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Brexit and the diseased liberal mind

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Jonathan Cook       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   3 comments

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Jeremy Corbyn
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The enraged liberal reaction to the Brexit vote is in full flood. The anger is pathological -- and helps to shed light on why a majority of Britons voted for leaving the European Union, just as earlier a majority of Labour party members voted for Jeremy Corbyn as leader.

A few years ago the American writer Chris Hedges wrote a book he titled the Death of the Liberal Class. His argument was not so much that liberals had disappeared, but that they had become so co-opted by the right wing and its goals -- from the subversion of progressive economic and social ideals by neoliberalism, to the enthusiastic embrace of neoconservative doctrine in prosecuting aggressive and expansionist wars overseas in the guise of "humanitarian intervention" -- that liberalism had been hollowed out of all substance.

Liberal pundits sensitively agonize over, but invariably end up backing, policies designed to benefit the bankers and arms manufacturers, and ones that wreak havoc domestically and abroad. They are the "useful idiots" of modern western societies.

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The liberal British media is current awash with articles by pundits on the Brexit vote I could select to illustrate my point, but this one by Guardian columnist Zoe Williams, I think, isolates this liberal pathology in all its sordid glory.

Here is a revealing section, written by a mind so befuddled by decades of neoliberal orthodoxy that it has lost all sense of the values it claims to espouse:

"There is a reason why, when Marine le Pen and Donald Trump congratulated us on our decision, it was like being punched in the face -- because they are racists, authoritarian, small-minded and backward-looking. They embody the energy of hatred. The principles that underpin internationalism -- cooperation, solidarity, unity, empathy, openness -- these are all just elements of love."

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A love-filled EU?

One wonders where in the corridors of the EU bureaucracy Williams identifies that "love" she so admires. Did she see it when the Greeks were being crushed into submission after they rebelled against austerity policies that were themselves a legacy of European economic policies that had required Greece to sell off the last of its family silver?

Is she enamored of this internationalism when the World Bank and IMF go into Africa and force developing nations into debt-slavery, typically after a dictator has trashed the country decades after being installed and propped up with arms and military advisers from the US and European nations?

What about the love-filled internationalism of NATO, which has relied on the EU to help spread its military tentacles across Europe close to the throat of the Russian bear? Is that the kind of cooperation, solidarity and unity she was thinking of?

Williams then does what a lot of British liberals are doing at the moment. She subtly calls for subversion of the democratic will:

"The anger of the progressive remain side, however, has somewhere to go: always suckers for optimism, we now have the impetus to put aside ambiguity in the service of clarity, put aside differences in the service of creativity. Out of embarrassment or ironic detachment, we've backed away from this fight for too long."

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That includes seeking the ousting of Jeremy Corbyn, of course. "Progressive" Remainers, it seems, have had enough of him. His crime is that he hails from "leftwing aristocracy" -- his parents were lefties too, apparently, and even had such strong internationalist principles that they first met in a committee on the Spanish civil war.

But Corbyn's greater crime, according to Williams, is that "he is not in favor of the EU." It would be too much trouble for her to try and untangle the knotty problem of how a supreme internationalist like Corbyn, or Tony Benn before him, could be so against the love-filled EU. So she doesn't bother.

Reversing the democratic will

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Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. He is the 2011 winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are "Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East" (Pluto Press) and "Disappearing Palestine: (more...)
 

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