Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
At the risk of stating the obvious, Brexit was led from the outset by people who think the EU does far too much for refugees and minorities, not too little.
 

john eden

male pale and stale
You seem to be arguing both that the EU doesn't have enough influence over its member states, and that the UK should be free of that influence.

Moreover, how is Brexit supposed to help gay people in Poland and Hungary? Or Syrian refugees in Greece and Italy? What actual concrete good can it do them? It's a movement spearheaded by the very people who care the least about vulnerable groups, whatever the EU's failings may be.
I'm going to politely suggest once again that you don't put words in my mouth.

There are advantages and disadvantages of being in the EU. I would hope that we can all agree that being in an economic bloc with governments who are increasingly extreme in terms abortion rights and the existence of gay people is not good, but perhaps for some the economic arguments trump this. I think those people are wrong, in the same way that I think that the economic benefits of the UK selling armaments to dictatorships to use on their own populations are wrong. This will need to be factored in to any campaign for re-entry to the EU and not brushed aside.

If the only thing you want to talk about is how Brexit was a project of racists from top to bottom and do not want to discuss anything else then that will be quite boring as I feel we have already done that. Feel free though. You are also welcome to point out the downsides of Brexit on the UK on this thread and I will make no attempt to stop you or suggest that this is a terrible thing to talk about. Neither will I ascribe positions to you that you do not hold.

But I am far more interested in how this upsurge of the far right (in the UK and the EU) is connected to the accelerating economic turmoil that is happening. Will the EU's gambit of economic stability over social instability for women and minorities in some of its member states pay off? I doubt it personally.

I am worried about what will happen to people in Hungary and Poland, because my politics are genuinely internationalist and are not based on a narrow caricature of continental urban sophistication like the EU flag wavers you see at protests. The EU and the UK government do not appear to be worried about these people. So in my view it is a problem that is connected to Brexit (both are symptoms of economic decline) but also distinct from it (neither the EU or the UK govt appear to give a shit about gay people in Hungary).

I suppose a question for you is - how would remaining in the EU (or re-entering it) help in this regard?
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
If you think Brexit is primarily a symptom of economic decline, then I believe the relevant phrase is "you ain't seen nothing yet".
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
And for the record, I don't think Brexit is primarily "a project of racists from top to bottom". I think it's primarily a project of amoral spivs and tax-dodgers who want to strip the state back to the bare minimum and deregulate everything that can possibly be deregulated for their own personal gain, and that they've achieved this - or are well on their way to achieving this - by stoking nationalism, xenophobia and racism in the voting public.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
"I would hope that we can all agree that being in an economic bloc with governments who are increasingly extreme in terms abortion rights and the existence of gay people is not good..."

Yes of course we can agree on that, but let's examine the implied causality here. It's not the economic bloc that's handing down diktats about abortions and gay people, is it? In fact those reactionary laws are being imposed by the very governments that - outside the UK - are the most openly hostile to the EU, aren't they?

And sure, I appreciate you didn't say "Brexit will help protect gay people in Poland". But it seems to me that the natural progressive stance would be to accept that there are both good things and bad things about the EU - as you have - and to work towards a government that could use the UK's considerable influence within the EU, as the country with the second-largest population and economy, to press for progressive reforms. Because outside the EU we're basically a post-imperial irrelevance.
 

john eden

male pale and stale
Yes of course we can agree on that, but let's examine the implied causality here. It's not the economic bloc that's handing down diktats about abortions and gay people, is it?
Indeed, because the EU doesn't give a shit about abortions and gay people. I mean they have a Directive about LGBT+ rights but this seems to be mainly about marriage and asking people politely if they won't do conversion therapy. Also, fair play not getting sacked for being gay, but I've not seen any enforcement or sanction for member states going wildly homophobic. Individuals can of course take it up with the European Court of Human Rights. Very neoliberal.

As far as I know there is no Directive on abortion rights. I would be glad to be wrong about that, so let me know if I have missed anything.

And as far as I'm aware, there is no pathway within the EU for the type of reform that you mention.

Apologies for the delay in replying to you, I have spent quite a lot of time today writing about the legacy of colonialism and slavery in Hackney. To be clear, I think that slavery and colonialism were bad.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
OK, suppose the EU were the organization you think it could be, or should be, and that it had the power to overturn this new law in Poland (which, by the sound of it, is a bit like Section 28 that used to be law here, and which the EU also didn't overturn). That would be great for gay people in Poland, at least in the short term, but Poland isn't a dictatorship. It has an elected government that rules by the consent of the people, formed by a party that got a majority of votes in an election, or at least, more votes than any other party. So this law exists because a very sizeable fraction of the Polish electorate wants it to exist. I imagine that if Brussels were to simply overturn that law, and any other Polish law it didn't like, there would be a Polexit in five minutes flat (and the country's LGBT people would be left without even the very limited protection of the ECHR).

Now isn't the issue of sovereignty, even more than opposition to immigration, the main reason people give for supporting Brexit? Remember that clip of a young woman saying she was happy about Brexit because she didn't like the UK having to abide by laws made by Germany? Of course that's not factually correct but she wasn't entirely wrong either, because there are rules that members states have to abide by, and Germany, as the biggest country, does have the biggest influence. (Leaving aside the question of whether those laws have had a mainly positive or mainly negative effect on her life.)

So I suspect that a putative EU with the centralized power to force individual countries' laws to conform to whatever progressive ideal you have in mind would never have come into being in the first place, because very people actually want to live in a vast, centrally-governed superstate.

To be clear, I think that slavery and colonialism were bad.
Ever the contrarian!
 

DannyL

Wild Horses
I do not want to get into it this time of night but you (Tea) should have a look at this article on Poland. Gives you more of a sense of what govt is like out there.

suppose the EU were the organization you think it could be,

Jon's politics as I understand them is that politics will work best when it enables individuals to take control of their own lives and manage their own affairs. As such, he's never going to be in favour of a huge bureaucratic mutinational trading block, unless it was legislating itself out of existence.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Jon's politics as I understand them is that politics will work best when it enables individuals to take control of their own lives and manage their own affairs. As such, he's never going to be in favour of a huge bureaucratic mutinational trading block, unless it was legislating itself out of existence.
Yeah sure, I get that - I was being half tongue-in-cheek when I made that comment about what John thinks the EU "should be". Obviously anyone with tendencies towards anarchism isn't going to be a big fan of another, even bigger bureaucratic authority above the level of national governments.

For me, the issue has much more to do with the concrete reality of Brexit than these sorts of ideological principles. Issues such as:

* Who has led Brexit from the outset? A: Some of the worst people in the country, with awful friends and supporters abroad: Trump, Bannon, Putin, le Pen, Orban...
* How have they achieved it? A: Bare-faced lies, intended to stoke nationalism and xenophobia at the very least, if not outright racism.
* How many of the problems that British people actually face will be solved? A: None of them, or almost none of them.
* What other problems is it causing, or going to cause? A: How long have you got?
* What impact has it had on ethnic minorities and immigrants already living here? A: A universally negative one.
* How is Brexit going to help refugees trying to reach Europe or vulnerable groups already living in the rest of the EU? A: Damned if I know.

And so on and so on. None of this depends on believing the EU to be this great progressive, democratic, humanitarian utopia. John always seems to be spoiling for a fight with someone who thinks this, but he knows that isn't my position and has even admitted this in his own posts.
 

DannyL

Wild Horses
All that is true. I think it might be useful to tease apart "Brexit" and "the EU" in these discussions. To be appalled by one does not mean supporting the other. In fact, a consistent positions you can oppose both from is anarchism with skepticism towards both of these projects because of their scale, and big government nature.

None of this depends on believing the EU to be this great progressive, democratic, humanitarian utopia. John always seems to be spoiling for a fight with someone who thinks this, but he knows that isn't my position and has even admitted this in his own posts.
I don't mean to just bung information but I don't think you get how profound illiberal the EU can be, especially when dealing with people from beyond it's borders. I've linked to this podcast before but it was quite an eye opener for me.

It's similarly worth looking at the conditions on the Greek islands of Lesbos and Chios:

A year after Shabbir arrived on Lesbos, and three months after his first interview, his asylum application was refused and a deportation order was issued. His appeal was unceremoniously rejected and, when he tried to seek refuge with supporters in a nearby village, the police mounted a manhunt. Eventually, he surrendered, before being taken back to Turkey. For weeks, we heard nothing of his fate. Then we learned that he was returned to Pakistan, where he had been located by the Taliban and shot. Reportedly, he is still alive, though we do not know his condition."

 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
All that is true. I think it might be useful to tease apart "Brexit" and "the EU" in these discussions. To be appalled by one does not mean supporting the other. In fact, a consistent positions you can oppose both from is anarchism with skepticism towards both of these projects because of their scale, and big government nature.
Yes, I think that's fair - although it's worth bearing in mind that the end game of Brexit is the smallest government, or smallest state, possible. At least it looks that way to me (minimal taxation, minimal spending, total deregulation, completion of the hatchet job on the NHS and welfare state, just enough infrastructure left to keep the proles in line via quasi-militarized policing - basically a massive acceleration of everything that's been going on for the last decade).

I would say John's opposition to the EU has put him into a default pro-Brexit position but he would no doubt say I've done the exact reverse.

That article about refugees on Lesbos is properly harrowing (and reminds me, we've got a copy of Yanis's book, which I should read). But these lines about whose fault the situation is (beyond groups like the Taliban who are creating the refugees in the first place, obviously) stuck out:

Europe pretends to itself that this crime against humanity is no one’s fault. The Greek authorities blame the EU for not providing funds, the EU blames Greece for not doing enough with available funds, and large NGOs are preoccupied with maintaining their own line of command and funding.
If the criticism of the EU is that it isn't doing enough, then that doesn't really wash with anyone who opposes big, powerful bureaucracies, does it? Or to put it another way: if the EU is at fault for providing insufficient funds, then if there was no EU at all, the situation would presumably be even worse.

Unless the criticism is that the Greek government really wants to help these poor people, but is being prevented by the EU? Although the article stops well short of actually saying that, and it seems very unlikely to me.

(I appreciate that another aspect to this is the EU's deal with Erdogan to keep the refugees in Turkey, but however abhorrent the deal may have been, it clearly hasn't even "worked" if they keep piling up in islands in the Aegean.)
 
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DannyL

Wild Horses
Yes, I think that's fair - although it's worth bearing in mind that the end game of Brexit is the smallest government, or smallest state, possible. At least it looks that way to me (minimal taxation, minimal spending, total deregulation, completion of the hatchet job on the NHS and welfare state, just enough infrastructure left to keep the proles in line via quasi-militarized policing - basically a massive acceleration of everything that's been going on for the last decade).
Well I would say there's a big difference between engineering a small state presumably because of ideological commitment to free markets (+ an opportunity for the guys you went to school with to make loads of money) and the kind of critique of big states and state institutions you'd find coming from anarchist positions.

If the criticism of the EU is that it isn't doing enough, then that doesn't really wash with anyone who opposes big, powerful bureaucracies, does it?

But that's a criticism of the EU by Greek government and who knows what layers of realpolitik and blame/counterblame that's filtered through.

My point in posting that article (I also posted a podcast that's really worth listening to if you have the time - I think the link may appear a bit to greyed out to see) isn't to argue for the abolition of the EU - it's instead to show that it can be a profoundly illiberal institution in a way that'd be shocking to a lot of the people waving EU flags on demos. That's all.

I also would like the EU's institutions to do much more for refugees. To close those camps and to maybe allow the movement of people across borders in a way that doesn't kill, endanger and cause so much suffering - and it's not going to do that if it's abolished. But it's nowhere doing that at the moment. It's doing the exact opposite.
 

version

Who loves ya, baby?
Meanwhile, Brexit voters are “less likely to prepare as they don’t believe in any potential negative consequences of leaving.”
The new approach will use behavioral science to make people feel they should act and make them feel capable of acting. It will use some nongovernment channels to convey messages because “people have a higher level of trust in third parties and peers than they do in government.”
As someone on Reddit said, "Jesus christ. How does this country actually function?".
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
That comment about trusting "third parties and peers" just reeks of "Yeah I know 99% of people who've dedicated their lives to studying the climate say we're fucked but OTOH my mate Dave reckons it's all bollocks and he was dead right about that Spurs/West Ham match the other day so he's probably right about this too", doesn't it?
 

luka

Well-known member
Staff member
Gary Mutt is in the Star and Garter sitting in front of a pint of warm bitter, picking at his pack of pork scratchings. He gazes idly at the pictures behind the bar; Barbara Windsor, the Two Ronnies, Clive of India, Princess Diana, Bomber Harris, Paul Gascoigne, a grim faced Geoffery Boycott, Terry Butcher with bloody bandages wrapped tight around his head like a casualty of war, Cliff Richard in tennis whites. Icons of Englishness. He takes a sip of his bitter and feels proud.
"England will never die you horrible cunts" he bellows. The barman coughs softly and polishes a pint glass with a grubby beer towel.
A 14 inch television screen splutters on a wall bracket in a corner of the room. Only Albion City still has television. John Bull, in one of his more celebrated speeches, declared that if Englishness means anything it means hanging on to your traditions. The BBC broadcast John Bull's addressess to the nation and repeats of Coronation Street, Emerdale Farm, old episodes of The Goodies, Hale and Pace and classic sitcoms such as Are You Being Served, Upstairs, Downstairs, Love Thy Neighbour and Men Behaving Badly.
The television screen is showing footage of the 1966 world cup final.
Gary mouths the words alongside the commentator, words seared onto the heart of every true Englishman
"they think it's all over"
he rises to his feet, mimes kicking a football into the corner of the net
"IT IS NOW YOU FUCKING KRAUTY CUNTS"
raises his arms aloft in triumph and embarks in a victory lap around the pub, arms spread outwards in imitation of a Spitfire flying over the Channel.
"you can take away our red phone boxes, you can decomission our double-decker buses and auction off our manor houses but youll never take our pride
In-Ger-Lund, In-Ger-Lund, In-Ger-Lund
In-Ger-Lund, In-Ger-Lund, In-Ger-Lund
In-Ger-Lund, In-Ger-Lund, In-Ger-Lund
In-Ger-Lund, IN--GER--LUUND"
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
@luka - that's a lovely vignette but the sort of true patriot you've portrayed would be drinking continental lager, not bitter.
 

luka

Well-known member
Staff member
thats what i thought reading it back but its done now. i did it in 2008. proto brexit fantasy.
 
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