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

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

    Very interesting stuff about care vs. administrator class politics by David Graeber:

    https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2020/0...exit-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.

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    Then, of course, the “anti-Semitism crisis” picked up again.
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    yes, of course that's the most important bit in the entire piece


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    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.

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    It is midly amusing that the LibDems had an even worse election than Labour though.

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    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by luka View Post
    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by john eden View Post
    I'm not crowing about it, if you mean me?

    But what I described is what happened.
    Of course I don't mean you that's why I borrowed your phrase "crushingly disappointed."

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    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.
    Last edited by IdleRich; 14-01-2020 at 01:00 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by subvert47 View Post
    yes, of course that's the most important bit in the entire piece

    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.)
    Last edited by Mr. Tea; 14-01-2020 at 03:58 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by IdleRich View Post
    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Tea View Post
    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.

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    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.

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    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...

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    Quote Originally Posted by IdleRich View Post
    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.

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