Photo by Karl Sharro
By Joshua Tartakovsky, 3 July 2016
The people of UK voted for Brexit.
What does it mean?
First, it means that the so-called, imaginary or real, left is in disarray, a welcomed development in itself. The British left, besides the few courageous voices that supported a Lexit, preferred to engage in a cosmopolitan fantasy rather than confront its own demons at home. Rather than caring for its own impoverished blue-collar workers, it preferred to welcome unlimited migration from EU and the world at large despite the losses of jobs at home and lowered salaries. After all, how else would it present itself as progressive? Especially when supporting the EU does not require it to address social inequality at home.
The English left preferred the illusion of an internationalist European Union, rather than reaffirming UK’s sovereignty. Who wants such a backward notion as autonomy and the right to make one’s own decisions? Never mind that the people of Spain, Greece and Portugal are suffering from immense poverty and high unemployment due to the EU, an undemocratic body that cannot be reformed (as it has been said, the only way it can be reformed is if it is destroyed). Now it is in shock due to the fact that it supposedly discovered that the voters for Brexit are racists. Well, actually they are not. They simply want their sovereignty back. But who needs real socialism when one can entertain fantasies on how the EU is an internationalist project?
Now Corbyn, a leader with no backbone who supported half-heartedly the EU neoliberal project is facing criticism from liberal conformists within his party who blame him for the failure. Does he not fit the case of the fool who both ate the sour soup and was expelled from the city?
Brexit is in fact good news for the possibility of a real left in the UK. After all, once people realize that the Conservative party cannot provide an end to austerity due to the structural crisis of global capitalism, there is a chance that people will turn to solutions from the left. But for that the left would have to be a real left, and there are no signs showing it has any intention of taking its purpose seriously.
Secondly, Brexit is a major wake-up call for countries that sought to join the EU. People of eastern Europe have always looked up to the UK in respect and admiration. Of course, Ukraine is bitterly disappointed and will cling on to its childish fantasy. But the people of Belarus, Serbia and perhaps even Macedonia, are not likely to be as keen to join it, or at the very least will not be persuaded by empty promises. The EU may appear glamorous for outsiders, but one just needs to take a look at how it impoverished Greece, Bulgaria, Croatia etc. and destroyed local industries to realize that while the euro may be a shiny coin, the reality is less so.
Thirdly, Brexit is already having geopolitical implications as Erdogan, which was keen on joining the EU, is now more skeptical and is recovering his ties with Russia. This shift may not live for long but for now ending a contention which could result in a third world war is a welcomed development. If NATO wishes to attack Russia, it will have to try to do so from the Baltic rather than via Turkey (through the creation of an incident in which Russian and Turkish planes have a confrontation over Syrian or Turkish skies).
Fourthly, Brexit may turn into a snowball and existing members of the EU are having their doubts. There is growing likelihood that a referendum will be held in the Netherlands, or in France, or in Austria, or in Hungary. Somewhere, the chain will break.
Fifthly, countries are slowly starting to reaffirm their sovereignty and people are demanding control over local and national decisions, which is, of course, a blow to globalists and transnational capital. A majority of UK residents rejected the post-modern empty transnational identity offered by the EU and instead reaffirmed their local national identity, a healthy development. What will result is not more conflict, but more peace and economic prosperity. Before we had the illusion of global citizenship but in fact growing austerity and inequality. Now we can face reality as it is, take out identity back and begin to address the real problems we are faced with at the national level.
Time will show how the Brexit vote was an omen of a new era to come. No wonder the pundits are worried. The snowball cannot be stopped. The sun is rising over a new world, and much to one’s surprise, it began when people of a former empire demanded their sovereignty back. If there is a miracle in our supposedly interconnected world, it is that when people in the UK sought to reaffirm their sovereignty, this is good news for the rest of the world and bad news for the face of transnational capitalism, the European Union.