Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Brexiters

One can look at the age profile of LEAVE voters optimistically, but mortality won't solve this problem any time soon. 

There's a demographic within our society that the system doesn't really need, and it should be basically self-sustaining for a while yet. 

And they are quite probably going to be harder to re-integrate than those marginalised children of immigrants who run off to join ISIS, and possibly also bigger threat to our political culture in the long run. 

How did we get here? 

When industrialisation first started delivering the good and the bad things we habitually associate it with, the ignorant were not such a headache. Peasants could be converted into factory workers; some even provided with a basic education and formed into the newspaper-reading sort. 

Pan out a bit and one could see that the system depended on slavery and colonial exploitation, but this was less visible to the workers beavering away within the nation state and they felt proud of their role in it. When the empire came to and end, they helped create a new kind of state which they could be even prouder of, because it promised to care for them. 

These days our increasingly globalised version of capitalism is coming to depend primarily  - in the developed world at least - on a base of what a friend of mine likes to call 'knowledge workers'. It no longer has the same economic incentive to care for the relatively uneducated. 

This is not a society in which the knowledge-challenged will ever be able to feel comfortable. Most of the jobs they used to do are being outsourced abroad or in-sourced to rapidly incoming foreigners...some of which are not even ignorant, just highly motivated. Capital and commodities now move freely and humanity wants to as well. 

Yesterday's vote just invalidated the deal Cameron did with his European peers on free movement within the EU. Renegotiating our relationship with the single market could take several years and in the meantime an immigration free-for-all is likely as the LEAVE campaign(s) made, albeit vague, commitments to preserve the status of the UK's EU residents before the drawbridge is finally pulled up. And a collapsed Pound makes our island additionally attractive to Johnny Foreigner in all his most bargain basement manifestations. Not quite what the (comparatively) ignorant were voting for. 

Many clearly hanker nostalgically after the moment around the middle of the last century when their collective sense of pride and involvement was at its apogee: when darker people knew their place, even if they had been granted indepedence and a new role in the Commonwealth. They'd surely love to turn the clock back. But our societies march on, albeit with them very much on board still as a dangerous, potential pathogen. 

England and Wales in particular, minus perhaps London which may eventually break away, look set to become a sort of offshore floating sanctuary for the white van clan. 

The Labour Party in Britain has been trying to compassion them into submission - If only we can show we still care, they won't smash the whole place up out of frustration. 

But take a look what's happening across the Atlantic where the compassion approach ran out of steam a generation or so ago. 

The Right's approach had been to take this manipulable mass at face value and co-opt them into a political culture which barefacedly involved selling turkeys on the idea that, to borrow from Monty Python, it's Christmas every day in heaven.  

But suddently Christmas wasn't so great and the sudden fissures in this cosy arrangement were exploited by populists - those who would make the heavenly Christmas great again, for turkeys. 

The ignorant have twigged that the Right considers them their perennial dupes, but still appear to find this preferable to the attitude of many of those courting them on the Left who can barely disguise the multiple ways that they find the modern proletariat depressingly repulsive. 

This is in part because, from the perspective of leftist intellectual nostalgia, this current demographic is no match for the generation that they seem to model themselves on. Those that built the NHS are disappearing fast and being steadily replaced by those that just moan and gripe about it. (Those that won the World Cup in '66...)

And for every person who has genuinely experienced hardship as a result of undefunded and over-demanded services there are surely several who just adopt the rhetoric that is presented to them in the media-sphere to mask their own xenophobia and all round annoyance with the direction the new world order is taking. 

Most seem to long for a time and a place that they never experienced directly, when those born into lower cultural conditions strove, often successfully, to transcend these native limitations and remake the world according to a positive set of open-minded and collective values. 

It might not have really ever existed outside of some sort of class memory, and at this moment in history seems beyond the capabilities of closed-minded low-brows to re-constitute. 

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