Events…

In the UK the Supreme Court has ruled that Boris Johnson’s suspension of parliament was unlawful ( https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2019/09/u-k-supreme-court-boris-johnson-suspension-prorogue-parliament-unlawful-illegal.html ). The ruling doesn’t itself bring a solution to Brexit any closer (except in terms of the no-deal deadline getting closer just by the passage of time) but it is a hefty blow to Johnson trying to play the authoritarian strong-man role.

Jeremy Corbyn remains in the ironic position of ending up in a classic error-mode for Labour leaders: avoiding taking a clear position of the day because of their own personal doubts on policy and fear of alienating a set of voters. Of course in the past, the policy problem bedevilling a Labour leader is when they try to sit on a more centrist fence when a better policy lies to their left which, as a frustrated support, you think they could win voters over with IF ONLY they they got fully behind it. I sympathise with his dilemma but it’s also clear that what’s needed from the opposition is a far more assertive Remain position.

Meanwhile, In the USA it really looks like there is movement towards impeachment of Donald Trump. Of course, that is a long road but it is another area where tactics and necessity have (apparently) been hard to resolve for the more progressive side of politics. In the end though, Trump’s boundary pushing for Presidential behaviour has to have a response from Congress if precedents are not to be set. Already, Trump has demonstrated the extent to which an otherwise incompetent person can get away with extreme mismanagement and unethical behaviour once they are in the office of the President of the United States. The US and the world has been lucky that so far Trump’s on cognitive limitations have helped thwart some of his worse intents. Looking at the real human damage Trump has already caused and reflecting that this is not as bad as he could have made it if he could think more coherently is deeply alarming.

Meanwhile, across the world from West Papua to Kashmir to Hong Kong to Xinjiang to Tibet to the West Bank, nationalist governments of various kinds are increasingly open about suppression and abuse of human rights. Trump and Brexit are a distraction in a real sense, as in events that we have to pay attention to but which suck attention from deeper horrors.


31 responses to “Events…”

  1. For unrelated, but serendipitous reasons, I have been reading Thomas More’s Utopia today. The past really does have something to say to the present.

    Oh my goodness, I had forgotten how powerful it is. Now THAT’s effective rage writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. In Spain, the Supreme Court has said it’s OK to dig Franco up. My Granddad would have wanted to add “and burn him in a ditch”, but we live in more civilised times.

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  3. There are no good UK parties to vote for anymore. I’ve voted in every election I can since I was eligible but when the realistic choices are the Ditherers, the Evil Party and the Liars I just can’t see a way I can cast a vote that would even begin to matter for the issues that are most important to me. I’ll probably end up voting Green as a protest even though I know they don’t have a shot in hell.

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    • I really wonder what it would feel like to vote for someone I actually liked, rather than just voting strategically for whoever is likeliest to beat the conservative candidate.

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    • @KasaObake, am guessing you don’t have the good fortune of living north of Hadrian’s Wall, as SNP beckon as the current winner of my ‘If I were able to vote for a representative in Westminster, which party’s candidates for my MP constituency would I favour and which party would I consider joining?’ contest.

      Oddly enough, I keep arriving at ‘If not in Scotland, then Green, I guess’. Which is, well, you know the Kermitism.

      What a pity Corbyn isn’t, y’know, delusional and convinced he’s still back in 1956. Alas, he’s no Tony Benn. Further alas, he’s not even a Neil Kinnock.

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      • I’m a Northerner but I’m not quite *that* far north 🙂 I was close enough that Hadrian’s Wall was a school trip for me, though.

        I actually think, outside of the absolute crisis we have put ourselves into, Corbyn would be a perfectly serviceable leader. But facts being what they are, we *are* in a crisis and we need someone more decisive and preferably not a maniac, a la any Tory you care to name.

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        • He’s actually done better than I thought he would but his key flaw (not being Machiavellian enough to keep a good handle on the inherently unruly Labour Party) remains. He’s too nice.

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      • Speaking from Edinburgh . . . you might be disappointed. After a long flirtation with socialism, in office they’ve settled down to being more like the Lib Dems, including being very obedient to the Westminster austerity agenda. All the talk about raising taxes for education and the health service turned out to just be talk. Very galling after years of putting up with the self-righteousness of their supporters, who of course now refuse to admit that there’s any issue here. Local government spending’s been particularly badly hit – down by 10% in real terms.

        Last year their Sustainable Growth Commission released a report saying that spending restraint would continue for another decade.

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    • Oh, I just expect Labour/Labor(AU) to disappoint me and vote for them anyway. I remember Billy Bragg saying some years ago that it is like supporting a bad football team…

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      • I dabbled in voting for another party and we ended up with that horrendous ConDem government so perhaps you’re right.

        In my defence I honestly thought Clegg and the LDs had principles and a spine to stand up for them.

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  4. I think the unifying factor is that we’re witnessing an ongoing fight between nationalists and globalists. I’ve thought this for a few years now, ever since listening to a talk at the University of Washington on social media, in which the presenters said that the cleanest division into two camps was nationalist vs. globalist.

    The future belongs to the globalists. Too many decisions need to be taken at a global level, with climate change one of the big ones. New technologies that make the world “smaller” increase the need for this, but simple increase in population does it too.

    The nationalists are going to make a long fight of it, though. And they fight dirty.

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    • Etnicists would be a better term, but yes. It would be a grave mistake of the left to underestimate the sociobiological workings of society, and an even greater mistake to just dismiss these tendencies as coming from a basket of deplorables. Humanity evolved to live and function in small communities on the savanna for 300.000 years. True globalisme is less than a century old. We’re a flexibele species, sure, but our cognition as a species is simply not adapted to make decisions on a global level, so my guess is that there will be no future.

      The increasing population only makes global thinking more difficult as it will put more stress on local human ecologies, resulting in people falling back to known, trusted patterns.

      On top of that, it is crazy how fast things have changed on so many accounts in so many aspects of the culture wars, you cannot expect all people to do a complete overhaul of there mindset in about a decade – this widens the already existing gap between etnicists (who tend to be traditionists) and globalist (who tend to be progressives).

      Btw, etnicists are winning, and Will continue to win, as is clear from the breakdown of lots of national states in smaller ones in the last couple of decades, and those that are still in the process of doing so: like Syria, but also Spain and the UK (rest assured that Brexit is the start of the breakdown of the UK, which will happen sooner than later).

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    • True and fight self-destructively. Brexit is pulling the Conservative Party apart and there’s a plausible chance that it will lead to the end of the UK as an entity with Scotland leaving. There’s a plausible chance of a united Ireland of all things! The Tories might achieve Brexit at the cost of a whole raft of changes that they have traditionally opposed. That’s not much a plus-side given the other negative side-effects but it shows how hard it is to fight this. Nobody is experienced with mainstream political parties who will knowingly self-destruct to achieve a nationalist goal.

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      • It was ‘England for the English, not for Europe’ all along, rather than ‘the UK for the UK’, so again, I’m not sure the term nationalist as refering to the nation state applies.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I think that the unanimous Supreme Court decision may have one effect. Boris is certainly planning some shenanigans to get around the bill banning a No Deal Brexit. He may have second thoughts after such a serious slapdown.

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    • He’d have to have his first thoughts to begin contemplating the possibility of second thoughts. He will absolutely do something stupid and I doubt he’ll think about it at all.

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  6. Nationalists aren’t really nationalists, is the thing. Nationalists just use the idea of nationalism — and bigotry from it — to advance particular global agendas. If nationalism was really what was driving them, Steve Bannon wouldn’t be swanning around Europe. Nationalist politicians are paid huge sums by global corporate billionaires and companies to advance trade and employment policies, deregulation, global finance gifts and tax cuts favorable to their aims. Nationalist politicians make backdoor global business deals — Trump being a clear example — that rely on immigrant labor at the same time that they condemn immigrant labor and that sell large chunks of national real estate and trade debt to foreigners. Nationalists advocate deploying the military globally and global conquest — wars and sanctions to “spread” their ideology and increase the glory of the nation to other countries — while actively seeking to impoverish their own nation’s work force, economy, infrastructure, natural resources and other home-base issues.

    Basically, nationalists make up “outside” threats to the nation in order to get global deals and alliances that benefit them personally or their backers. Numerous nationalist corporate executives are globalists at the same time. The continual hypocrisies of the nationalist positions come from the fact that they really don’t care if their nation states burn down in flames. Usually they are rooting for their nation to burn down in flames so they can build it back up again, supposedly as a new, strong nation empire, but actually usually just a weaker vassal under tighter control and easily exploitable for cash, like a hedge fund loading up a new acquisition company with debt, scooping out its resources and breaking it down for parts.

    Although we are more global and likely to remain so, globalism isn’t synonymous with progressives either. Leftists have protested, sometimes violently, against global trade and the WTO, deeming there to be conspiracies to impoverish workers and increase imperialism — an idea not entirely un-based in facts. Giant corporations use globalism and nationalism together. And globalism of trade does not mean environmentalism or anti-poverty efforts; often it means the opposite. So it’s not really a clean split between nationalism versus globalism, despite the rhetoric.

    The clearest split we have is between hierarchical imperialism versus equal civil democracy, built around the notion of what human beings are worth. But even then it’s muddy, since strong democracy advocates can turn imperialistic on a dime if they feel their elevated status and control of resources is threatened and imperialists can consider some forms of democracy alright as long as they’re tightly regulated (that’s how you keep having constitutional monarchies where you have to ask a queen to suspend your duly elected Parliament.) Us and them are fluid concepts, not fixed, and so devotion to political philosophies is never really a binary. And both nationalists and globalists have plenty of in-fighting, which makes it hard for them to hold together even within their own sects.

    Going to be a wild year as we leave the decade.

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  7. I think it is too easy to talk about nationalists and globalists. Or even globalists and racists. Yes, there are racists and nationalists. But I’d be very much for a brexit, if it wasn’t for the other a-holes who also wants one. Because I think the European Union is an inherently corrupt and destructive creation that is created to forever cement the power in the hands of financial elites, tying up politics into agreements that are damaging for all ordinary workers.

    I would like to see the European Union, as it is, burned with the earth salted. Because after the destruction if Greece, it has shown itself to be thoroughly nasty thing. And I say that as an internationalist.

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    • He, being a classic swedish leftist of the moderate 80:s kind makes me feel like a radical revolutionary that people hardly can believe exists. We used to be called “gray socials”, those with politics so bland and common that you hardly noticed us. We just melted in with the masses. Now we are more radical than almost any party, regardless of country.

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  8. Without dismissing his faults, I think that the primary reason that Corbyn has had some much problems is that he is challenging the fundamentally neo-liberal assumptions of a lot of the leadership of the Parliamentary Labor Party and the dominant media structure. He has been able to withstand repeated attacks from that infrastructure and has had some remarkable successes. Some of this is because he’s simply a far more competent politician than often indicated, but also part of it is that really that neo-liberal consensus is running on fumes. I’m not sure that he’s going to be able to negotiate the profound contradictions that David Cameron unleashed on the country, though.

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