petej + lrb   157

The Mass Psychology of Brexit
Balint’s distinction has an obvious application to Brexit. The Leave camp tended to cling to such objects as the nation, the community, the family and friends but also race: people ‘like us’. The Remain camp sought out the wide open spaces of the global market. At least, that’s how things look at first sight. But in the course of this prolonged, irresponsible experiment in group psychology, a strange inversion occurred. The Leave campaign, originally motivated by security and familiarity, turned into the de facto proponent of risk – as tariffs, trade deals, waiting lines, passports, ancestral obligations and the like were thrown open to renegotiation. Meanwhile the Remain campaign, originally motivated by the exciting horizons of the continent, was drawn back to the comfort of the status quo ante. Each group found its unconscious in the other.
UK  EU  Brexit  politics  England  history  empire  exceptionalism  disaster  MayTheresa  intransigence  failure  narcissism  O'TooleFintan  BalintMichael  Leave  Remain  object-relational  psychology  LRB 
23 days ago by petej
Lorna Finlayson · Corbyn Now · LRB 27 September 2018
If the path Corbyn has started to follow is again closed off, there are two foreseeable consequences. The first is that anger and disaffection will find another outlet. While frequent reference to a racist and right-wing public opinion has been a convenient device for the protection of the status quo, there is no virtue in maintaining an opposite fiction of the British people as saints and socialists. The appetite for Corbyn’s vision of a more compassionate and co-operative society coexists with a counter-tendency that has been well nurtured in recent years: the tendency towards suspicion of strangers and neighbours, the scapegoating of the vulnerable, resentment and a desire to dominate others. This tendency was on full display during the Brexit referendum campaign, and was given a formidable boost by the result. (There is no need to choose between the interpretation of Brexit as a protest against a neoliberal political establishment or as expressive of an ill-informed, racist bigotry: it is both.) Islamophobic sentiment and related attacks are on the increase, legitimised by a media which has for years been normalising far-right rhetoric. British liberals like to believe that Americans are a different species but they didn’t think that even the Americans would elect Trump. Boris Johnson – limbering up with carefully pitched comments about women in burqas and suicide vests – is a threat not to be underestimated. And there are fates worse than Boris.

The other foreseeable consequence of the defeat of Corbynism is that what remains of the achievements of an earlier Labour Party will be undone. The combination of the economic consequences of Brexit and another few years at the mercy of the Tories or Labour ‘moderates’ will spell certain death for the NHS (even without Brexit, the health service would be doomed to an only slightly slower demise). In this context, the attacks on Corbyn’s leadership are attacks on all those whose lives depend quite literally on a break with politics as we currently know it.
UK  politics  LabourParty  CorbynJeremy  Corbynism  LRB  capitalism  Bennism  redistribution  welfareState  taxation  tuitionFees  education  reform  Blairism  centrism  anti-Semitism  IHRA  Israel  Brexit  farRight  dctagged  dc:creator=FinlaysonLaura 
september 2018 by petej
David Runciman reviews ‘How to Stop Brexit (and Make Britain Great Again)’ by Nick Clegg · LRB 10 May 2018
For that reason, the likeliest way to overturn the referendum result is to wait until one party or other has taken clear ownership of its consequences. For that to happen, Brexit has to happen too. It is possible that at some point a second referendum will be appropriate, once a new status quo has been established, to see whether people would prefer an alternative. Until then, however, conventional electoral politics will have to decide our collective fate. It makes sense to regret that the referendum happened in the first place. But there is nothing to be gained by regretting the result. No one takes responsibility that way. It is still perfectly possible that Brexit won’t happen as its champions would like, if it gets snagged by parliamentary arithmetic. But for anyone to undo Brexit, someone is going to have to do it first.
UK  politics  EU  Brexit  referendum  Remain  CleggNick  LiberalDemocratParty  democracy  age  education  Parliament  LRB  dctagged  dc:creator=RuncimanDavid 
june 2018 by petej
John Lanchester reviews ‘The Attention Merchants’ by Tim Wu, ‘Chaos Monkeys’ by Antonio García Martínez and ‘Move Fast and Break Things’ by Jonathan Taplin · LRB 17 August 2017
"What this means is that even more than it is in the advertising business, Facebook is in the surveillance business. Facebook, in fact, is the biggest surveillance-based enterprise in the history of mankind. It knows far, far more about you than the most intrusive government has ever known about its citizens. It’s amazing that people haven’t really understood this about the company. I’ve spent time thinking about Facebook, and the thing I keep coming back to is that its users don’t realise what it is the company does. What Facebook does is watch you, and then use what it knows about you and your behaviour to sell ads. I’m not sure there has ever been a more complete disconnect between what a company says it does – ‘connect’, ‘build communities’ – and the commercial reality. Note that the company’s knowledge about its users isn’t used merely to target ads but to shape the flow of news to them. Since there is so much content posted on the site, the algorithms used to filter and direct that content are the thing that determines what you see: people think their news feed is largely to do with their friends and interests, and it sort of is, with the crucial proviso that it is their friends and interests as mediated by the commercial interests of Facebook. Your eyes are directed towards the place where they are most valuable for Facebook."

"Here in the rich world, the focus is more on monetisation, and it’s in this area that I have to admit something which is probably already apparent. I am scared of Facebook. The company’s ambition, its ruthlessness, and its lack of a moral compass scare me. It goes back to that moment of its creation, Zuckerberg at his keyboard after a few drinks creating a website to compare people’s appearance, not for any real reason other than that he was able to do it. That’s the crucial thing about Facebook, the main thing which isn’t understood about its motivation: it does things because it can. Zuckerberg knows how to do something, and other people don’t, so he does it. Motivation of that type doesn’t work in the Hollywood version of life, so Aaron Sorkin had to give Zuck a motive to do with social aspiration and rejection. But that’s wrong, completely wrong. He isn’t motivated by that kind of garden-variety psychology. He does this because he can, and justifications about ‘connection’ and ‘community’ are ex post facto rationalisations. The drive is simpler and more basic. That’s why the impulse to growth has been so fundamental to the company, which is in many respects more like a virus than it is like a business. Grow and multiply and monetise. Why? There is no why. Because.

Automation and artificial intelligence are going to have a big impact in all kinds of worlds. These technologies are new and real and they are coming soon. Facebook is deeply interested in these trends. We don’t know where this is going, we don’t know what the social costs and consequences will be, we don’t know what will be the next area of life to be hollowed out, the next business model to be destroyed, the next company to go the way of Polaroid or the next business to go the way of journalism or the next set of tools and techniques to become available to the people who used Facebook to manipulate the elections of 2016. We just don’t know what’s next, but we know it’s likely to be consequential, and that a big part will be played by the world’s biggest social network. On the evidence of Facebook’s actions so far, it’s impossible to face this prospect without unease."
Facebook  socialMedia  ZuckerbergMark  attention  business  psychology  ThielPeter  mimeticDesire  GiraudRene  filterBubble  identity  fakeNews  misinformation  Russia  TrumpDonald  advertising  surveillance  surveillanceCapitalism  businessModels  targeting  personalData  monetisation  tracking  Experian  creditCards  algorithms  auctions  Google  monopoly  duopoly  manipulation  emotion  happiness  mentalHealth  dctagged  dc:creator=LanchesterJohn  LRB 
august 2017 by petej
Daniel Trilling reviews ‘Violent Borders’ by Reece Jones, ‘Refuge’ by Alexander Betts and Paul Collier and ‘No Borders’ by Natasha King · LRB 13 July 2017
There is also a tendency among No Borders activists to overstate the differences between their work and that of established humanitarian organisations. King sees her activism as prefiguring a new world that will come about through the coalescence of lots of little initiatives – or, as she puts it, ‘a multitude of micro-refusals that are connected to each other rhizomatically and in their connections render the state more and more redundant’. Personally, I don’t think that’s what is happening. I think that whenever solidarity is expressed, whether it’s in the form of a No Borders squat, a legal charity suing the government to make them take in refugee children, a large NGO mounting rescue operations in the Mediterranean or, crucially, the networks people on the move set up themselves in order to survive, a different kind of refusal is being made: a refusal to let our behaviour towards others be governed by categories imposed from above. This is less about a particular end – ‘no borders’ – than an approach to the world as it is, to act ‘without borders’. For most, this is a necessary defence against a system they have little say in, but there is nothing in principle to stop political parties and leaders embracing a new way of thinking, or even changing the system itself. ‘Are humans defined primarily by our attachments to place or by movement?’ Reece Jones asks at the end of Violent Borders. I’m not sure a choice has to be made. People develop attachments to places, they move, they develop attachments to new places, and to new people. If you think people have a right to do that, then the question is how to support it. If you don’t, then you need to ask yourself: what level of violence are you prepared to tolerate to keep people in their place?
Europe  migration  refugees  crisis  Greece  Italy  Balkans  borders  security  racism  identity  nationalism  LRB  dctagged  dc:creator=TrillingDaniel 
july 2017 by petej
David Runciman · The Choice Was Real · LRB 29 June 2017
Corbyn’s studied avoidance of the issue comes at a price. He has assembled a coalition of voters who have very different expectations of what comes next. For the traditional Labour voters who had defected to Ukip and came back at this election, he needs to help make Brexit happen as promised. For the students and other metropolitan Remainers who flocked to his cause, he needs to put barriers in its way. Of course, there is nothing new about national politicians at the head of catch-all parties having to square the contradictory instincts of their supporters. When two-party politics corrals voters into making a binary choice it is always going to produce these sorts of tensions. Yet what’s striking about the result of this election is just how many divisions two-party politics now has to accommodate. The UK electorate is split between the old and the young, the educated and the less educated, the metropolitan and the provincial, the urban and the rural. The two main parties increasingly resemble loose coalitions of different interest and identity groups, each with its own axe to grind, and primarily united by their dislike and distrust of the people on the other side. Our two-party system is suddenly starting to look like politics in the United States.
UK  politics  MayTheresa  ToryParty  LabourParty  CorbynJeremy  ge2017  generalElection  austerity  Brexit  dctagged  dc:creator=RuncimanDavid  LRB  Corbynism 
june 2017 by petej
Judith Butler · No, it’s not anti-semitic: the right to criticise Israel · LRB 21 August 2003
"In holding out for a distinction to be made between Israel and Jews, I am calling for a space for dissent for Jews, and non-Jews, who have criticisms of Israel to articulate; but I am also opposing anti-semitic reductions of Jewishness to Israeli interests. The ‘Jew’ is no more defined by Israel than by anti-semitism. The ‘Jew’ exceeds both determinations, and is to be found, substantively, as a historically and culturally changing identity that takes no single form and has no single telos. Once the distinction is made, discussion of both Zionism and anti-semitism can begin, since it will be as important to understand the legacy of Zionism and to debate its future as to oppose anti-semitism wherever we find it.

What is needed is a public space in which such issues might be thoughtfully debated, and to prevent that space being defined by certain kinds of exclusion and censorship. If one can’t voice an objection to violence done by Israel without attracting a charge of anti-semitism, then that charge works to circumscribe the publicly acceptable domain of speech, and to immunise Israeli violence against criticism. One is threatened with the label ‘anti-semitic’ in the same way that one is threatened with being called a ‘traitor’ if one opposes the most recent US war. Such threats aim to define the limits of the public sphere by setting limits on the speakable. The world of public discourse would then be one from which critical perspectives would be excluded, and the public would come to understand itself as one that does not speak out in the face of obvious and illegitimate violence."
SummersLawrence  Harvard  Israel  anti-Semitism  divestment  boycott  Zionism  anti-Zionism  Judaism  dctagged  dc:creator=ButlerJudith  politics  LRB 
april 2016 by petej
Hugh Roberts reviews ‘From Deep State to Islamic State’ by Jean-Pierre Filiu, ‘Syrian Notebooks’ by Jonathan Littell, ‘The Rise of Islamic State’ by Patrick Cockburn and ‘Isis’ by Michael Weiss and Hassan Hassan · LRB 16 July 2015
"The Tunisian revolution was a real revolution not because it toppled Ben Ali, but because it went on to establish a new form of government with real political representation and the rule of law. The hijacking of the Arab uprisings by the Western powers has been effected by their success in substituting for profound change a purely superficial ‘regime change’ that merely means the ejection of a ruler they have never liked (Saddam, Gaddafi, Assad) or have no further use for (Mubarak), and his replacement by someone they approve of. In seeking this change in their own interests, they have repeatedly shown a reckless disregard for the consequences of their policies, from Iraq to Egypt to Libya to Syria."
MiddleEast  politics  Syria  civilWar  history  imperialism  colonialism  state  deepState  ArabSpring  Egypt  Mamluks  NasserAbdel  SadatAnwar  army  borders  Iraq  Lebanon  Israel  Palestine  BaathParty  Jadid  pan-Arabism  Assad  SovietUnion  Iran  stability  Deraa  protest  repression  SyrianNationalCouncil  GhaliounBurhan  rebellion  FreeSyrianArmy  FSA  Turkey  Qatar  SaudiArabia  al-Qaeda  JabhatAl-Nusra  jihadism  sectarianism  USA  UK  intervention  IslamicState  ISIS  Afghanistan  Taliban  caliphate  territory  HusseinSaddam  Tunisia  dctagged  dc:creator=RobertsHugh  LRB  USSR  MubarakHosni  al-NusraFront 
november 2015 by petej
Wynne Godley · Maastricht and All That · LRB 8 October 1992
"If a country or region has no power to devalue, and if it is not the beneficiary of a system of fiscal equalisation, then there is nothing to stop it suffering a process of cumulative and terminal decline leading, in the end, to emigration as the only alternative to poverty or starvation."
Maastricht  EU  EuropeanUnion  Euro  currency  integration  democracy  sovereignty  federalism  government  politics  LRB 
july 2015 by petej
Patrick Cockburn · Why join Islamic State? · LRB 2 July 2015
"'We all fight as a reaction to the tyranny and injustice we had known before. Islamic State is the best option for oppressed people in the Middle East.'"
ISIS  IslamicState  Syria  Iraq  war  Kurds  ethnicity  Sunni  military  tactics  MiddleEast  politics  dctagged  dc:creator=CockburnPatrick  LRB 
june 2015 by petej
Richard Seymour · Bye Bye Labour · LRB 23 April 2015
"The Labour Party faces a dilemma in May. Defeat will be demoralising and will increase the possibility that the party will ultimately collapse. There is little evidence that any significant force, other than the Blairites, would be in a position to take advantage of Miliband’s loss, and certainly none that a Labour left with any influence would emerge from the ruins. Yet if it wins, Labour will be forced to implement an austerity agenda which, while not enough to satisfy Conservative voters, will turn its own remaining voters off in droves. That would be a defeat of a different order. For a vision of that future, one need only look across the Channel, at François Hollande sinking and sinking in the polls, and the Front National on the rise."
UK  politics  LabourParty  conservatism  austerity  authoritarianism  MilibandEd  recession  debt  crisis  postFordism  socialDemocracy  ge2015  generalElection  dctagged  dc:creator=SeymourRichard  LRB 
april 2015 by petej
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