OK, you’re angry. But ignore the vote and tanks could be on the streets.
If you wanted to convulse the country with rioting on a revolutionary scale, to cause a lethal rupture between the governing class and the governed and even to provide the conditions for the rise of 21st-century fascism across Europe, here’s what you do.
After a referendum in which an unprecedented number of voters took part, and in which well over a million more people voted for change than for the status quo on our membership of the EU, you declare that the decision cannot be allowed to stand, chiefly on the grounds that the people were too stupid.
This outpouring of anti-democratic sentiment, this unquestioned faith in the wisdom of the elite over the will of the people, did not begin with the Brexit vote. Through the rise of evidence-based policy and quangos, experts have crept into more and more areas of policymaking. And the sentiment that the masses are a bit thick, brainwashed by the media and stirred up by demagogues, has long greeted every General Election result that doesn’t go the metropolitan elite’s way.
But the Brexit fallout has brought this long unspoken prejudice out of the bistros and into the streets. The idea that the people are effectively incapable of taking part in politics, that you need a PhD in European law to have an opinion on EU membership, is now being shouted from the rooftops and scrawled on placards. Left-wing Remain types, so long the sort who would pretend to speak on behalf of the little people, are now openly calling for elite rule.
During the course of this splendid campaign, every Ponce in Christendom seems to have stuck his patrician nose about the parapet, sniffed the Great Unwashed and called on the waddling geese of Strasbourg to stand between them and us ruffians. Luvvies and musicians (acting and music being two former escape routes for we chavs now colonised by public school spawn) of course, identity politics social justice warriors (writing the most currently disadvantaged people around – white working class males – out of history, one gripe at a time) naturally. And Eddie Izzard! There have never been a greater number of people I’ve loathed who have been made to cry all at once.
I’m not British. However, I’m a reasonably frequent visitor to the United Kingdom.
I spent last Thursday night having dinner in New York City with a bunch of Brits from the home office of the London based consulting company I’m affiliated with. I’m not an employee, but I’m a close-enough friend of the company’s management that there that there’s much more of a spirit of “we” than “they” when I talk to them.
The whole firm was, of course, heavily on the “remain” side since they have contracts all over the continent and The City is a huge source of revenue. The reason The City itself has grown to be so huge is because it is the finance capital of Europe, and it vies with New York for finance capital of the world as a result.
That, sadly, may be over soon.
The firm’s business also relied (I should say relies, it isn’t gone, at least not yet) on being able to do things like taking a contract in Frankfurt and sending people there from London without more of a thought than an American firm would have about taking a contract in Stamford, Connecticut even though they’re based in White Plains, New York – another state entirely.
We in the U.S. are of course used to such things – we don’t give thought to the idea of someone from New York selling something to someone in Los Angeles or flying there to do work for a month. No one needs to give you permission to do this, you just go and do it. We’re one big market, and that has helped our economy tremendously over the centuries. Europe had finally become like that, a place where you could do business all over without permission, and with it, a whole new class of companies like the one I work with rose up, companies that didn’t trade with Europe but in Europe.
Simon Gibbs, who will eventually have his own proper samizdata by-line that does not run across the Atlantic and back, has something else to say:
News from the front line. This comes via a brace of energetic libertarians and their allies who were giving out Libertarian Home branded leaflets today on Oxford Street. The office-worker demographic which was missing from our previous visit was back in force and so the tone of the crowd became much more hostile. Not just taking the other stance in greater numbers, but becoming rude and a little shouty. It seems anyone more removed from the coalface than a shop owner is much more inclined to be a Remainer, and perhaps less friendly too.
This may be hearsay, but the Remain camp were apparently out elsewhere on Oxford Street giving out croissants this morning. We had picked up news (from the ice-cream salesman next to Charing Cross) that the Remain camp had also been out there giving out cakes a week or so earlier. The lady selling Lion King tickets – in the same spot – had apparently feigned agreement and claimed an illegitimate hot-dog. Main course, pudding and a bonus breakfast all served up by the Remain camp.
From where does the money for large quantities of free-food come from?
The statistics to hand have 47% of the population clearly in the second category, where our direct experience had ~90% voting Leave. It seems there is a pivot point somewhere in the range of C1 or C2 where Remain begins to out number Leave. Just as there is apparently a pivot point at age 43. Where exactly the pivot points are will determine the result, but I fear we will find it was a wealthy elite that keeps us in Europe. Divisions like that have consequences.
And now a word from Simon Gibbs, who will soon have his own by-line on Samizdata.
We’re nearing the date of the EU referendum we’re having in this part of the world, and a great many people are fed up of being lectured to, or frightened, or lied to. Understandably, people are beginning to have a moan about this atmosphere of negativity – but this just adds to the gloom.
To change the mood you have to go out of your way to do something positive – set appropriately in context but nevertheless positive. It takes effort to think of what positive would look like when the subject is so dangerous and horrid. Ayumi, one of my colleagues at Libertarian Home (which is now very much a joint effort) had an idea about how to do it. We backed her to the hilt.
So here, thanks to Ayumi and to Devika and Richard and little James and teeny tiny Abigail (and dozens of people whose names I quickly lost track of) is a little bit of positivity. Making this was seriously hard work, but it was really very satisfying.
When the government (i.e. Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne – they are the government) supported the Labour Party continuing to get automatic payments from trade union members (i.e. no need to “opt in”) and supported eleven more years of the BBC tax – I knew the “fix was in”.
Now we hear that Baroness W. has “left Leave” – the lady was never a supporter of the Independence of this country. Actually Baroness W. is a typical member of the “chattering classes” – endlessly going on about “discrimination against Muslims” and “the politics of hate” (look in the mirror dear lady – you will see someone who practices the “politics of hate” all the time). The idea that this lady was ever really in favour of getting out of the E.U. is absurd.
As for the chattering classes in general – they are wrong about just about everything (I say “just about” as even a stopped clock is correct twice a day). Their ignorance is only matched by their arrogance.
Present reality is that science is on the verge of a nervous breakdown. That’s the not-so-tongue-in-cheek message in Science on the Verge, a new book by European scientist Andrea Saltelli and seven other contributors. Science on the Verge is a 200-page indictment of what to the lay reader appears to be a monumental deterioration across all fields, from climate science to health research to economics. The mere idea that “most published research results are false” should be cause for alarm. But it is worse than that.
Just about everything we take for granted in modern science, from the use of big data to computer models of major parts of our social, economic and natural environment and on to the often absurd uses of statistical methods to fish for predetermined conclusions.
I am horrified but not exactly shocked. This is the Leitmotif of our lives. It is the continuous grinding pressure that makes our lives a slow misery. And all because of the deranged rantings of a goat-botherer nigh on a Millennium and a half ago.
Our culture has put Neil and Buzz on the moon. Our culture has created computers, our culture has made it affordable for me, as a student, to see the Applachians. Our culture enables boys to wear skirts to school. I am 42 and the largest social change I have seen in my time is the increasing acceptance of homosexuality. I’m straight but I’ll happily have a pint on Canal Street* in Manchester so this could of been me. It quite possibly could have been you.
I have a short message to jihadis. If you want to live in the Dark Ages many countries are available. We have gay marriage (a boon to florists – especially if Sir Elton John is involved). Shoddy Absurdia executes people for “crimes” such as “sorcery”. That is the difference.
As president [Hillary Clinton] wouldn’t merely run off with the White House silver (again) and line her pockets to an extent which would make Ferdinand Marcos blush. She would do real, permanent, damage to the republic, to an extent which neither Trump nor Sanders could match. She’s greedy, evil and dangerous; Trump is merely greedy and Sanders is merely evil.
– Laird, serial commenter in this parish and oft-times wordsmith.
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We are also a varied group made up of social individualists, classical liberals, whigs, libertarians, extropians, futurists, ‘Porcupines’, Karl Popper fetishists, recovering neo-conservatives, crazed Ayn Rand worshipers, over-caffeinated Virginia Postrel devotees, witty Frédéric Bastiat wannabes, cypherpunks, minarchists, kritarchists and wild-eyed anarcho-capitalists from Britain, North America, Australia and Europe.