The English translation of my Brexit comment
I am personally quite depressed about the results of the referendum.
It were not the positive reasons against an EU with “business as usual,” perhaps with an eye to the way the EU handled Greece or how they reacted to the crisis in Ukraine, nor – more importantly – how they managed the refugee issue, or their largely held assumption as Christian and the source of all civilisation, nor the agricultural regulations ( I am old enough to remember the mountain of butter wasted in the 1980s). I don’t throw any of these arguments out, they are mostly valid. Now that Britain is on its own however, it can negotiate its own TTIP agreement, but rather than with a critical and careful evaluation as is the case in the EU, given all the protests, with the renewed neo-liberal elan and anglo-centric power of the Tory Party.
For over three months I was on the roads of England and Wales, precisely those areas that voted largely against the EU for the German independent left of center newspaper taz, die Tageszeitung (see here). What depresses me actually is that the arguments of many who voted for Brexit had actually little in common with all of the above, but much more with the frequently argument put forward to me of “too many immigrants” and “we need our country back!.”
Oftentimes a mixture of sentimental versions of a long gone imperial Great Britain and an undercurrent of nationalism, that frequently contained a dose of unashamed racism was presented to me..
Yes UKIP supporters argued in deed they desired to internationalise immigration. But when darker pigmented people had arrived in Britain in the 1950s, 60s and 70s from India, Pakistan, West and East Africa and the Caribbean many Brits complained ferociously. They welcomed Europeans gladly, “as people who are more like us”. But when they came they hurried to deny them their humanity likewise.
Many of the younger Brits voted for Remain. Hence it were especially the older ones fed and loaded with emotional, nationalist and populist propaganda from yesteryear, often against any real logic, such as in Wales, an impoverished region, that has been one of the largest beneficiaries of EU funding, who carry the responsibility of Brexit. Simple solutions for complex issues.
If you believe that this was a victory for left and justified critique of the EU, you are well advised to be more careful before you pass judgement. This was the glorious victory run of a raw, never critically examined, and once again forthcoming nationalism, which explicitly understands John Bull and Britannia to be atop the rest of the world.
Here in Great Britain, one looks rarely critically into ones own past. They celebrate the end of slavery, but refuse to take responsibility for the hundreds of years the practice went on to enrich the nation, and they likewise deny the truth, that it were slaves themselves who sabotaged the institution of slavery, before parliament abolished it, as the losses became too costly. So now a sovereign Great Britain, can once again engage in pretentious and loud politics, but just like English football hooligans in France, it is more noise than content. The up until this day largely spread feudal estate owners, the monarchy are all in a better place once again. And cheap items produced with no or little labour rights can once again flood the market. Maybe there will soon be even a labour factory under the personal supervision of the crown producing cheap royal souvenirs somewhere in Bangladesh.
Everything is like before the end of the colonial era. The servants of this vision are, as was the case historically, the ordinary people, who allow themselves to be exploited, the descendants pf those who in large numbers were sent into often senseless battles under the banner of manipulated patriotism, and the descendants of those workers slaving themselves in industrial scale mills in the Manchester region, or in coal mines, about whom Marx once so eloquently wrote, or of those who being hungry and poor, were sent to Australia, after stealing a loaf of bread, or worse were hung on Tyburn. It’s all for the Queen and her country. And the country made a public spectacle of it, with alcohol and laughter and made sure the poor individuals, not the ruling elite and the inequality of the country were to blame. Now it is the EU and its European immigrants!