Sunday, December 16, 2018

What’s all this ‘we’?

Fascinating though Brexit has been for all of us, what’s particularly interesting for a socialist is how involved ‘we’ have become in it all. People at work or in the pub have been arguing that ‘we’ need this or ‘we’ should do that, and asking what ‘we’ can do about the backstop or what will happen if ‘we’ get a no-deal. Where did this national solidarity come from? Why do ordinary, interesting people suddenly think they have formed common cause with the country’s rulers and rich elite? What sleight of hand has pulled the wool over the great class divide to the extent that workers don’t see this affair for what it is, a dispute among the rich themselves over where with whom and under what terms they can trade?

Somehow we’ve all been sucked into the media frenzy so we’re all part of the ingroup of Britain PLC, scratching our heads over Theresa May’s difficult position between the proverbial rock and the hard place. You’d understand this nationalistic bonding in a wartime scenario, with bombs falling out of the sky, but what’s the threat here? A few prices might go up. Some funding might go down. The Irish might have to have a border. You might have to pay €7 extra for your EU holiday. Really it’s not worth getting worked up about, but a kind of collective insanity has possessed the population. It’ll be just as well when it’s over, and the working class can get back to its usual business of ignoring the class war and moaning about the neighbours instead.

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