“On campuses 10 percent of students are able to intimidate the other 90 percent, who don’t want to say the wrong thing and get canceled. In Congress, the Trumpians are able to intimidate the members who realize what a problem he is. The people in the two big power blocs are not good at winning the war against each other, but they are really good at intimidating the moderates on their own side.
In this way, those in the exhausted camp perpetuate their own misery. They complain about the terrible choices each election cycle, but never organize enough or become imaginative enough to offer something they themselves might want.
In Britain they’ve mostly taken money out of politics, but they still had an election even worse and more polarized than our own. In the end, if Johnson, as expected, wins easily, it will be in part because exhausted voters will have swung to Trump/Johnson nationalist demagogy since the only alternative is a Corbyn/Sanders class war.
In the States, voters still have a chance to turn the emotional page, to elect a person who displays that you can be a progressive or you can be a conservative without turning politics into perpetual war. Pete Buttigieg is rising and Joe Biden’s support is resilient precisely because they are not exhausting.
The interesting question is whether, in the heat of battle, the exhausted voters can get over their fatigue, cynicism and timidity and take their own side in a fight.”
By Thomas L. Friedman
April 2, 2019
A protester shouting from a lamppost on Friday outside the Houses of Parliament in London.CreditCreditHannah Mckay/Reuters
LONDON — Politico reported the other day that the French European affairs minister, Nathalie Loiseau, had named her cat “Brexit.” Loiseau told the Journal du Dimanche that she chose the name because “he wakes me up every morning meowing to death because he wants to go out, and then when I open the door he stays in the middle, undecided, and then gives me evil looks when I put him out.”
If you can’t take a joke you shouldn’t have come to London right now, because there is political farce everywhere. In truth, though, it’s not very funny. It’s actually tragic. What we’re seeing is a country that’s determined to commit economic suicide but can’t even agree on how to kill itself. It is an epic failure of political leadership.
I say bring back the monarchy. Where have you gone, Queen Elizabeth II, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you.
Seriously, the United Kingdom, the world’s fifth-largest economy — a country whose elites created modern parliamentary democracy, modern banking and finance, the Industrial Revolution and the whole concept of globalization — seems dead-set on quitting the European Union, the world’s largest market for the free movement of goods, capital, services and labor, without a well-conceived plan, or maybe without any plan at all.
via Opinion | The United Kingdom Has Gone Mad – The New York Times
David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comment.
Thank you Tom Friedman for a great essay. I like many of the popular comments, but have something to add. Angela Merkel let some 1.5 million mostly Syrian refugees into Germany in one year, and caused a backlash protest against too many foreigners too quickly. Refugees from climate change and civil war are increasing dramatically, as populations around the world have exploded. We were 2 billion people around 1930, and we have grown to 7.6 billion in just 89 years. It is probably not going to work, to just let a billion or two billion refugees into the healthier more stable parts of the planet. The EU could help diffuse the brexit movement, with some reforms to limit immigration. The world powers need to help the poorer countries with a host of services, including family planning.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth Century Vietnam” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNewsWorldwide.wordpress.com. He performs folk music and stories about Climate Change and the Sixth Extinction.
By Peter S. Goodman
April 1, 2019
LONDON — In the political realm, no one knows how Brexit’s long-running theater of the absurd will end. But for much of the business world, Britain’s departure from the European Union has effectively happened.
Nearly three years of uncertainty since the June 2016 referendum has forced companies to plan for the worst — the prospect that Britain could crash out of the bloc without a deal governing future relations. The twisting road to Brexit has already slowed economic growth, discouraged investment and damaged the reputation of the nation as a haven for commerce.
Global banks and other financial services companies are steadily shifting thousands of jobs and more than $1 trillion in assets to European cities to ensure that they are able to serve customers across the English Channel regardless of the rules that national regulators impose after Brexit.
Japanese automakers have scrapped plans to expand in Britain, in part because Brexit undermines the country’s virtues as a hub for European trade.
via For Many British Businesses, Brexit Has Already Happened – The New York Times
I have tried repeadedly to figure out the Brexit movement, I why the Brits didn’t just undo the terrible decision. Here is an op-ed that sheds light, on a complicate subject. His piece ends:
“I believe now that a subliminal empire does persist in the dreaming of a large number of Britons, hinted at in a longing for the return of guilt-free racial categorization, in the idea that my country can be both globally open and privileged in an international trading system where it can somehow turn the rules to its advantage, in the idea of a safe white core protected from the dark hordes beyond by a mighty armed force.
How could this dreaming have survived so long after the fall of the actual empire? One answer may lie in the matchless political skills of Margaret Thatcher. She achieved the extraordinary feat of turning into political orthodoxy a plainly contradictory credo, that nationalism and borderless capitalism could easily coexist. The reality of the new Britain has been a shrunken welfare state, a country ruthlessly exposed to global free-market competition. The blindness of Thatcherism’s supporters has been to accept it as the patriotic solution to the globalism it enabled.
This idea, which begins to make sense only if your country happens to control a global empire, came from someone whose childhood dream was to be an official in the Indian Civil Service. It has been orthodoxy for four decades, not just in her own party but for a time, at least, in the main opposition. The bizarre and already disproved notion that the global free market might work as an avatar of Britain’s imperial power lies at the heart of the die-hard Brexit psyche. Propagating it was Mrs. Thatcher’s personal success, and that success, as we can now see, was her great failure.”
via Opinion | Dissecting the Dreams of Brexit Britain – The New York Times
Here is a comment I found useful:
13 Replies251 Recommended
David Lindsay: I’ve struggled to understand Brexit since it occurred about two years ago. Its like another chapter in Barbara Tuckman’s “The March of Folly.” Why would Britain do something so against it’s real, long-term interest.
This op-ed by Pakaj Mishra actually explains Brexit better than previous attempts, and is the best thing I’ve read on the subject. The chumocrats are at it again!
By Pankaj Mishra
Mr. Mishra is the author, most recently, of “Age of Anger: A History of the Present.”
Jan. 17, 2019, 580 c
Earl and Countess Mountbatten, behind naval and military members of the governor-general’s staff, walk down the steps of Government House in New Delhi, India, June 21, 1948.CreditCreditAssociated Press
“Describing Britain’s calamitous exit from its Indian empire in 1947, the novelist Paul Scott wrote that in India the British “came to the end of themselves as they were” — that is, to the end of their exalted idea about themselves. Scott was among those shocked by how hastily and ruthlessly the British, who had ruled India for more than a century, condemned it to fragmentation and anarchy; how Louis Mountbatten, accurately described by the right-wing historian Andrew Roberts as a “mendacious, intellectually limited hustler,” came to preside, as the last British viceroy of India, over the destiny of some 400 million people.
Britain’s rupture with the European Union is proving to be another act of moral dereliction by the country’s rulers. The Brexiteers, pursuing a fantasy of imperial-era strength and self-sufficiency, have repeatedly revealed their hubris, mulishness and ineptitude over the past two years. Though originally a “Remainer,” Prime Minister Theresa May has matched their arrogant obduracy, imposing a patently unworkable timetable of two years on Brexit and laying down red lines that undermined negotiations with Brussels and doomed her deal to resoundingly bipartisan rejection this week in Parliament.
Such a pattern of egotistic and destructive behavior by the British elite flabbergasts many people today. But it was already manifest seven decades ago during Britain’s rash exit from India.”
via Opinion | The Malign Incompetence of the British Ruling Class – The New York Times
By Roger Cohen
Jan. 15, 2019, 651
Protesters outside the Houses of Parliament on Tuesday.
Neil Hall/EPA, via Shutterstock
“A democracy that cannot change its mind is not a democracy. The people may do that when presented with the whole picture after seeing only a partial or distorted one.
It has taken more than 30 months to shift from “Fantasy Brexit” to “Reality Brexit.” The difference, after vitriolic debate that has consumed British politics virtually to the exclusion of all else, is stark.
The first was Britain’s 2016 vote, fueled by lies, to leave the European Union, trumpets blaring. The second, after a crash course in the facts of what membership brings for Britain, came Tuesday in the form of the crushing defeat by a 432-to-202 parliamentary vote of Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan for British withdrawal on March 29.
This, of course, was not a vote to remain in the European Union after all. It reflected anger across ideological lines that united Conservative lawmakers who want a complete British break from Europe and representatives of other parties who want to remain in the 28-nation union. Above all, it reflected complete disarray, the incapacity of May or anyone to come up with an acceptable compromise deal to accomplish something so inherently undesirable as to defy prettification.”
via Opinion | Hold a Second Brexit Referendum – The New York Times
Why Is a Compromise So Elusive?
The Achilles’ heel of a Brexit deal is the border between Ireland, a member of the European Union, and Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom. For years, this border was militarized because of sectarian violence that left more than 3,500 people dead. But with the 1998 Good Friday peace accord, free trade was allowed.
This was possible because Ireland and the United Kingdom were members of the European Union. But when Britain voted to leave, the Irish border again became an issue. Reintroducing customs controls would pose many problems.
Mrs. May’s draft agreement proposes keeping Northern Ireland, and the rest of the United Kingdom, in a European customs union until a trade plan that does not require checks at Ireland’s border is ready — so perhaps indefinitely. But this means Britain would also still be subject to some of the bloc’s trading rules and regulations.
In short, while paying a $50 billion divorce bill, Britain would remain bound by many European Union rules without any say in the making of them. This infuriates the hard-line Brexit crowd, who say it would leave Britain as a “vassal state.”
Didn’t I read in the NYT that the Russians were involved, as were elements of the British Press, in presenting Disinformation and Fake News to the British people, so that they would vote for leaving the EU, which many analyst think will be a disaster for both Britain and the EU, and a tremendous boon to Russia. It appears that Putin is successfully choreographing the breakup of one of his largest adversaries. Which begs the question, why won’t the Brits come to their senses, and put the Brexit back to another referendum.
via Brexit for the Non-Brit: What Is It, and Why Can’t They Get It Done? – The New York Times