I saw the rather good Party Election Broadcast by the Lib Dems on the TV last week. Bad news, beyond election results, seems to still break overnight. Finding out resigned, disappointed and worried in the morning that our world is going to change for the worse is the new normal. The broadcast rather elegantly portrays that sinking feeling.
It wasn’t always like this. There was a time where people across the globe wanted to move forwards, not backwards. Older generations wanted to ensure more rights and opportunities for younger generations, and younger generations wanted to channel their radicalism into changing the world for the better. Today, those forces are no longer winning.
There is no reason why leaving the EU must mean going backwards, restricting rights, and shattering opportunities bar modern politics. Populists have sold a flag waving scam, and some people have bought in. Those that want different- we know for sure just over 48% of people, probably a lot more- are saboteurs who must be crushed rather than people that voted based on the opportunities that they saw were at risk, or believed last year that their opportunities would not be risked. Leaving the EU means young people can no longer study, work and travel freely across our continent, because those who ran the Leave campaigns and those most enthusiastic about Brexit didn’t feel those rights and opportunities were for them.
The zealots have been sold a picture of pre-Europe Britain that simply has never existed. Many of them are baby-boomers that have forgotten that they personally did not fight Nazism in the 1940s, that empire ended in the 1950s and 1960s, and that pre-Europe Britain was the ‘sick man of Europe’ in more ways than one. No amount of flag waving, or trying to start a war with Spain, can edit history, but it can seemingly edit the ways people remember history no end.
By and large, the young have failed to counter this. Young radicalism has been about progress for perhaps centuries. Much of that progress has been in some way liberal; economic or social. All of it has been designed to win the argument. Current movements don’t achieve that.
There is, in theory, nothing wrong with a generation’s radicals moving towards socialism. For a significant amount of modern history, socialism has certainly been the prevailing radical ideology. However, never has a movement backed by young people been as immoral, backward facing and inept as Labour’s current leadership.
Rather than look for progress, the Socialist Campaign Group has for decades looked to turn the clocks back. In the 2015 Labour leadership election, Corbyn promised to re-open collieries and re-nationalise industry. The failed policies of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, and the failed politics of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.
It seems from the outside that no one knows what the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s were like. Britain was in decline, opportunities were only available to those who were born into the right family, and nationalisation played a huge part in ensuring that the poor stayed poor; people were born into mining families in mining areas, and that was that until they developed severe medical conditions in later life.
The UK was, at several points, a matter of days away from having to beg for international aid to avoid becoming a failed state. Stagflation was coined, as the economy broke economic precedent and saw both rampant inflation and virtually no growth during the 1970s.
Brexit doesn’t need to mean returning to a Britain on its knees. Actively campaigning to turn back the clock does, and both the left and the right (and the young and the old) are right now. Brexit could be modern, and give young people more opportunities, if progress were the goal.
This isn’t just a British disease. The referendum result was followed by a shocking US election, and by the increased visibility of the far right world-wide (though, it must be noted that the far right have lost every major election in continental Europe, albeit by a smaller margin that we might hope, and are likely to continue to lose).
These movements all have a few things in common. Looking back to a time that never was is in that basket. The other is a hatred of those who want to take opportunities. If you work hard and get into university, and then become an expert in a field, you’re part of some kind of conspiracy and worthy of disgust. The best experts to these movements are those with no qualifications or knowledge of a subject; if you look at the nonsense you hear from Trump’s supporters about foreign elections and foreign terrorism this lack of knowledge becomes quite apparent.
To them, those who want to know more are part of the elite. It has nothing to do with money or influence- after all, Trump has a lot of influence and money, as did Farage, Le Pen and Wilders. It’s about people who want to do better for themselves, and see working hard to become better at something as a solution. Learning about economics, rather than claiming that the foreigners are stealing all your money, makes you part of the elite.
By that definition, the elite knows no class or wealth boundaries. By that definition, the elite can, should and will win in the end. By that definition, everyone should want their children to be part of the elite.
So yes, we need to fight to stop this outbreak of bottom-rung populism. If we don’t fight now, the morning news won’t be the most disappointing thing about the future. If we do fight, the ideas that the future should always be better than the past and that working hard to do be better is a good thing will win. Brexit doesn’t have to mean the death of modern Britain, and a heck of a lot of Leave voters agree with us.BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS