Brexit: The Rise Of Post-Truth Politics And Society’s Failings
So I decided it was time to write an article on here, I figured it would be a productive outpouring of feelings.
As a preface to my ramblings I feel that the key to understanding my position on matters like this is that over time I have come to see the world’s activities, not as they should be, but as how they actually are including the various caveats and nuanced baggage that is often involved. I’d go as far as calling myself a political moderate ascribing foremost to the notion of ‘Realpolitik’— “a system of politics or principles based on practical rather than moral or ideological considerations”.
As this is my first article professing any sort of opinion to ‘paper’ as it were I decided to start with a topic close to my mind that’s been bugging me on and off this past year. That topic is Brexit. I do not mean to take any sides on the politics but rather point out the direction of British society, in my eyes through the guise of Realpolitik, and as an observer who was born and raised in London.
I remember the early part of the year, around January, that the British public was first made aware of the fact that Brexit was on the cards and a referendum vote was set, June 23rd they stated. The machinations and arguments thus started in earnest.
Come end of February I had grown incredibly tired of the endless ramblings on programmes such as Question Time. The 'Remain' campaign argued for the collective interest and economic stability for a united Europe in crisis. The 'Leave' campaign argued for job security historically undermined by migrant wage depression, secure borders against the growing refugee problem and political autonomy from an overbearing EU.
Needless to say I will sit on the fence regarding my own feelings and instead focus on the build-up to the Vote itself. I distinctly remember tuning out of the debate in the months leading up to the Vote but at the same time noticed subtle trends developing, a large segment of society was rallying and Brexit was their ‘call to arms’. It shames me to say so but that idiom held both figurative and literal connotations because as we are so painfully aware, the culmination of rhetoric led to the murder of Jo Cox, an MP. I thought at the time, “this is it, this disgusting act must surely bring the people together against the actions we were witness to and let us vote to Remain — a vote for unity in the face of oppression”. Unfortunately, no such reconciliation occurred and we as a society spiraled. Hate crime drove upwards, targeting of minorities and the idea of excessive patriotism, to native culture is somehow the new epitome of a meaningful life in the modern era, allowed the roots of authoritarian nationalism to spread.
We entered the ‘Post-Truth Politics' era. People everywhere, particularly on the Leave campaign were given a licence with which to voice their opinions, no matter how foul. Those outside this segment of society had grown to believe that we had almost advanced away from our national tribalism and that we were citizens of the world, not the UK — that we were in this global phenomenon together with our European partners. We naively believed that such foul rhetoric had fallen out of fashion, as racism and sexism in common language fell out of the minds of the masses. Instead those of us witness to this rhetoric came to understand that it is not the thinking of yesteryear that we should fear but rather the indoctrination of anti-intellectualism that has been allowed to foster.
The seeking out of proponents for the anti-intellectualism cause and believers in post-truth politics allowed the rest of us to see that the filth in society was never sterilized by time and education, but instead left to rot in the underbelly, waiting. Waiting for conditions akin to the public sentiment of the late 1930’s to rear their head like a great lumbering beast.
We had much to fear from Brexit — in particular the normalization of hate rhetoric of migrants as savages, abusers and dogmatic ideologues the combination of which created images of monsters when in reality we were dealing with victims. Individuals who, by any other path in life less dangerous, would be indistinguishable to those wandering around Oxford Street, London on a Friday Evening.
One need only look at the outpouring of opinion on internet articles to find opinions expressed freely under the protection of online anonymity that would otherwise be vilified in the modern workplace or social setting.
Experts were drawn into the cross-hairs. Apparently, we had heard enough of what they thought — they couldn’t be trusted to have predicted the Recession and Banking Crisis of 2008/9 so why trust them now? Business leaders, the IMF, the World Bank, the UN, President Obama and various world leaders all sought to express their opinions, and rightly so. For when we live in an internet enabled era with vast access to unlimited information and fact checking, we have ironically found a segment of people drift towards anti-intellectualism. Educated citizens that provide the best evidence of being fickle and emotional animals that deliberately seek the comforts of ignorance. We as a species should hold the pursuit of intellectualism as the highest and most pristine ideal to strive for yet instead we in the UK sought to reject this pursuit for the safety of empty promises from ‘populist shepherds’ as they effectively became, leading a flock of “undesirables” to quote Hillary Clinton.
Look now where the shepherds have led the flock and see that the flock has been abandoned and lied to. There was no revolution for those left out in the global struggle for economic prosperity. The shepherds saw short-term political gain — a new ‘golden fleece’ for Nigel Farage on the US presidential stage and Governmental positions for the likes of Boris Johnson. See now how the flock suffers, see how they long for leadership, see how Theresa May panders to the ideologues and how deep the chasm before us lies. We, the vulnerable flock, are surrounded by antagonized wolves itching for the first bite and dare I say it, the economic and political kill.
To surmise, as a Londoner raised to embrace globalization and economic cooperation in this Capital City with our European Cousins, the future worries me. Brexit is scheduled to begin in 2017 but I can assure you, it will not be an easy path, nor a worthwhile outcome.