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<nettime> to Brexit or not to Brexit that was only one of the questions
siegel allan on Sun, 26 Jun 2016 10:33:59 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> to Brexit or not to Brexit that was only one of the questions


As Brian Holmes has stated, "Yesterday's vote is a stunning development and it foreshadows the possible end of an era shaped, in many positive respects, by 1968 and  the immense and diverse forces of liberation that flowered in its wake.” This is only partially true; but, nevertheless, indicates an important frame of reference in regards to the implications of the Brexit vote. Like the ’68 events, and more generally the political movements that flowered during the post-war period (including the revolutionary movements in Africa and Latin America as well as the civil rights and anti-war movements in the U.S.) what was brought into the foreground was the necessity of the Western democracies to deliver on the promises of their anti-colonial rhetoric. They didn't. And, putting aside (for the moment) whatever truths lay behind the propaganda battles of the Cold War, what we do know is that the colonial powers of Europe and the neo-colonial upstart, the U.S, needed to be forcibly pushed to relinquish their colonial dominions AND often the changes that did take place were short lived or only partial. But this serves only as a fragmentary context of the times.

What was significant about this historical moment is that it dramatically highlighted the disconnect between the rhetoric of democratic regimes and social reality. In the U.S. this disjuncture was painfully obvious in regards to the limitations on human rights and violence directed towards America’s Afro American citizens, in particular. And, while the post-68 generations carried forward many forces (and ideas) regarding human liberation, and other social movements, “in their wake” was an equally forceful counterrevolution incorporating what Marcuse called ‘repressive tolerance’ as well as an avalanche of neoliberal policies and wars that created the ground work for new forms of social alienation and political disconnections. 

The complexity and diversity of today's emerging social movements are significant and have parallels with an earlier time; they define a prologue that suggests new forms of political dscourse and actions; they consciously seek to diverge from traditional and stale political institutions. We see this in the Bernie Sanders campaign in the U.S., in France, In Spain, in Greece and very soon in England. The common denominator here is youth, disempowered and disillusioned youth who, like the youth in ’68, see the political rhetoric of the established political parties as a sham: their rhetoric riddled with lies and disinformation. The Iraq war in this sense was a watershed for it not only brought havoc on to the region but was justified by pompous sloganeering and policy statements that were little more than conscious deceptions designed to sway public opinion.

When I say that the present moment is simply a prologue marking more critical struggles that lay beyond our immediate horizon or sense of the possible, I mean exactly that. What is required now is a rigorous sifting through the ideological terrain and a thorough critique of the viability of existing political institutions; the moment requires also a decisive leap in our collective ideological imaginations; a leap that strenghtens nascent, innovative, political institutions; that articulates new forms of governance; and, most definitely, developes and publicises social and economic policies that courageously break new ground. 


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