The Center Blows Itself Up: Care and Spite in the ‘Brexit Election’

subvert47

I don't fight, I run away
Very interesting stuff about care vs. administrator class politics by David Graeber:

https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2020/...elf-up-care-and-spite-in-the-brexit-election/

And with a very accurate assessment of centrism in the 2019 election:

If the results of the 2019 election mean anything, they reveal an overwhelming rejection of centrism. Particularly instructive here are the fates of the rebels who broke from Corbyn’s Labour to form Change UK, including Chuka Umunna, who was widely billed as Britain’s future answer to Barack Obama. On realizing that there was virtually no support for another centrist party, they ultimately joined the Lib Dems. Though the Lib Dems did increase their share of the overall vote (slightly), doing so largely served to knock out their ostensible Remainer Labour allies in close races. Not one of the defectors managed to win a seat.

Jo Swinson, the Lib Dem candidate for prime minister, who had somehow convinced herself it would be a winning formula for the Lib Dems to run as a single-issue anti-Brexit party while also making clear that under no conditions would they ever form an alliance with Corbyn’s Labour, failed to win her own district and is no longer an MP. Labour lost fifty-four seats to the Tories—fifty-two of them in Leave-voting districts. But, as James Schneider, Corbyn’s director of strategic communications, confirmed when I showed him a draft of this piece, only three (Dennis Skinner, Laura Pidcock, and Laura Smith) were from the radical left of the party. Dozens of “moderates” had, effectively, blown themselves up.

The same, incidentally, is true for the Tories: not one of the twenty-one purged Remainers who ran for their old seats as independents returned to Parliament.

The center of British politics has become a smoldering pit. The country is now being governed by a hard-right government placed in power by its oldest citizens, in the face of the active hatred of its increasingly socialist-inclined youth.
 

john eden

male pale and stale
I am wary of the current situation being billed as a generational conflict. As Graeber says, it is much more about property ownership, which does have a generatonal aspect but also a class and geographical one.

I don't buy his thesis that the media treated the election as a referendum on Corbyn. It was explicitly named, all over, as "The Brexit Election" and Corbyn completely fucked that up.

He is right about the Overton window and what people thought was possible. That was crushingly disappointing for me too, as a Labour sceptic.

Over the last few years, the British public has been given the choice of:

1. The status quo
2. A new vision of a 21st society based on Keynes, investment in public services and mild social-democracy.
3. The quasi-mystical vision of a UK free from the stranglehold of the EU.

They have now chosen the 3rd option on two occasions.

I got bored after this bit and stopped reading. I will say though that there was both an anti-semitism crisis and an "anti-semitism crisis". Neither of these is good or has been dealt with well by either the Labour party or the media.
 

luka

Well-known member
Staff member
Anyone who wasn't crushingly disappointed pulverised pierced to the quick by this election I simply don't want to know and people who are inclined to crow about it I want dead. This is why I have to shun dissensus.
 

john eden

male pale and stale
Anyone who wasn't crushingly disappointed pulverised pierced to the quick by this election I simply don't want to know and people who are inclined to crow about it I want dead. This is why I have to shun dissensus.
I'm not crowing about it, if you mean me?

But what I described is what happened.
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
1. The status quo
2. A new vision of a 21st society based on Keynes, investment in public services and mild social-democracy.
3. The quasi-mystical vision of a UK free from the stranglehold of the EU.

They have now chosen the 3rd option on two occasions.
Is is that clear cut though? I keep seeing this statistic that more votes were cast for Remain parties than Leave parties. I'm not convinced by that either cos it assumes Labour were a Remain party which I don't think is quite true. But I think whenever someone states that this election result was a straight-forward and clear cut vote for Brexit it needs to be challenged.
If the Remainer majority is true it adds to the frustration for me in that despite all of the polls showing that Remain is the more popular option, and the argument that more votes were cast for Remain, the Remain side was unable to coordinate itself to get the result it wanted and that ought to have been achievable. Now a big part of this was obviously down to FPTP and the way the boundaries are drawn for the constituencies, but it also mirrors the way that when there was a non-Tory working majority in parliament the different factions were unable to work together and prevent this utter fuck up that we've drifted into now.
 
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Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Staff member
yes, of course that's the most important bit in the entire piece

:slanted:
It's one of several parts that illustrate perfectly the fact that the Left will continue to be an electoral irrelevancy for as long as it can't admit that it made serious mistakes over the last five years, continues to jab the finger of blame at centrists, "Remainiacs", the dreaded "MSM" (which now apparently includes every publication from the Sun to the New Statesman!) and shrill whiny Jews, and refuses to take some share of responsibility for Labour's recent humiliation.

Shame, because it's otherwise a reasonable article about the curse of managerialism and the cult of administration. (I say that as someone who had a particularly obnoxious run-in with HR recently, after the birth of my son.)
 
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john eden

male pale and stale
Is is that clear cut though? I keep seeing this statistic that more votes were cast for Remain parties than Leave parties. I'm not convinced by that either cos it assumes Labour were a Remain party which I don't think is quite true. But I think it is worth challenging the idea that this election result was a straight-forward vote for Brexit, whenever that is stated as simple fact.
If the Remainer majority is true it adds to the frustration for me in that despite all of the polls showing that Remain is the more popular option, and the argument that more votes were cast for Remain, the Remain side was unable to coordinate itself to get the result it wanted and that ought to have been achievable. Now a big part of this was obviously down to FPTP and the way the boundaries are drawn for the constituencies, but it also mirrors the way that when there was a non-Tory working majority in parliament and yet the different factions were unable to work together and prevent this utter fuck up that we've drifted into now.
The result of the election was decisively for Brexit.

It's tempting to say that everything else is clutching at straws, but....

The electorate are more complicated than the result of course. There will be some Tory remainers and some people who voted for Boris because he's funny or whatever.

I don't have much truck with the idea that Labour is or was a remain party - the fact that they tried to be all things to all people on this issue is one of the reasons that they were obliterated. (And let's remember that the Tories were a remain party too until the referendum result).

There is as you say a bigger picture here about electoral reform and the only way forward for that is a lash up between Labour, Greens, LibDems, Scotnats etc. I am sceptical of that happening in any meaningful sense though.
 

john eden

male pale and stale
It's one of several parts that illustrate perfectly the fact that the Left will continue to be an electoral irrelevancy for as long as it can't admit that it made serious mistakes over the last five years, continues to jab the finger of blame at centrists, "Remainiacs", the dreaded "MSM" (which now apparently includes every publication from the Sun to the New Statesman!) and shrill whiny Jews, and refuses to take some share of responsibility for Labour's recent humiliation.

Shame, because it's otherwise a reasonable article about the curse of managerialism and the cult of administration. (I say that as someone who had a particularly obnoxious run-in with HR recently, after the birth of my son.)
Is Graeber even a Labour supporter though? I genuinely don't know but last time I checked he was an anarchist lecturer or something.

It's easy to paint all this stuff as being the left tearing itself apart and blaming each other but there has been some quite decent self-reflection going on over the last few weeks as far as I can tell as a complete outsider. Jeremy Gilbert's piece on the end of Labourism, for example.
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
The result of the election was decisively for Brexit.
That's true but it's quite different from what you said before which is that the public have chosen Brexit.
It all goes back to what I was saying about how an election which mixes various issues can never be the right way to sort out a single issue of this nature. The right feared another straight referendum on Brexit cos they thought it might give a different answer, but they knew that an election which could use Labour's disarray and the unpopularity of Corbyn to drag down the "sort of Remain" vote would return them to power AND allow them to claim a mandate for Brexit. That's why it was such bad tactics for Labour, and especially the Libs, to vote for this election when together they had something like a working majority in parliament.
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
Electoral reform was buried for a generation sadly when the LDs completely embarrassed themselves in the referendum after going into coalition with the Tories. We can forget about that saving us for the foreseeable future...
 

john eden

male pale and stale
That's true but it's quite different from what you said before which is that the public have chosen Brexit.
It all goes back to what I was saying about how an election which mixes various issues can never be the right way to sort out a single issue of this nature. The right feared another straight referendum on Brexit cos they thought it might give a different answer, but they knew that an election which could use Labour's disarray and the unpopularity of Corbyn to drag down the "sort of Remain" vote would return them to power AND allow them to claim a mandate for Brexit. That's why it was such bad tactics for Labour, and especially the Libs, to vote for this election when together they had something like a working majority in parliament.
Well I mean forgive me but there WAS a single issue referendum already and whilst the margin was slim, it was still decisive.

I've fallen into this trap before and said that because turnout at an election was less than 50%, actually the anarchists won. But that is cloud cuckooland stuff in terms of what is actually going to happen next.

What is going to happen next is that the right remains firmly in power with an increased majority and this means that Brexit will happen - and on their terms. We can argue about whether that is a good thing or not, and we can even argue about whether it's even justifiable. But I think it's clear that there is a mandate for it - that leaving the EU is legally justified.

This presents everyone here with a problem I think: If we are going to engage in political activity will this be based on reversing the referendum, or will it be based on resisting the worst facets of Brexit and the effects it has on the most marginalised part of society? My guess is that some people will try to do both of those things but I think that's a terrible idea.
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
Well I mean forgive me but there WAS a single issue referendum already and whilst the margin was slim, it was still decisive.
Yeah but...

You said that people voted TWICE to leave, they didn't
We know that the result of the first referendum was unsafe as the winning side has been convicted of cheating by overspend (and very likely cheated by stealing data, lying etc plus refusal to release Russia report).
All the evidence suggests that there is now and has been for a long time a larger Remain majority than Leave ever received.

I'm staggered that you would use the result of the referendum as some kind of moral guide to what we ought to be doing when it only stands by some kind of legal jiggery-pokery which says it can't be struck down cos it was non-binding but yet we must follow it cos it's the will of the people which binds us all.

I mean, I agree with what you say about what is going to happen now and that tactics should be chosen very carefully (ie what you say about a kind of two-fold attack may achieve neither) but to me it's vital that we constantly draw attention to the total lack of legitimacy of the Brexit vote and absolutely avoid saying what you did above.
 

padraig (u.s.)

a monkey that will go ape
Is Graeber even a Labour supporter though? I genuinely don't know but last time I checked he was an anarchist lecturer or something.
He's an anarchist anthropologist (he wrote, in fact, a book called Toward Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology that I read many years back). More recently he's written mainly on managerialism, bureaucracy ("bullshit jobs"), etc. He's currently a prof @ the LSE but I doubt he can vote in British elections, and he definitely wouldn't support Labour in anything other than a tactical sense.

The hypothesis of carer-managerial internal divide in centrism is interesting, and however accurate it is (idk) certainly highlights the incredibly ruinous long-term effects of Labour, Democrats, etc effectively abandoning working-class people and issues. And that certainly has much to do in a structural sense with those parties' shocking inability to contest Trump, Brexit/Johnson, etc. Otoh, idk if it's really the kind of granular/tactical post-election autopsy people here (seem) more interested in.

Tho, I guess the point is if you're structurally fucked the rest doesn't matter
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
I've fallen into this trap before and said that because turnout at an election was less than 50%, actually the anarchists won. But that is cloud cuckooland stuff in terms of what is actually going to happen next.
I'm certainly not arguing that Remain won. What I'm saying is that rather than your "we had a vote, let's just move on" approach, I think it's crucial to repeatedly assert that where we are now is based on specific lies and corruption and overseas interference and that this should be the basis of whatever the next steps are.
 

john eden

male pale and stale
Yeah but...

You said that people voted TWICE to leave, they didn't
We know that the result of the first referendum was unsafe as the winning side has been convicted of cheating by overspend (and very likely cheated by stealing data, lying etc plus refusal to release Russia report).
All the evidence suggests that there is now and has been for a long time a larger Remain majority than Leave ever received.

I'm staggered that you would use the result of the referendum as some kind of moral guide to what we ought to be doing when it only stands by some kind of legal jiggery-pokery which says it can't be struck down cos it was non-binding but yet we must follow it cos it's the will of the people which binds us all.

I mean, I agree with what you say about what is going to happen now and that tactics should be chosen very carefully (ie what you say about a kind of two-fold attack may achieve neither) but to me it's vital that we constantly draw attention to the total lack of legitimacy of the Brexit vote and absolutely avoid saying what you did above.
For me this isn't a question of what I think. It's a more a question of "what does this LOOK like".

If the narrative is that we had a vote on Brexit twice and people voted twice for it, you really have to come back with something better than:

No it wasn't.
There were irregularities
It was the Russians
We need to rejoin the EU

Especially as by doing so you will line up with some absolute nutcase EU-beret wearing people.

This absolutely dovetails with exactly the kind of metropolitan elite technocrat stuff that Brexit voters hate.

I mean I know I've never been a big fan of the EU and was briefly one of the only people on here considering voting for Brexit so that will colour my view.

But it really does look like that narrative is going to be the successful one and everything else smacks of sour grapes. It took 40 years for us to leave the EU and there is no way we are rejoining it any time soon. Although Scotland might.


You can't move from [convince people the referendum was a mistake] -> [rejoin] -> [a fairer more socialist UK]

You might move from [christ things are awful how did this happen WTF] -> [mild social reform] -> [making things better in some respects] -> [a broadening of political horizons] -> [reconsider our relationship with the EU]
 

john eden

male pale and stale
I'm certainly not arguing that Remain won. What I'm saying is that rather than your "we had a vote, let's just move on" approach, I think it's crucial to repeatedly assert that where we are now is based on specific lies and corruption and overseas interference and that this should be the basis of whatever the next steps are.
Well I think a lot of people are going to do exactly that which means it will take generations for us to get anywhere, sadly.

There's a difference between being morally righteous and being politically effective. I don't make the rules.
 
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