The Great Reaction

The current crisis is more than about Brexit. Indeed, in my opinion, voiced from the very start of the process – https://bernardjporter.com/2016/06/16/is-it-really-about-the-eu – it was never really about Brexit at all. That was simply the issue which the Right and their plutocratic and reactionary backers decided to launch their fight against the centre-left, mainly because they judged that the electorate would follow them if they persuaded them that their ills were caused by foreigners. And they were right. ‘Europe’ has been made the scapegoat for all the ordinary people’s sufferings and frustrations under ‘austerity’ and, if you like, late-stage capitalism. If Brexit is successful the reactionaries are going to be able to sail off into their neo-liberal havens, unhampered by Brussels bureaucracy, and unaffected by the harm, in terms of jobs, prices, self-respect, freedom of movement and most other things, that the new dispensation is likely to bring to lesser folk. By the time the harm has struck, it will be too late to go back on the nation’s decision; and there will be opportunity for a new scapegoat to be found to distract people from its true source. Who knows, this time it could be the Jews. That’s been done before. It’s perhaps what the British Jewish community should be on the lookout for just now; not Corbyn, for pity’s sake.

That the Brexit lobby is mainly a Right-wing one on most issues is confirmed by a recent survey of Leave voters’ domestic priorities, in which a return of the death penalty, the resumption of corporal punishment in schools, and letting people smoke in pubs again, among other similar views, score higher than in the average population, placing Brexiteers firmly in the ultra-reactionary camp. (See https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-poll-leave-voters-death-penalty-yougov-results-light-bulbs-a7656791.html.) – Even more alarming is the recent report from the highly reputable Hansard Society noting a steep decline among the British recently in their respect for democracy and its agencies; with, for example, a remarkable 54% agreeing with the statement that ‘Britain needs a strong ruler willing to break the rules’, and only 23% disagreeing. (See https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/apr/08/uk-more-willing-embrace-authoritarianism-warn-hansard-audit-political-engagement?CMP=share_btn_tw.) Now there’s an opening for an authoritarian dictator if ever there was one. Some are speculating that Boris Johnson is the likeliest one for the role. He’s certainly ambitious and cynical enough to fit it, although the ridicule in which he is widely regarded might be a problem for him. But wasn’t Hitler ridiculed in his time? And – to give what perhaps is a fairer comparison – Donald Trump; whose great fan Bojo has declared himself to be?

Of course this isn’t only a British phenomenon. The rise of the Right all over Europe and the Americas is a much remarked-upon feature of world politics today; hinting perhaps at an underlying world cause. That could be a failure of democracy, or of some of the forms of democracy, especially in Britain and the USA; or ‘capitalism in crisis’ (my own preference); or an international conspiracy of, say, bankers and Russian chess masters (no, not the Jews); or a judgment of God for some sin or other; or simply the old Adam in us all.

How to stop it? In Britain we have powerful forces ranged against us: the money power, the Tories, the Press, the Israel lobby (no, again not the Jews per se), one or other wing of the Labour Party (take your pick), ignorance, stupidity, apathy…. In the face of all this, our chances must seem a bit like Watford’s against Manchester City in the upcoming FA Cup Final. But the final whistle hasn’t been blown yet.

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