Saturday, June 4, 2016

Letters to Britain on the Brexit

Dear Britain,

When Stalin was asked in the late 1920s which is worse, the right or the left, he snapped back: “They are both worse!” And this is my first reaction to the question of whether or not to leave the EU.

I am not interested in sending love letters to the British public with the sentimental message: “Please stay in Europe!” What interests me is ultimately only one question. Europe is now caught in a vicious cycle, oscillating between the false opposites of surrender to global capitalism and surrender to anti-immigrant populism – which politics has a chance of enabling us to step out of this mad dance?

The symbols of global capitalism are secretly negotiated trade agreements such as the Trade in Services Agreement (Tisa) or Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The social impact of TTIP is clear enough: it stands for nothing less than a brutal assault on democracy. Nowhere is this clearer than in the case of Investor-State Dispute Settlements (ISDS), which allow companies to sue governments if their policies cause a loss of profits. Simply put, this means that unelected transnational corporations can dictate the policies of democratically elected governments.

So how would Brexit fare in this context? From a leftwing standpoint, there are some good reasons to support Brexit: a strong nation state exempted from the control of Brussels technocrats can protect the welfare state and counteract austerity politics. However, I am worried about the ideological and political background of this option. From Greece to France, a new trend is arising in what remains of the “radical left”: the rediscovery of nationalism. All of a sudden, universalism is out, dismissed as a lifeless political and cultural counterpart of “rootless” global capital.

The reason for this is obvious: the rise of rightwing nationalist populism in western Europe, which is now the strongest political force advocating the protection of working class interests, and simultaneously the strongest political force able to give rise to proper political passions. So the reasoning goes: why should the left leave this field of nationalist passions to the radical right, why should it not “reclaim la patrie from the Front National”?

In this leftwing populism, the logic of Us against Them remains, however here “they” are not poor refugees or immigrants, but financial capital and technocratic state bureaucracy. This populism moves beyond the old working class anticapitalism; it tries to bring together a multiplicity of struggles from ecology to feminism, from the right to employment to free education and healthcare.

The recurrent story of the contemporary left is that of a leader or party elected with universal enthusiasm, promising a “new world” (Mandela, Lula) – but sooner or later, usually after a couple of years, they stumble upon the key dilemma: does one dare to touch the capitalist mechanisms, or does one decide to “play the game”? If one disturbs the mechanisms, one is very swiftly punished by market perturbations, economic chaos and the rest. So how can we push things further after the first enthusiastic stage is over?

I remain convinced that our only hope is to act trans-nationally – only in this way do we have a chance to constrain global capitalism. The nation-state is not the right instrument to confront the refugee crisis, global warming, and other truly pressing issues. So instead of opposing Eurocrats on behalf of national interests, let’s try to form an all-European left. And it is because of this margin of hope that I am tempted to say: vote against Brexit, but do it as a devout Christian who supports a sinner while secretly cursing him. Don’t compete with the rightwing populists, don’t allow them to define the terms of the struggle. Socialist nationalism is not the right way to fight the threat of national socialism.
- Slavoj Zizek, "The Guardian"

Slavoj's gone all unicorns and rainbows. He keeps pushing for a seat on the Iron Throne....

10 comments:

FreeThinke said...

CLARIFICATION for DUMMIES LIKE ME

BREXIT is an abbreviation of "British exit" that mirrors the term Grexit. It refers to the possibility that Britain will withdraw from the European Union. ... David Cameron, leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister since 2010, announced support for a referendum on Britain's continued membership in the EU.

GREXIT stands for "Greek Exit" –– a scenario where Greece leaves the European Union.

Thersites said...

The refendum is in two weeks. Our referendum comes this November. Trump represents the death of the North American Union and TPP.

-FJ said...

Trump will unleash the "dragons" of nationalism and destroy the iron throne.

FreeThinke said...

Nationalism is a great thing as long –– as it is firmly linked to Nativism.

The Japanese for all their vicious pre-Marshall Plan barbarism had –– and still have –– the right idea.

Please correct me if I am wrong, but as I understand it, one may go to live and work in Japan for extended periods of time, but the Japanese government will NEVER confer Japanese citizenship on anyone of foreign blood.

It is absurd to think that a typical Briton, Scotsman or Irishman could by dint of legislation BE Japanese or vice versa, anymore that I, an extremely pale Caucasian of Anglo-European ancestry could her hope to be accepted as a NEGRO.

Ethnicity, nationality and religion are often confused in today's murky, muddleheaded "liberal" world plagued by Wishful Thinking implemented by use of Force. "Love should know no barriers" is the excuse given for blatant advocacy of miscegenation and misguided modern notions of "equality," but I would stoutly maintain the right of any and all clearly identifiable ethnic groups to do whatever they each feel appropriate to preserve, protect and defend their unique identities.

HOWEVER, the libertarian in me would ALSO insist on the right of those who wish to break away from their roots, and intermarry with members of different races should be free to do so. Although I would support policies that made such forms of miscegenation MANDATORY.

This is where the so-called Civilized world has slipped off the toboggan: The attempt to ENFORCE CONFORMITY to UNIFORMITY as determined by an oligarchy of self-anointed Intellectual Elites.

Both Japan and Israel should properly be categorized as RACIST STATES. Why they are not is part of the same self-deluded leftist ideology that has brought us to our present state of perpetual discord, aggravation, and free-floating hostility.

FreeThinke said...

CORRECTION:

I would [NOT] support policies that made such forms of miscegenation MANDATORY

-FJ said...

Unless one has such laws, the basis for "nationhood" cannot be maintained (Jowett summary to Plato's "Statesman") - "The good legislator can
implant by education the higher principles; and where they exist there
is no difficulty in inserting the lesser human bonds, by which the State
is held together; these are the laws of intermarriage, and of union for
the sake of offspring."

-FJ said...

Unless all citizens are equal in ALL ways (through rights of inter-marriage), there can be no binding "national bond".

FreeThinke said...

The answer to that, FJ, is that all RESIDENTS need not be CITIZENS.

In other words, If you want to live in OUR country, you must live according to OUR rules, master OUR language, and conform to OUR lifestyle, or else. PERIOD!

As I've already said hundreds of times, "If you want to make good chocolate fudge, GARLIC has no place in the recipe."

Thersites said...

Metics, in a "luxurious" society, would be both superfluous and degenerative, FT. They had no place in Plato's slave-less "Republic", and Magnesia is, by all accounts, not a "luxurious" utopia.

Thersites said...

Homo sacer is the "problem" of less-civilized societies. You can't permit people within your society who are "outside of the law" (like the Jews of the 3rd Reich, Muslim's of Paris, or Islam's Dhimmis). Indian-like "reservations" or indigenous teritories (ala Pakistan) represent a social compromise which is to be "avoided".