MAY 30, 2019The Maybot is Gone
by KENNETH SURIN
Many Brits, wallowing in their post-imperial hangover, sometimes make fun of countries, typically in southern Europe and Latin America, which from time to time are afflicted with a political paralysis— “Look at country X, still can’t put together a government after 3 elections”, etc.
Ukania has however exceeded countries such as X when it comes to governmental paralysis.
It only took a single election, in 2017, to allow the Tories to form a minority government with the support of the northern Irish DUP (founded by the rabble-rousing hate-preacher Ian Paisley), that has been paralyzed ever since by its utter inability to negotiate any kind of Brexit deal with the EU.
The coming to power of the Tories in that single election has ensued in just as much governmental paralysis as country X with its inability to acquire a functioning government after 2-3 elections.
Ukania as Ruritania as Kakania (the latter being Robert Musil’s term in his great novel The Man Without Qualities (1930), describing the Habsburg monarchy as mired in a self-stultifying political morass overlaid by mindless flummery that has no limits; and Ukania being Tom Nairn’s term to designate the UK’s own embodiment of Kakania).
Ukania/Ruritania/Kakania—Brits currently have little choice but to go for all three when it comes to describing their laughing-stock of country.
Groups within Ukania treat Brexit as a battle that must be fought to the death, but really the issues that appear to cause divisions in this dog-fight are moot in a wider scheme of things.
Remain in the EU? Accept the rule of Eurocrats who will do the bidding of the multinational corporations.
Leave the EU? Accept the implacable will of the multinational corporations through bilateral trade deals conducted under the auspices of the window-dressing WTO.
Either way, Ukania’s Joe and Jill Normal will be stiffed.
However, presumed nuance in such matters can’t be overlooked—is there any likelihood that one of these two options (Leave vs Remain) will stiff our Joe and Jill just a little bit less than the other?
It is hard to decide if this choice has to be made solely on the basis of workable policy and compelling political principle.
Here, a more plausible decision-making approach may reside in assessing, as clear-sightedly as possible, the political actors upholding this or that position vis-à-vis Brexit.
The Brexiters, in the main, are either retro-imperialists or upholders of an even less-regulated capitalism (or both). The retro-imperialism is a fantasy, but the less-regulated capitalism is not, though the former is used as a cloak to con misty-eyed imperial Brit nostalgics into acquiescing in the latter.
The Remainers are by and large believers in a more cosmopolitan order (hence scorned by Steve Bannon and his ilk as “globalists”), and a somewhat more regulated capitalism, albeit one still superintended by billionaire hedge fund managers and property tycoons.
Another grouping that has to be considered in any kind of Brexit typology are those who for decades have been proponents of a so-called Lexit.
I have been a Lexiteer since I was a teenager in the 1960s (when the UK entered the then European Community), on the grounds that no country in that entity could achieve an adequate socialism because the EC/EU was always going to work for the capitalist corporations whilst giving bromides to plebs like me.
The determination I made at that time, though largely correct, needs now to be reassessed in the current context of a neoliberal globalization.
It is a no-brainer that a no-deal Brexit will be an unqualified capitulation to the imperatives of this neoliberal globalization.
All that Brexit supporters (such as Bannon and company) want is a globalized capitalism, albeit one accommodating xenophobic “nationalist” characteristics, and UK Brexiters such as BoJo Johnson and Nigel Farage, are in the same boat as Bannon.
Remain, on adequate terms will, hopefully, be a half, or maybe a less than half, capitulation to the imperatives of this neoliberal globalization. However, we should not forget that the big UK corporations are fervent Remainers, and this for damn good (capitalist) reasons.
So: as a Lexiteer what does one choose?
Jeremy Corbyn has always been a Lexiteer, and now has to steer Labour into making a choice.
Actually, it is not Corbyn’s or Labour’s choice to make.
Brexit has been such an indecisive shambles for the UK that only a second referendum, fraught thought it will be, can approximate to a choice made by “the people” with regard to a future Brexit outcome.
A second Brexit referendum will be an imperfect but marginally better option than the dead-end Brexit alternatives available to Brits thus far.Kenneth Surin is emeritus at Duke University. He lives in Blacksburg, Virginia.