Thursday, November 16, 2017
Brexit Britain - The Last Ghost Dance
I read an interesting New York Times article by Steven Erlanger on the afterglow of the Brexit vote last weekend which seems to tie in with some earlier points I have made on this blog over the years regarding how the sub-national outplay of the dissolution of the United Kingdom - as first critically analysed in the mid-Seventies by the Marxist writer Tom Nairn - has thrown up as much if not more socio-cultural discord in the English heartland as within the Celtic littoral. That not withstanding the grotesque political paralysis in Ulster caused by one particular party or the qualifications facing Scotland in negotiating a genuine national independence within the constructs of a splintering European Union.
As another desperate year of stagnation in Europe moves to closure I am personally drawn in my mind to a new formulation of post-war British history wherein the gradual storm-like descent into fundamentally irreversible political conflict and communal disunity can be traced on both sides of the Irish Sea from the late Forties onwards. The strengths of the tidal surges and the violent impact of the breaking waves may have differed but the end result has proved remarkably similar by way of today's broad-based discontent, high personal angst, the unsustainability of such a civic imbalance and a garnering disconnectivity with our past.
In the case of Northern Ireland I feel that the withdrawal of the Irish Republic from the British Commonwealth in 1948 by the Fine Gael/Clann na Poblachta coalition - a party political move which had no major public dynamic underpinning its execution, originated in a diplomatic snub against Taoiseach John Costello in Canada by the Governor-General and singlehandedly destroyed the relatively nonpartisan Labour movement in the North by default - was actually the first significant transitionary and indeed tectonic shift towards the years of bedlam which lay two decades ahead and now can be seen as an extremely fateful turning point. Mainland Britain's socio-political problems likewise lie deep in our modern history and had equally sobering consequences.
The mismanagement and subsequent fudging of the Brexit vote by the British political establishment in turn appears by the day now to represent the approach of something fundamentally terminal in our social history - particularly in regard to the failure of mainstream media to reflect the clear-as-daylight dynamics behind the populist surge. The same British media of course that has been selectively dumb about the future shock foibles of the past decade regarding frozen private sector salaries and firestorm house prices affecting the vast majority of people with no secondary sources of income in reserve.
The immobile leaden atmosphere evident in the aftermath of the Brexit vote seems to underscore beyond qualification how our country clearly faces the future in a state of social, ethical and particularly industrial inversion to the better world we appeared to have entered in the early Fifties. All bridges now burned - all quick fixes now exhausted.