Saturday, June 25, 2016

Thoughts on Brexit

Like everyone else in the wake of Brexit, I’ve been thinking about the UK and wondering what led to such an astounding vote. Obviously, there is massive dissatisfaction with the EU. But this is being expressed in the wrong way. You may not agree with everything in the Workers Solidarity Movement in Ireland but I think this is a very articulate statement (the bold type by me):
The EU is just one of the many ways that capitalism is maintained; it's fundamentally neoliberal and imperialist and if this was a referendum for it to be destroyed we be calling for it to be. That's not the case though, no matter how much people want it to be. Claims that we should leave in order to smash Fortress Europe are complete ludicrousy - smash Fortress Europe by creating Fortress Britain and reinforcing borders? We know the freedom of movement stuff generally only applies to white europeans and we're not insisting otherwise but more borders and another fortress is not going to destroy Fortress Europe. This is a racist referendum, even getting to this stage of a referendum is a massive victory to UKIP, the BNP, Britain First and all the other racists, fascists and xenophobes; the very people who will undoubtedly benefit from a Leave Vote…
And here’s a very interesting post-Brexit assessment by Dominic Sandbrook in the Daily Mail (I know, I know, but it’s a really coherent article even if it’s in a tabloid):
This was not merely an electoral earthquake. It was a popular revolt by vast swathes of England and Wales against the political, financial and cultural elite…
For me, this vote is very emotional even if I’m not British. It just serves to reinforce the message I got last year when I was refused entry to the UK. The reasons stated were that I had been traveling back and forth too much for their liking and that they didn’t believe I had enough money for a three-month stay. Apparently, you have to be rich to go to the UK and only travel once per year on the two or three week vacation permitted by your employer. And was xenophobia or racism also a part of the decision by the border control lackeys? I’ll never know but several London friends are quite upset at what they perceive as the growing right wing isolationism in the UK. And the only other people detained that night in the airport were all brown men.

So what will the UK do next? All the artists and art organizations are worried about what this means for the funding and exchange that is so vital to the field. There are calls for another referendum. It seems that Scotland is poised to leave and perhaps Northern Ireland too. There are even calls for London to leave.

What everyone seems to understand is that the UK needs to patch up their deep divisions somehow. And I think the Brexit vote is a canary in a coalmine for America. We’re also deeply divided around much the same issues and it’s possible that in our next election we could veer terribly off to the right.

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