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More on Post Brexit and Why It Happened

2016 June 24
tags:
by Ian Welsh

So, a coup has been launched against Corbyn. He carried over 63 percent of Labour voters, while Cameron carried less than 42%, but some think he is to “blame” for Brexit.

European Union Flag

It is true that Corbyn refused to, well, lie about Europe. He basically said the EU was awful, but that Britain was still better off inside it.

If Brits actually get rid of Corbyn, they will get a Blairite in return. In which case, they will have gotten rid of their best chance to have a decent government outside of the EU.

There is nothing one can do to help such people.

Meanwhile, Scotland wants a new referendum, Sinn Fein wants to unite Ireland, and Spain is asking for dual sovereignty over Gibraltar (Spain will not get dual sovereignty over Gibraltar if anyone in power in England has any sense).

The people who lost the vote, #Remain are screaming that the sky is falling. A drop in the pound or the FTSE is NOT a big deal, it really does not matter much. Wait six months and see the economic effects. As for reports that some are leaving the “City,” well the City of London has been a parasite on England as a whole.

Now let us discuss WHY.

Since 1976, a lot of Britons who do not live in London (or not in the nicer parts) have been doing very badly. The economy is trash if you aren’t connected to the various London money spigots, because Britain insisted on de-industrializing.

So, we have a very large number of people who have done very badly for 40 years. They were given an opportunity to vote against the status quo, and they did so.

Now, I am going to tell you a very big secret. It’s a secret that the great sages and the sensible people have been telling humanity for thousands of years.

The secret of living in a good society is leaving no one behind.

Sshhhhh. Actually, scream it to the wind, because no one will believe you. We think that being assholes and hurting people and making their lives miserable then saying “vote for more of this if you know what’s good for you” is the secret to prosperity.

A lot of people in Britain won from neoliberal policies. Those people mostly voted to stay in the EU.  If those people had insisted on policies which did not leave everyone behind, especially post-2008, they would not have lost the referendum.

Now some people will scream “racism.” Well, perhaps, but I return to this simple fact: Racism, nativism, fascism, and all that nasty shit thrives when large numbers of people are destroyed economically.

Go read a book on the rise of Hitler. Or Mussolini. Or whomever.

This is not controversial, or shouldn’t be.

If you did well in the EU and Thatcherism, and did not push hard for the losers of the economy in which you thrived, I don’t want to hear it. You created the circumstances for this.

Now, let us turn again to the future. This is not the end of the world. If you are in Britain, your job now is to pivot. What matters now is who wins the next election. You must first support Corbyn, because he’s the best leader you’re going to get, by far, and then you must make sure Labour wins. If Scotland is still in the United Kingdom, make an alliance with the SNP.

The EU was, and is, a garbage fire. It is a neoliberal institution which has damaged or destroyed multiple economies, starting with Greece, but including Portugal, Spain, and Italy. It is not a good union.

It was just better than what Brits do to themselves. Remain voters wanted the EU to save them from the worst parts of the Conservative government they elected.

Stop electing Conservative governments. Stop electing Blairite third-wayers. If you continue to do so, it is your fault what happens.

This is now completely on Britons. You can turn this into a great victory for a humane economic and political regime. It’s on you.

But remember the secret. Your fellow citizens are what you made them. If you don’t like what they are, it’s up to you to change how you treat them, by changing how you run your country. In doing so, you will change yourselves, which is also necessary.

I wish all the best to Britain, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales, and so on. But the EU crutch is gone. Figure out how to be decent human beings, politically, to each other, or suffer the consequences.


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53 Responses
  1. June 24, 2016

    They are not going to listen to you. But you knew that.

    two headlines

    Scots independence vote ‘highly likely’
    EU says UK must not delay leaving

  2. Dan Lynch permalink
    June 24, 2016

    Both Ian and Stirling are correct.
    .
    We are re-living the 1930’s. And we know how that ended.

  3. shh permalink
    June 24, 2016

    “You created the circumstances for this.”

    I wish accepting personal responsibility for outcomes was a capacity humans had in greater measure. As it is, the worst of us are idolized. Little wonder societies burn themselves down every 80 years or so. Always with good reason.

    And now back to you, evolution…

  4. June 24, 2016

    The young wanted to stay.
    The old wanted to leave.

  5. AlanSmithee permalink
    June 24, 2016

    It ain\’t over yet, not by a long chalk. You can bet the government is going to drag it\’s feet implementing Article 50, all the while calling for more votes and referendums. It might take years to decouple from the EU.

  6. anonymous coward permalink
    June 24, 2016

    So the young wanted to stay. And in 15 years time, if there is an EU to belong to, which I strongly doubt, they can have their say about it and sign Britain up again for more abuse. The young are always rich in optimism but poor in experience, and it shows in their judgment from generation to generation. In 15 years time the Millennials may well have changed their minds about the wisdom and general swellness of being ruled from afar and stuffed with debt owed to foreigners. As they approach 40, backpacking visa free across Europe probably won’t seem to them like quite such an amazingly cool thing that all other values and considerations ought to be tossed aside to enable it. If Angela Merkel continues to get her way on mass immigration, staying home in Britain will look better and better.

  7. June 24, 2016

    Having lived 70 years in the American Midwest as a reasonably educated, economically successful, and socially liberal man, I have forever wanted to believe Ian’s “secret” revealed an encouraging social truth. Regrettably my experience has allowed little evidence that such a cause/effect correlation exists. Indeed, watching, with my clearest eyes, I have seen only overwhelming evidence that this “satisfaction divide” is not manageable from either side of the spectrum. Save some CRISPR Solution, Universal SOMA, or an Alien Intervention, it is with sadness that I now think it time that the more evolved subset of the species….”make a run for it”.

  8. jawbone permalink
    June 24, 2016

    Anyone know Margaret Hodge and Ann Coffey? Blairites or opportunists? Or both….

    If Labour gets rid of Corbyn, they lose their one good chance of defeating this presently wounded Conservative Party. I would think…but do not know.

    This immediate attack on Corbyn makes me want to scream and/or puke.

  9. June 24, 2016

    I should have if anyone know OF the two women.

  10. Bill Hicks permalink
    June 24, 2016

    You didn’t confuse the issue by mentioning Trump, but notice that he’s jumped on the celebration bandwagon with both feet. That shows that he has is much politically shrewder than the idiots in our mainstream media give him credit for being.

    And of course, that is another parallel between now and the early 1930s Germany: non-Nazis continued to ridicule the fitness of the “Austrian corporal” to rule right up until the moment it was too late to prevent him from taking power.

  11. June 24, 2016

    “I wish all the best to Britain, Scotland, Ireland, Wales and so on. . . ”

    Ian, The Republic of Ireland REMAINS in the EU and it NEVER not voted itself out of the EU.

    We Irish did not have an vote in this fight. Ulster (“Northern Ireland), which is part of England’s “Great Britain,” is now out of the EU. Please note, however, that out Norther Ireland neighboors voted 58% to 42% to REMAIN in the EU

    Ireland will likely suffer, but only because the its closest land neighbor, “Norther Ireland,” remains part of Great Britain; and therefore will no longer be part of the EU.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Excerpts from today’s Irish Independent http://www.independent.ie/business/brexit/explosive-shock-as-ireland-turns-to-plan-b-after-britain-votes-to-leave-eu-34831070.html

    Irish officials are to embark on a series of trade missions to Northern Europe, USA, China and India in an effort to combat any financial impact of the Brexit.., the Government intends to carry out a series of reviews in relation to trading markets, foreign direct investment opportunities and diplomatic relationships.

    [Ireland will seek to continue] the Common Travel Area between Ireland and the UK . . . during the negotiations that will lead to Britain’s formal exit from the EU.
    Enterprise Ireland will also host an International Markets week in October in Dublin, to provide Irish exporters with access to its overseas market advisors. . . .

    . . . The United Kingdom itself could now break apart, with the leader of Scotland – where nearly two-thirds of voters wanted to stay in the EU – saying a new referendum on independence from the rest of Britain was “highly likely”.

    “The British people have made the very clear decision to take a different path and as such I think the country requires fresh leadership to take it in this direction,” the Taoiseach said in a televised address outside his residence. . . David Cameron phoned the Taoiseach this afternoon to thank him for supporting the Remain campaign and to discuss the fallout from the decision by UK voters to leave the European Union.

    A spokesperson for the Taoiseach said they touched on “the closeness of the result” and Mr Kenny said he “understood the rationale for the PM’s stated preference for initiating negotiations with the EU after a new leader of the Conservative party has been selected”. . .

    Read more at Independenthttp://www.independent.ie/business/brexit/explosive-shock-as-ireland-turns-to-plan-b-after-britain-votes-to-leave-eu-34831070.html.

    Finally, Ian, for the love of the Great Flying Spagetti Monster, please do not confuse us citizens of the Republic of Ireland with the voters of Great Britain.

    GLASS HALF FULL PREDICTION: Because Ireland is the western most EU country, has active ports, manufacturing infrastructure, and educated workforce, Ireland may see an economic boon given its geographical proximity (East of North America & West of the EU) the EU and its trading partners. Ireland is perfectly situated for EU countries exporting to North America and Ireland is also perfectly situated (educated English speaking workforce) for North American companies during business with the EU.

    It could all go to shit for Ireland too, but I’m not going to go full frontal pessimistic. . . yet

  12. June 24, 2016

    ps. Ian, I agree with everything you said above — spot on.

    Please, it’s been century now since we gained our independence from colonial rule. Don’t put (don’t even joke about) the Republic of Ireland being part of Great Britain.

  13. Hugh permalink
    June 24, 2016

    As I say, if you are sick of shit sandwiches, stop voting for the people and parties who keep offering them to you, because TINA. In the US, this means stop voting for Democrats and Republicans, –any Democrat, any Republican. There is no such thing as a good Democrat or a good Republican. They are oxymorons. If they were on your side, they would not be running as Democrats or Republicans. Running as an R or a D simply perpetuates the parties and system which are killing you. This was always the existential problem that sat at the heart of the Sanders campaign. I suspect something similar could be said of the Conservatives and Labour in the UK, and Corbyn.

    I agree with Ian’s other point. In any society worth living in, we should make a sacred commitment to have each others back. That wherever you go you know I have your back and the next, indeed every other person you meet today, has your back. And that we know you have ours. We do not have such a society now, instead we have kleptocracy. Kleptocracy divides and sets us against each other, because doing so keeps us powerless and allows the rich and elites to perpetuate the lie that because we are all just isolated individuals, their massive wealth amassed through looting us is really the fruit of legitimate individual efforts.

  14. June 24, 2016

    The narrative that seems to be shaping up in official Europe is that this is but further evidence that the public of Europe consists of barbarians that need to be contained and whose opinion is best ignored, lest they break the complex delicate balances that are set up to ensure Europe stays civilized.

  15. Ian Welsh permalink
    June 24, 2016

    Caoimhin,

    I was refering to Northern Ireland. 🙂 (Where I have a /pile/ of Catholic relatives, by the way. Something to do with not believing in birth control.)

    Ireland is not yet free.

    Post updated to reflect.

    Cheers,

    Ian

  16. madaha permalink
    June 24, 2016

    The young wanted to stay because of the job opportunities that came with being able to work abroad. They aren’t foolish optimists, that was an entirely pragmatic vote.

  17. Ian Welsh permalink
    June 24, 2016

    As an American, unless you are in your mid 50s, you never lived as an adult in a US economy which was run to try and help all socioeconomic groups. And unless you’re north of 60, you didn’t live in it very long.

    One of my friends is in his mid 70s. Listening to him talk about what the 50s and 60s and even 70s were like, and how the US changed under Reagan is fucking heartbreaking. As far as he’s concerned, the country he grew up in and was a young to middle aged adult in, died in the 1980s.

    Not everything about that nation was great (women, blacks, CIA backed coups overseas), to be sure, but there was a genuine effort to lift all boats, etc…

  18. Theo permalink
    June 24, 2016

    watched a good video at realnews.com out of baltimore (a great site) this afternoon discussing brexit vote with john weeks, an american economist living in england, and john hilary, a left activist there
    both are serious critics of the EU
    Hilary supported the out vote
    weeks wanted britain to remain because he fears the most likely outcome is a new conservative government that will be even more radically right wing than the cameron government and that the brexit vote empowers the right wing in both england and europe
    weeks believes that most in britain know very little about the EU, there is a lot there that is good that they will lose and more that is bad at this present moment
    both men know that cameron’s government has seriously harmed the most vulnerable people in britain
    weeks thinks it likely that a new conservative government will privatize the NHS, not a good outcome; beyond that what happens next is pure speculation
    weeks is professor emeritus of University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies and author of “Economics of the 1%.” Hilary is Executive Director of War on Want. His paper on the TTIP published by the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation has been translated into 12 languages
    here’s the url, it’s definitely worth checking out:
    http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=16602

  19. markfromireland permalink
    June 25, 2016

    @ jawbone June 24, 2016

    Anne Coffrey served as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Tony Blair.

    Hodge is not so much a Blairite as an ultra Blairite. She co-nominated Mr Blair for party leader in 1994.

    Then she served as one of his ministers and is personally friendly with him. She’s also the Islington Council leader who turned a blind eye to the child abuse scandal there. She came under attack for this while Minister for Children under Blair – Blair’s defense of her in parliament was impassioned.

  20. markfromireland permalink
    June 25, 2016

    @ Ian – Caoimhin got to you before I did 🙂

  21. Some Guy permalink
    June 25, 2016

    You are exactly right here Ian, but of course, so is Stirling in the first comment.

    We all know that what we will see is the opposite of what you are pushing for.

    Bruce Cockburn wrote, ‘The Trouble With Normal” in 1981, and he’s been more right with every passing year.

    “It’ll all go back to normal if we put our nation first
    But the trouble with normal is it always gets worse

    Fashionable fascism dominates the scene
    When ends don’t meet it’s easier to justify the means
    Tenants get the dregs and landlords get the cream
    As the grinding devolution of the democratic dream
    Brings us men in gas masks dancing while the shells burst
    The trouble with normal is it always gets worse”

    That phrase, ‘the grinding devolution of the democratic dream’ has stuck with me over the years as such an apt summary of our politics. Brexit was a strike back, but now the grinding will resume.

  22. Robert Dudek permalink
    June 25, 2016

    While of course the main analysis of this landmark vote should focus on the effects on the British Isles, we should not forget that the other nations in the European Union will be significantly affected as well.

    In that vein, I have taken the liberty of translating the reaction of one of those neo-liberal bette-noirs that are supposed to be threatening to take Europe down the turbulent road towards a new 1930s-style Europe. I speak here of the “populist/nationalist” Polish leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski. It should be noted that he is neither the President nor the Prime Minister of Poland at the moment: he is, however, the chairman of the ruling party, and widely assumed to be the prime mover in the current government. What follows was taken from an article in the political magazine Wprost.

    Here is my English translation (parentheses were added by me for context purposes); the Polish original follows:

    I want to strongly emphasize that the so-called Brexit is really a bad event, but at the same time I want to emphasize that Poland’s place is in the European Union, regardless of the outcome of the UK vote. What happened can be a basis for taking very different decisions and approaches. One of them is “don’t change anything” or the old “lets go for a (more integrated) EU”. It is my deepest conviction that this approach would lead to a deepening of the crisis, perhaps to more Brexit-like events, or perhaps to a general crisis of the European Union in the longer term” , said Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

    The PiS chairman noted that an approach “that would attempt to form a positive response and undertake reforms” would be a better one. Such reforms might also include an offer for Great Britain (to rejoin). “I realize that it may be years before such an offer is accepted, but I think it is necessary”, he added.

    Kaczynski elaborated on what kinds of reforms he would like to see:

    “What is needed is a radical clarification of the regulations so that the Union would proceed on the basis of law, rather than in an arbitrary manner. Poland today is subject to these kinds of arbitrary procedures. The matter of the division of competences between the Union and the nation states must be precisely specified and must be accepted on serious principles of subsidiarity which is found in all the EU declarations from the beginning of the EEC, but is not abided by, particularly in relation to nation states. We have to find a new way of doing things; a new consensual way of making decisions. I don’t mean a return to unanimity, because that is not possible for an EU of this size. We have to clarify and certainly expand the scope of matters where there must be unanimity; beyond that, on matters subject to majority decision, the process needs to be more consensual”, he added.

    The chairman (Kaczynski) of the governing party (PiS) stated that a new EU treaty is essential.

    Chcę mocno podkreślić, że tzw. Brexit jest wydarzeniem bardzo niedobrym, ale równocześnie chcę podkreślić, że miejsce Polski jest w Unii Europejskiej, niezależnie od wyniku głosowania w Wielkiej Brytanii. To co się stało może być podstawą do podejmowania bardzo różnych decyzji i postaw. Jedna z nich to postawa, która mówi: “nic nie zmieniać oraz stare: ‘więcej Unii’ i idziemy dalej”. To postawa w moim najgłębszym przekonaniu prowadząca do pogłębiania kryzysu, być może nowych aktów takich jak Brexit, a być może w dalszej perspektywie do generalnego kryzysu Unii Europejskiej – powiedział Kaczyński.

    Jako postawę lepszą prezes PiS wskazał tę, “która próbuje sformować pozytywną odpowiedź i dokonać reformy”. Reforma taka mogłaby zawierać również ofertę dla Wielkiej Brytanii. – Zdaję sobie sprawę, że ta oferta może być przyjęta po latach, ale wydaje mi się, że to potrzebne– dodał.

    Jarosław Kaczyński wskazał także w jaki sposób powinna wyglądać reforma, o której mówił.

    – Potrzebne jest radykalne doprecyzowanie przepisów, tak żeby Unia działała w oparciu o prawo, a nie na zasadzie arbitralnej. Polska jest dziś przedmiotem takich działań. Sprawa podziału kompetencji między Unią a państwami narodowymi musi być dokładnie sprecyzowana i musi być przyjęta na poważnie zasada pomocniczości, która jest we wszystkich deklaracjach unijnych od powstawia Europejskiej Wspólnoty Gospodarczej, ale nie jest przestrzegana. W szczególności nie jest przestrzegana w stosunku do państw narodowych. Trzeba uzyskać nową jakość, trzeba przyjąć nowy konsensualny tryb podejmowania decyzji. Nie mówię o pełnym powrocie do jednomyślności, bo przy tak dużej Unii nie jest możliwe. Trzeba doprecyzować i pewnie poszerzyć zakres spraw, które muszą być podejmowane jednomyślnie, a poza tym jeśli chodzi o mechanizm podejmowania decyzji większością, to musi być bardziej konsensualny – dodał.

    Szef partii, która rządzi Polską stwierdził, że niezbędny jest nowy traktat unijny.

  23. markfromireland permalink
    June 25, 2016

    Gentle reminder that all five of the largest euro area economies are due to hold elections in the next 18 months. Yes yes I know “if voting changed anything it would be illegal” and all the other sloganeering. Nevertheless it’ll be interesting to see how governments choose to pacify their populations over the next year and a half.

  24. June 25, 2016

    Everyone seems to be forgetting that the main job of the European Union is to keep the peace in Europe. All else is secondary. I think it’s clear that by tolerating high levels of inequity and allowing the banking system to turn toxic the EU is not doing its job, by the same token letting Europe dissolve into Warring States is also not keeping peace. Perhaps more tomorrow tonight my head is full of fuzz and I don’t want to think about it anymore.

  25. June 25, 2016

    The clouds remain over the weekend, with a Monday gush on Wall St forming.

  26. June 25, 2016

    Raven Onthill

    That was supposed to be the reason for EU existence. However, when the spoils of war were divided, a small group of England billionaires realized that a large group of ordinary English were feeling left out. So they organized a coup. That is why they had tact to the left now, and say nothing will change. They are going take power now.

    We will see if this were works – because a lot of other groups have now seen that it is possible to organize a coup.

  27. Mary permalink
    June 25, 2016

    If only each individual would love and care for others, then we wouldn’t need legislation and rules to govern our Society. However, a simple look at daily behaviour shows how self-centred most people are. Consider the driving behaviours of many – speeding, cutting up other drivers and going through red lights are all behaviours that display a lack of respect for others. Such behaviour seems to have become normalised so what are the chances that Society can change to the one where all are cared for? How long will it take? Yes, the EU provided some limits on the increasing inequities in Society and we really need it because left to ourselves many will focus solely on their own wants and needs. Yes, the idea of a Society with no restraints is terrifying.

  28. June 25, 2016

    Mary

    That makes no sense.

  29. June 25, 2016

    Out of the frying pan and into the fire with Corbyn, eh?

    There is much I agree with in what you say, and the Cameron government has been horrendous in both it’s principles and its incompetence. But Corbyn will be no different in those respects. He is all protest and has no solutions.

  30. V. Arnold permalink
    June 25, 2016

    At this juncture I see only 2 rational, humane, governments on this planet; Iceland and Russia.
    I’ll never hitch my wagon to ANY government ever again; personal sovereignty rules.
    Great Britain/England is fighting for it’s sovereignty and will lose in the end. The vote was too close and slaves once freed, fear their freedom and lack of security, the future, and the unknown.
    The majority have been captured and further discussion is pointless; “they won” and “we” lost: Excepting the very few who have fled to obscurity and anonymity…

  31. June 25, 2016

    There are those on the left who supported Jeremy Corbyn for leader who if not exactly calling for him to go are beginning to wonder if he is actually the right person to lead the Labour party at this time. They see his pro- Europe campaign as being basically unprofessional. The question being asked is would a general election campaign be any better.
    Neil Schofield writes at Notes from a Broken Society

    Ultimately the issue boils down to a couple of questions. Labour’s national leadership have been appalling in this campaign – and the social media warriors mathering about Progress plots need to get real about this. Does this mean that Corbyn’s credibility has been damaged irretrievably? It’s difficult to see how Corbyn’s leadership can survive without some pretty fundamental changes to the approach and the team – sharper policy-making, and developing a serious media strategy – which in turn means dismantling the bunker and putting in place a decent team that can reunite the party. Can we go back to the pre-Corbyn position? No, because that leads to more confused economic messaging and, ultimately, to the PASOK-ification of Labour. Does the Labour leadership need to up its game? Absolutely. Whether or not Corbyn should go is encapsulated in those questions.

  32. markfromireland permalink
    June 25, 2016

    Valentine on what planet could the Russian government be considered humane? Salusa Secundus? The fact that the Russian government isn’t a bunch of warmongering neocons does not mean that they’re nice people. There are severe human rights problems in Russia starting with the arrest and attainder process, going on to how trials are conducted, and ending in the appallingly brutal prison system. Then there’s the use of preventative detention. For shame Valentine, for shame.

  33. markfromireland permalink
    June 25, 2016

    @ AlanSmithee June 24, 2016

    Article 7 & QMV.

  34. markfromireland permalink
    June 25, 2016

    Interesting report in the Guardian’s rolling coverage:

    53m ago 15:22

    The Labour leader continues to enjoy support from young voters in particular though, if a straw poll of under 25s at Glastonbury by Lisa O’Carroll is anything to go by:

    The mere mention of his name in the The Left Field tent, home of political discussions at the festival, raised an enormous cheer on Saturday lunchtime.

    Another enormous cheer rang out when Clive Lewis, MP for Norfolk South, who was one of the first to support Corbyn took a shot at the Blairites in the party.

    “I’m not going to stand back and hand my party back to the neoliberals who got us here in the first place.”

    “They are not the future of the party, you are the future of the party,” he told the crowd urging them to join the party and ensure a “progressive Brexit”.

    “I do not want to take my party back. I want to take it forward,” he added.

    Green Party MEP Molly Scott Cato went further calling for both the Labour party and Conservative Party to “split” into the opposing sides exposed during the referendum.

    She warned that the Tories had “no domestic mandate” as those supporting the left and the right had voted for Brexit.

    Those mounting a coup against him might regret it.

  35. Peter* permalink
    June 25, 2016

    An interesting POV from an African, Kalundi Seumaga at Counterpunch about the collapse of Western civilization not being such a bad thing especially for the African, Asian and MENA countries whose exploitation created the prosperity that Brexit is supposedly trying to reclaim for the UK.

    Along with colonization these countries have suffered the lash of the IMF austerity long before that tactic was directed at the poor Europeans and usurious trade agreements were and are firmly in place there benefitting these same poor Europeans.

  36. Steeleweed permalink
    June 25, 2016

    Trump’s attempt to score points from the vote didn’t go over very well in Scotland:
    https://scontent-lga3-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/13528991_10153948293923369_8381104762969276166_n.jpg?oh=ffd8549c97e8949e5277d9b246f125f9&oe=580190A4

  37. June 25, 2016

    Valentine on what planet could the Russian government be considered humane? Salusa Secundus? The fact that the Russian government isn’t a bunch of warmongering neocons does not mean that they’re nice people. There are severe human rights problems in Russia starting with the arrest and attainder process, going on to how trials are conducted, and ending in the appallingly brutal prison system. Then there’s the use of preventative detention. For shame Valentine, for shame.

    Seriously. The Russian government’s main merit is exactly that they serve as the counterweight to other warmongers, not that they’re particularly saintly. They’re still imperialists hanging onto an empire by force, and I don’t (only) mean Ukraine. I just don’t get the Putinophilia.

  38. Ian Welsh permalink
    June 25, 2016

    Yeah, people always get upset when I criticize Putin or Russia. Yes, they aren’t the worst people on the planet, no they aren’t good people. And I say that as someone who thought Russia’s reaction in the Ukraine was understandable (and if I was in charge in Moscow, I would have done exactly the same thing in the Crimea and probably in the rest of the Ukraine. Reapolitik is ugly, but it had to be made clear that Russia would not stand for Ukraine in NATO.)

    What I will say for Putin is this: he may be the most competent leader of a major nation today. Competent is not an ethical judgment, but I will take someone competent like Putin over someone incompetent.

  39. June 25, 2016

    This interview snippet is going around social media: Mark Blythe (professor of Political Economy at Brown University) on Brexit

  40. Hugh permalink
    June 25, 2016

    I agree with Mary. As her comment and Ian’s next post illustrate, there are a million different ways we show or nowadays more often do not show our social cohesion. Our overlord class rejoice at such behaviors because the more we disrespect each other the more we become weak and divided and the less we pose any threat or challenge to them.

    In 1950, Meusaga’s home country of Uganda (about the size of the state of Washington once you take Lake Victoria out of it) had a population of 5.5 million. In 2050, 34 years from now, it is projected to have a population 9f 93.5 million. These kinds of population increases replicate throughout Africa. They are completely unmanageable and unsustainable. Rather than meaningless exercises of Schadenfreude, we might better use our energies in keeping civilization together in general and preventing a mass die off in places like Africa.

    Steeleweed, remind me again how many electoral votes Scotland has

  41. Peter* permalink
    June 25, 2016

    Hugh, I usually look forward to your comments but this response to Serumaga’s POV is a bit exceptionalist and ahistorical. Many of the problems that Africas and other colonized peoples have are rooted in outside interference and exploitation and that probably includes these overpopulation problems in certain African countries.

    Positing that we need to save Western Civilization to solve the problems it created and perpetuates is an elite attempt to escape from the responsibility for these evils and elevate Europeans above the Other who are weak and need out help and guidance.

    Let the Others have a little Schadenfreude it is small compensation for the mess created by WC.

  42. Some Guy permalink
    June 26, 2016

    Ian – maybe it is cruel of me to suggest this, but you should really take a look at the sequence of brexit posts on Vox. Rarely have I seen neoliberalism stripped down to such bare essentials by its proponents.

    I think my favourite headline was ‘Brexit was fueled by irrational xenophobia, not real economic grievances’

    You rarely see neolibs explicitly declare that only money is ‘real’ and caring about anything else is ‘irrational’.

    Or from a different piece, “Brexit was a rejection of Britain’s governing elite. Too bad the elites were right.” we get this gem:

    “What we know is that, like turkeys voting for Christmas, the British have opted to weaken their economy, reduce their international standing, and create massive uncertainty at a time when the world really doesn’t need it. All in the name of the abstract concepts of “independence” and “sovereignty”.”

    How rude of people to be concerned about independence when the world is having a bad day and really just doesn’t feel like it can cope with any more uncertainty! Are mainstream pundits some sort of Rubio-esque robot that is unable to function properly when challenged by events? Things are getting stranger by the day out there.

  43. June 26, 2016

    Corbyn is going down.It may not be the best idea, but it is the only one they have.

  44. markfromireland permalink
    June 26, 2016

    Too early to tell if Corbyn’s going down or not. He was made leader by a very large majority of the membership and has a good organisation behind him. It’s not all that difficult to deselect a Labour MP and the PLP is very much out of sync with their membership. Another possibility is that a large group of MPs will jump before they’re pushed.

  45. markfromireland permalink
    June 26, 2016

    PS: Momentum’s Corbyn loyalists to confront rebel Labour MPs | Politics | The Guardian

    and:

    First, if anyone is undemocratic enough to think that there can be a new leadership election with the existing leader kept off the ballot, then they are setting the Labour party on course for a split.

    And second, Unite has hitherto opposed any plans to change the party rules governing mandatory re-selection of Labour MPs. That, too, we have looked on as a divisive distraction.

    But those MPs who have missed no opportunity to tweet and brief against the party’s elected leader over the last 10 months will find that their disloyalty finds no favour with party members and will make this an increasingly difficult line to hold.

    Labour mutineers are betraying our national interest | Len McCluskey | Opinion | The Guardian

  46. rkka permalink
    June 26, 2016

    “Seriously. The Russian government’s main merit is exactly that they serve as the counterweight to other warmongers, not that they’re particularly saintly. They’re still imperialists hanging onto an empire by force, and I don’t (only) mean Ukraine. I just don’t get the Putinophilia.”

    Before Putin, the “Seven Bankers” had everything their way, and deaths were exceeding births by almost a million a year, with no end in sight. Their GDP was the size of The Netherlands, their external government debt was equal to GNP, and they were paying a staggering interest rate on the Ruble-denominated debt. I well recall the “Russia is finished” and “The Russian population will be 125m by 2050” headlines of the late 1990s.

    What Putin did was set limits to oligarchic predation. By no means did he end it, don’t get me wrong, but he did set limits to it, mostly by making ’em pay wages and taxes, both optional for them under Yeltsin. Now Russia’s external debt is trivial, yearly births exceed deaths by ~30k and net immigration is another 200k or so. Russia now has a future, which you couldn’t really say in the time of the drunken incompetent comprador buffoon Yeltsin.

    That’s what Putin did.

  47. markfromireland permalink
    June 26, 2016

    @ rkka June 26, 2016

    That particular commenter doesn’t “get” anything except a half-assed kind of economic determinism. You’re wasting your time on a gadfly.

  48. Peter* permalink
    June 26, 2016

    Your synopsis of Putin’s Russia is somewhat accurate and somewhat incomplete. Putin certainly deserves credit for bringing Russia back from the edge of the abyss but Yeltsin with all his flaws was wise enough to place Putin in power before he dissolved. The reports I have read claim that Putin made a deal with the Oligarchs and they received favorable treatment for giving up any notions of political power in Putin’s managed democracy, one bucked that deal and we know what happened to him.

    Regaining control of their oil wealth and the bloated oil prices of recent years helped to clear much of their debt but today no one will loan money to Russia and they need it desperately to modernize and build their industry, they are also burning through their wisely saved reserves from that oil bonanza.

    There economy is much improved from those early days and now is about equal to Mexico’s but they still don’t produce much that the world wants besides oil and arms. Their population may not be shrinking but it is still not growing which may be a good thing as we face the end of growth, it along with shutting down their old heavy industry also dramatically cut their CO2 emissions which is a plus for the world.

    Putin’s methods were probably necessary to save Russia but now that he appears to be President for Life and embracing the Orthodox Church as a holy warrior outside of Russia old imperial tendencies are becoming apparent likely due to the fact that the US rejects him as a partner in the new world order he desires to join.

  49. rkka permalink
    June 27, 2016

    Peter,

    The deal was as follows:

    “I do not propose to revisit the privatization decisions of the 1990s. Keep your swag. Going forward, pay your taxes and wages, and stay out of politics.”

    As you relate, one of the most ruthless & rapacious, Khodorkovsky, refused, and spent a decade in the slammer pn tax evasion and fraud charges, which the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg found to be well-supported in testimony & evidence. Despite this, the Anglosphere turned him into a modern-day Sakharov. Hilarious.

    “The reports I have read claim that Putin made a deal with the Oligarchs and they received favorable treatment for giving up any notions of political power in Putin’s managed democracy, one bucked that deal and we know what happened to him.”

    This of course was a vast improvement over Yeltsin’s governance, who ruled by force and fraud, and by total dominance of media owned by the oligarchs who funded him. Putin has far better small-d democratic credentials than Yeltsin ever did, though the Anglosphere Foreign Policy Elite & Punditocracy (AFPE&P) would rather die than admit it.

    “Regaining control of their oil wealth and the bloated oil prices of recent years helped to clear much of their debt”

    That’s a part, but far from the whole. If the energy windfall had occurred under Yeltsin, the oligarchs would have taken it all, offshored it, and leveraged it for global business empire-building, and probably would have lost it all in The Crash. Mother Russia would have been naked in the force-12 financial storm of 2008-9, and tens of millions of Russians would have been rendered destitute, again. Instead, Putin broke the political power of the oligarchs and forced them to accept the state taxing the energy windfall away from them. That’s why Mother Russia faced the financial storm of 2008-2009 with 600 gigabucks in the bank.

    “but today no one will loan money to Russia and they need it desperately to modernize and build their industry,”

    Guess what. No one loaned Russia a dime to modernize or build anything back in the 1990s. The Russian government are wise to assume that Russia’s that no Anglosphere government will ever assist Russia with any problem Russia has, wishing only to exploit them to Russia’s detriment.

    “they are also burning through their wisely saved reserves from that oil bonanza.”

    Nope. Not since the Russian Central Bank decided to let the Ruble float last fall. Recently, Russia’s central bank reserves have been growing.

    There economy is much improved from those early days and now is about equal to Mexico’s”

    On a Purchasing Power Parity basis, I think the Russian economy is about the size of Germany’s.

    ” but they still don’t produce much that the world wants besides oil and arms. ”

    Actually, Russia’s food exports are a bigger earner than foreign exchange than arms exports.

    “Putin’s methods were probably necessary to save Russia but now that he appears to be President for Life and embracing the Orthodox Church as a holy warrior outside of Russia old imperial tendencies are becoming apparent likely due to the fact that the US rejects him as a partner in the new world order he desires to join.”

    It is clear that the US will partner only with a Russian government that takes no action to defend Russia’s interests and the well-being of Russians.

    They still pine for Yeltsin.

  50. Peter* permalink
    June 28, 2016

    Pretty good attempt at spin, rkka but hard reality paints a harsher picture of Russia. Russia’s huge debt you referred to came from loans from the West for whatever purpose and they still need financing for modernization especially in the value added sectors where large outflows for machinery and other manufactured goods require large amounts of their devalued currency for payment. I think we are talking about two different funds, I about the savings from oil revenues and you about their central bank funds.

    Russia is a large cereal grain exporter but this is a commodity just like oil and is subject to dramatic changes in prices as we have seen with oil.

    PPP seems to me to be a metric used for poor third world and developing countries to make them feel better about their lack of wealth because they can buy cheap food and products at home but actual GDP shows how they compare with developed nations and trying to equate the Russian commodity based economy with Germany’s industrial powerhouse is a stretch. Mexico is a more accurate comparison even though Mexico is more productive than Russia industrially.

    You may be correct about the US attitude towards Putin but I doubt they want a disintegrating Nuke armed Russia with a drunken fool leader and that doesn’t change the often repeated pleas by Putin to join the NWO as a junior partner in the domination of the world.

  51. rkka permalink
    June 28, 2016

    “Pretty good attempt at spin, rkka but hard reality paints a harsher picture of Russia.”

    Oh, don’t worry, I’m aware of the hard realities of Russia’s present. You don’t get a GINI coefficient like Russia’s without abundant harsh reality.

    “Russia’s huge debt you referred to came from loans from the West for whatever purpose”

    The purpose was to bind the Russian government in chains of debt. Before the 1999 collapse, ~50% of the Russian gvt’s revenue was going to debt service.

    “and they still need financing for modernization especially in the value added sectors where large outflows for machinery and other manufactured goods require large amounts of their devalued currency for payment.”

    1) The Anglosphere will never, ever loan money to Russia for any purpose other than to bind a commodity-producing Russia in chains of debt.

    2) Enterprises needing foreign-currency financing tend to have foreign-currency earnings, so the value of the Ruble has less impact on them than one would expect. The oil sector has done well, because it has huge foreign-currency earnings, while the substantial majority of its costs are in Rubles.

    ” I think we are talking about two different funds, I about the savings from oil revenues and you about their central bank funds.”

    Both, yes, but Russia’s ultimate financial reserve is that held by the Russian Central Bank.

    “Russia is a large cereal grain exporter but this is a commodity just like oil and is subject to dramatic changes in prices as we have seen with oil.”

    It is also a rapidly growing producer of a growing range of agricultural products. The dairy sector is booming, and climbing the value-added chain as well. They are also introducing commercial aircraft, with competitive products.

    “PPP seems to me to be a metric used for poor third world and developing countries to make them feel better about their lack of wealth because they can buy cheap food and products at home but actual GDP shows how they compare with developed nations and trying to equate the Russian commodity based economy with Germany’s industrial powerhouse is a stretch. Mexico is a more accurate comparison even though Mexico is more productive than Russia industrially.”

    Mexico makes commercial aircraft, from design to production? Mexico makes nuclear-powered icebreakers, from design to production? Mexico has a substantial order book for nuclear power plants, Mexican from design to production? Do wonders never cease!

    One of the things that PPP does is removes foreign currency fluctuations. Its more constant over time, not subject to the whim of Mr. Foreign Currency Market.

    “You may be correct about the US attitude towards Putin but I doubt they want a disintegrating Nuke armed Russia with a drunken fool leader and that doesn’t change the often repeated pleas by Putin to join the NWO as a junior partner in the domination of the world.”

    What they want is a helpless, irrelevant, indebted, future-less commodity-producer Russia.

    How, or even whether, Russians live, is a matter of indifference.

  52. rkka permalink
    June 28, 2016

    “Mexico makes commercial aircraft, from design to production? Mexico makes nuclear-powered icebreakers, from design to production? Mexico has a substantial order book for nuclear power plants, Mexican from design to production? Do wonders never cease!”

    The point here is that Mexico assembles. Russia creates. There’s a difference.

  53. Peter* permalink
    June 28, 2016

    I knew the Mexico comparison would rile you and that Russia inherited all of the USSR’s industrial/scientific capabilities besides weapons but not enough of that is used or exported, we certainly don’t need more Nuke plants, it is an old dirty tech. I’m not saying that Russia doesn’t have capabilities and expertise in many areas but that they are only producing at the level of Mexico which is still a huge increase over the years following the fall of the USSR, which at its height had a GDP one half of the US.

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