THis crisis is metastisizing quickly, and I think the coming months will see events develop very quickly. Today I was supposed to be shutting my twitter account and I ended up ranting about this. Mainly because am frightened. Austerity didn’t scare me like this because I knew that while the crisis generated would be unpleasant, and while I was in the middle of it, it would end. Because I understood what was being attempted. This is not the same. The thing I learned at LSE last year more than anything else is that we do not have a single solitary academic discipline or institution which understands how the different aspects of our political economy work together. The thing people do exceptionally well is generate crisis which give us the opportunity to address intractable problems, but social work taught me that the way we do that is far from pleasant. Especially when the crisis is rooted in unequal power dynamics.
The day of the referendum I watched happy smiling people going into a polling station, voting leave or remain, and although I felt the outcome was a significant act of self harm on a national scale, I also accepted it. Because I believe in democracy. But this crisis has metastisized and when democracy is used to open the door to fascism, we have to be vigilant. I have never believed a second referendum was wise, now I feel it is necessary.
We don’t understand geo politics in this country, we haven’t had to for a long time and the post war settlement meant we kept the trappings of Empire on the basis of our stability, and our geographical function as an island bridge between two powerful allies. Europe, ad the US. And yes I count Europe as a single ally. A single body, even with the complexity of the EU as a set of institutional arrangements. I have watched in horror as the pursuit of EU integration has led to a consolidation of financial power that threatened democracy itself and truly believe the EU is a fragile and flawed institutional arrangement which requires reform. I also know that many of the flaws in the EU are not intentional, not designed, and that Europe as a union as as much about geography as owt else. There has always been a two tier EU, we have always been treated as top tier players and we have never had to submit to the things other partners have submitted to. We have always maintained our own borders, we have a fucking sea around us, and we have our own financial system and currency. THis was a bargain and I may be loathe to admit it but that bargain is partly because of the swivel eyed right who have ensured that anything else is political suicide. Difference is good.
What people did not vote for, whether they voted to leave or remain, is fascism. We didn’t vote to be allied to fascism, we didn’t vote to become a lynchpin in a fascist coalition, and fascism likes democracy until it doesn’t and then democracy becomes unimportant. I spent some time in Cambodia, as a tourist, not in any important capacity. I took my step kids and we spent a month there before we went to Vietnam and it was one of the most disturbing experiences of my life. A formative experience. It is a beautiful and friendly country with a history that predates ours by thousands and thousands of years. It is fertile and the countries complex agriculture relies on a lake that subsides yearly. People discuss the US bombing of Cambodia like it was at the root of what happened there, but the truth is more complex. The crime against Cambodia was undermining their ability to remain neutral in a complex war of two great powers, and that led to the conditions emerging for the Khmer Rouge. It is strange to be in a country that seems devoid of old people, or where their friendliness to you(and it is hands down the friendliest country I have ever visited) is born of desperation and a gratitude that a nightmare is over. Genocide tourism still existed while I was there, you could blow up a cow with a bazooka, or walk in the Killing Fields. I did neither.
We don’t understand geo politics in this country, we have not had to for hundreds and hundreds of years. We have imposed our will, then hung on the coat tails of greater powers who could impose a will that benefited us. We have never, as far as I can see, been in this position. What s happening in the US is alarming, and it would appear that significant forces are at play and something toxic has emerged that makes them a serious threat to Europe. Which is now being explicitly stated. Le Pen is leading in the Presidential election and everyone is happy to place the brexit referendum as the source of the Dickhead Spring. We will not survive this as a country. We can’t undo the referendum or many of the consequences. Our reputation was about stability, our prestige was about our stability. It is gone. It is not coming back. But we cannot afford to be an Atlantic Bridge in these circumstances. We cannot afford to take sides. We cannot afford to be a threat to Europe and we cannot ally ourselves with a fascist coalition. Or be its source.
We cannot afford to lose our major trading relations and any carrots offered which tie us to fascism have huge consequences. The many sources of instability we have contained at Canary Wharf alone make deliberately generating instability unwise. I am rarely truly frightened. With austerity, the status quo frightened me more than any possible change. Now this crisis has metastised the question has changed. We urgently need the grown ups back in the room. We urgently need the centre position to reform around the moderate wishes of the majority of people and we need to address the toxic far right and far left who are driving this, and the digital extension they have built onto their irrelevant and nasty cultures. Jeremy Corbyn is currently aligned with Trump on the need for astroturf to undermine our institutions, on Putin and crucially he is threatening MPs to push Brexit through. Theresa May, without an adequate opposition is weakened and her politics and the poor choices she has made of Brexiteer Ministers for Trade and the Foreign Office, are dragging us down a road we cannot turn back from. We need cross party coalitions and we need the grown ups to get back in the fucking room.
I have never been so frightened for our future as I am at this moment or by this situation. And I do not scare easily. We need a discussion that isnt twitter, that isn’t the toxic tribalism and we need to get the clever people in rooms away from this madness to discuss our future and to make decisons that will not tie us to this. I don’t think this post makes sense. Frantic typing before teatime to get something out of your system generally doesn’t.. So for future me, this is my thoughts as the Brexit crisis metastisizes around us on 30/01/2017.