1worker1vote posted this piece toward the end of June 2016, What’s the Matter with Little England?, over four months before the November 2016 USA elections. Reading it again is painful but instructive. With UK elections set for this December and the 2020 U.S. presidential elections one year from this week, will the Brexit past once more presage another “America First” prologue, adding incumbency advantages to the burning fires of western democracies civically torn asunder? Are we still in the same place on both sides of the Atlantic or is the populist needle trending elsewhere?
As our June 2016 post predicted, the upcoming Brexit campaign lessons to be learned will be vital to what happens in an America twitter-titillated by electoral coliseum fireworks where show beats substance. In the UK, dressed-down, “anti-elite” policies, pub-pints instead of cocktails, framed as “tough on crime, tough on Europe, spending on social services and transportation projects in working-class regions” reveal an eerie similarity to MAGA 2016 promises (“the best jobs president that God ever created”) made to heartland American factory workers and coal miners. (Read Boris Johnson is betting he can realign British politics. He may be right. – by Henry Olsen/The Washington Post.)
Two cents worth from the USA cheap seats (the French description, “les enfants de paradis,” of those sitting in farthest away, lowest cost bleachers, is more relevant and damning because the phrase implies that hope through spectacle is offered and then withdrawn, paradise lost, when the curtain falls and the election drama is over):
- “Tough on crime” is agile politician code for throwing poorer, working class and people of color in jail, the universally euphemistic “friends and family” incarceration program administered by those who rule on behalf of those who don’t.
- “Tough on Europe” means outsourcing UK jobs to an EU without the UK – this is already happening and has cost the UK 40 BN per Brexit year … so doubling down on more of the same.
- How could anyone believe in the “promise of social services spending” from the Conservative and Republican Austerity Parties? Austerity being just another throw-away for “keeping those people in their places” and having the power to do so. And, if there is any public spending, proven odds are it will be trickle-down, outsourced and subsistence wages like it always has been especially once partisan, small government public debt alarmists reclaim their natural political heritage.
- The classic siren allure of “infrastructure spending starts with transportation” but these temporary employment projects almost never permanently engage locals and profits are not circulated to stakeholders but to ex-territorial shareholders. The flip side uses transportation projects to destroy working class solidarity by not protecting neighborhoods from gentrification, redlining and the disappearing chimera of affordable and livable housing.
When infrastructure projects by/of/for the economic elite do take working class passengers into affluent neighborhoods they give us London’s Grenfell where foundational safety regulations were shortchanged in favor of gentrified flammable façade upgrades, (“two sheets of aluminum that sandwich a combustible core of polyethylene”) – produced by ALCOA – to appease upper class view shed sensitivities. Grenfell is a burning metaphor for real Life suffering directly caused by political black Arts. (Read Why Grenfell Tower Burned: Regulators Put Cost Before Safety – by David D. Kirkpatrick, Danny Hakim and James Glanz/NYT).
Austerity actions have life-threatening consequences for those who can’t buy their way out of cutbacks, privatization, shutdowns and foreclosures. Four years before fire ravaged Grenfell Tower, Boris Johnson, then mayor of London, closed 10 fire stations, sold 27 fire engines and put 500 firefighters out of their jobs. (Read more from The Mirror.) Elton John’s “Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word.”
Equating Grenfell to Brexit is far more tragic than connecting “America First” bait and switch campaign promises such as the loss of Carrier’s Indianapolis factory jobs or the anti-immigration southwest border wall that Mexico was going to fund. Still, the existential challenge to step through Alice’s misinformation looking glass in both the UK and USA, distinguishing truth from falsehood and differentiating victims and perpetrators clearly and convincingly, is the same. Prevarication was built into the 2016 Brexit and American First campaigns through lies repeated and validated by Murdoch family-owned media channels as primary “alternative facts” enablers in both countries, lies once normalized then deliberately outsourced to hostile foreign governments to inflame socioeconomic divisions on values-free, monopolistic and greed-infested social media platforms.
It’s not just Conservatives versus Labour in the UK this December and Republicans versus Democrats in the USA next November. Beyond the predictable cacophony of binary political party choices hawking zero-sum destinies, absolute science and evidence-based Facts that construct altruistic and generally respected public service Truths, (democracy’s principal bulwark against authoritarian Government Surveillance Economies distorting and manipulating siloed propaganda information wastelands to feed their own power), are threatened with extinction. To date, the USA/UK nation guinea pigs in the new Global Disinformation Cold War show little ability to grasp absolute as compared to relative motion realities and destines, floundering and about to capsize as two maritime democracies equally lost at sea.
There is no safe port in this imperfect, foundationally disruptive storm. For those who can claim God speaks to and through them, who delight in the laying of their hands on a Commander-in-Chief before news media during a White House Oval Office photo-op, the bible’s ninth commandment warning against bearing false witness offers the only saving political grace to both the Magna Carta and the Constitution.
Why should we expect and hope the December 2019 and November 2020 Brexit and America First campaigns, respectively, will be any different from their successful origins? Because they won’t. “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me”.
As Hong Kong protestors prove daily, without authentic economic democracy there is no difference between the «enfants de paradis» and the «enfants d’enfer».