The EU referendum has brought me to the end of the road

A part of me thinks that what I am about to say and do is part of the neoliberal masterplan, in terms of me (and many others) giving up the fight, but I feel myself teetering on the abyss again and my sense of self-preservation is kicking in.

This blog and social media have chronicled how I have wrestled with this infernal EU debate over many months and leant one way and then the other several times over. I have seen others in a similar quandary. This alone has made it a unique phenomenon. It is indicative of the only obvious fact of the matter – that nobody really knows what the hell is going to happen either way.

Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 23.30.44A consequence of this fact is that people have to rely on their own assimilation of the (conflicting) information presented (from invariably biased sources). The sources have presented this information as factual when it can never be thus in any meaningful sense – there are no definite facts about the future. They are suppositions, predictions and speculations; inevitably distorted by the vantage points and inherent prejudices of the observers. They are opinions. This is as true of my proclamations on the issue as anyone else’s. This is the basis for having to respect diverse opinion. FFS, we even have to tolerate religion because we cannot prove it to be wrong. But the lack of respect and toleration flowing in all directions on this occasion has been staggering, even amongst supposed friends, allies and comrades.

Personally, I know I can be forthright and belligerent at times, but I always try to respect individuals, even when I don’t respect organisations to which some individuals belong. I know I singularly fail in this when it comes royalty (parasites), tories of all hues (arseholes), and religious fundamentalists (fuckwits). I am but human after all. But I hope I have never directed abuse at anyone I know, on any sort of personal level, simply because I felt they were wrong. I also hope I have managed to maintain friendships with people who I know hold fundamentally different views to me on many matters. I take pride in choosing not to be offended by things – it generally means the argument has been lost for a start – but some of the stuff directed at me recently has tested that resolve.

There has been a strong irony in this as well. Not so long ago I was in the ‘reluctant Remain’ camp along with many leftie associates. Because of my circle of contacts, I was not exposed to any direct right-wing abuse at all. Even the Tories I have contact with were respectful of my stance. Many shared it. I did enter into dialogue with leftie friends who had positioned themselves in the ‘Lexit’ camp and had some well-mannered dialogue with some of them. I slowly began to see their perspective and, swallowing hard, a while back, declared myself convinced of their perspective. This is where it all turns sour from my own personal perspective.

The bitter abuse and vitriol that began to come my way from supposed leftie comrades left me somewhat bewildered. You would have thought I had come out as a full-blown Nazi. All of a sudden I was undermining civilisation as we know it, a traitor to both past (my fathers) and future (my kids) generations, stooping low enough to associate with ‘cockroaches’ and ‘vermin’. This is the talk of the fundamentalist, the ideologue, the irrational. And the irony is, of course, that these people were in the grip of fear of the fundamentalists, the ideologues and the irrational people on the other side of the debate. Indeed, the whole thing has been rightly characterised as Project Fear, on both sides of the argument.

Enough is enough. In a debate on matters of opinion, where there is no respect from either side for the people holding differing (let alone opposing) views, there can be no winners. Everyone is bound to be a loser. There can be no respect for the outcome either. The verdict on Thursday is likely to mark the start, not the end, of ongoing power struggles and malcontent on all sides.

Thus, while I still believe Brexit to be the correct way to go for a genuine socialist, and recognise that fear of the extreme right makes Bremain by far the safer way to go, I no longer want to be associated with fundamentalists, ideologies and irrational fear-mongers on either side. So this is what my ballot paper will now look like this:Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 23.14.36And going forward? I can see no way forward for me or genuine ecosocialists. The game is up. It is patently clear that all the supposed leftie people I know, now push has come to shove, are not prepared to fight our corner. There is no socialist avenue to explore in remaining in the EU. That has largely been conceded. They have capitulated because they could not imagine taking on the likes of Farage, BoJo, IDS and Gove and winning. I find this, quite frankly, so depressingly defeatist. Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t; still leaves you in bed with the devil.

So what if Brexit wins? The defeatists I have just lambasted will ensure it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. There is no stomach for a fight. And why not? I suspect that it is because most of the supposed lefties out there – and certainly the vast majority in the Green Party – actually have just a bit too much to lose from putting conviction before pragmatism.

screen shot 2016 06 20 at 16 05 17

I have lost count of the number of times I’ve heard them say ‘yes, the EU has to go, but the time is not right’. The time will never be right. Sniping from the sidelines is just fine, but taking revolution to the streets? Only if we can fit in before Jessica’s piano lesson.

So hence the feeling of being stuck between the devil (the extreme-right) and the deep blue sea (the neoliberal super-club that is the EU). There is nowhere for me to go. I am at the end of the road. I give up. This is not say I can’t be proven wrong. With a Remain verdict, maybe the socialists across Europe will rest the ethos of the EU from the neoliberal hegemons after all. With a Leave verdict, maybe the factions of the left will unite like never before to face up to and face down the far-right threat. Excuse me if I don’t hold my breath on either of these coming to pass, but if they do it’ll be fantastic and I will surely be there. However, I suspect we will carry on pretty much as before, slowly sleepwalking towards and beyond tipping points that will not be subject to any referendum, as depicted in the Age of Stupid; the way our generation is destined to be remembered.

So, for the time being at least, Bridgend’s Green Leftie is retiring – I am sure some will say crawling back under my stone. I am going to turn my attention to other priorities: mental well-being and becoming an evangelical humanist.

And finally, here’s evidence that reaching the end of the road and going into the wilderness is actually a pretty good place to be. Na zdrowie!

4 thoughts on “The EU referendum has brought me to the end of the road

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