Friday, June 24, 2016

Why The Far Right's Brexit Win Makes Sense


European stock markets crashed this morning after the surprisingly strong 51.9-48.1% vote in the U.K. for that country to leave the European Union. The pound sank an astounding 10%-- to its lowest levels since 1985, from as high as $1.50 to $1.33. Gold shot up 5%. As the BBC explained to Brexit voters who might not understand what that means, "a weaker pound buys fewer dollars or other foreign currencies, which makes it more expensive to buy products from abroad." The pound was off 7% against the Euro and the Euro itself tumbled against the dollar (3.3% down, it's biggest one day fall in history").

Scotland wants to hold another referendum on leaving the U.K. so that it can remain part of the E.U. Meanwhile, the neo-Nazi parties in Europe all started howling for their own referendums. Votes weren't even fully counted when Dutch right-wing extremist (and Trump ally) Geert Wilders tweeted that he wanted Holland out next. (This morning on a promotional tour of a golf course he has a stake in in Scotland, Trump's interpretation of the worldwide financial turmoil caused by Brexit was that it would be good for his golf course business.)

France’s Front National (FN) saw it as a clear boost for Marine Le Pen’s presidential bid next year and momentum for the party’s anti-Europe and anti-immigration line.

Le Pen told RTL radio: “Like a lot of French people, I’m very happy that the British people held on and made the right choice. What we thought was impossible yesterday has now become possible.”

Florian Philippot, the party’s vice president, tweeted: “The freedom of the people always ends up winning! Bravo United Kingdom. Now it’s our turn!”

The Dutch far-right and anti-immigration leader Geert Wilders called on Friday for a referendum on the Netherlands’ membership of the European Union.

“We want be in charge of our own country, our own money, our own borders, and our own immigration policy,” he said in a statement.

In Germany, Beatrix von Storch, an MEP for rightwing populist party Alternative für Deutschland, who was recently expelled from the Tories’ party group in the European Parliament over her “shooting refugees” comments, welcomed the result.

“The 23 June is a historic day. It is Great Britain’s independence day. The people were asked-- and they decided. The European Union as a political union has failed.”

Le Pen, who is expected to comfortably reach the final round of next year’s French presidential election, had seized on the UK’s EU referendum to boost her own critical stance on the European Union. The anti-immigration and anti-Europe party has said that if Le Pen won the French presidency, it would within six months hold its own in-out referendum on France’s membership of the European Union and campaign for a French exit, or “Frexit.”

Although Le Pen ultimately decided against travelling to the UK to campaign for Brexit, she vocally backed the leave campaign.

She told French TV this week that the UK referendum was proof the EU was “decaying”, saying that France had “a thousand more reasons to leave than the UK because we have the euro and Schengen [passport-free zone].” She had warned that the “strategy of terror” by pro-EU campaigners in the UK no longer worked.

In a speech in Vienna last week at a meeting of rightwing, far-right and Eurosceptic parties convened under the motto “patriotic spring,” Le Pen said support for Brexit in the UK was one sign of a “new air” of patriotism sweeping Europe in what she called a "springtime of the people."

Polls suggest Le Pen could easily beat a mainstream candidate in next year’s presidential election to reach a second round run-off.

...Elsewhere, the leader of Italy’s far-right Northern League party was swift to celebrate the Brexit outcome. “Hurrah for the courage of free citizens! Heart, head and pride beat lies, threats and blackmail. THANKS UK, now it’s our turn,” said Matteo Salvini, whose popularity has increased in recent years on the back of an anti-EU, anti-immigration platform.
The vote in Britain wasn't entirely about racism, bigotry and xenophobia-- though that was certainly part of it. A lot of people who felt they had no stake in the status quo-- no stake in Britain's financial good times-- voted to smash he system. Many of Trump's supporters are what we've been referring to as "life's losers" and their motivations are not unlike many of the Brexit voters. "When you ain't got nothin', you ain't got nothin' to lose."

David Atkins got it right when he pointed out that we can "blame Brexit on racism and a lunatic fringe all [we] want. People are freaking pissed off and want to destroy the system they have because it's not working for them. A lot of people with conservative tendencies take it out on immigrants and 'the other.' But a whole lot of other people just want to get 'their' jobs and 'their' country back-- even if it means doing something patently stupid like Brexit or electing Donald Trump. Middle-class people forced into lower living standards do stuff like this. And the most shocked people about it are the centrists who clutch their pearls and tut tut over how untoward it all is."

Hillary and those around her are exactly who those tut-tutters are in our country. That's why Bernie outpolls her and outpolls Trump in every general election match-up. Trump knows exactly how to exploit this kind of toxic brew-- and count on him doing just that.

Cameron's office issued a statement saying he isn't resigning. Then he said he'd step down before October.

Let them eat austerity?

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At 5:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The last two times Europe – specifically Germany and France – flew apart, they came very close to killing the rest of Europe and the world. They were only, temporarily it seems, cured by having us and the Russians sit on their heads for a few decades. Britain standing off to the side of Europe and fishing in troubled waters is their traditional stance. While the US is getting ready to defend Poland against a Russian invasion that will never come, the hinterland is falling apart. Experience does not equal expertise.

At 7:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"A lot of people with conservative tendencies take it out on immigrants ... "

In the US, those conservatives and, unfortunately, an apparent majority of "liberals," need to understand that those vile immigrants cannot be avoided if the majority of their taxes are used to wage perpetual war (including the economic version) across the world.

In Europe, of course, dealing with the immigrants must be the expected result of aiding the US in its perpetual wars.

But 5+ millennia of recorded history has not made this connection clear enough ... OR the warmongers use the effect to produce an easily identified group for their citizens to hate ... and thus remain too distracted to determine who really are their adversaries.

John Puma

At 10:54 PM, Blogger exiled off mainstreet said...

In light of the record of the EU on Greece, Spain, Ireland and elsewhere, and in light of the democratic deficit and the EU's fealty to US imperialism in military and economic policies, it is scarcely fair to describe Britain's victory over the EU as "right wing". Clinton and neoliberalism are far more right wing in reality than those supporting Brexit, who included most Labour voters in Northern England. Scotland's vote was tactical, based on the independence movement's plan to use the EU vote as a means of bringing forward a new independence referendum. The record of the EU and the troika in Greece and the fact that in France a nominally socialist government is attempting to follow EU rules by rolling back labour protections by decree reveals that no serious progressive plan could survive under EU control and that any view describing the opposition to them as "right-wing" does not survive scrutiny.

In light of the Harpy party's recent platform debate refusing to condemn the TTP trade pact which replaces the rule of law with corporate arbitration tribunals, any claim that the dominant forces there are anything other than neoliberal rightwing types are specious. Indeed, if the nominal progressives become sellouts, people will look to former right wingers taking less reactionary positions to defend themselves.


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