Tuesday 25 September 2018

No Second Referendum

If you're a hard remainer, it's been a good couple of days. Labour's stance on Brexit has tilted a bit more toward a second vote, though without explicitly committing itself to such. And a number of polls are suggesting more are moving toward remain than leave, which is understandable. If the incompetence by which the Tories have gone about negotiating Britain's exit from the EU doesn't give you the jitters, I don't know what will. Yet these are getting clung to like some sort of fetish, as if things are moving in the right direction. No matter how it is caressed and prayed to nothing is going to get the UK out of its Brexit predicament. Certainly shifting Labour's policy and marching on sparsely attended lobbies of party conference won't.

Before you even consider the practicalities of the parliamentary timetable, reading the political runes now, in early Autumn 2018, comes up with two very obvious reasons why Brexit is going to happen.

1. The Tories are in power. Labour are not.

2. There isn't going to be a general election that will change this state of affairs.

Sorry to be rude, but sometimes political realities are. A general election now would be appalling for the Tories. With their party utterly divided and in a worsening condition, a Brexit general election could, if the opposition plays its cards right, destroy their discipline and tear them apart. Which is why Labour are right to call for one, and also why Theresa May isn't about to concede one. Even if everything goes awry and May comes back without a deal, she would rather do that than hand the keys to Number 10 over to Jeremy Corbyn. Or Boris Johnson, for that matter. There will be no flouncing off into the sunset of the after dinner party circuit as per her predecessor - she will cling on to government for dear life, or until a cabal of her own party calls time.

What wouldn't constitute playing our cards right would be a full commitment to a second referendum. Forgive me if I don't put too much store in polling on this (especially YouGov - did you see their Sweden poll?). The issue is if Labour came out for a second referendum, the politics of Brexit enter into a new and potentially dangerous phase. Politically speaking, remain has mobilised - the LibDems have been flooded with new members (sans the corresponding support), their talking points are in the media, and they've taken to the streets. Leave, by way of contrast is overwhelmingly passive and hasn't gone much beyond voting disproportionately for the Tories last year. One of the reasons why they haven't politicised further is because both the main parties accept the overall referendum result. This changes if Labour formally adopts a second referendum: a passive animosity runs the risk of becoming an active antagonism.

Here's why this is an issue. Labour's immediate strategic objective is to break up the Tories' electoral condition. This is tough enough because of the soft political polarisation we've seen, which is underpinned by the political economy they have deliberately cultivated. We saw how it started to flake a bit when May first announced her Chequers position, which was spun by the Brexiteers as soft, long, and anything but strong. The result was a sliver of support falling back to UKIP. If Labour come out hard against Brexit, at best it will firm up that support. May and her media helpers are going to parade themselves as the custodians of Brexit and cast Labour as an arrogant party who does not respect a democratic vote, and is in hock to Brussels. The pot the Tories have stirred about Labour being the tool of foreign powers, the mood music of the scurrilous Michael Foot and Jez-was-Warsaw-Pact smears fits their scheme to make Labour out as an anti-British, if not an outright treasonous organisation. Those who pick up on and are amenable to dog whistles of this kind will draw the necessary conclusions when May blames Labour for undermining "our" negotiations. Stab-in-the-back myth mk II, if you like. One in which the nation is being sold out by a left-liberal-EU establishment. In these fraught times, such a pitch could do extremely well.

It won't end there, though. There is every danger large numbers of leave voters could be mobilised by UKIP, Farage, or a demagogic Tory. Some comrades and remain supporters shrug their shoulders and say so what? Why should Labour allow the far right to dictate its actions? This is a blinkered way of looking at things. Strictly speaking, from a party point of view we should be in the business of making things easier for ourselves and harder for our enemies, not the other way around. But in this case the price is steep. Another referendum means polarising politics in a more poisonous direction, and one in which Labour has disadvantaged itself by setting aside a popular democratic decision. And do you know who will suffer the most? Post-Brexit we saw a surge in racist incidents as well as a rise in hate crime against disabled people gay and trans people, and domestic violence rates went up too. When reaction moves, its bile overflows the trappings of constitutional politics and lashes out at anyone and everything that doesn't fit, or have we forgotten about what happened to Jo Cox already?

Yes, Labour's position is frustrating. Yesterday it was a fudge and today it remains a fudge. This is less the result of tactical genius and one trying to square the circle of the party going this way and that on Brexit. And yet the overall result has proved unsettling to the Tories. Without Labour setting its face against unwinding the referendum, they do not have an external threat and so have no choice but to turn inwards, compounding and multiplying their difficulties. You can understand why folks want Labour to go for the second referendum, but we should not be in the business of throwing Theresa May a lifeline. Nor be cavalier about the cost we're expecting others to soak up. That is why it is a non-starter.


Ray said...

I can see that for the very rich, Brexit could lead to profitable asset stripping after the inevitable crash as well as being able to escape taxes and regulations. But from a left wing perspective what is the point of leaving the EU as it leads to economic downturn ? What is the point of weakening the EU against the US?

Boffy said...

The positions of both the Tories and Labour are being determined by the requirement to manage internal divisions, not by any kind of principle, and certainly not by any requirement to "respect" the will of the people - whatever that may mean, in conditions where the will of half the people is diametrically opposed to the will of the other half!

A General Election would be the best solution, because referenda, such as that of 2016 are inherently undemocratic which is why they are favoured by Bonapartists and authoritarians. But, more important than whether the deadlock is broken by a General Election or a second referendum is that Labour should come out, and should have come out two years ago, to stand on a principled position of opposing the reactionary nationalist drive towards Brexit. Labour has once more failed that basic question of principle.

Whether the parliamentary practicalities make a General Election or a second vote possible or not is irrelevant. Those considerations didn't stop socialists opposing the Poll Tax, for example. Labour should be vigorously opposing Brexit, on a point of principle, but even in terms of electoralism that is the case. If as you say, the Tories push through Brexit, Labour needs to have been distancing itself from the disaster that will ensue for workers, by as much, and for as long as possible.

At the moment, Labour is likely to be damned by workers for the catastrophe that will befall them as much, if not more than the Tories. The Tories will be destroyed for a generation, but the disaster that will follow Brexit, will also see Corbyn's Labour destroyed too. It will create the perfect conditions for the Blair-rights to say "I told you so, and for them to link up with a rejuvenated Liberals, possibly Greens, and the Social-democratic wing of the Tories.

As happened in the 1980's, it will mean that progressive social-democratic politics will have been thrown back a generation, once more, simply on the altar of a drive based upon the reactionary nationalist agenda of a bureaucratic cabal of Stalinists, and their national socialist ideas of socialism in one country.

If Labour had come out clearly against Brexit at this conference, they would have split the Tories, destroyed the Liberals and the possibility of a Blair-right split, created the basis for the dissolution of the Greens, and of the SNP. The syphilis of Stalinism in the Labour Movement has once again prevented that.

Labour could still change that, and a clear lead could create the coalition in the country in parliament to demand a general election, or a referendum, because the EU would give an extension to undertake it. Socialists should hope that happens to avoid the catastrophe that lies ahead otherwise.

Boffy said...

Generally speaking, Marxists would not support calls for a General Strike, solely for the limited purpose of a change of Government. Political General Strikes should be used either for specific political aims, for example, as with the Chartists to demand universal suffrage, or should be part of a more serious political struggle for state power.

However, if the Tories were to refuse a General Election, having failed to carry through an agreed Brexit plan, then it would be quite appropriate, given such a constitutional crisis, for Labour and the TUC together with wider social forces to organise a General Strike as proposed by Crew MP, Laura Smith, to force the government to concede over such a vital issue, in order to avoid the catastrophe that would otherwise befall the working-class as a result of Brexit.

Rather than distancing themselves from Smith's proposal, if the Labour leadership truly do want a General Election to stop Brexit, and truly do believe in what they have been saying about building a social movement, based upon the mobilisation of the rank and file, rather than being simply in the old tradition of Labourist parliamentary cretinism, they would be organising now on the basis of a vigorous campaign against Brexit for such a mobilisation, and a General Strike, in the event of the Tories leading the country into disaster.

George Carty said...

The EU's intransigence on the 4 freedoms means that only two Brexit deals are now possible: BINO (which would be political suicide for the Tories) and a Canada-style FTA with a border between the island of Ireland and Great Britain (which would currently be vetoed by the DUP).

How likely is it that May will risk another General Election in order to escape the DUP's yoke?

Boffy said...


Its not EU intransigence its a matter that those four freedoms are integral to the EU itself. Its why Labour's position is so indefensible, because as Irish Marxism says in the blog post they have allowed me to repost, and as I have argued myself over the last year, a Labour government is no more able to negotiate a deal that would meet its six tests than are the Tories!

It would mean a Labour government either having to capitulate, or else to force through a No Deal Brexit of its own, and would get hammered by both Brextremists, and its own Remain supporting voters in the process, destroying it for the foreseeable future.

Labour's policy of failing to clearly oppose Brexit is not just unprincipled from a socialist perspective, it is politically insane, and driven by a desire based upon the aspirations of a Stalinist core for a reactionary idea of Socialism in One Country, by the back door, whilst attempting to bureaucratically fudge, and manipulate the 90% of party members who take an internationalist position of opposing Brexit. It is leading rapidly towards catastrophe.

George Carty said...


Wouldn't BINO combined with the maximum immigration controls consistent with EU or EEA membership (which have not been implemented previously largely because they would require the introduction of ID cards) come quite close to meeting Starmer's six tests? This question is academic though because Labour isn't in government.

Isn't campaigning for a second referendum with Remain as an option the only reasonable course for Labour now, as they have no ability to force a General Election (as all Tory MPs – from Kenneth Clarke and Anne Soubry on the one hand, to the Brexiteers of the ERG on the other – regard preventing a Corbyn government as far more important than anything to do with Brexit)?

In fact it could be argued that without a second referendum Labour is basically screwed: either they accept the Tory deal (which certainly won't come close to meeting Starmer's six tests) which would result in them being abandoned by their voters just as the Lib Dems were over tuition fees, or they reject the deal and are blamed for the resulting no-deal Brexit.

Boffy said...


There is no BrINO consistent with immigration controls, because free movement is central to the EU. In any case, socialists should have no truck with supporting immigration controls, and should rather be arguing vociferously for the defence of free movement,including its extension to EU borders themselves.

Membership of the EEA is effectively a capitulation to the EU. Yes, thereby Labour's Six Tests can be mostly met, but what cannot be met of those tests, thereby, is Labour's insistence and requirement not just to be a rule taker, but also to be a rule maker. The only way Labour can achieve that aim is by staying inside the political institutions of the EU, i.e. scrapping Brexit.

I don't agree that Labour can't force a General Election. The argument put by Crewe MP, Laura Smith, shows exactly how it could be forced. For all the hype, it has never been the Brextremists who have been able to actively mobilise their supporters on the streets, etc. The vast majority of them are by definition atomised, individualistic and passive. It has always been the opponents of Brexit that have been able to mobilise actively.

Moreover, as big business and its political representatives begin to tighten the screw on the Tories, the pressure on the social-democratic wing will increase. Its also why you see the Brextremists like Steve Baker today coming out with even more hysterial attacks on the CBI, along with Boris's previous calls to "fuck business". The rubber is beginning to hit the road here. Business and its political representatives think, and everything seen in the last three years suggests they are right, that a Corbyn government could be controlled and bent to their wishes.

Brexit is a far bigger threat to them, and the Clarke's Soubry's et al will increasingly reflect that. And, if Labour does not quickly deselect all of those Blair-right MP's, prior to any snap election, they will feel confident that after an election, Corbyn will be a prisoner, or else swept aside by a Blair-right PLP majority, working in concert with the Liberals, and anti-Brexit Tories.

George Carty said...


I was talking about implementing the immigration restrictions which are permitted by the EU (such as that which allows jobless EU migrants to be removed after 3 months) as a way of masking the capitulation to the EU that you rightly point out is implied by EEA membership.

When you talk about free movement's "extension to EU borders themselves" are you implying that you want all immigration controls abolished? That would be a total political non-starter: although we had no immigration controls during Empire times, that was at a time when international travel was far more expensive (in both time and money) than today, and also a time when Europe's share of global population was far higher than today (which was one factor which made European colonialism possible in the first place). How many billions of people could now potentially be better off if they migrated to the UK?

Many of the people who voted Leave on anti-immigration grounds weren't hostile to the EU27's indigenous population, but rather were driven by fear that the EU (or Angela Merkel, since many Eurosceptic-leaning Brits see the EU as essentially controlled by Germany) would force Britain to take vast numbers of Middle Eastern and African refugees (many of whom were Muslims).

It is notable that both of the referendum's Leave campaigns appealed to Islamophobia: Vote Leave with its "Turkey is joining the EU" leaflets (which also emphasized that Turkey borders Syria and Iraq) and Leave.EU with its infamous "Breaking Point" poster showing Middle Eastern refugees wandering through Europe.

If Brexit were somehow to be stopped, it would no doubt cause many unreconciled Leave voters to return to UKIP, and a far nastier UKIP than that of the Nigel Farage era! UKIP is now pretty much openly an anti-immigration, anti-Muslim "identitarian" party, and given that similar parties are gaining support throughout Europe (Front National, PVV, AfD, FPÖ, La Lega, Sweden Democrats, PiS, Fidesz), do you really think any European country would dare push for a more open policy towards non-EU immigration?

In fact it is clear that political Islam (and fear that mass immigration will turn Europe into an Islamic continent) is now the anti-nationalist totalitarian bogeyman that drives today's European far-right, just as Stalinism was for the fascists of the 1930s.

As for the CBI taking action to stop Brexit, why would they do this when they could just save themselves by relocating to the Continent? One of the most damaging results of rising inequality is that the Tories no longer need the support of the CBI (and therefore to be representatives of British capitalism in general). Instead they can rely on the backing of a small number of billionaires, many of which want Brexit out of fear that the EU's imminent crackdown on tax avoidance will expose their hidden offshore stashes to scrutiny.

Boffy said...


The UK could have applied the migration restrictions before. Those restrictions are really impractical if they were enforced anywhere, as I've set out elsewhere. Why would a Geordie bricklayer, or Black Country electrician relocate their families to Dusseldorf, taking their kids out of school, selling their house, and having to buy one in Germany, on the precarious basis that if in three months time, they lost their job, they would have to give it all up again, and become jobless and homeless back in Britain? It would mean effectively there was no free movement.

Its one reason that socialists should argue for real free movement of labour, and yes, I do mean that as no immigration controls into Europe. The idea that Billions of people would move into Europe is simply a scare story put out by right-wing nationalists. In fact, people have considerable attachment to wherever they live, and require very great inducements to get them to move.

We shouldn't stop arguing for principled socialist politics simply because the far right might use it for their own propaganda. We should instead confront the far right myths - which liberals and conservative social democrats have failed to do over the last 50 years - and put forward ideas that deal with the underlying problems of workers that make them susceptible to those far-right bogus claims.

My point is that Labour has to either capitulate to the EU, by becoming a rule taker inside the EEA - which fails to meet its own tests - or else has to propose a No Deal Brexit, just as with the Tories. Either way it will get hammered, and worse so than the Tories, because it will have been arguing all along that it could negotiate some kind of good Brexit, when the fact is it can't.

The CBI has every incentive to argue against Brexit because although the UK economy is tiny compared to the EU economy, or the US, Chinese, Japanese economies or even economic blocs like Mercosur, and so on, it is still a large economy within the EU. Capital undoubtedly will relocate out of the UK as a result of Brexit, but it would prefer not to, because it will have a short term, significant cost, and a cost in terms of trade.

The vast majority of the billionaires oppose Brexit. Its the 5 million small businesses and the social layers associated with them that provide the backbone for the Tory Right, and Brextremism.

George Carty said...

IIRC Belgium (at least) actually enforced the limitations on freedom of movement, but I'm pretty sure the EU regulations say that migrants can be removed after 3 months of joblessness, not that once they have been in a country 3 months they can be removed immediately if they lose their job – if it was indeed the latter, then "freedom of movement" would indeed be a hollow sham!

Your claim that support for the far right is based on "myths" (and they can thus be defeated by refuting these myths with facts) sounds naive to me. Which "myths" do you have in mind, and are you sure that people attracted to the far right actually believe them, rather than just spouting them as a defence mechanism because they don't want to admit their true motivations?

As I see it the far right is built on Malthusianism: their argument against open borders is that they allow nations to breed excessively, safe in the knowledge that their excess population growth will end up as some other country's problem. While you're certainly right that people have considerable attachment to wherever they live (if they didn't then most of those Brexity crap towns would have become ghost towns by now), surely the thousands of Africans and Middle Easterners who have drowned attempting to illegally cross the Mediterranean into Europe provide silent testimony to the fact that there exist ENORMOUS inducements getting them to move?

Rapid African population growth is one factor, along with perhaps the decreasing habitability (due to climate change) of Africa and the Middle East. This latter factor is probably why people involved in the oil and gas industry tend to be supportive of Brexit and Trump (and why Putin – dictator of a petrostate – is so supportive of far right movements in Europe). The oil and gas interests know that climate change is happening, but they don't dare admit it because their business would be destroyed if the world got serious about fighting it. They thus support white supremacist and Islamophobic movements, hoping that this would weaken those who would want to take strong action against climate change by making the white nations of the world more willing to write off the populations of Africa and the Middle East.

Of course the vast majority of billionaires oppose Brexit: this is how the Brexiteers were able to pose as being "anti-elite" in their propaganda (and perhaps attract a spite vote from the people in "left-behind" towns, who thought "our communities are irretrievably destroyed, but at least this way we can drag London and the South East down with us"). It was probably also a driver of the 2016 "chicken coup" (the Mandelsonian globalist Labour right hoped that removing Corbyn would allow them to attract enormous funding from wealthy opponents of Brexit) but that wasn't the point I was making!

The point I was making about high inequality is that it means only a small number of individuals are now needed to finance a conservative party. IIRC over 90% of the Tories' funding comes from just ten wealthy Brexit supporters. It seems to me that the rich who support Brexit (and Trump) tend to be concentrated in a few specific sectors of the economy: the tax avoidance industry and the fossil fuel industry are two examples I've already mentioned.

Boffy said...


My point about being removed after becoming unemployed was not that who would move if after three months you could be deported, but that who would move their families etc. if after whatever period of living in the country, you could all be deported if you lost your job, and couldn't get another in less than three months! The longer you have been in the country, the worse it is to find yourself in that position.

The myth that there were millions of Turks waiting to come to Britain, or similarly the myth that open borders would lead to billions of migrants coming to Europe from every other country on Earth, the myth that migrants cause unemployment, cause wages to fall, cause shortages of housing, overcrowding of roads, lack of schools, hospitals and so on. The far right ideologues don't believe them, but those who vote for them do.

The fact you refer to only thousands moving across the Mediterranean (I think the number who have drowned is still fortunately only in hundreds not thousands) rather than millions makes the point. The EU with its population of 500 million could easily absorb millions of migrants, over a period of years. The fact is that the numbers moving is still manageable. Even where people are suffering tremendously it takes a lot to get them to move. If more effort was put into raising conditions in their home countries, and less in to selling arms or supporting jihadists then even fewer would want to move.

Actually rapid economic growth in Africa is acting to encourage people to move there. Its war that acts to spur people to become refugees. The rapid growth of Ethiopia for example, has now led to a long awaited rapprochement between that country and Eritrea. Economic growth also leads to family sizes shrinking.

On oil and climate change, see my response to Paul Mason's promotion of those ideas. The oil companies are preparing for oil being replaced by electric for cars, and alternative energy for other uses. Oil reserves will be far more valuable as raw material for the petrochemical industry, for the production of polymers for 3-D printing, for use in production of smart materials than to waste it just to burn it, just as wood is used for far more valuable purposes than when we used to waste it by burning it as fuel. Its also why the Malthusian fears about climate change will fail to materialise. The oil companies are already buying up the companies that produce fast charging facilities for electric cars.

Whether the Tories can be funded by a few billionaires or not is irrelevant. The fact is that they need voters, and their voters and core membership is made up not of billionaires, but that plethora of small capitalists and the social layers associated with them.

George Carty said...

According to the Missing Migrants Project the annual migrant death toll in the Mediterranean is certainly thousands, not just hundreds as you suggested.

Your point that refugees are fleeing wars only begs the question of what is causing the wars in the first place. The Rwandan genocide was caused by overpopulation: in fact it was predicted in 1986 by a high school social studies class who were studying basic demographics: they plotted the population and carrying capacity of Rwanda on the same set of axes and noticed that the two curves intersected in the mid-1990s. The graph was actually printed in the high school's newspaper, but largely forgotten (like most high school assignments) until the genocide began in 1994.

Climate change has been blamed for both the Darfur war and the Syrian Civil War, with Turkey's Southeastern Anatolia dam project (which was intended to help develop agriculture in Turkish Kurdistan, and thus dampen support for the PKK insurgency there) also being blamed in part for the latter.

I'm not convinced that the majority of people sympathetic to far-right ideas oppose immigration primarily for economic reasons. A survey by British Future suggested that voters were especially hostile to immigration from Africa and Asia (and even more so when they were reminded how this would change Britain's ethnic makeup), even when it was suggested that this immigration would increase the average skill level of the UK's workforce!

My point about how a few billionaires are funding the Tories was a response to your claim that Big Capital (in the form of the CBI) could exert pressure on them to move in a Remainward direction. Of course the Tories need voters as well as backers, but that is irrelvant to your argument as the Tory voter base (and even more so the party membership) are overwhelmingly dominated by Brextremist pensioners and small capitalists.

In fact it seems like Big Capital (outside the small minority of areas that stand to benefit from Brexit) is currently politically orphaned, as neither the Brextremist Tories nor Corbynite Labour has its interests at heart.

Boffy said...


On migrant deaths, fair enough, but the figures are low thousands not tens of thousands. The substantive fact remains that the total number migrating remains relatively low compared to the ability of the EU as a whole to absorb it, and if the borders were opened, those benefiting from people trafficking would be out of business, and the deaths would fall to near zero.

Incidentally, the costs of moving mean that millions could not move, because it is generally only the middle classes in the affected areas that can obtain the required funds.

The idea that the Rwandan genocide was caused by overpopulation is pure reactionary Malthusianism. The term overpopulation itself is meaningless. The UK population today is nearly 10 times what it was when Malthus made his ridiculous claims, but we are millions of miles away from being overpopulated. The ability of a country to sustain its population is only partly dependent upon its natural resources, and far more dependent upon the amount of capital it has backing up each worker, so as to raise the level of productivity.

Blaming the Syrian Civil War on climate change is just pure daft. I think that its fairly obvious that the Syrian Civil War, like the other elements of the Arab Spring was a consequence of economic development, as those countries began to grow rapidly as they drew closer to the EU, and as with the revolutions of 1848, following such economic growth, it led to the strengthened social classes of the bourgeoisie, and working-class demanding political reforms of what were Bonapartist regimes. The Syrian Civil war was a response of the regime to that struggle, and more significantly of the attempts of western powers to utilise the connection of their clients in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Monarchies, with the jihadists of Al Qaeda and ISIS, to try to overthrow Assad, in order to weaken their regional rivals Russia and Iran.

I think you are right about the motivations of supporters of the far-right in respect of immigration. That is a large part is based upon bigotry. Even more reason not to appease such sentiments, but to deal with the myths that underpin it, along with dealing with the general economic and social conditions, including poor education that facilitate its growth.

The point about the CBI and pressure is that they only need to be able to apply pressure to enough Tory MP's on its social-democratic wing to vote against Brexit, to join up with Labour and the SNP so as to scupper it, and either force a general election or third referendum.

Big Capital is always in the position you describe, as Engels set out more than a century ago. The point is that a) Corbyn Labour depends objectively on big capital because it dominates the economy and its fortunes b) partly for that reason, Big Capital knows that it can control a Corbyn Labour government, so as to meet its interests, whereas Brexit will scupper those interests seriously, unless the catastrophe is so bad that Britain quickly has to apply for readmission on emergency terms.

George Carty said...

The Arab Spring began with food riots whose ultimate cause was the failure of the 2010/2011 winter wheat crop in China, and the same potato blight that devastated Ireland in the 1840s was also the trigger for the revolutions of 1848.

Regarding poor education, I often regard Brexit (given the age as well as education dependence of the vote) as the revenge of the 11+ failures! I suspect that it's not so much teaching of knowledge that was the issue as teaching of critical thinking, as many of the economic myths about immigration (in particular) fall apart under even the most basic examination. What makes you so sure though that these myths are actually believed, rather than just being repeated as a defence mechanism?

When reading Timothy Snyder's "Black Earth" about the Holocaust I was enlightened by the way he pointed out that people are especially likely to hunt for scapegoats for a disaster if they themselves are somehow complicit in it. He described how the Holocaust began in the Baltic States, where the Nazis promugulated the "Judeo-Bolshevism" conspiracy theory and recruited former Soviet collaborators to help them kill the Jews, by portraying such service as a way in which they could atone for their earlier collaboration with the Soviet occupation.

I think the strong pro-Brexit campaign connected to the fishing industry is like this: the true culprit for the decline of Britain's fishing communities was not the EU but Thatcher's government, which attached the EU's fishing quotas to boats (instead of to ports as in every other EU country). This gave boat owners an opportunity to get rich quick by selling their boats (complete with EU quotas) to foreigners, so it's no surprise that these boat owners now make the EU a scapegoat for destroying the communities that were in fact destroyed by their own treacherous greed.

Another common complaint among Leave voters is that "we don't have close-knit communities any more": while some of this may be due to factors outside their control (chiefly the demise of the mass-employment heavy industries around which many white working-class communities were built) some of this may not have been, specifically the way in which Thatcher's Right to Buy discounts helped break up communities by allowing their better-off members of the working class to escape to "nicer" areas.

David Goodhart's "anywheres vs somewheres" dichotomy is hogwash, as while cosmopolitan "anywheres" certainly voted Remain, so did the true "somewheres" who still lived in strong communities. It was in fact the culturally deracinated who voted for Brexit in droves: perhaps another factor may have been that they were jealous of the superior community and culture apparently possessed by ethnic minority populations, and unaware of the sacrifices that these populations have to make in order to sustain their community and culture?

Boffy said...


Your response here covers areas so wide that it would take essays to properly respond to.

Things that act as sparks for rebellions are rarely the actual causes of those rebellions. As I've set out elsewhere, the food riots of 2008, were actually a result of the fact that in the period after 1999, the global working class increased in size by 30%, and real wages increased substantially. Chinese consumption of better foods for example increased by 2-3 times what it had been a few years earlier, whilst consumption of rice fell by 20%.

The same was true about increasing confidence and militancy of Egyptian workers, which followed through to student protests. I set it out in my posts on The Egyptian revolution.

I don't think that the revolutions of 1848 were at all caused by the Irish Potato blight, or the same virus affecting potato crops across Europe. It was a result of the long wave economic boom that began around 1843, which strengthened the industrial bourgeoisie, and the industrial proletariat, giving them confidence to push forward their demands for political reform against the old landed and monied aristocracies.

What is the actual difference between the atomised elements of a mass society (a la Kornhauser et al) believing as opposed to simply repeating myths? Whether they believe or simply repeat in order to make sense of a world they do not understand seems to make little real difference. Some time ago, I discussed the way psychologists had shown the extent to which people would go to conform, including accepting the imposition of pain on others. This is one element though probably not understood at the time in the idea put forward by Marx and by Lenin that once the more advanced, educated layers of the working class are won solidly behind a strategy, and push forward confidently on the basis of it, as a solution to society's ills, these other atomised layers, are drawn in behind it.

I've responded to the idea about close-knit communities as also put forward by Paul Mason in my critique of Postcapitalism. I think its another myth. There is as much if not more within communities to divide them as to unite them. The real foundation to forging common aims remains the property question, which involves drawing out the need for workers to exercise control over the means of production, and from there also to extend that principle to exercising control over their communities.

The former flows logically and necessarily from the development of socialised capital, and the requirement for industrial democracy as the basis for its efficient accumulation and application. The latter does not flow logically and necessarily from workers lived environments, but once the idea of the former is established its extension to the latter is not hard to achieve.

Chrisso said...

It's a third referendum, not a second. The first was in 1975 and just 40,000 less than voted Leave in 2016, voted Remain in 1975. That referendum took place 2 years after Britain joined the European community. The second was in 2016 when Leave won by a slim majority.

Chrisso said...

"...both the main parties accept the overall referendum result".

They accept that it was 52% Leave. That does not mean that both parties back Brexit! Read up on the 2018 Labour Conference resolution that backed a chance to vote again - now that we know the damage that Brexit would undeniably do to the UK.