Monday, 25 March 2019

Taking out the garbage

For a while now I've been beset by a certain zen like calm. Imperturbable even. It's not that I've stopped caring. This is something else. I liken it with having ascended. A popular theme in sci-fi is non-corporeal beings who've shed their physical bodies to exist on some higher plain of enlightenment where the matter of corporeal beings are not only of no concern, but also off limits.

This is how I feel about the Brexit debate. I've seen just about all of the bullshit from both sides and I'm not impressed with any of it. The right wing arguments for Brexit are crap and the left wing arguments are no better. They trot out the classic tropes about enforced austerity on Greece, and even if I did have any sympathy for Greece, it's just not relevant to our predicament.

I think I have tried and tested just about every argument for Brexit over the course of this blog and I've found most of them unconvincing. Even a few of the stronger arguments have been a casualty of reality over the last two years. This, though, is the process you have to go through to be able to speak with conviction. It doesn't do to spout any argument that suits your case. You have to at least believe your own shtick otherwise what's the point?

But then so much as I can dismantle most of the Brexit arguments I'm still not hearing a compelling case to remain. Nor will I. Aside from propping up the existing regime for a few more years, electing to ignore the structural economic problems and underlying social injustices, there's not much in it.

I'm never going to be persuaded by the supposed perks and benefits for EU citizens not least because most of them are irrelevant to me or can be achieved by other means. This is also the wrong way to look at it. I've turned down jobs before even though the offer a highly attractive benefits package. The decision was taken on what the job actually was rather than the perks they offer. The EU issue is the same. We have to look at what it actually is.

In short, it's a globalising non-state superpower and what it ultimately wants is more power. More power for it and less for us. National democracies are subordinate and actual expressions of democracy are unwelcome and untrusted. It is a power hungry paranoid out of touch entity and it's ultimately more answerable to lobbyists and the NGOcracy than it is to us. It is an affront to democracy and that is the whole of the argument. This is not something any healthy democracy should wish to enmesh itself in.

Beyond that, it's a values thing. If you want to live in a top down technocracy where politics is reduced to consultative exercises for show, so that we are all free to live obedient little lives with professional politicians closing down ever more freedoms, then the EU is a nice and easy off the shelf answer. If however, you believe that the imbalances and problems can only be solved by the people through their own institutions then Brexit, no matter how expensive and inconvenient, is just one of those unpleasant chores like taking out the garbage.

Like most other household chores it's nothing to get excited about. It's just one of those things you have to do and if you don't attend to these things then nobody else will. You can put it off but before you know it you're up to your knees in rubbish and the place is beginning to stink. It's true we could have done it more intelligently without splitting the bag open and spilling garbage all the way out to the bins but we are at least getting the rubbish out of the house.

Now that the decision has been made to take out the garbage, there doesn't seem much point in re-arguing the case. The children are perfectly entitled to make a loud case for living in squalor, and we adults are entitled to ignore them. There is nothing more to be said about it unless those tasked with this chore elect to let the children have it their way. At that point, the debate is no longer about Brexit.

At that point it becomes a question of whether we are a democracy at all and if we are not going to be one, where the votes of working people only need be taken into account provided they say the right things, what legitimacy does government have? By annulling the votes of seventeen million people we are creating a permanent ruling class where the people have no say in who governs them. At that point, the EU has effectively achieved its long term ambitions. The UK becomes a post-democracy society under permanent EU occupation.

From then on, that zen like calm will evaporate. The divisions illuminated by Brexit will become the permanent fault line in British politics. A war will break out between those who are allowed a say and those who are not. Then we begin a new era of overtly hostile politics that will make their EU victory taste more bitter than defeat. British politics can just about withstand Brexit but if votes no longer count then all bets are off.

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