Brexit was a vote for sovereignty and democracy against neoliberalism and technocracy. Workers want their country back. They desire a return to the nation-state, to preserve their traditions, their culture, and their ability to make decisions for their families and communities. The globalists tried to deny the popular will. They thwarted Brexit in Parliament. Labour promised a do-over. Workers weren’t having it. Labour was crushed on December 12, 2019. The Conservative party claimed 364 seats. Labour could claim only 203, less than a third of the total. Conservatives smashed through Labour’s “red wall.” Conservatives were particularly strong in those Labour strongholds that voted to leave the European Union in 2016.
What happened in the election is not a mystery. One could see it coming with the rise of Donald Trump in the United States, the uprisings in France, and the right turn in Scandinavia. If Democrats and Labour are going to sell out the working class, if working people feel they have no way of protecting their interests in that arena with these parties, then the people will turn to defending their way of life, and if they believe that means voting conservative, then that’s what they’ll do. Europeans, as are Americans, are increasingly fed up with globalization, mass immigration, multiculturalism, the stifling of free thought, cosmopolitan gaslighting—as they should be. In this moment, it is the political right that is perceived to be at the ready to defend civilization. It is the degradation of the left that has created the vacuum filled by rightwing politics.
Predictably, the corporate media jumped on the election results. Desperate to push establishment Democrats in the US, NBC News carried the headline: “Corbyn’s UK Defeat was Bad News for Sanders, Warren and America’s Left.” The article went on to say, “A socialist or very left-leaning message—inspired to turn out young voters and unite the working class—simply didn’t work.” But that’s not what happened. This was not a rebellion against socialist messaging, but against globalism. Voters moved on the grounds of popular sovereignty. Indeed, the West is in a populist moment, a reaction to the rise of neoliberalism and technocracy. The left offers no realistic working-class alternative to globalism because they are part of it, integrated with the power elite, servants to the project of transnational economic integration, manifest at the political-ideological level as progressivism and identitarianism, using the language of diversity, equity, and justice to cover a betrayal of the class interests of those for whom they presume to speak. In light of this, the 2020 Sanders, if he were to secure the nomination, would likely lose, not because of his working class politics, but because he is increasingly burying them beneath the alienating rhetoric of the cultural elite. Sanders has likely moved too far in the direction of Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, progressives calling themselves socialists who paint a vision of the future workers don’t want to live in. The 2016 Sanders was a populist. That’s the Sanders who could win. At this point, it’s Trump election to lose. And it doesn’t look like anything he does is self-sabotaging. Like Boris Johnson, Trump doesn’t apologize at a time when people are tired of apologizing. He doubles-down with good effect. To be sure, he is himself an elite, but he speaks the language of the people, and he conveys their frustrations.
At the level of collective affect, working people are sick of elites trashing them. Calling them “bigots” and “racist” affirms the reason they voted for Trump. It’s part of the reason the British working class voted Conservative. They aren’t motivated by bigotry or racism. This is a bogus and tired narrative. Western civilization has largely overcome the racism of yesterday. Workers sick of seeing their standards of living erode while being shamed for it. They’re tired of their culture being depicted as backwards and illegitimate. They’re tired of a new racism (not one lefty academics talk about), where those who are of European descent (who haven’t managed yet to define themselves as “persons of color”) are depicted as the bane of the world, said to be responsible for crimes they couldn’t possibly have perpetrated. The truth of race is this: it is a category in the ideology of racism developed by capitalists to fracture and disorganize the proletariat. Perhaps they believed that it could be repurposed rather than disappeared. It appears this move guaranteed rightwing reaction, egged on by social justice warriors.
This is the situation: those who want out of the EU are being accused of racism to shame and marginalize them. The accusation of racism is now the standard delegitimizing tactic of neoliberal elites. The globalists and their cultural managers (those who run the university and mass media) racialize Western culture in order to undermine those elements thwarting their ambitions. Because Europe is full of Europeans, progressive identity politics finds it easy to racially stigmatize the majority—as long as good people participate in the big lie. Tragically, there is a good number of Europeans prepared to serve themselves up as sacrificial lambs, plaintively undeserving of their own cultural achievements which, objectively, stand as the greatest in human history. As self-loathers, eager to shame others, desperate to signal their warped sense of virtue, they function as useful idiots for globalizing elites.
At least that’s what the elites thought. But once the left became the party of identity politics, of tribalism, it set itself on a course of self-marginalization. Workers voted Tory because they are sick of being cast as “deplorables” (Hillary Clinton’s notorious characterization of them) who have no right to country and culture. A people are not racist for seeking popular sovereignty, cultural integrity, the rule of law, and limits to immigration. Free people have a right to determine their collective destiny. Workers sent a huge message in this election to the left and to the elite interests it serves. If workers are going to have to live under capitalism, they will opt for national autonomy over their life chances over seeing their fortunes determined by unaccountable bureaucrats doing the bidding of the society of the opulent. With their votes, workers are rejecting a global order run by technocrats. The British proletariat have struck a blow for democracy. And that’s good for socialism in long run. For, as Marx and Engels write in their little pamphlet, “The proletariat of each country naturally must first settle accounts with its own bourgeoisie.”