A victory for xenophobia
John Pilger writes in CounterPunch:
The most effective propagandists of the “European ideal” have not been the far right, but an insufferably patrician class for whom metropolitan London is the United Kingdom. Its leading members see themselves as liberal, enlightened, cultivated tribunes of the 21stcentury zeitgeist, even “cool”. What they really are is a bourgeoisie with insatiable consumerist tastes and ancient instincts of their own superiority. In their house paper, the Guardian, they have gloated, day after day, at those who would even consider the EU profoundly undemocratic, a source of social injustice and a virulent extremism known as “neoliberalism”.
I have some sympathy for this point of view. Sure, Guardian smugness is a thing. Neoliberalism is a harmful political force that disenfranchises communities. But try as I might, I can’t see Brexit as a victory for democracy.
Here’s what I see instead:
(See Worrying Signs, a very large photo album by Sarah Childs, for many more.)
I see this post from my friend Gail La Carbonara, which was just one of many:
My life is not some minor detail, and the potential impact upon it is not something I’m willing to sweep under the rug so that no one will have to come out and admit they don’t care what happens to me and others like me because we’re not British, and therefore our voices count less.
[…] If those of you asking everyone to put their differences aside and cheer up and move on and so forth (who I suspect are mostly the leave voters) also have friends in the UK who are not British, don’t ask them to be ok. They’re probably not. Because whatever your reasons actually were (and the majority of leave voters cited immigration), you just sent a very clear message via the implications of your vote: that they are less welcome here because they were born on a different side of an arbitrary line on the ground and you do not wish for people like them to so easily be able to cross it. You can’t erase that message with your personal intentions.
These alone would be more than enough. This has been an ennobling force for parochial xenophobics who fear people from different cultures and contexts. In one night, a multicultural, embracing society has rewound itself by decades and found itself in a hateful place. But xenophobia is toxic, and that toxicity affects everyone.
Paul Boyle, vice-chancellor of Leicester University, called the “shocking result” a “dark day for UK science” and called for every effort to be made to counter any impression that the UK had become less welcoming to international researchers. He called on the science community to start campaigning immediately to protect the science budget.
I see it decimating the arts:
British arts organizations received grants totaling £40 million ($54.7 million) from the EU’s Creative Europe funding program in 2014 and 2015, according to Arts Council England. Additional support comes from other EU funding programs not specifically related to the arts, including the European Regional Development Fund. Oscar-winning films made in the U.K., including “The King’s Speech” and “The Iron Lady,” and key cultural institutions, such as Tate Liverpool, all received funds from the EU.
I see communities that were supported by EU funds plead to continue being supported:
“We will be insisting that Cornwall receives investment equal to that provided by the EU programme which has averaged £60m per year over the last ten years.”
European money has helped develop infrastructure, universities and broadband internet in the county. From 2007 to 2013, €654m was given to pay for these projects, the Financial Times reported.
“In Moody’s view, the negative effect from lower economic growth will outweigh the fiscal savings from the UK no longer having to contribute to the EU budget.”
And now we see xenophobic, far-right leaders from across Europe leaping on the chance to further their agendas. In the Netherlands:
“If we want to survive as a nation, we have to stop immigration and stop Islamisation.
“We cannot do that inside the European Union.”
A jubilant Le Pen delivered a Brexit victory speech from her party’s headquarters outside Paris, styling the UK referendum result as just the start of an unstoppable new wave of support for parties and movements like the Front National. “The UK has begun a movement that can’t be stopped,” she said.
“The 23 June is a historic day. It is Great Britain’s independence day. The people were asked — and they decided. The European Union as a political union has failed,” said Storch, who was recently expelled from the Tories’ party group in the European parliament after suggesting German police might be within their rights to shoot refugees trying to cross the border.
On the eve of the referendum, the quisling secretary-general of Nato, Jens Stoltenberg, warned Britons they would be endangering “peace and security” if they voted to leave the EU. The millions who ignored him and Cameron, Osborne, Corbyn, Obama and the man who runs the Bank of England may, just may, have struck a blow for real peace and democracy in Europe.
Go fuck yourself.