An Immigrant Reflects on the Brexit Result

I have rarely been more emotionally damaged by a political event as I am by Brexit. As we turn our face away from the world and bury it in jingoistic fantasy, two profoundly dangerous currents– nationalism and a flexible relationship with reality are swallowing us whole.

Xenophobic rhetoric has become mainstream, validated by a May government that makes me long for the cuddly warmth of Thatcherism. The dynamic melting pot of cosmopolitan ideas that made me proud to be British is being strangled while academics, scientists, creatives, and the hard working migrants on whose back our boom was built are leaving.

Our negotiating position is a poorly constructed fiction, our negotiators are a testament to glib delusion, every last independent study demonstrates both the net benefits of migration and the economic damage that awaits us, and businesses are already looking elsewhere for a stable future.

I am an immigrant who has only ever called Britain home. Throughout my years abroad I have always felt a direct connection to the spirit of openness that Britain represented to me, but today I am strangely lost, despite feeling a citizen of the world – an ideal that Mrs May went out of her way to mock.

And for all those on the left who voted to leave – I hope you’re happy. Thanks for voting an abstraction when we had a reality to deal with. Jeremy Corbyn is very fucking far from my savior. I value strategic nouse alongside principle, because principle alone is no match for the forces we face.

He’s a nice bloke and I agree with much of what he says – but he is way out of his depth in this pit of vipers. And blaming it all on the ‘mainstream media’ doesn’t wash for me – someone truly competent would be communicating far better than this. Yes there is bias. No he isn’t equipped to outwit it.

So here we are. A one party state with fascist tinges as the latest prime minister in a long line of mediocrities opts to pander rather than lead.

I have been told to get over it, not least by my family, but I just can’t. I’m nearly 40 and this is one of the most painful blows to my identity that I have ever known. Strange – because I never fully realised what being British meant to me until this moment.

US Presidential Debate

Can’t help but turn a voyeuristic eye onto democracy’s implosion tonight in the US Presidential debate. As populist insurgencies subsume reason, we have the Nietzschean messiah of identity politics facing off against a candidate so tarnished by the neoliberal system that she struggles even to fake basic humanity. The soaring rhetoric of hope is the first casualty, burned out by too many false dawns and we’re left with the choice between incoherent anger and the complete lack of any positive vision.

Truth has become a cruel paradox of feeling over fact and as the centrists try desperately to console themselves with the least worst option, we are heading into treacherous waters. If Trump wins, then we’re facing the biggest ideas crisis since the 1930’s – if he doesn’t, then that toxic current of hate will continue to grow, perhaps resulting in a far more terrifying and actually competent demagogue. Meanwhile, the status quo is on life support with neither the manipulative skill nor the veneer of progress left to sustain it.

It’s a dangerous state of affairs when no-one believes a word politicians or the media say – facts become subjective and hate can feel like the most honest emotion purely because it’s so visceral. With venom as a manifestation of fear, it takes a positive just as primordially powerful to combat it and macroeconomic statistics simply don’t wash. The Bernie Sanders movement was an abstract success but ultimately handed the mantle of ‘hope’ to Hilary Clinton, whose primary appeal seems to be that she’s not The Donald.

And as America mainlines angst, Putin has played a masterful hand, strongarming Syria into savage submission on one front while sowing endless discord on another, using nothing more than an angled mirror into Western societies to destabilise them. The vacuum is being filled by the most dangerous people out there – and solutions have never seemed more distant. It’s not often I think we’re all fucked – but rarely has it felt so difficult to grind out a positive vision of the future.

Quite the ray of sunshine this morning – Jesus.

Fabric Closure

Desperately sad to see culture sacrificed once more on the altar of profit.

Gentrification – that lucrative cancer metastasizing across London has now claimed fabriclondon – as close to a dance music institution as the city has ever had. Despite the obscene logic of prohibition being held up as a fig leaf of warped social responsibility, it’s difficult not to see the subtext of the decision to close Fabric as the triumph of sanitized corporatism.

And of course, by proving the futility of trying to ‘play the game’ and working with the authorities, Islington council have disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of people who might otherwise be contributing to the economic, social and cultural life of the city.

It remains a mystery why developers and planners recognize the value of underground culture in raising the profile of an area to the point at which it becomes financially interesting – and yet fuck those core attractors off within months of acquiring a foothold. Another Pret, another Starbucks, another chloroform soaked rag across the dying gasps of a city.

And they wonder why people break into warehouses to create autonomous spaces in celebration of the human spirit. We – as a culture – tried playing the game.

The message back is pretty clear.

Photo credit Sarah Ginn

2 Pennies on Brexit

Deeply alarmed to see righteous anger about the state of our society misdirected (in my view) into a desire to leave the EU. In order to back what feels like a regressive, almost fantasist view of sovereignty and pseudo Churchillian British ‘pluck’, one would need to have extraordinary faith in what an unrestrained British government would look like.

We’d have to believe that all the obvious economic damage wrought by Brexit – from macroeconomic trade deals to phone roaming charges to the flexible labour force enshrined in the free movement of people – is worth sacrificing to concentrate power in the hands of Mr B Johnson, Mr M Gove and the rest of the swivel eyed populists whipping up a very British form of nationalism in a very Thatcherite teacup.

The EU has done more to temper the tendencies of respective British governments in their attitudes to human rights, war, and the worst excesses of capitalism than the British voter has seemingly managed. Which is a dangerously undemocratic dynamic in itself, but I’ll take sense where I find it. Just because major corporations support the Remain camp doesn’t make it inherently wrong. Just because we can stick it to one bureaucratic power structure doesn’t mean we’ve picked the right battle.On so many levels, leaving feels like a short sighted move born of shaky facts and a refusal to pragmatically engage with globalisation.

The status quo is far from perfect – but fuck me – tear out all the economic benefits, grow more culturally introverted and leave the likes of Tony Blair and David Cameron answerable to no-one but a right wing, neo-liberal press and the opinions they shape? Seems like madness to me.