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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 
april 2019 by petej
Brexit and Europe from the perspective of a citizen of nowhere | Richard Seymour on Patreon
A brisker way to put this is that capital can't be a citizen of nowhere, because it is loyal to what exists. The name for ‘nowhere’ used to be utopia, literally a non-place. To be a citizen of nowhere is to be a utopian, to have loyalties to a country that doesn't yet exist. And it may be the only space from which the apparent choice between Europeanism and racist nationalism is apprehensible as a double-bind.
Europe  identity  mythology  history  migration  borders  Frontex  refugees  Mediterranean  Turkey  Brexit  Leave  Islamophobia  UK  politics  territory  capitalism  dctagged  dc:creator=SeymourRichard 
february 2019 by petej
America’s Original Identity Politics | by Sarah Churchwell | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books
The logic of exceptionalism is embedded in the American imagination: one set of rules historically applied to white American men, another set to all other people in the country, who were not recognized as full citizens—which is to say, as fully American.

To this day, the American common man remains strongly coded in racial, classed, and religious terms. The common man is not, for example, commonly understood to be a Muslim. He is understood to be a coal miner from West Virginia, despite the fact that American Muslim men are much more common, statistically speaking, than West Virginian miners. These are the voters we’ve heard from endlessly over the last two years, the white working-class men of so-called “Trump country,” especially the white men without a college education who voted for Trump by a margin of 71 percent to 23 percent. The reasons for their choice have been hotly debated, including the erosion of perceived power, economic stagnation, cultural backlash, racial bigotry, gender bias, and evangelical social agendas. Yet Trump’s election was also widely perceived as an anti-elite insurrection, one that was treated as an anomaly, instead of as the latest in a series of populist surges in American history that have sought to “restore” a power to the common man that he perceived himself to be losing to other less-deserving groups.
USA  politics  identityPolitics  TrumpDonald  Breitbart  race  gender  BlackLivesMatter  transgender  LillaMark  FukuyamaFrancis  history  slavery  whiteSupremacism  women  exceptionalism  populism  resentment  JeffersonThomas  JacksonAndrew  nativism  nationalism  KuKluxKlan  citizenship  census  exclusion  authenticity  dctagged  dc:creator=ChurchwellSarah 
february 2019 by petej
The Brexiteers’ idea of how WTO rules would work is pure fantasy | Kojo Koram | Opinion | The Guardian
To understand why parts of the Tory party are happy for Britain to walk in the opposite direction to the rest of the world regarding WTO terms, we must understand their attraction to the myth of how in centuries past, Britain became rich through “global free trade”. With influential economists David Ricardo and Adam Smith serving as intellectual forefathers, Britain’s rise to prominence is seen as intertwined with the rise of the doctrine of free trade, with the removal of legal restrictions on trade producing a system where natural British industriousness and innovation could thrive.

Celebrating and exaggerating Britain’s free-trade policies of the late 19th century, this narrative ignores the prologue to the story, in which the British empire first accumulated wealth through gunboat diplomacy and enforced markets over the 18th and early 19th centuries. Britain only embraced unilateral zero tariffs once its geopolitical power had been built up, and it would quickly depart from free trade and move towards protectionism at the start of the 20th century through the policy of imperial preference, encouraging trade within the empire.

However, the myth persists that anything that promotes free trade promotes British interests. Brexiteers promote a fantasy ideal of the WTO being the answer to all Britain’s problems despite the libraries of research that argue that its rules lead to the impoverishment of countries that have to rely on them. Because Brexiteers misunderstand Britain’s past, they believe that Britain has a “special relationship” to world trade. They cannot fathom the damage that relying on WTO terms to govern trade with our largest trading partner will do to the economy, even if it is obvious to rest of the world.
UK  EU  Brexit  noDeal  WTO  trade  freeTrade  history  delusion  hardBrexit  politics 
december 2018 by petej
The idea of deep continuity in British history is absurd. We’ve always been in flux | David Edgerton | Opinion | The Guardian
Brexit is not a portentous destiny that overhangs our politics. It is a mess of irreconcilable nostalgias. We shouldn’t grant to the Brexiters their own argument that they are somehow more in tune with the essence of Britishness as experienced through history, which we risk doing if we think they are helped by ghosts from the past. It is not a reflection on the realities of British life, of the present or of the past. It’s a very local phenomenon, which even if carried through, would barely register at European, much less global level. For the only power Brexiters have is to make us poorer, to inflict self-harm on the economy, and to damage further what little reputation British politicians have. Delusional as well as deluding, these banana-monarchy conmen and conduits for dark money want to trap us in a historicised never-never land.

But as reality bites, cloth will be cut to size, delusions dispatched, and the huffing and puffing will end. Brexit cannot in reality really happen. The explaining of realities will have to begin – that our productivity is low and stagnant, our health outcomes not the best, our people not the best educated or most enterprising, our entrepreneurs hardly the most important of the age. Any real politics of improvement will recognise we are not in the Premier League but in the lower divisions, and that football long ceased to be a game foreigners did not play.
UK  Brexit  history  delusion  dependency  trade  nostalgia  politics  economics 
november 2018 by petej
Nostalgia Mining | Amber A’Lee Frost
The real commonality among these films, though, is their affection for miners but not so much for workers. To put it another way, the films seem to like miners best when they’re playing a flugelhorn, marching in gay pride parades, or driving their creative children far away from the coalfields so they can dance ballet. Miners were always more than just miners, but it’s a lot harder to talk about the actual jobs they were fighting for. I don’t blame the filmmakers too much for falling short here; it’s hard to explain why preserving such difficult, dangerous, and unhealthy work was so politically strategic, but those jobs gave working-class Brits a hand on the lever of both the welfare state and the industrial policy of the United Kingdom. It’s not that there’s some overlooked romance in pickaxes and pit ponies; workers controlling mining meant that the workers who built the country might be able to run it too, and not in some symbolic, protesty, “whose streets? our streets!” kind of way. I mean really run the country. And they came so damn close.

My fixer says he worries that a recently invigorated love for the miners might have something to do with the fact that they’re no longer a threat to power, and I can’t say I don’t share his concerns. It’s true that there was plenty of vocal support for the miners during the strike, but the difference between mercy and solidarity has become ever-blurrier amid the disastrous global decline of the labor movement. Mercy is for Christians, and solidarity is for socialists. It’s not that the two categories are mutually exclusive (and a little mercy certainly makes the world more bearable), but one is hardly a substitute for the other. Mercy dictates support for the miners because they were wickedly and ruthlessly felled; solidarity dictates support for the miners because the union makes us strong.
UK  mining  miners  coal  MinersStrike  NUM  tradeUnions  history  RedHills  Durham  nostalgia  preservation  ScargillArthur  Stalin  class  film  solidarity 
october 2018 by petej
The Suffocation of Democracy | by Christopher R. Browning | The New York Review of Books
The fascist movements of that time prided themselves on being overtly antidemocratic, and those that came to power in Italy and Germany boasted that their regimes were totalitarian. The most original revelation of the current wave of authoritarians is that the construction of overtly antidemocratic dictatorships aspiring to totalitarianism is unnecessary for holding power. Perhaps the most apt designation of this new authoritarianism is the insidious term “illiberal democracy.” Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Turkey, Putin in Russia, Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, and Viktor Orbán in Hungary have all discovered that opposition parties can be left in existence and elections can be held in order to provide a fig leaf of democratic legitimacy, while in reality elections pose scant challenge to their power. Truly dangerous opposition leaders are neutralized or eliminated one way or another.

Total control of the press and other media is likewise unnecessary, since a flood of managed and fake news so pollutes the flow of information that facts and truth become irrelevant as shapers of public opinion. Once-independent judiciaries are gradually dismantled through selective purging and the appointment of politically reliable loyalists. Crony capitalism opens the way to a symbiosis of corruption and self-enrichment between political and business leaders. Xenophobic nationalism (and in many cases explicitly anti-immigrant white nationalism) as well as the prioritization of “law and order” over individual rights are also crucial to these regimes in mobilizing the popular support of their bases and stigmatizing their enemies.
USA  politics  history  1920s  1930s  fascism  TrumpDonald  nationalism  isolationism  protectionism  authoritarianism  Nazism  Hitler  polarisation  Weimar  democracy  McConnellMitch  KavanaughBrett  judiciary  Germany  Italy  totalitarianism  misinformation  control  funding  lobbying  tradeUnions  illiberalism 
october 2018 by petej
Corbyn’s right. It’s not as simple as having ‘pride’ or ‘shame’ in our history | David Wearing | Opinion | The Guardian
Various figures on the centre-left have, from time to time, urged progressives to reclaim patriotism, as though the problem were not the fact of national self-satisfaction but merely the tone of it. What we really need is to re-imagine our national community as somewhere more open, more welcoming, a little more respectful of others, and a little less pleased with itself. If we can finally have a grownup, frank and above all inclusive conversation about our country’s history – and in so doing finally shed the imperial hangover – a healthier relationship with others and with ourselves will surely follow.
UK  politics  nationalism  nationalIdentity  xenophobia  colonialism  history  culture  CorbynJeremy  dctagged  dc:creator=WearingDavid 
october 2018 by petej
Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change - The New York Times
These theories share a common principle: that human beings, whether in global organizations, democracies, industries, political parties or as individuals, are incapable of sacrificing present convenience to forestall a penalty imposed on future generations.
climateChange  globalWarming  politics  environment  1980s  carbonEmissions  consensus  fossilFuels  coal  gas  USA  science  PomeranceRafe  ReaganRonald  GoreAl  NASA  EPA  economics  renewables  taxation  regulation  fear  NYT  history 
august 2018 by petej
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