1. Making Sense of
Brexit: Paul Mason on Britain's
Growing Economic &
2. Brexit and Trump: Populism or Manipulation?
3. EU v.
Brexit = Class War
This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, June 28, 2016.
is another crisis log, and this one is only about Brexit. There are 3
items and 3 dotted links: Item 1 is about an
interview of Amy Goodman with The Guardian's Paul Mason (whom I don't
like much, and I explain); item 2 is about an
article by Paul Pillar, who thinks Brexit is not so much populism as a
fight between two elites; and item 3 is about two
articles on Washington's Blog that say that Brexit = Class War. (I
disagree, and explain.)
Sense of Brexit: Paul Mason on Britain's Growing Economic &
first item today is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!:
This starts as follows:
Britain remains in a widening
crisis days after voters chose to leave the European Union. British
Prime Minister David Cameron has announced his resignation. Labour
leader Jeremy Corbyn is facing a coup within his own party as more than
a dozen members of his shadow cabinet have resigned or been sacked.
Scotland has announced it will take any steps needed to stay inside the
European Union, including possibly holding a second independence
referendum. (..) To make sense of what’s happening, we speak to
longtime British journalist Paul Mason, who has worked at the BBC and Channel 4. His new book is titled
"Postcapitalism: A Guide to Our Future"
It took some searching, but Mason's book is
nearly a year old, and was reviewed by me on July 18, 2015, and most of that
review was not well.
Here is my summary of the book (after having read a so-called "long
Well... I have done my best, and have read it
all, but I could
little decent rational argumentation, amidst a lot of utopian thinking,
and a few more or less factual bits.
I still think that was correct, and therefore
I will select more or less factual quotes from this interview.
First Amy Goodman, with a quite important point:
GOODMAN: Global stock
markets have plummeted. More than $2 trillion was wiped off global
equity markets on Friday in the biggest daily loss ever. Earlier today,
the British pound hit a 31-year low.
To see how much this was: A trillion = a
thousand billion, and a billion = a thousand million, so in one day
$2,000,000,000,000 were - somehow - lost,
in a single day.
That is a whole lot of money. Then there is this on David Cameron:
(..) Mr. Cameron, who’s signaled his resignation but is not yet gone,
will go down in history as the Conservative leader who, first of all,
destroyed the European Union—I mean, we have left the major bloc in the
world economy—and he’s going to destroy the United Kingdom, as well,
because, as you suggested in the introduction, Scotland will leave. (..)
This is probably more or less fair, simply
because politicians are rarely recalled for something other than the
most important thing they did or let happen.
There is this on British young people (who mostly did not vote):
MASON: (..) Seventy-four
percent of young people who voted voted to stay in the European Union.
The only problem is, we think somewhere between 35 and 45 percent of
that age group actually voted—much, much lower than any other age
group. The dislocation from politics meant that the people for whom
this is going to mean the most had the least say.
Well... yes and no. I have not voted since
1970 (when I last had to), and my reason is that "politics" in Holland
then meant what it means now, except that now it is worse: Voting
for liars, frauds, or degenerates, who are for the most part about the
least fit for governing the country.
I think I was right then, and I am right now that the ordinary
"politicians" are eminent as liars only, and not as
good minds, nor as good intellectuals, nor as honest
And while I agree that it is a pity that the ignorant and stupid majority
voted Great Britain out of the EU, I insist that the reason most young
did not vote is
based on a correct analysis of the majority of political frauds
who lead them.
Finally, there is this on Jeremy Corbyn:
I like Corbyn for the same reason as I like
Bernie Sanders: He is one of the very few who remained both honest
(mostly) and real leftist (mostly). But they are among the
very, very few real and honest leftists who are now elected
AMY GOODMAN: What’s happening to Jeremy
Corbyn right now?
PAUL MASON: Right now, behind me in the
Parliament, there is a revolt of his own MPs. I think he won’t be able
to face that down. And what it will lead to is another leadership
election. I think this is the last thing we need. I think it’s driven
by—there’s quite a big middle-class hysteria since the vote. The people
really are feeling, "My whole life was shaped around the European
Union." European Union is kind of the soul of the democratic and social
justice story here in Britain. And many of those MPs have just lost
their nerve. They say they don’t think Jeremy Corbyn can win the
election. I think, for the right wing of the Labour Party, the
neoliberal wing, their fear is he can win the election, because the
Conservative government barely exists. (...)
If Corbyn survives this leadership
challenge, we have a chance of having the first radical-left government
in the developed world, you know, from a big country. And I’m sure,
absolutely sure, that these challenges to Corbyn are being coordinated
by the political representatives of big business and, you know, TTIP and free trade. You know, that’s who’s behind
And this also leads me to my last point: I do not know whether
Mason is correct in accusing "big business (..) TTIP and free trade" as
being behind the current attack on Corbyn.
Mason does not give any evidence, and besides: it
isn't needed, for most of the elected Labour politicians are not
real socialists, and are not really honest, and are in fact Blairites
(<-Wikipedia) i.e. neoliberal careerists
who went Labour rather than Conservative because their parents weren't
rich enough to get them through Eton + Cambridge, but who - for the
most part - have no proletarian background, and are - for the
most part - simply and only political careerists out
for their own welfare.
2. Brexit and Trump: Populism or Manipulation?
The second item is by Paul R.
Pillar on Consortiumnews:
This comes with a summary:
The Brexit vote, like Donald
Trump’s campaign, is less a populist uprising against the elites than a
contest of one elite over another in manipulating popular sentiments,
argues ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.
I say. But one problem Pillar does not
raise or discuss in this article is that there are several kinds of
elites, and notably these three: the political elite, of
elected politicians and governors; the financial elite, of
bankers; and the economic elite
of rich industrialists (and CEOs of rich companies) who do not make
their money from banking. (And these differ fundamentally, because each
makes their money in a different way than the other two.)
We will come to this, but first there is this, which is quite correct:
The vote exhibits something else
that transcends Britain: most of those who voted for Brexit were voting
against their own interests, certainly as defined by whatever affects
their economic well-being. The economic case for remaining in the E.U.
was strong to overwhelming. The issue was not one on which honest and
competent economists split evenly, or anything close to evenly.
Yes. So the next question should be: Why
do people vote against their own - fairly obvious, for those who are
well educated and intelligent - interests? Here is part of Paul
And the portions of the British electorate
that voted most heavily in favor of leaving, including many of the less
well educated and less well off, will
feel some of the worst effects of non-membership.
Actually, most people are (in my highly
educated eyes, that were born in a very poor proletarian
family, unlike most intellectuals) both stupid and ignorant. And
in case you doubt this: Check out the last link in the quote,
which shows that many Brits didn't even know what the EU is.
But beyond these categories of voters is
another reason many people vote against their own interests; they are
simply mistaken about which outcomes would help and which would hurt
those interests. Many British voters genuinely believed that erecting
higher barriers to the cross-border movement of people, goods, and
capital would make them better off than the alternative.
The situations of some of those people
made them correct, but most such people were mistaken. We see the same
phenomenon all the time in the United States, in the form of
working-class people voting for politicians who enact policies that
favor the one percent and disfavor the working class.
Simply put, people are ignorant. The
ignorance is underscored in Britain by lots
of people scrambling after
the vote to learn what this European Union business is all about. It is
underscored in the United States by Trump declaring after one of his
primary election victories, “I love the poorly educated.”
Finally, there is this:
The ignorance that causes many
people to vote contrary to their interests is not all spontaneously
generated. Much of it is nurtured by elites for their own purposes. The
contest is more one of elites versus other elites.
I agree on the ignorance (and
As to the elites: Because both the financial elite and the economical
elite were for remaining in the EU, this can only
be - if true - a struggle between different political elites (notably
inside the Conservative Party and also inside the Labour Party).
And while I think this may be true, in a sense, I think in the present
case all elites miscalculated, and the
vote for Brexit indeed was mostly due to the ignorance of the voters about their real economical interests, and
that kept them from seeing and curing that
3. EU v. Brexit = Class War
The third item is by Washington's Blog
(and in fact consists of two items from that source):
This starts with an item attributed to
"Deutsche Bank's Jim Reid" that ends as follows (bolding in the
So there’s no escaping
the fact that this is a class war. Whether its globalisation,
immigration, inequality, poor economic growth or a combination of all
of them it’s quite clear from this and other anti-establishment
movements that the status quo can’t last in a democracy. Eventually
you’ll have a reaction.
I did not give you the start of this
quotation, which consists of a listing of the diverse income groups and
their votes ("the ABs, the C1s, the C2s and the Ds") that just do not
prove that "this is a class war", at least not from the side of the ordinary people,
who make up 90% of all.
But let me step back a moment. For me, "class war" is (originally) a Marxist idea (in
which I am quite correct), which is based on Marx's notion that
are the classes of capitalists and of proletarians, that are naturally
(Marx might say: dialectially) opposed, and that are constantly
fighting, which must end with the destruction of the capitalist class
by the proletarian class, who then can start socialism.
In fact, this is what my communist parents thought, and what I
came to reject from age 20 (in 1970) onwards, in part for the reason
that while I could think of something like "an organized
capitalist class", I found it very difficult to think of "an
organized proletarian class", in either case because organization
implies the presence of groups
that are (to an extent) personally acquainted, and for
proletarians there were no such groups (in other countries, or
In other words, "a class" seemed to me too high an abstraction
to analyze what happens in a society:
Societies - in practice - are made up of groups
rather than classes.
I still think I am correct, but I agree there is a considerable
amount of "class talk", and I also insist most of it is quite vague
(and not based on any real knowledge of Marx). And this also
seems the case with "Deutsche Bank's Jim Reid".
So we need to consider "class war" - in some sense.
To start with, here is Vincent Bevis quoted by Greenwald (in an essay I
reviewed two days ago)
“since the 1980s the
elites in rich countries have overplayed their hand, taking all the
gains for themselves and just covering their ears when anyone else
talks, and now they are watching in horror as voters revolt.”
And this is Michael Sandel quoted by Glenn
Greenwald (also in the essay I reviewed two days ago):
“A large constituency of
working-class voters feel that not only has the economy left them
behind, but so has the culture, that the sources of their dignity, the
dignity of labor, have been eroded and mocked by developments with
globalization, the rise of finance, the attention that is
lavished by parties across the political spectrum on economic and
financial elites, the technocratic emphasis of the established
I agree with both points, but I also gave a
list of seven points then that were all due to me (none of which
mention "class" as indeed wasn't done by Greenwald):
- Since 1980 the rich elites in the US
and Europe systematically, both politically and economically,
have taken more and more
of the power,
and made more and more of the decisions in
their own interests, without any care for the incomes,
chances or health of those who were not rich.
- This also was a major change in
the New Deal and Keynesian policies that had dominated from 1933
till 1980, and that were almost totally given up by most of
- The rich did get most of what
they wanted (which I
agree was both egoistic and greedy, in their own financial interests, and
socially very dangerous), and they also did get, and still
the main media, which were changed from a more or less free press
into a press that mostly relays government propaganda
as if it were true.
- The rich have mostly sidelined
democracy, namely by replacing the free press (in the main
media) by the propaganda press (in the main media), and by
getting a lot more votes for themselves and their rightist
views by simpleminded but effective propaganda.
- The same holds for many "social
democratic" parties, that turned "neoliberal", and in fact ceased
leftish except in terminology and slogans.
- The "working-class
voters" are no longer "working class", for the
simple reason that their working class jobs in factories have been
- Clinton and Blair expressly and proudly
killed social democracy in their parties (outside
the levels of slogans and some propagandizing) and they also both killed
any hope for any other economic system than capitalism.
So if there is "a class
war" it was and is from the side of the rich elites (that I
think are best indicated by "the 1%" plus some 10% of the
people who work for them, that include almost all politicians of
almost any party these days) and indeed it was the last 35 years not
faught by "the proletarian class" nor indeed by "the 90%", even
though these were victimized in an enormous way.
Next, Washington's Blog provided an interesting reference to an article
he wrote on October
10, 2011. I quote some bits of it, that in fact all made the point
I just made: If there is a class war, it was from the side of the
rich elites (who do know each other, or at least can
know of each other), and not from the side of the -
massively plundered - 90%.
First, there is this:
No, "the 99%" for the most part did nothing,
though indeed "the 1%" achieved a lot since 1980.
Pimco boss Bill Gross – one of the 1% – tweeted
Class warfare by the 99%? Of course,
they’re fighting back after 30 years of being shot at.
Next, here is Warren Buffet, indeed in 2006:
And next, here are Ashel Edelman and someone
Gross joins Warren Buffet, who pointed
out in 2006:
There’s class warfare, all right, but
it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war ….
And here is Washington's Blog himself, from
Asher Edelman –
the well-known corporate raider who helped inspire the character Gordon
Gekko in the 1987 film “Wall Street” – supports the protests and says:
The greed of the banks are the cause
for the terrible economic situation that we have today.
And the Chief Investment Officer for
Calpers – California’s $235 billion dollar pension
fund – said
I understand why people are
protesting: Wall Street is a rigged game.
As I noted
This is true. But if it is "class
warfare" it was almost exclusively - and since 1980 - by the few rich
against the many poor. And so far, the few rich won almost
everything, for more than 35 years, indeed in good part because they
also succeeded in deceiving
and misleading the poor, making education a whole lot poorer, and by
buying academia, either straight away, or by having made them accept enormous
loans for their education.
That is another reason that conservatives
and liberals are uniting in protesting the status quo. We currently
have crony capitalism,
socialism or fascism … not free
market capitalism. Those who commit the biggest frauds and are part
of the aristocracy get richer, while everyone else gets poorer.
Yes, this is class warfare. But it is class
warfare by the 1% against the other 99% (and see
this). Specifically, it is the looting
of the country
by the top .1% through