23 October, 2019

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Brexit Exposes Faults Lines In UK & Europe

By Kumar David

Prof. Kumar David

Prof. Kumar David

Political sclerosis, ethnic-nativism and new-populism: Brexit exposes faults lines in UK and Europe

A de facto ménage trois of the Labour Party, most Tory MPs cum Prime Minister and Scotland’s SNP, or to put it in class terms, an alliance of the educated elite and new working class around London, the uppity middle class, and high capital, was bested at the Brexit referendum by an grouping of English provincials, working classes in Labour heartlands who have suffered deprivation, and aged seekers of British sovereignty. I will discuss this huge event in the context of a swing to the right in Europe and America.

Donald Trump and the rage he has inspired isn’t neo-fascist in a proper sense; it is coarse and vulgar populism, refutation of moderation and a pantomime of Islamo- and Latino- phobia. The new or far right in Europe (UK Independence Party, Democratic Front in Denmark, France’s Front National, Austria’s Freedom Party and the Danish Peoples Party) which sometimes win over 20% of the vote is more interesting and is not the same as the fascism of interwar years. The difference is on three counts. On the ideological side it is anti-immigrant ‘keep the nation white’ cultural nativism, Islamophobia and physical insecurity. Second is economic anxiety heightened by staggering wealth and income inequality, high youth unemployment and frozen wages. Third is absence of an alternative social and economic model despite the manifest failure of global capitalism. Soviet Communism has disintegrated and capitalism is in the throes of a fifteen year crisis (whose origin lies in 2001), a cul-de-sac from which there seems to be no exit. On the left are as many sectarian fragments as denominations among Protestants. The ‘masses’ in disarray seek salvation in the clumsy vulgarity of a Trump or in a suave, shrewd and silver-tongued Nigel Farage.Brexit

Islamophobia is a unifier whose main strength is not demonization of Islam by its defilers but the failure of Islam’s leaders to grasp the nettle of stewardship. They have failed to project ‘their’ Islam and have allowed political Islam to be defined by others; both its denigrators and its apologist in the West. Islam as a political entity is not defined by its captains; rather it allows itself to be defined by others. This is what Edward Said, an interesting intellectual but too verbose a writer, termed Orientalism or the West defining the orient in tune with its own perceptions. “In the eighteenth century there emerged an orient suitable for study in academy, for display in museums, for the colonial office, for illustration in anthropological, biological and historical thesis” (Orientalism). The same was true of China before the revolution but no longer; China now robustly defines itself for itself and for the world. [Islam as religion, as distinct from political Islam, has retained its identity and weathered Western redefinition of its tenets].

Not so with political Islam; both radical and “moderate” versions are established by default in Western discourse because Islamic society has proved impotent to throw up leaders equal to this task. In the aftermath of every jihadist attack who says “This is not Islam! Real, ‘moderate’ Islam is like this, or it is like that”? Barrack Obama, Noam Chomsky or other vicarious spokesmen. Modern political Islam has not found its voice, its Mao, its Pope Francis, or its version of the European cultural identity underpinning the EU. The Arab Spring has turned into bitter winter; the tyrant Sissi brutalises Egypt and condemns to death all who expose his despotism. The need for political revolution has never been greater, or remoter, from Atlantic to the Java Sea, from Zanzibar to Kazakhstan. Tragically, the failure of political Islam to define itself has also emasculated the ability of Palestinians to regain their lands from a Zionism which is blind to their very existence. Like the colonisers of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, who saw in Africa a space void of humans to occupy, colonise and exploit, so too Zionism is blind to the existence of humans who have lived, toiled and reproduced in these promised lands from Roman times.

Rise of the European right

The European new-right is not the old stuff of Mussolini and Hitler. The feature common to all the European new-right is not an economic agenda, anti-working class politics or addiction to authoritarianism. The common thread is aversion to immigration which finds resonance in provincial middle-classes, and when blended with rejection of economic privation, finds resonance in the working class as well. The traditional working class in North Eastern England and the Midlands broke with the Labour Party and supported Brexit, so much so that UKIP seems poised to do to Labour in its working class heartland what the SNP has done to it in Scotland.

Immigrants are a no longer negligible in number and the swing to the right is a defensive reaction. More than fear of immigrants straining the welfare system is a perceived threat to culture and way of life. Natives incorrectly blame immigrants for the wage freeze, economic austerity and deterioration of public services including healthcare and transport but Labour’s unifying message does not get across because it is not perceived as much different from the message of the Cameron Tories.

Here is a typical extract from the web. “Have sympathy for preservation of Scandinavian people and culture. No-one asked the native population if they minded thousands of “others” dumped in their towns, villages, and in some cases homes. Those who watch arrivals are criticized if they object and ignored when they are victims of rape or violence. Native populations are fearful of being swamped by people with cultures different and incompatible with their own”. This is a more complex phenomenon than racism or religious intolerance; the Brexit backlash in England was a reaction against white, Christian, EU immigrants and this drives home the point. (Scotland and Northern Ireland were atypical for other reasons).

Brexit fallout

There is good reason why Plato despised democracy; he would have derided the Brexit outcome. Nonetheless in the twenty-first century one must bow to it; this decision cannot be reversed except by an implausible second referendum. Even then the terms of re-entry would be less acceptable than the prevailing terms. Therefore other matters assume urgency – what the English do about their predicament is not a priority. First is Scotland’s independence, its right to self-determination and ensuring its EU status. Scotland is already part of the EU so it is best to fast-track its membership to take effect simultaneously with the UK’s exit. A second Scottish independence referendum must be scheduled within the UK’s two year quit-EU window.

The EU has to be transformed from a club run by political elites who lord it over millions but ignore them and ice the cake for finance capital. The hubris of the Brussels bureaucracy – snooty civil servants and fat-cat former bankers – is detested by the citizenry. Now there are demands for referenda to quit the EU or exit the Euro elsewhere, and if they succeed, loathing of Brussels’ bureaucrats will be no small reason. The EU has to change from a top-down project run by finance capital and bureaucrats into an expression of the public will. But this won’t happen since bureaucrats, more than survival minded politicians undermine systemic change, adding grist to the charge that the EU is fundamentally undemocratic. The crunch is deeper; people have lost faith in political and business establishments, governing elites and political parties of all hues right across Europe, America and much of the rest of the world.

Nigel Farage in the flush of victory told the TV cameras “The Labour vote has come to us; we will replace the Labour Party” – I have mentioned the ghost of the SNP returning in a UKIP avatar to haunt Jeremy Corbyn and lost-in-the-woods Labour. Corbyn has been a lukewarm persona and projects little energy or leadership charisma, still, the failure of Labour to deliver its anti-Brexit vote is not anyone’s fault but due to the basics I outlined. He must now stand firm, confront the saboteurs and move Labour to a post-EU era. Brexit is an earthquake that terminates free entry of EU citizens and ‘Scotxhit’ will be an aftershock which if followed by changes in Northern Ireland’s status will re-christen the United Kingdom (UK) as United Twindom (UT) of England & Wales. The Labour Party has to modernise its programme and its immigration policies if it is to remain credible in the UT. This is the moment for Jeremy Corbyn to make a bid for greater power in the Party and take control of the nomination slate for the next election.

There is another challenge that will drag on for generations; I am returning to my first discussion. The failed states of the Middle East will not be repaired for a long time even after the wars in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Afghanistan end. It takes time for men with fractured femurs to stand again. The UN High Commission for Refugees says there are 60 million refugees worldwide. Most are internal refugees (IDPs) and only a fifth international but millions of IDPs are potential international refugees. Some respite may be found if the rich world, in its terror of an immigrant deluge, were compelled to transfer sufficient investments to broken nations to kick-start large scale development. A district in Switzerland paid a hefty fine rather than take its allocated share of refugees. Ah the Swiss are fine fellows! They have pioneered a fine way for the survival of prosperous societies in isolation!

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Latest comments

  • 2
    1

    Rise of the right is a failure of capitalism, big time. It is the only outcome of a root cause analysis for Brexit, Austria and even in Australia.
    The free trade has brought peace and prosperity that nations are tied to each other via trade. Major escalations against each other are not viable. There are only a number of proxy wars fought also in the name of economic interests.
    The problem was the benefits of neither the trade nor proxy wars were enjoyed by the masses. All they were experiencing is hardship, not just economic hardships caused by income inequality, but also the influx of “evil” migrants, from strange lands and of “wicked” religions, death of their sons and daughters in strange lands. People find it hard to see how a war against a pipeline through Syria, with it’s all convoluted affairs, will benefit then in one form or the other.
    The result is the rise of the right. People are seeking protection at the extreme right, just as they did in medieval times. At least the right has the language that appeals to the scared and frustrated. The message of the right is not convoluted, but simple and straightforward. Those who are in trouble have very little time to think otherwise, but to follow the brightest light and grasp the simplest message.

    • 4
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      “free trade has brought peace and prosperity that nations are tied to each other via trade.”

      Ignorance is bliss!

      Free trade never brought peace and prosperity to anyone including the vast majority in Europe or America. Only the looting criminals like the East India company made squillions out of it.

      It has been the tool of imperialists that justified colonisation from day one. The “free traders” get used to the loot from poor countries and start “trading posts” and then start militarising the looting with army and other forces deployment.

      Read a bit about the history of East Indian Company’s colonisation of India and countries in Africa before making such stupid statements.

      SHAME!

      • 1
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        “Free trade never brought peace and prosperity to anyone including the vast majority in Europe or America. “…Indeed, and with that it brought peace to them. Continue reading what I wrote in full, without jumping into conclusions like a village gossip.

    • 2
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      Prof. Kumar David,

      RE: Brexit Exposes Faults Lines In UK & Europe

      //”A de facto ménage trois of the Labour Party, most Tory MPs cum Prime Minister and Scotland’s SNP, or to put it in class terms, an alliance of the educated elite and new working class around London, the uppity middle class, and high capital, was bested at the Brexit referendum by an grouping of English provincials, working classes in Labour heartlands who have suffered deprivation, and aged seekers of British sovereignty. I will discuss this huge event in the context of a swing to the right in Europe and America.”//

      Thanks for the write up.

      Have you heard about the Great Game during the 18th Century, when Great Britain, tried to dismantle the Ottoman Empire, and later succeed?

      The New Great Game is to dismantle the European Union.

      They got inside the EU, to break the EU—Divide and rule policy. Ha ha ha.

  • 3
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    The good professor has given us a fair summary of matters. Much more lies in the detail. However, shining through like a beacon is the fair certainty that the UK (or what is left of it) will continue to prosper and endure and punch well above its weight for some time to come.

    God save the Queen.

    • 2
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      It is pathetic that still there are worms who think that the UK is a ‘beacon’ and pray ” God save the Queen”.

      When will these morally compromised shit heads get a brain and a backbone to go with it?

      Probably after all Gallagedara lands are handed back to their rightful owners!

      • 6
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        Hela Wiruva

        Did you really read,understand and what is written between the lines of “shit head’s” comment before you started knocking on your keyboard?

        What has Gallagedara lands got to do with ” God save the Queen”?

        I do not see any difference between a buruwa and Wiruva.

        • 0
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          Native

          You really doing a massive disservice to honourable buruw’s by comparing to a Wiruva.

          • 1
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            len

            “You really doing a massive disservice to honourable buruw’s by comparing to a Wiruva.”

            I am sorry, my apologies to Buruwas.

          • 1
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            len

            I am sorry.

    • 0
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      God save the Queen.

      Spring Koha the demala comes to Sri lanka to ask for mythical Tamil homeland.

      go to the other end and “god save the Queen”

      Tamil are hindus and not the dalits who are for almighty.

  • 3
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    Dr. Gnana Sankaralingam and all other fellow Sinhala/Tamil racists:

    Here is an post Brexit analysis that I just came across, please read what you have done to your fellow immigrants, yourselves and young people of Britain:

    ‘Mama, will you be deported?’: Brexit vote triggers eruption of racism

    There has been a five fold increase in reports of hate crime since the day of the referendum

    Yvonne Roberts
    Saturday 2 July 2016 22.00 BST

    In a room in St George’s Cathedral, Southwark, south London, on Thursday morning, more than 80 people, spilling into the corridor, talk about their experiences since the referendum result.

    They are mainly from South America, holding Spanish passports, still members of the European Union, legitimately in the UK. Half a dozen had been expected. Barristers María González-Merello and John Samson hold a free weekly legal advice clinic for Spanish-speaking cleaners who work for government departments and major companies in the city. This was different.

    “We called an emergency meeting because we’ve had so many people telling us about incidents [of apparent racism and xenophobia],” González-Merello says. “One woman had a cut in her pay packet, and when she complained she was told if she didn’t like it she should go back home. Another man was waiting for the night bus at 2am to go to work when a stranger said: ‘Haven’t you heard the news? You should have left.’”

    At the meeting, packed with babies, toddlers and anxious adult faces, one woman says she has worked for an employer for six years. On the Friday of the referendum result she was offered a new, less attractive, zero-hours contract.

    Another young woman says she and her friends, all with Spanish passports, regularly visit a Watford nightclub. Last weekend they were refused entry. “Is this because of Brexit?” they asked. The answer was yes.

    González-Merello, who has lived in Britain for 20 years, says she was talking to her son on a bus in Spanish and a man said: “You fucking foreigners, you are always making a noise.”

    Victims such as her, she says, are now self-policing, taking care, for instance, not to speak in a language other than English in public. Her 12-year-old son recently asked: “Mama, are you going to be deported?”

    “It’s the hurt and humiliation,” she says. “And the concern that we don’t know where it may end.”

    For many at the meeting, their working day on the minimum wage may begin at three or four o’clock in the morning and may still require travelling for an hour to work. “They don’t use the NHS,” González-Merello says. “Because they can’t afford to be sick.”

    She reminds the people that have come to her for advice that abuse comes only from a minority but if they experience racism or discrimination at work they must report it. “A wrong is a wrong.”

    “People have very little protection,” says Samson, whose parents came to the UK from Germany in the 1930s. “Cuts to legal aid, little trade union support, and the option of going to a tribunal on grounds of discrimination is out of reach because of cost.

    “People on low wages who come to us experiencing employment problems, resentment and even hatred are already on the edge. What we see here isn’t worry, anxiety or apprehension, it’s a climate of fear.”

    A climate of fear affects lives but doesn’t register in statistics. Even so, by Friday, True Vision, the police-run site to combat hate crime, had recorded a fivefold increase in reports from the public, 331 incidents, since the day the referendum was held. Usually the weekly average is 63 reports.

    Yet, while hate crime showed an 18% increase in 2014-15 from the year before, the annual crime survey suggests that such crime has fallen by 28% over the past seven years. So how do we keep a sense of perspective?

    Citizens UK is an organisation that promotes community organising across England and Wales. Neil Jameson, its executive director, says that it has heard of hundreds of incidents across the country since the referendum. “It’s not physical violence, it’s violent words and stares and hostility. Its unwelcomeness and being told, ‘Go home’.”

    In London, six out of 35 of the charity’s core staff have experienced racist hostility, most for the first time, in the past week.

    “Half of us were born and brought up here,” says Shazia Ejaz, Citizens UK’s head of media. “We are fiercely proud to call London our home. I tell people they must report. We want it to be part of the statistics to understand the scale of the problem. My concern is that this feeling was clearly below the surface. Now, how do you put the monster back in its box?”

    Intolerance, xenophobia and discrimination, expressed in public, may be manifesting themselves more significantly now, says Professor Ruth Wodak, author of The Politics of Fear, and a specialist in linguistics and national identity. But in the UK, as elsewhere, it’s politicians, disguising racism in outwardly reasonable rhetoric, and the media, often using more blatant language, who over the years have prepared the way. A study of all the UK print media Wodak and her colleagues conducted from 1996 to 2006 demonstrated how migrants, illegal immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers were demonised and merged into one – “Others”.

    “This process constructs a ‘panic’ state of affairs among [the] readership … urging them to take on a more active role within this constructed ‘stand-off’,” she says. “Cameron has repeatedly said he would roll out the red carpet for the very rich immigrants, but otherwise you are not welcome even if you have a legitimate right to be here.”

    She continues: “Politicians must address social inequalities and offer emotions other than threats, anger and fear, otherwise it’s too easy to mobilise against scapegoats.”

    Even for a closet racist, it’s still a major step to abuse a stranger in public. What’s the trigger?

    “Events such as a referendum put tolerance to the test,” explains political psychologist Tereza Capelos. “Ironically, tolerance begins from a negative starting point. You have an intention to share benefits with others even when you don’t like them. Everybody dislikes somebody, but if you believe that others have rights and you engage in a society, which is open, you accept this.

    “If you feel marginalised you may have weaker civic values. A spark can encourage you to see another human being as ‘the other’. You dehumanise him or her. They are ‘not like us’.”

    Some on the margins of society feel betrayed and don’t know who has betrayed them so they turn on “the other”. “That’s why politicians, journalists and academics have such a responsibility for the narratives they develop.”

    Tomorrow, Citizens UK is handing out leaflets and stickers for an hour from 8am at dozens of London tube and railway stations and instructing people how to report incidents. People are also wearing a safety pin (#Safetypin) to show their support.

    “Look out for your neighbours,” Jameson says. “Don’t look to Westminster for solutions. Solutions lie in your own streets and communities. People can stay together.”

    theguardian.com

    Dr. Gnana Sankaralingam and all other fellow Sinhala/Tamil racists, did you really make informed choice when you voted for Brexit or your hared for others (a natural trait) motivated to you to cut your own noses?

  • 4
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    “”Kumar David –
    Brexit Exposes Faults Lines In UK & Europe””
    The FTSE has caught up the Pound Sterling is catching.

    Brexit: 11 nations have inquired trade negotiations USA, Australia, Canada Ghana…..and for 9 years EU has not been able to strike a deal with India Imagine that?? Modi will not discuss with mussolini.

    Brexit is a political shock. It is not an economic shock. The fact is that the contribution of the UK and the EU to global growth has been very low because these economies have not been (doing) that well. But… when the Chinese currency had a free fall and there was a little panic in the global market, the impact on India was much more, compared to Brexit. So that should tell you where the risks lie.

    Marxist Dialectic former prof. missed building N.M. perera Cotta Road Peking Wall. Loves his english bow tie and pension and American Booze.
    If you were a logician you would have escaped from life and become a Buddhist Monk. But you are a politician in rebellion never in harmony unlike T’ao.

    The English have got bad logic, but very good tentacles in their brains for sensing danger and preserving life.
    When Elizabethan England needed pirates to protect the Empire she was able to produce enough pirates to meet the situation and glorified them. In every period England was able to fight the right war, against the right enemy, with the right ally, on the right side, at the right time, and call it by a wrong name. England did not do it by logic, did they? They did it by their tentacles.

  • 0
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    Kumar david has carefully avoided remarking that even this Brexit vote shows the failure of Marxist thinking. Even if it is some kind of peasents revolution, it is more about hating the alien than hating the Capitalist. The so-called leftist parties in Britain are split in the middle. Workers of the world are nither united, nor will they united. Instead, Jingoist Britains have closed ranks to hail “rule Bittania”.
    Kumar david can go back and consult the old Books of Lenis, or Gramsci, instead of looking at what is happening in the real world.

  • 0
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    Brexit and Marxist are not one and the same!

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