Reflections on Brexit and British politics on the anniversary of the Brexit vote

Yesterday marks a full year’s departure from the UK referendum on membership of the European Union. Because we voted to Leave, some of us (myself included) have decided to mark June 23rd as our very own Independence Day, in recognition of the fact that we are becoming independent of the influence of the European Union.

One year later, I think we are still on the path towards the Brexit, but it seems things have been bungled in recent months. I regaled you all already with the outcome of the snap general election from just two weeks ago, but I will briefly explain again: Theresa May called the election thinking that she would snag a decisive majority in order to secure the “ultimate mandate” for Brexit even though she already had the democratic mandate to begin with, only to lose her majority through hubris, complacency and a terrible manifesto, forcing her to form a minority government with the DUP.

In the time between the Brexit vote and the snap general election, I have felt some changes in me politically, both in terms of my own political alignment and my opinion of British politics and the government. Before the EU referendum, I was constantly unimpressed with British politics to the point that I never voted in any elections or referendums until last year. In addition, when I look back, I realize that though I had a specific ideal that I wanted to uphold, I often times did not have a strong or precise ideological framework through which to pursue that ideal. That’s not a meaningless thing: freedom is an ideal and goal that is claimed by a diverse range of political movements in the modern age, what the difference between all of them is (1) what a free society looks like to them and (2) how they wish to achieve it (like with liberals vs conservatives for instance). Through my youth I’ve gone through self-styled anarchism, liberalism and libertarianism but without being all that well-read in either of them.

Because of my cynicism and lack of political knowledge, I was at one point sort of pro-Remain, even thought I didn’t like the EU at all, and there was no positive argument on my part – I only thought it would stop the Tories from enacting their more deeply authoritarian legislation. When I realized that such an argument made no sense and contravened my values, and I learned about what else the European Union actually did, I became more staunchly anti-EU, and from there an opponent of globalism in general. When I voted to Leave and found that my side had won, I felt meaningful democratic and national pride for probably the first time. We elected to kick the ass of a giant anti-democratic superpower in the making that didn’t give a damn about liberty, and we were in the process of saving the nation. But almost as quickly, the British government wasn’t having it, and with the help of progressive (and supposedly liberal) activists tried to block the democratic will of the people. They didn’t have their way, fortunately, but for the next year I would soon become reminded of everything I despise about British politics and the government.

I voted for the liberty of my nation state and its people, knowing that , only to see my government continue in the direction of authoritarianism that, let’s face it, it was probably already heading in by this point. The government seeking further control of the Internet, the police arbitrarily arresting people for “hate speech”, and in general not caring for the concept of freedom of speech very much to the point of still very much having a decidedly more European than American approach to the matter. Coupled with the fact that I’m pretty convinced that the British government doesn’t like the idea of strictly the democratic will of its people and principles of liberty, I remain thoroughly convinced that I fit more in the United States of America than in my own country.

However, in spite of all that, I’m willing enough to stand by the country on the issue of leaving, unless they compromise too much and the EU ends up taking us for a ride again. In the mean time, I am looking to form a strong ideological framework based on liberty, so that I can at the very least contribute to the battle of ideas that shapes the country, along with the West. I see pro-freedom ideas being on the decline in my country, so until the time when I live the dream and emigrate to America, I think I should try and spread those ideas in my own country. I’ll try and make time to read about politics, economics, history and related subjects (yes, in addition to my other reading plans) to build up my own framework.

The Guardian, British politics, and why once again I’d rather be in America

Last night I became aware of a post from the Guardian where the author presumes to claim that to have free speech is poisonous to our democracy. The idea is that because there are trolls out there who sling abuse, express “hateful” or politically incorrect views on the Internet, or send death threats, then the Internet and freedom of speech are a threat to our democracy – which is stupid. It was part of a series of articles called “the web we want”, dedicated to “ending online abuse”. And as others have noticed, it’s nothing more than a way to showcase their inability to handle any speech that isn’t sanitized to their liking or ideologically agreeable. And if you think that’s bogus, consider that the Guardian actually published a quiz where you play a moderator and decide which comments to block and see how they stack up against what the Guardian moderators think – should you answer “Allow” to the responses, you can find out that the Guardian comprises of people block public comments on the basis of ideological difference, or even on the basis of criticizing the Guardian’s credibility as a news source. Below are examples.

 

Also, they recently vilified Stephen Fry as a privileged asshat for criticizing trigger warnings as oppressive – oh, and they tried to say it was about child sex abuse. That they go out of their way to vilify someone as privileged because of their opinion, along with that article about free speech “poisoning” democracy.

I was genuinely shocked and disheartened to see a British, and supposedly liberal, paper openly endorse articles that campaign against freedom of speech and against the right of others even to offend. That is until I remembered that the Guardian actually had an article as recently as two weeks ago where in the central platform was that the Internet is exclusively teeming with hatred if uncensored on the basis of the Microsoft Tay fiasco (you know, that chatbot learning AI that was a stupid idea anyway). And only months ago, I distinctly remember a Guardian journalist claiming that banning porn on campuses somehow gave students more freedom of choice, which is not just stupid, only makes sense if you believe that war is peace, slavery is freedom, and ignorance is strength. Seriously: banning porn actually increases freedom of choice? You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.

But honestly, shit like The Guardian just makes me convulse at the state of British politics – a state that has this illiberal pile of journalistic excrement masquerade as the conscience of the British press and supposedly liberal British society, where brainwashed souls preach the “evils” of liberty and how “good” it is to punish those whose views are “below the line”. Again, people who believe that war is peace, slavery is freedom, ignorance is strength and, in their case, censorship is freedom of speech and victimhood is righteousness.

To me it kind of makes sense in the UK because our political culture, at least in my opinion, isn’t like America’s – otherwise, more people besides liberals and libertarians like myself would be outraged by the literal denouncing of freedom of speech. I can’t help thinking that if this were America and an it was American paper or pundit who denounced freedom of speech in the name of public good, in no unclear terms (and I say that because sometimes politicians can get away with all kinds of bullshit if they hide it or dress it up well enough), then literally almost everyone would be against that paper or pundit.

For most Americans, freedom of speech is like one of the laws of nature, at least in the public consciousness. This is because the United States of America enshrines freedom of speech as part of its Constitution, and that Constitution is powerful in the minds of every American who isn’t one of those Christians who thinks the word of “God” trumps that Constitution – it’s even got some real meaning in my mind, and I’m not even originally from America. I admire that, and I have admired it always. It’s like an oath that politicians can easily be held accountable to by the people and the Supreme Court if they try to mess with civil liberties. What’s more, while America is certainly not perfect, in my mind it’s probably the only country that set out to establish itself on the modern ideal of liberty from birth – that was the goal of those Founding Fathers who created a new nation in 1776. I deeply admire that too. America hasn’t had a history of always living up to liberty and justice for all, but in our hearts and minds at least we know this is a genuine betrayal of values because we know those values have been at the heart of the nation’s vision from the beginning. As long as the people believe in liberty, and it’s clear in their minds that liberty is under attack, they don’t stand for it.

In the UK, as far as I know we don’t have anything as binding and powerful as the US Constitution. To me, we are only partly a liberal, secular society, and we have a parliamentary government whose members to me only endorses freedom what it suits them, and usually it’s just us liberals and libertarians, and a few papers and journalistic outfits, who are against that. And in this country, the police can sometimes arrest you for offensive speech (like in the case of Matthew Doyle), and the police in some parts even think they have the power to police online speech (like in Glasgow for instance). To me, The Guardian are now only acting as a voice for an illiberal political establishment in the UK – a voice that’s polite enough to appeal to the.

Also, the main powers of our government are unscrupulous vampiric conservatives and often vaguely illiberal socialists, or at least they seem illiberal to me; under Ed Miliband they actually agreed to Tory censorship of the Internet, Gordon Brown’s administration asked their former drugs adviser David Nutt to leave for challenging the government’s drug policy (he suggested drugs like cannabis should be reclassified because they are less dangerous than alcohol and tobacco), and even now there’s quite a few Labour MPs who’ve had a tendency to endorse illiberal policies such as blasphemy laws and maintaining the criminalizing of prostitution, the latter especially in the wake of Jeremy Corbyn’s statement that we would decriminalize prostitution. Then there’s Labour MPs who are just crazy. There’s actually a Labour MP named Aysegul Gurbuz who was recently suspended because she claimed Hitler was “the greatest man in history”, and another MP named Carolyn Harris who pulled the hair of her aide after she found out she was a lesbian. The Tories may be assholes, but Labour are sometimes not much better. Not to mention, Britain’s history is not one of a country that valued liberty, but of one that valued the absolute rule of monarchy under “God”, and even though we have a secular parliamentary government, we maintain a royal family that does nothing and has no business existing – this fact alone tells me that either we still endorse royalty as part of our British identity and heritage, or that it’s not clear where our values lie.

Those who know me might be able to imagine why I don’t feel I belong in such a culture. And in all truth, I would probably rather live in an imperfect country where liberty is still visibly enshrined as the highest ideal and has sought liberty from the beginning than a country than country that is supposedly secular and liberal but will embrace illiberalism when it suits them. No matter America’s imperfections, even it’s clownish political behavior, no matter how many times I’ve criticized it, it sometimes feel like I’d rather be in America than be immersed in Britain’s noise.

statue-of-liberty

Now if only immigration weren’t such a problem.

Nothing will change in Downing Street

As many readers may know, there is an election due to take place on May 7th for the UK to decide on the next prime minister. And already people are showing their support for Ed Miliband to be the next prime minister, but not for the right reasons.

Think about it: David Cameron and his coalition with Nick Clegg has received nothing but hatred from a lot of people as I recall it. And I guess they deserve it: since 2010, David Cameron has attempted to undermine civil liberties in the UK and usher in a nanny state, and his government has been leading our school system to the dark ages, trading weapons with foreign dictators, and apparently is OK with literal spike-traps for the homeless, not forgetting the whole Scotland debacle, and Nick Clegg has done little if anything to counter him. Hell, I’ve pretty much forgotten the Liberal Democrats even existed to begin with, since for five years they might have as well have just been an extension of the conservative party. The thing is though, that’s not why people should vote against them.

I remember five years ago when everybody wanted to get rid of our last prime minster, Gordon Brown. A lot of people started hating him, they seemed to see him as fumbler and an incompetent leader, so they wanted to vote against him. Cameron’s campaign was all based on getting the last guy out of power and leading the simple masses on with big ideas that never came to pass, while Brown’s campaign was just one big attempt to save face, and most of the red top media drooled over Cameron like dogs. I don’t think anyone voted for Cameron based on any sense of a common cause. They either voted because they wanted the other guy out of office or because they were swayed by his magic baloney. Either way, five years later, we’re back at the start of the circle so to speak, except now many people want to get not only Cameron and Clegg out of office, but they also want to keep UKIP away from office, so they will probably vote Labour. All the while I bet they share little if any common cause with Labour, and only want to get rid of the previous guy and keep UKIP away, and I bet most people in Parliament know that (honestly, I’d be surprised if they didn’t, but if they didn’t then it might explain a few things). Many people just want Miliband in office because they hate UKIP and are sick of Cameron’s government, and once Miliband is in office he’ll probably change very little, still suck up to Europe, the media, and the royal family, oh, and don’t forget foreign dictators. Because of all the promises they make, I bet they never promise to propping up dictatorships and trading arms with their leaders. And everyone can remain ignorant and self-sublimating in peace believing that the “right guy” is in office just because Cameron, Clegg, and UKIP aren’t in office.

In my opinion, if you truly feel you want to vote for anyone, then don’t vote based on how much you hate the other guy, especially if you never think about why. If you want to vote for anyone, vote for whomever you share values or find common cause with. Saying that, I don’t think that’s likely. Not that it matters since they all betray you and break their promises. And no matter who wins, they will suck up to the monarchy and will never free our country from the cult of the royal family.

My thoughts on the European Union (as if I care)

Yesterday my brother was attending a conference on disabled students as a student union officer, and he and some others from various educational institutions talked about UK politics, particularly the European Parliament elections set for next month (our date is May 22nd). Yep, you can guess that I’m uninterested in the subject, although I did have a conversation with my brother that allowed me to express my feelings on the matter.

I’m an uninterested pessimist regarding the whole Europe thing. Usually I don’t care about the subject, but I do think that, no matter what we vote on, it won’t make a difference. Think about it, the European Union is basically an economic and political hegemony. It tells other countries how to do things and run their governments and pays for statues that no one wants. In our own country though, our government seems to be doing all it can to increase the “power” it has over the people, destroy our healthcare system, and in general send the country back to the Dark Ages, all to further their career and financial status. Whatever we cast our vote for, it doesn’t look good at all, and I’d rather not have any of those clowns call the shots in our country!

It’s worth noting that the EU has sometimes prodded or reminded our country about human rights, and one time it did prevent our country from robbing people of the freedom to show football without a corporate license, and I’ve heard the government can still be held to court over human rights abuse, but what difference does it make? If our country can’t preserve liberty without an overarching hegemony reminding us about it, then there’s something wrong from the beginning. Besides, it would be pretty embarrassing for me to glamorize an entity such as the EU, when the individual and the liberty of the individual is the highest importance to me

As I said before, I’m not usually interested, and would prefer to stay disinterested in British politics in general, but if you get me to look at this whole thing, I’d say it doesn’t look good.