Tag: politics (page 1 of 14)

Counting the cost of Brexit

Another article about Brexit, after one last week. I think Brexit was a form of economic suicide, but over the weekend I’ve been thinking about the wider perspective.

Not only did we have a huge worldwide economic crash around 15 years ago, but everyone came online with their smartphones around the same time. So we’ve had a lot of revelations and a lot of resetting to do. Perhaps all of this is the tumultuous times before a new form of society?

One can only hope. Britain is going to be screwed no matter what, because we’re disconnected from our main trading and cultural partners.

Queuing trucks

Most of the trade deals with non-EU countries that the UK has signed have been small in their economic effect, and have merely been “rolled over” from identical ones when we were an EU member. Even Jacob Rees-Mogg, the minister for Brexit opportunities, has stopped talking about Brexit and the UK economy, and instead focuses on what he says is the democratic dividend, the winning back of control, and the return of sovereignty. That is not surprising because day by day the economic data is piling up showing the harm that leaving the EU is doing to the nation’s finances.

Johnson and the Vote Leave campaign promised in 2016 that £350m a month would flow back from Brussels because we would stop contributing to EU coffers.

The impression was that there would be no downside. We would thrive outside Europe’s bureaucracy which was strangling our companies with red tape. The huge benefits of the single market – trading freely across borders, with common standards – were never highlighted by Vote Leave, and rarely by the crudely alarmist Remain camp, either.

Only now, with the worst of the pandemic (probably) behind us, and ministers unable to blame Covid, is Brexit reality being laid bare.

Next year the OECD calculates that the UK will record the lowest growth in the G20 with the exception of Russia whose economy is being drained by its war on Ukraine.

Source: ‘What have we done?’: six years on, UK counts the cost of Brexit | The Guardian

The omnishambles of Brexit

The UK is a pretty bad place to live at the moment. Except for the US, and well a lot of other places. I guess what I’m saying is that things are pretty bad politically and in terms of economically, but then the rest of the world is pretty screwed as well.

Union Flag with arrows going in different directions

Britain today is a poor and divided country. Parts of London and the southeast of England might be among the wealthiest places on the planet, but swaths of northern England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland are among Western Europe’s poorest. Barely a decade ago, the average Brit was as wealthy as the average German. Now they are about 15 percent poorer—and 30 percent worse off than the typical American.

[…]

In the 2016 Brexit referendum and then in the 2019 general election, Johnson offered voters the chance to “take back control” of their destiny, to rebalance the country and to pull it together again. On both occasions, he won.

Six years on, however, we can safely say his project is failing. His government is busy trying to wrest back more control rather than exercising what it has regained. It has not united the country. It has not even begun to level it up.

The truth is, this government won’t accomplish any of that. Until Britain stops trying to restore a vanished past—whether the one imagined by its pro-Brexit Leavers or its anti-Brexit Remainers—and begins to construct a viable future, the country as a whole never will.

Source: What Brexit Promised, and Boris Johnson Failed to Deliver | The Atlantic

14 Common Features of Fascism

This is from six years ago but it’s worth revisiting as I don’t think it’s too much of a push to see these elements at play in the USA right now. Which, if you think about the role that country played up until recently, is staggering.

Fascism and authoritarianism change over time, however, and so it’s worth also listening to a recent episode of the BBC Radio 4 Thinking Allowed programme on ‘Strongmen’. For example, instead of banning elections, fascists/authoritarian allow the democratic veneer to remain, they just ensure that the result goes they way they want.

While Eco is firm in claiming “There was only one Nazism,” he says, “the fascist game can be played in many forms, and the name of the game does not change.” Eco reduces the qualities of what he calls “Ur-Fascism, or Eternal Fascism” down to 14 “typical” features. “These features,” writes the novelist and semiotician, “cannot be organized into a system; many of them contradict each other, and are also typical of other kinds of despotism or fanaticism. But it is enough that one of them be present to allow fascism to coagulate around it.”

  1. The cult of tradition. “One has only to look at the syllabus of every fascist movement to find the major traditionalist thinkers. The Nazi gnosis was nourished by traditionalist, syncretistic, occult elements.”
  2. The rejection of modernism. “The Enlightenment, the Age of Reason, is seen as the beginning of modern depravity. In this sense Ur-Fascism can be defined as irrationalism.”
  3. The cult of action for action’s sake. “Action being beautiful in itself, it must be taken before, or without, any previous reflection. Thinking is a form of emasculation.”
  4. Disagreement is treason. “The critical spirit makes distinctions, and to distinguish is a sign of modernism. In modern culture the scientific community praises disagreement as a way to improve knowledge.”
  5. Fear of difference. “The first appeal of a fascist or prematurely fascist movement is an appeal against the intruders. Thus Ur-Fascism is racist by definition.”
  6. Appeal to social frustration. “One of the most typical features of the historical fascism was the appeal to a frustrated middle class, a class suffering from an economic crisis or feelings of political humiliation, and frightened by the pressure of lower social groups.”
  7. The obsession with a plot. “Thus at the root of the Ur-Fascist psychology there is the obsession with a plot, possibly an international one. The followers must feel besieged.”
  8. The enemy is both strong and weak. “By a continuous shifting of rhetorical focus, the enemies are at the same time too strong and too weak.”
  9. Pacifism is trafficking with the enemy. “For Ur-Fascism there is no struggle for life but, rather, life is lived for struggle.”
  10. Contempt for the weak. “Elitism is a typical aspect of any reactionary ideology.”
  11. Everybody is educated to become a hero. “In Ur-Fascist ideology, heroism is the norm. This cult of heroism is strictly linked with the cult of death.”
  12. Machismo and weaponry. “Machismo implies both disdain for women and intolerance and condemnation of nonstandard sexual habits, from chastity to homosexuality.”
  13. Selective populism. “There is in our future a TV or Internet populism, in which the emotional response of a selected group of citizens can be presented and accepted as the Voice of the People.”
  14. Ur-Fascism speaks Newspeak. “All the Nazi or Fascist schoolbooks made use of an impoverished vocabulary, and an elementary syntax, in order to limit the instruments for complex and critical reasoning.”

Source: Umberto Eco Makes a List of the 14 Common Features of Fascism | Open Culture