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January 08, 2017

Comments

Blissex

That is a very agreeable but partial analysis: that Brexit is a value in itself applies only to one of the two main "leave" constituencies, the affluent older "gentry", those who think of the EU as the "fourth reich" or alternatively the "third french empire", and whose identity is fatally bound up with the English Empire, and who reckon that giving up the right to work and live in 27 other countries and giving up the right to veto the EU policies is a worthwhile sacrifice for the restoration of english imperial greatness. These are the "splendid isolation" tendency.

This constituency, even if they benefit as to lower wages and higher rents from vast eastern european immigration, dislike EU immigrants because they have the impertinence of having the right of moving to England, without having to beg for an indentured servant permit from England's owners. They object to "freedom of movement" as such, even if they benefit from it; and many of them cannot conceive that they themselves might lose their own freedom of movement to the rest of the EU: affluent citizens of the english empire *obviously* have the "freedom of movement" to wherever they want, they are *expatriates*, not vulgar immigrants.

The motivation of the other constituency, hard pressed low income workers, is consequentialist: they see the EU as *part* of the neoliberal mechanism that has put them in competition with vast masses of much poorer workers from eastern Europe (and eastern Asia by way of offshoring), and since they don't have under FPTP the electoral weight to do something against neoliberalism at general elections, they used the referendum as a way to stop one of its symptoms under national proportional voting.

The low-income "Leave" voters did not really object to "freedom of movement" as such, when immigration was mostly from rich EU countries like France or Germany, as the prevailing wage levels are similar and it is not economically motivated.

From Arse To Elbow

There is obvious truth in this, but you're in danger of creating a false dichotomy in which leavers are overwhelmingly driven by issues of identity while remainers are uniformly pragmatic technocrats.

Some leavers (and potentially a pivotal minority) were thinking in consequential terms, and not necessarily without reason (e.g. those concerned about the fishing industry), while there was no shortage of remainers for whom the EU was an intrinsic good bound up with a cosmopolitan and modernist identity.

In that sense, the current remain campaign in-all-but-name makes strategic sense, i.e. targeting consequentialist leave voters while assuming that identitarian remainers aren't going to desert the cause. This may make it look like a dialogue of the deaf, but a focus on the "pivotal minority" is consistent with long-term British political practice.

Blissex

«what is the nature of this intrinsic good? I suspect it’s to do with self-image.»
«a worthwhile sacrifice for the restoration of english imperial greatness.»

As to this, recent talk about re-establishing English military bases "east of Suez" is I think a clear symptom that T May is in touch with the self-image and feelings of the Daily Mail readership.

Looking at it as to the long run, "Leave" is a reverberation of the impact of England's (and France's) defeat in WW2. Losing that war became undeniable (for some) and at the same time insufferable (for others) with the strategic defeat at Suez.

Blissex

My usual humorous take on the «self-image» aspect is that if the EU were merely renamed "The English Empire of Great Britain and the Continent" and Her Majesty were appointed as its figurehead and opened each year the proceedings of the Imperial Parliament in Strasbourg or Brussels, with no substantial changes, a lot of "Leavers" would stop objecting...
:-)

One would have also to rename the European Commission as the "HM Imperial Civil Service" and the Council of EU ministers as "HM Imperial Council" :-).

The Daily Mail would then have fawning articles like "Imperial Lead Minister Angela Merkel attends HM's speech at the Imperial Parliament's opening in Brussels" and "Boris Johnson, Imperial Commissioner for Entertainment, reports to the English Parliament the success of the Imperial Council's policy of banana standardization that he has promoted". :-)

Blissex

«May says “Brexit means Brexit”. To consequentialists, this is pure gibberish.»

Well, maybe, but for my "Remain" and mostly-consequentialist ears it clearly means "Article 50", that is no second referendum, no fudging with a treaty revision. Then once Article 50 is invoked, everything else is up for grabs, but Article 50 is the point-of-no-return that "Leavers" want to be reassured about.

Gary Taylor

Thankfully Remainers are not subject to the evils of believing in Inherent Goods.

nick j

Bang on really, although different people have different motivations. I'm hoping to see the destruction of the eurozone personally.

leslie48

The Leavers from all voting analysis were less educated, more rural , less prosperous and definitely older voters. They swallowed the Brexit Tabloid media which distorted all things EU , immigrant and economic. Now as we exit 500 million other consumers and undo 45 years we shall know the full consequences. Is it that the English and Welsh are just politically, economically and socially less educated than other Northern and Western Europeans. I think so- our tabloid media and supplicant 'Daily Express on legs' BBC is likely the worst in EU.

H

Spot on. Sums up this leaver's position very well. EU membership is a historic error for the island nation, and it is well worth paying a price to correct that error.

JP Floru

it is so interesting to note that Brexiteers and Remainers seem to be living in parallel universes with regards to the Brexit narrative. Here in the article again: Brexiteers DO NOT see the brexit process as being chaotic at all. This is entirely a remainer view, not shared by brexiteers (i.e. the majority of voters).

Richard

Yes. This would also perhaps partly explain the dishonesty with respect to campaigning by the Leavers. The truth (or at least, rational good faith argument) to them is less important than the act of leaving in itself.

They see it as a fight, they want to have a sense of the UK gaining autonomy and control, and to hell with the consequences. I suspect this 'us vs them' identity politics has grown out of the financial crisis and austerity.

joe

" - Why most Brexiters had no plan for the process. They just weren’t thinking in consequentialist terms."

They were absolutely thinking in consequential terms:
They believed £350M a week would go to NHS etc. They believed the EU/Euro was about to collapse and UK was better to leave asap. They believed 400-600K immigrants would arrive each year, for ever, and housing, medical treatment etc. would be impossible to achieve. Those in non-immigrant areas believed they would be next in the migrant wave queue. They believed they had the power to eject non-performing MPs at elections. They believed that UK would thrive once free of the EU. The Tories are delivering all that for them.

What they do not want to believe, so will not easily change their minds, is that the Government only wants to control migration - not reduce it. That no one will lose their jobs, and jobs will become even more soul destroying. That housing will be even scarcer and more costly. That proper training and career progression is a thing of the past. That primacy will not be revived and they will not be first in the queue for everything. That neither the Conservative nor Labour parties will do a thing for the left behind and JAMs.

Once they do realise they have been taken for a ride yet again, the anger may flow over into extremes.

Guano

Many Brexiteers, when arguing for Brexit, flip backwards and forwards between consequentialist arguments and arguments for Brexit as an intrinsic good. As Dominic Cummings admits, "Leave" would not have won if they hadn't lied about the money that could be spent in the NHS and the status of Turkey - and, apparently, the facts that these were lies doesn't bother him.

It's bizarre, though, how a newspaper like the Daily Mail spent 10 years pre-1973 campaigning for entry to the Common Market and now finds everything European to be suspect. Does it really think that neighbouring countries in Europe, that share many of our traditions and culture, are really less congenial trading partners than other global trading states?

Vic Twente

Boy, there sure are a lotta economics folks dippin' they toes into social constructionism nowadays.

Blissex

«Many Brexiteers, when arguing for Brexit, flip backwards and forwards between consequentialist arguments and arguments for Brexit as an intrinsic good.»

They are addressing both of their main constituencies...

«neighbouring countries in Europe, that share many of our traditions and culture, are really less congenial trading partners than other global trading states?»

For "self-image" based "Leavers", giving up a global empire to be just one of many «neighbouring countries» in a mere regional alliance is simply foolish or a betrayal; the economic or trade aspect is not that important.

For consequentialist "Leavers" trade/immigration matters but negatively, and they weren't given an opportunity to vote against global trade/immigration making them poorer, only against east european trade/immigration making them poorer. They surely would have voted against too much trade/immigration with the other «global trading states» though.

Blissex

«They believed 400-600K immigrants would arrive each year, for ever,»

That was the big hope of the rentier/neoliberal voters and politicians in both New Labour and Conservatives: to replace ever more the native "uppity, lazy, exploitative" low-income classes with ever larger numbers of docile cheap non voting servants.

«and housing, medical treatment etc. would be impossible to achieve.»

The rentier/neoliberal voters and politicians never had such concerns: they would be very happy to pack immigrants 4-8 to a room everywhere paying top rents and give them minimal access to a cut-down NHS.

«Those in non-immigrant areas believed they would be next in the migrant wave queue.»

* Those in rich non-immigration areas are simply outraged that foreigners can move and work to *their* England without begging for a visa. They have the attitude of landlords who want to make sure their tenants understand that they can throw them out anytime.

* Those in poor non-immigration areas often do look for jobs in rich immigration areas know very well how much of a competition even poorer eastern europeans are for jobs in rich immigration areas. Even many polish immigrants complain about the romanians after all.

Blissex

«the status of Turkey»

During his recent visit to Turkey our darling Boris Johnson stated that the UK government supported visa-free travel for turks and EU membership for Turkey.

Probably this was said a bit mischievously, but the prospect of a mass immigration of millions of docile cheap turkish servants and workers make the UK (and EU) property and business owners very excited.

They know how much money the german property and business owners made in the 1950-1970s from cheap docile turkish "guest workers", and are envious of the potential massive profits today's german property and business owners are going to make from the "syrian" refugees.

Vic Twente

Blissex: "That was the big hope of the rentier/neoliberal voters and politicians in both New Labour and Conservatives: to replace ever more the native "uppity, lazy, exploitative" low-income classes with ever larger numbers of docile cheap non voting servants."

Agreed, when we consider British anti-poor political rhetoric, the above does really seem to follow quite naturally.

And I'd agree it's vital in this analysis to explicitly identify the political class as the rentier/neoliberal class. And I'm not even remotely a Marxist btw. It's just fact.

Blissex

«explicitly identify the political class as the rentier/neoliberal class. And I'm not even remotely a Marxist btw.»

The irony is that instead many in that «rentier/neoliberal class» are pretty much marxists, in the sense that they have come to much the same analysis as Karl himself, the difference being their point of view as beneficiaries.

Guano

>

Or they are using whatever argument suits their purpose at a particular time, even if they are contradictory. This calls into question their good faith in these debates.

Before the referendum there was a lot of noise from Tory Eurosceptics about how poor the EU was at negotiating trade deals and how the UK could do it better. As these assertions have continued to be questioned for the last six months, the argument has changed to talking-points such as "It makes me sick to my stomach that trade deals are being negotiated on our behalf by Italians and Hungarians" (which I saw on CiF last week).

The implication of the latter talking-point is that it doesn't matter about the outcome of the trade deals, as long as they are negotiated by the UK itself. And this contradicts the first talking-point.

Presumably these people are hopping mad at people like Macmillan and Heath. I notice, though, that they don't offer much praise to Gaitskell, Wilson, Benn, Shore or Foot who questioned all this at the time.


D

The Financial Times has just published an article titled 'How storytelling can affect economics' which echoes a lot of what you're saying here. It says that "Remainers largely reason in consequentialist terms" while Brexit supporters "largely regard Brexit as an intrinsic good".

https://www.ft.com/content/dbfa6dae-d806-11e6-944b-e7eb37a6aa8e

Assofspain

Interesting take and agree with much, except the use of "identity politics" to describe "nationalist politics." Everything in here also applies to the Catalonia, Scottish and Quebec indy movements, along with Trump supporters.

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