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Tilting at Windmills?
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Interesting stuff from The Full Brexit
by Steve Hall
How did immigration become such a flashpoint in British politics and the EU referendum? An anthropological study of the English Defence League finds that the abandonment of working-class communities by the Left allows right-wing scapegoating to flourish.
Social scientific research projects often give experienced researchers small surprises, but big surprises are rare. Whilst researching the English Defence League (EDL), a white nationalist protest group regarded by many as an Islamophobic hate-group, my colleagues and I got two rather big surprises as the minutiae of its general perspective and hierarchy of prejudices began to crystallise. The EDL is not an organised political group with a history, a moral centre, a specific ideology or a policy programme but a street protest group. Like many of their antagonists on the liberal left – anti-fascist, anti-racist and so on – their politics are…
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https://newsocialist.org.uk/as-radical-as-our-time-requires/Very useful piece by Paul O’Connell writing in New Socialist
Hat tip to Eugene for spotting this
What know they of Brexit, who only Brexit know? Very little, it turns out. The obsessive, insular and heavily emotive nature of the Brexit debate within the UK (before, during and after the referendum campaign of 2016) has produced a vast amount of heat, but very little light. And at every turn, the most vocal protagonists on the issue have revealed, time and again, how little they understand the conjuncture that produced both Brexit and the nascent Corbyn moment in British politics. But it is impossible to make sense of Brexit, and to think through what Labour, and the Left more broadly, should do in the current conjuncture without a broader historical and theoretical understanding of where we are today, and how we got here.
A Brief History of the Present
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The Greek historian Herodotus tells us that the ancient Persians made all decisions twice. In the first round they would get uproariously drunk, have a good old row and – while still heavily inebriated – vote. Then a few days later, having sobered up sufficiently, they would go through the whole process again – before acting on that final decision.
There’s something to be said for deliberating on important matters twice. Behavioural experts have long known that the frenzy of emotions aroused by heated debate can cause individuals to pursue choices that in more restrained circumstances they might not make. The concept of ‘sober reflection’ at the ballot box persists in the modern political age. In France and forty-one other countries Presidential elections are conducted on a two round system which is not so dissimilar to the Persian approach. In the first there is an almost intoxicated free for all…
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