Brian Holmes on Fri, 18 Jan 2019 16:58:14 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> notes from Brexania in limbo...

On Fri, Jan 18, 2019 at 5:08 AM David Garcia wrote: 

That's a totally engaging lecture, I recommend it to anyone. He's right that a thousand soundbites about Brexit have told us nothing. One's life, identity, political community and institutional system are worth an hour - and from my position on the outside, to hear those issues so vigorously debated actually makes me care about the whole thing in a way I could not before.

If I have understood, he's saying that the disempowerment of the English leave voters comes most obviously from a tremendous shift of wealth under neoliberalism: 1% of the global population now owns a staggering 46% of all wealth, up from 36% in 2017 (and one can imagine how many of those 1 percenters work in the City). But behind that, he's saying that the core English leave voters have no representation or identity except that of Great Britain, which is an imperial construct. Therefore their attempt to regain a collective sense of self and take back control over their own lives is routed through the imperial past - exactly that horrible legacy recalled by Pankaj Mishra and so many others.

By contrast he shows a beautiful photo of the small, and apparently quite racially diverse, Scottish parliament, where people voted Remain, and he also makes some brilliant remarks concerning what people love about the EU, namely regulation: clean beaches, food that doesn't poison you...

I believe a similar scenario applies to the US. We will never escape the white supremacist nightmare until we cease upholding the obsolete privileges of empire. Those who are getting out of that nightmare (especially the West Coast) do so by engaging a political community at a somewhat smaller scale (California is *only* 40 million people...). Of course, they accept and value regulation, the kind that is antithetical to empire, I mean.

"Finally its a pity all these thinkers I am referencing are men.. How much of these neo-nationalist pathologies are man made…?"

Well, empire is pretty closely connected to what in the US is now called "toxic masculinity." It's one of the big battlegrounds, really, because that's how empire is embodied (soldiers, brain-damaging American football...) The interesting thing in the US is that all the progressive attention is now on the large number of women who just got voted into Congress, so maybe there's a chance for something different.


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