The Levellers "were patriots all"by David Selbourne / July 18, 2016 / Leave a comment
Read more: Book review—Following Farage
On 23rd June 2016, 17,410,742 Britons voted to leave the European Union, with public anxieties and angers mounting in the Western democracies about many things. Deepening inequality, the lost sense of national identity and mass-migration are among them. And as various forms of reaction, benign and malign, come to the surface, the issue of what is “progressive”—amid the growing political confusion—also raises its head. Labour’s divisions, divisions which cannot be healed, are expressions of it.
With most established parties held in varieties of discredit, dissent is also increasingly volatile and unpredictable, as the referendum outcome revealed. This dissent is not only hard to pigeon-hole in conventional terms but is complex. For example, Greece’s “left-wing” party Syriza (under its middle-class leader Alexis Tsipras) could hail a “people’s victory” in the 2015 general election before turning to the “right-wing” party of Independent Greeks to help him protect a near-bankrupt country from what he called “national humiliation”; and then accepted most of the EU’s impositions that he had previously pledged to refuse. He had little or no choice.
Likewise, not much remains of old “left” and “right” reflexes when France’s Front National is said to be winning over gay voters scared of Muslim homophobia, or when a Corbyn can include concerns for “markets” in his would-be “socialist” appeal to electors. Indeed, with a collapsing Labour Party, ravaged by Blairism, at sixes and sevens over the main issues of the day, Europe included, the responses of Nigel Farage to today’s political, social and moral disorders were often more rational than those of his detractors.
Thus, when he described himself in the New Statesman in November 2014 as “not on the right or left” but as a “radical,” it pointed to a stance as valid as any in today’s confusion, and more comprehensible than that of the born-again Trotskyites now bringing down the Labour Party.
Certainly, if the remaining “socialists” in Britain really wanted to create “socialism” in their country—supposing it was possible, and it is not—then the least good option was to vote to…