promote peace and equality. I want Britain in the EU because I believe it’s the best chance to constrain the power of big money and big business, to fight climate change, and to offer an alternative to the rise of Trumpism. That’s why I’m speaking at the Left Against Brexit tour in Liverpool tonight.

But it is a fantasy to think the EU can do any of this without serious top-to-bottom transformation. The EU has embraced far too much of the “market knows best” philosophy – often pushed by the British government. As a result it is coming apart at the seams, and before too long, Brexit will be the least of Brussel’s worries.

That’s why the policy direction Corbyn announced yesterday should not be seen as an attack on the EU. Rather it gives much-needed direction for the union as a whole. Only a Europe which embraces some of the changes set out by Corbyn yesterday has a hope of surviving. There is no going back to the day before the EU referendum— we either embrace fundamental economic reform, or we lose to the false promises of the growing far right.

John Rogan  signals this useful thread on the issues the speech dealt with.