“True tragedy, supreme tragedy are not the worst in life, far from it: the squalid morass of un-attempting impotence is the stifling of the soul and hope of man.”
Winston Churchill, quoted in “The Prophet of Truth” by Martin Gilbert
I’m not going to go into a tedious summary of the whys and wherefores of Brexit (I did that before the vote – and sadly have been proved right), so here’s the a simple table to get past that bit. Trump is there as a benchmark. Not sure how many Brits would have voted for Trump but as you can see – in my eyes – we are facing pretty-much the same agenda via the Brexit cabal.
Most sane, working (ie not retired) people don’t need the matrix above to know which side they’re on. For example while not all Brexit supporters are racist, all racists support Brexit – that’s reason enough not to support Brexit. The question is, what do you do to fight back for democracy against their destructive fearmongering and authoritarian, anti-intellectual agenda?
“The Government’s repeated response, however, even after October 1938, was to continue to attack his motives and judgement, and to seek to minimize the importance of his information.”
“The Prophet of Truth” by Martin Gilbert
Firstly – like Winston Churchill in the 1930s – standing up against fascism means you need to get used to being criticized by simpletons and bullies. Don’t be downhearted – you aren’t the first person to be attacked for explaining reality. That’s why I fight the good fight on Twitter and other social media. It’s not a question of seeking conflict it’s about telling the truth and informing people with relevant facts. Many Brexiters out there know they made the wrong call, but are so far too afraid to admit it, and a drip drip of reality will make a difference at the next General Election.
“The real-world impact of Trump isn’t what drives behavior. In politics as in markets, it’s always the story that drives our behavior, particularly the story we tell ourselves about ourselves”
Secondly don’t expect everyone to change their mind. Opposing points of view, even on Trump are legitimate – as this blog, where the quote above comes from shows. Nevertheless, there are a hardcore of 15%-20% of the population in both the UK and the US who always have been racists and xenophobes, and see both the Brexit vote and Trump’s victory as vindication of themselves and the poison they’ve been spouting since the school playground. If you think I’m exaggerating go visit the laughably entitled British Sovereignty and Heritage page at Facebook. There you can see incredible threads with comments from incoherent Daily Mail-reading retired people with improbable sounding names. Witness this thread about the BBC’s alleged bias…
Thirdly – look after yourself. Since Brexit I’ve got my financial ducks in a row, done ok at work (I hope), bought and renovated an apartment in Amsterdam, and tried to think beyond Brexit and make sure I can keep a European passport. Partly that will be down to me. – staying in gainful employment, and improving my Dutch proficiency. We need to thrive if we are to survive and make the best of the advantages like education and tolerance, that we are so luckily endowed. We have to be an example to our knuckledragging, intolerant, cowardly fellow citizens who think life is a zero-sum game, forget all their own privileges, and willingly vote to deny the rights and welfare of others.
“A vigorous culture capable of making corrective, stabilizing changes depends heavily on its educated people, and especially upon their critical capacities and depth of understanding.” Jane Jacobs, Dark Age Ahead (2004)
Fourthly campaign for what you want. I, alongside much of Generation X have been too passive politically for too long. In my mid-teens the threat of nuclear annihilation was lifted, the Cold war ended, Thatcher was bundled out, and when I was 18, Bill Clinton was elected President. I hardly agreed with everything Clinton, Blair etc did, especially their neo-colonial foreign policy, but I was happy in my fool’s paradise believing the world was ‘arcing towards justice’ (to misquote Martin Luther King). However, I remember sitting on a ski lift in March 1999, just after I heard NATO had begun illegally bombing Serbia, and thinking, no good will come of this. I was right, Blair became addicted to murderous military adventures, but I did nothing about it, and the shadows only grew. I opposed the Iraq war, was right again, but again did nothing about it. Well now our chickens are coming home to roost and it will cost us.
So what am I doing? Well the most important part is ,sadly, funding legal cases to protect my rights and those of others. I helped the Article 50 appeal and the GoodLawProject.org with cold, hard cash. I also joined the Liberal Democrat party for what its worth. They are the only party with MPs that are currently opposed to Brexit. Everyone else is too cowed by the extreme right wing media, and blinded by the ‘will of the people’ lie, so it’s important to support the other side. Remember politics in the 1930s was the same – the majority of supine, spineless politicians thought appeasing fascism would bring stability – until events overtook them.
Another form of resistance is to subscribe to independent media. I subscribe to the FT, and I’m contemplating paying for the Guardian. The new UK campaign Stop Funding Hate, targeted at the advertisers that hawk their products and services in extreme right wing publications like the Daily Mail, The Sun and The Daily Express, is also worth supporting.
It sounds like a lot of money, and it is, and I know not everybody can afford this kind of advocacy. However if not you, who? And if not now, when? Given the flood of pernicious lies and misinformation being fed people through social media, it’s absolutely vital that the professional media keeps the flame of truth alive for when today’s youth wake from their Snapchat dream.
“I’ve seen much of the rest of the world. It is brutal and cruel and dark, Rome is the light.” General Maximus Decimus Meridius, Gladiator (2000)
I feel about Europe like Maximus did about Rome. The US (and now the UK) has plunged into extremism and corporatism, China is well, China, the Middle East is dominated by Islamo-fascists (Turkey, Saudi Arabia, UAE), Africa wants to move to Europe, and South America is drifting. Europe (you could also argue for Japan, Canada, Australia & NZ)) is the only place where civilized culture survives, money isn’t venerated like a god, education is an end in itself, and environmental policies are starting to match the challenges we face. Europe is the light.
This weekend I’ll be flying to London to support the Unite for Europe march from Park Lane to Parliament. I hope we get a big turnout, but whatever happens, showing up means I’m doing my duty for civilization and at the very least that will make me feel better. Action is better than inaction and the barbarians are no longer at the gates. By knavery and deceit they are in the corridors of power. Time to fight back.