Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Widening Gyre

And so it begins...or does it? After I blogged my predictions last week that the referendum would deliver a resounding ‘Remain’ vote, 17 million people-52% of the electorate- said ‘thanks but no thanks...we’re off!’. I went to bed on Thursday night reading that Nigel Farage ‘was conceding defeat’ and exit polls were showing 52/48 Remain and I woke up to be told that the world had turned upside down. Shock ! Since the result was announced the UK has gone a bit bat shit crazy! Hysteria and recrimination is the favoured currency, especially on the social media. The Guardianist constituency especially, has really lost it big time with some remarkably reactionary views surfacing. Views which are every bit as disturbing as those coming from the knucklehead right. As someone of a fairly tolerant and liberal persuasion who essentially values our electoral system in the UK for what it is; an imperfect but essentially worthy system of organizing society, I’ve been shocked by those who now see whole swathes of society as the enemy.

Not least the older generation and the working/underclass. One of the more disturbing manifestations of this was ‘that’ petition. A petition to overturn the referendum result and either allow parliament to ignore it or run it again. As the numbers mounted so did the hysteria..one million, two million...three million! Never mind the fact that the petition was futile, UK legislation does not allow for electoral rules to be changed AFTER a vote- and tainted with false votes-thousands of votes were registered as coming from Vatican City!- it was the principle which shocked me. Here was an essentially privileged class asking for a democratic vote to be overturned because basically, the vote didn’t go the right way. Think about that. Ignore the views of 17 million voters because they are old, unemployed and/or uneducated. Hence they are mostly racists and bigots.

I still struggle with the fact that so many intelligent liberal friends feel that it’s justifiable to ignore the result of a democratic election and struggle even more with the fact that if their wishes came about and their reactionary views were acted upon, then how could they not see how that would play out on the streets of Britain? Do they think that the explosion of anger and street violence which would spring from an election being sabotaged by the state and the views of millions ignored, would surely dwarf any fall out from Brexit? Economies can be fixed fairly quickly. Fluctuations are to be expected and can be lived through and ridden out in months or a few years at most. However, a society which falls apart through the manipulation of the democratic process may well have disastrous consequences which could resonate for far longer and impact far deeper.

These are strange days we are living through and the febrile atmosphere is stirring up a noxious cocktail of racism, class warfare and intolerance on all sides. I can only think of lines from Yeats’ ‘The Second Coming’. How ‘The best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity’. Except who are ‘the best’ and who are ‘the worst’. I just just can’t tell anymore?

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