Friday, June 24, 2016

Brexit voters say: We're not going to take it!

[Update:  Glenn Greenwald has the best article post Brexit that I've seeen.  I second what he says, and would just have you read that instead of my attempts to say something similar.]

I was surprised and even humbled by the outpouring of something that has to be understood as real democracy, not just trumped up hate (though that played a part).  This is what actual democracy looks like, it is live and surprising and dangerous.  Britons have had very unsatisfactory neoliberal governance at least since Thatcher.  The economy has been terrible for most working people, less so for bankers and other elites, and hardly anything but downturn since 2008.  Finally after decades of No Alternative with both parties in power pushing the same austere neoliberal program, The People get a chance to express themselves in some substantial way. And there's a strong enough sentiment in many places to overwhelm the establishment and internationalist regions and Scotland and endless threats from all establishment quarters, with a huge turnout that blew away the predictions.

I'm a bit worried about how it's all going to work out.  Like Jeremy Corbyn, I wasn't pushing for this one, it was a mixed deal.   Much better to stay in the EU and go back to Old Labor, I thought.  Though in some part I was happy to see people resisting the neoliberal and technocratic EU, which
applies similar monetary and fiscal policies on Britain as it does on Euro countries.  This is a far more intrusive neoliberal regime than such operations as NAFTA, WTO, and GATT, though it does good in some areas, it is cruel in others.

Now if we can only resist TPP and tear up all the other agreements like NAFTA, GATT, and WTO as well, and replace all right wing governments with left social democratic ones, I'd really be happy.  That's the flicker of hope in Brexit that picked up my day first thing this morning, but sadly it's probably a mirage.

I wonder if, in large part the austerity--and the way it hit the working class--was more a function of Conservative (and New Liberal) government in London than the EU, though apparently EU membership does come with economic controls which are similar and even identical in some cases to those controls which apply in the Eurozone, and that control could conceivably force austerity on Britain.  That it was really the fault of the Conservative government is the belief of Corbyn and I'll go with that.  Now there's a great fear that Brexit will lead to more austerity.

Any candidate who promotes agreements like TPP should be very scared.  The EU had some redeeming features as well as being an institution for so long and I'm willing to give Corbyn a pass on not having opposed it.

Where does Hillary stand?  I've heard she has said she will oppose TPP.  I want to hear more of that, because I recall that Bill Clinton signed NAFTA after saying he'd fix it first.  He didn't and probably couldn't.  You can't take the neoliberalism out of an agreement like NAFTA.

I sign every petition against TPP that I can.

Update: Well success has many mothers, failure none.  In this case, the success of Brexit is generally ascribed to nativists.  In fact the mainstream will have it no other way.  The reality is a bit more complicated.

In fact the Leave campaign was highly colored if not dominated by nativists.  But among the Leave voters there were also a lot who merely wanted national sovereignty, and there was a solid fraction opposed to EU neoliberalism, as I earlier opined.

TPP isn't immediately killed by this, but it looks like TTiP is killed by it.  We can hope.

The infamous Cameron (and before) austerity was probably not driven by Brussels so much as Downing Street.  I don't have the particulars, but that seems to have been Corbyn's argument.

Hillary's initial response seems to identify with Cameron.  We won't let ourselves loose like him.  This doesn't sound good to me or, I'd think, other leftists.

Brexit as repudiation of elites, technocrats and neoliberalism is one of the largest themes in a very long discussion at NakedCapitalism.

The Guardian calls this a fake revolution.  That sounds plausible but the Guardian itself was incorporated into the neoliberal media some time ago so I don't trust them on this in the slightest.  Real revolutions are not pretty either, and just because we don't like it, doesn't mean it's not a revolution.

Crooked Timber has good discussions on Brexit.  An interesting point made by F. Foundling in comment #192 is that to those not adversely affected by Brexit, and he hopes for the best, Brexit has the democracy enhancing effect of saying, "Yes, there is an Alternative," in that countries can leave.  This is the only existing way to keep EU governance from becoming authoritarian, cruel, etc., as in fact to some countries it has become, even if not so much Britain itself.  I agree with this idea in general, and conveniently Sandwichman posted the horrifically misguided Flexible Labor Market rules from the EU which apply to both Euro and non-Euro countries.  These rules essentially prohibit the progressive use of fiscal policy, the most direct way countries can fight unemployment, recession, and depression, and simultaneously prohibit significant government investment and increasing social democracy.  The only thing possible under such rules is the continual dismantling of social democracy when any crisis hits.  Neoliberalism at its worst.

The conservative government asked to be excluded from the labor protections part of the EU rules, but not the macroeconomic parts.  Given what Sandwichman has posted, Brexit is the only socially acceptible option IMO.  I'm shocked, it's now looking like the mob was right and ultimately astute in it's denunciation of the EU regime.

The rules for the US Federal Reserve rightly direct the institution to minimize both inflation and unemployment, and set no hard targets.  The USA has many problems, including the dysfunctional Independent Executive design, and mostly a government of spectacles where the important work is opaque and plutocratic, but the dual mandate rules of the Fed (and, for that matter, Roe V Wade) are exemplary laws.

Sandwichman himself says he hopes to take Brexit, perhaps not overall a good thing (though perhaps not as bad as threatened), and turn it into Flexit, abolish the Flexible Labor Markets set of macroeconomic rules throughout the EU.

No Brexit, Flexit!  (Sadly, Flexit is probably the least likely outcome of all.  Brussels isn't going to be forced to change the rules!  I would blame it all on the neoliberal economists who designed the EU rules.)

The reliably left and brilliant Bruce Wilder sees Brexit as an opportunity and castigates the existing Labor government for not pushing Brexit:

Earlier Poster> Britain imposed austerity on itself. It voted that in. The EU didn’t. It chose right-wing governments that imposed right-wing economics 

“chose” is worth examining closely. The process of choice featured the complete abdication of the mainstream Left. Both Labour and the Lib-Dems echoed the neoliberal rhetoric in a me-too chorus. And pretty much every Party, major and minor, except the right-wing, continued this elite consensus regarding Brexit.
There is no left, left. In the sense that the left apparently cannot conceive of any institutional means of better government that does not involve abdication to a Tory gov’t or a Europe in the iron-grip of a neoliberal cabal of sociopaths. It is pathetic.

The sociopaths he is referring to are the technocrats in the EU.  And then more here:

The problem of Europe is how to organize political cooperation that enables democratic action for public purposes, and particularly in the management of money (“movement of capital”, fiscal discretion in taxing and spending), trade (movement of goods and services), and migration (movement of people).
The neoliberal regime seeks to disable the nation-states as managers of these flows and the economic risks that attend their fluctuations, freeing private business and finance to organize and dominate the management of flows and attendant risks (externalizing the risks and looting the vulnerable vestigial nation-states and communities).
I do not understand how a left that refuses to manage any of these things ever even conceives of governing

Another leftist Plume worries that the cost of this change to achieve that is too great, and wonders if Bruce isn't merely projecting his fantasies onto the situation: he thinks the beatings will likely continue under local authorities.

I can see if I were a Briton myself, I might not like Brexit for the loss of freedom to travel.  But seeing what the EU actually is and how it works, I think it should be abandoned if it can't be reformed.  I'm pretty much in agreement with this comment at NakedCapitalism (where you see a lot of pro-Brexit).

Given the Ordoliberal roots of the most powerful actor in the Eurozone, Germany, it's inconceivable they will ever agree to rules that would work elsewhere.  So the only possible thing is to go back to the earlier Common Market rules, with no attempt at monetary integration or normalization.  As strongly as anything I think the Euro should go, and I believe it will, as proof of the Taoist notion, that which cannot bend will break.  The Euro was an attempt to create a virtual Gold Standard, perhaps even worse than the real Gold Standard.  Let independent floating currencies enable trade among the motley economies of Europe.  That's really the only system that can work, no point in prolonging the agony.

Now one might wonder why it doesn't seem like the Conservative government isn't fighting the non-binding referendum (though they are attempting to delay the official withdrawl a bit...and Brussels wants it to happen now if ever).  Certainly in most capitalist countries, if the rabble were to win somehow, surely the victory would be cancelled somehow.  In this case, a sizeable part of the ruling class actually wanted Brexit, and they don't want their victory snatched away, nor do those in the enraged Northeast rustbelt.

In this case, there was a solid fraction of Conservatives, not just xenophobes, who supported Brexit.  In fact there appears to be a very central figure, though with no legal role (in fact, any meddling of hers would be illegal), Her Majesty.  She apparently suprised a number of people with a long a detailed discussion of how Brussels was going in the wrong direction.  This tabloid report was officially denied, as officially the Queen is not supposed to interfere in politics.  But her feelings likely being as described, and likely known to the PM and other key players, given a vote going her way, they're certainly not going to waste time turning it around.

So, Her Majesty gets it.  Brexit, and it seems for the right reasons.  God Save the Queen!

I'm actually partial to the idea that we need a parliamentary government, and actually a constitutional monarchy with an independent lifetime Head of State.  Over time, if not so much recently, England's government has worked pretty well.  I don't think it's irrelevant who the Head of State is, someone caring and thoughtful like me is required.

Anyway, I wish all the best, though I would like to see the EU out of monetary operations and the like, back to where it started.  Neoliberalism is tyranny.

The proper way to handle Brexit is expansionary.  Create new jobs for stuff previously outsourced or bought.  Then the proper way to do this is jump right in.  Expand to create the new more self-sufficient Britain.  Employ everyone at the highest capacity possible.  Full employment is the first attribute of success.  The best time is now: jump right in.  I think some visionary idealism helps expand into a new era.

Progress is made with large leaps, not small cuts as neoliberalism does.

Sadly the Conservatives aren't a full employment party, they're a full exploitation party, and that requires a modicum of unemployment to perpetuate fear.  So they're sticking with the neoliberal approach of regress through sacrifice from the commoners, and so would Blair New Labor.  So keep your nose on the grindstone, the beatings will continue until a new excuse can be invented, wouldn't want to go without some bogeyman.

Update: here's a very balanced take on the Brexit situation by Foreign Policy in Focus.

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