Friday, 7 April 2017

Brexit: and despair

There is hope:
Futures Forum: Brexit: and learning lessons from New Zealand

There is revolt:
Futures Forum: Brexit: and looking beyond revolt: "If we’ve learned one thing in the last week, it is that communities – not Westminster - must agree what works for them."

And there is despair - for which there are 'solutions':
Futures Forum: "The solution to despair is to let yourself feel it – then take action: volunteer, make a donation, join a campaign."

But maybe not:
Futures Forum: Imagining, designing and implementing a new economy, a new future 

As the latest from the Baffler suggests:

Brexit, Pursued by Despair

Brexit is just the latest alibi to mask the austerity con

Laurie Penny,  March 29

THE REFERENDUM WAS THE FLAME; Article 50 is the fuse. Today, after months of recrimination and fear, the deed was finally done. Britain’s unelected Prime Minister triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, setting the legal machine of international relations on an unstoppable course towards Brexit. Britain was committed to the complex and painful operation of leaving the EU within two years—with or without the anesthetic of a workable trade deal. 
The new right wants you to believe that Brexit ignited spontaneously out of a broad Western backlash against racial tolerance and decadence. It wants you to believe that these are your “legitimate concerns.” But as the craven svengalis of triumphant neoconservatism and the gurning spivs they stand behind try to scrawl their own ugly slogans over the pages of recent history,  remember that it could have been otherwise. 
Remember this, because people will try to erase it from the story. Brexit is happening because the people of Britain have been through eight years of savage and senseless austerity. If you take away all of the things that make community life possible—not just the libraries but the youth centers, the after-school clubs, the parks and citizens advice centers—if you do all that and then fix it so people can hardly even afford to leave the house, presuming they have energy out of their exhausting jobs, then communities atrophy.
The economic case for the decimation of public spending has been thoroughly rubbished by everyone from Nobel prize-winning economists to, you know, actual people who saw the arteries of their lives constricting while the rich carried on getting richer and the national debt continued to rise. The political justification was always threadbare, based on the notion that the Labour party, who happened to be in power at the time of the 2008 financial crash, was entirely responsible for everything—“The Mess Labour Left Us In” was the refrain that just wouldn’t quit as the invertebrate centre left scuttled and cringed its way into culpability for a crisis it did not, in fact, cause. 
Some of what we have lost in this drab decade can be tallied in figures and facts, unpopular as those are these days. Food banks were practically unknown in Britain before the Conservatives took power. Now one million people rely on them, and millions more go hungry in what is still one of the wealthiest countries on earth. Middle-class youth have grown into adulthood without jobs or the prospect of security, becoming a “lost generation” in a catchphrase that has fallen out of favor not because it has lost relevance but because it was embarrassing to the authorities.  School buildings are rotting and crumbling. London has been scrubbed clean of the working poor. Thousands of disabled people have died as a direct result of cuts to the meagre benefits that were keeping them housed and healthy. 
Somehow, this is no longer being spoken of. Yet these are the conditions in which racism, xenophobia, and bigotry flourished. People need someone to blame, and they were directed to kick downwards. Of course they were. 
It’s all the stranger that the language of austerity has vanished from the political agenda because it’s only going to get worse. 
This is going to hurt, however you slice it. The cost of the Brexit negotiations that begin today will include, at very best, a leap in the cost of living and further cuts to already decimated public services as the country struggles to foot the bill over years of political uncertainty. The Prime Minister is clearly banking on the prospect of making Britain a naked tax haven, which will be disastrous for the working classes. Major banks and businesses are already toddling off to the continent, stupefying the willy-waving Brexit apologists who were convinced they were all here for the weather. Those promised 350 million pounds a week for the National Health Service are not coming. In fact, the NHS—the real institutional pride of the nation, beloved of everyone apart from the very wealthiest, and already on its knees after years of deliberate Tory defunding—will struggle to survive as more cuts are imposed and thousands of foreign doctors and nurses face deportation or are simply harassed and overworked until they leave. Why would anyone want to stay wiping bottoms and washing wounds in a country that claims to hate you? The last time a victory was this Pyrrhic, there were thirteen thousand bodies on the battlefield at Heraclea, and nobody went home happy. 
Brexit, Pursued by Despair | Laurie Penny

See also from the Baffler:
Enemies of the People | Angela Nagle

As a psychologist this is what I think led the nation to vote Brexit – and what we can do to heal the wounds it created | The Independent
Vince Cable to liberals: Don’t despair, go local, celebrate identities and embrace social democratic policies

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