Friday, June 24, 2016
A Very British Revolution
So, it is out now: The Little England has spoken, decisively, clearly, xenophobicly. This morning is when the penny drops, the Islamophobia triumphs in undoing the post-war understanding that the so-called 'Western World' was made on. With the all-night commentary, political drama, uncertainties and expectations, this is indeed like a General Election, except that, it wasn't: It was a revolution that one lives through, hopefully, once in a lifetime.
I am not trying to be analytical - the broader tensions between globalisation and nation state is explanation enough - or to try to envision the future, because it is too uncertain. Right now, in a hangover after a sleepless night, my world is being turned upside down. This is not because of the volatile markets - I am sure these risks were factored in and it will settle in a short time - but because, I think, this event changes the way I think of politics.
For example, I can not believe that I am already missing David Cameron. I was no admirer, as my earlier posts will bear out, but I am completely won over by his courage, both to back the remain campaign and step down when he failed to persuade. At the same time, I am full of disdain for Jeremy Corbyn, who I championed earlier, whose leadership was lacklustre and ambivalent, and completely devoid of any vision other than dated ideological considerations. To see Nigel Farage celebrate, and proclaim an Independence Day on 23rd June, is the moment that captures the feeling: The fear that this is the start of a long road to fascism.
I have heard a few times now that having views about immigration is not bigotry or xenophobia. But what is it then? This election, despite the claims of the leave camp that this was about Europe, was fought, first and foremost, on the prospect of Turky joining Europe, a distant prospect but one very handy for playing up Islamophobia. There is no other reason that I can ascribe to the voting intentions of my South Asian Hindu friends, who voted to leave despite being immigrants themselves, and whose livelihoods and mortgages are likely to be threatened as a consequence.
This is where my fear comes from. The Leave camp is led by people exactly like the Remain camp: Armchair politicians who debate the relative powers of European Court of Justice and argue about Britain's place in the world, and indulge sometimes into a little indirect reference to Turkey and the like. They will be celebrating today a victory of 'issues', and yet, the real influence may be passing to that comical Farage, who openly showed the 'Asian Hordes' on his poster and may now be marching into seats and influence in the UK.
For this, the liberals are responsible, because they tried to take advantage of his politics. David Cameron, who started it all with his 'tens of thousands' commitment. Later, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, who brought out the imperialist nostalgia of the Tory party and wanted to steer Britain away from EU to a revitalised commonwealth, but wanted to ride on Farage's bus (not literally) to get there. And, indeed, Corbyn and his band of ideological warriors, who simply failed to shade their attachment with the past and think about the future: Again, taking advantage of the slightly comical, slightly over the board, consistently non-sensical Farage, to do, God knows, the World Revolution perhaps.
They all forgot what happened last time we underestimated a comical man with a xenophobic message that all the great politicians thought they could use to their own ends.
There are two other fundamental questions that I face today. One, can Direct Democracy be relied upon to make these big constitutional decisions? Two, what is really the role of the industrial working class in social and political progress? These questions are not politically correct, but at this moment, this morning after, I am not trying to be politically correct. The ship has just sailed on political correctness, and if I am right, we may be staring at a very long descent into chaos.
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How To Live
"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the grey twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."
- Theodore Roosevelt
- Theodore Roosevelt
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
- T S Eliot
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