The dominant neoliberal economy sorts people into winners and losers. Brexit is a revolt of the losers.
The winners are the credentialed professionals, the cosmopolitan, the affluent. The losers are the uncredentialed, the provincial, the working class.
Losers are revolting across the Western world, from the USA to Poland, and their revolt mostly takes the form of nationalism.
The reason the revolt takes the form of nationalism is that the world’s most important international institutions—the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the European Central Bank—are under the control of a global financial elite that does not represent their interests.
I don’t fully understand the decision-making process in the European Union, but looking at its web site, my impression is that public debate is not a part of it.
The only vehicles for exercising democratic control, at the present moment in history, is through democratic national governments. I am in favor of international cooperation, and I don’t know how I would have voted on Brexit if I had been British, but I certainly can understand Britons who don’t want to be at the mercy of foreign bureaucrats and the London governmental, banking and intellectual elite.
Democratic nationalism is the only form that democracy can take until there is a radical restructuring of international institutions. Without a strong progressive democratic movement, the only alternative to neo-liberal globalization is right-wing anti-democratic populism as represented by Donald Trump, the United Kingdom Independence Party, Marine le Pen’s National Front in France, Greece’s Golden Dawn and others.
The losers are not just workers who lack jobs, good wages and economic security. They also are cultural conservatives who see their communities, values and traditions subject to “creative destruction” and “disruption” by cosmopolitan elites.
Some traditionalists have ugly racial and religious prejudices, which is bad, but no worse than the contempt for democracy and common life by some elitist intellectuals.
What I’d like to see are successful progressive populist movements, such as the Bernie Sanders movement in the USA, the Jeremy Corbyn movement in the UK, Die Linke in Germany, Podemos in Spain and Syriza in Greece.
The ultimate goal of such movements should be the dismantling of international organizations that work against the public interest, and control of global corporations with the power to disrupt local communities and individual lives.
If self-described liberals and progressives ignore the people left behind, the anti-liberal nationalists surely won’t.
The Most Important Election of Your Life (Is Not This Year) by John Feffer for TomDispatch. An keen analysis of parallel trends in European and American politics.
Rule Britannia! On Brexit, The Immigrant and Geezer Votes, and … Donald J. Trump by John Derbyshite for VDare. John Derbyshire is not one of my kindred spirits, but he provides an interesting breakdown of the Brexit vote by region, ethnic group and demographic characteristics. You have to scroll down to get to it.
Britain’s EU Problem is a London Problem by Peter Mandler for Dissent.
Leave Won Because It Has a Better Story by Ian Welsh.