Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Harbingers Of The Future?

Nigel Farage has resigned. But the arrogance and hypocrisy he stood for will not depart with him. His speech to the European Parliament on the day after the Brexit vote was teeming with his usual swill. Dan Leger writes:

Farage’s gloating oration in Brussels followed the victory by anti-EU forces in the U.K.’s ill-considered Brexit referendum. In the speech, Farage repeatedly insulted his fellow parliamentarians with a sneering arrogance that will do little to help Britain build new international relationships.

“I know that virtually none of you,” he said, “have ever done a proper job in your lives, or worked in business, or worked in trade, or indeed ever created a job.”

Remember, these are the words of a full-time politician and former commodities trader, professions not known as drivers of employment.

Farage complained that he hadn’t been taken seriously when he first became a salaried and expenses-collecting member of the Euro Parliament he so despises, 17 years ago.

“You all laughed at me. I have to say, you’re not laughing now, are you?”

The problem with people  like Farage and Donald Trump, writes Leger, is that they have made hate acceptable in modern politics. And while the likes of Farage and Boris Johnson have exited stage right, exposed as the buffoons they are, there will be others who will follow in their footsteps:

Any fool can see through Trump, the preening egotist and shallow showoff. And most can see through Farage’s lies and smugness.

But what if a candidate emerges who isn’t an obvious buffoon, but with similarly toxic ideas?
Seventy-five years ago, German fascists cited “Blut und Boden,” “blood and soil” in their program of race hatred. A similar call might work with American or British nativists, invoking the idea that people who share ethnicity and territory should band together to keep the “others” out.

In the wake of the Brexit vote, racial incidents are rising across the U.K., with harassment of immigrants and outsiders. A pro-Europe MP was murdered by a white supremacist right before the referendum.

At Trump’s mass rallies, racist and misogynistic insults are routinely hurled around by the candidate and his supporters.

If Farage, Johnson and Trump are harbingers of the future, we have much to worry about.

Image: blogs.spectator.co.uk


Lorne said...

And sadly, Owen, there will always be millions who are quite content to ignore the lessons of history and embrace all that is antithetical to the values they say they hold so dear. The other night I watched Trumbo," the movie about the blacklisting of screenwriter Dalton Trumbo and many others for being members of the Communist Party of America. I couldn't help but note for all the rhetoric by the witch-hunters about the greatness of America's values, freedom of thought and association were apparently not among them.

The Mound of Sound said...

Xenophobia and scapegoating are the stock in trade of the radical right and we're seeing a lot more of it through Europe, east and west, and into the United States. Yet, with the forces looming that will stress social cohesion, I think it's only getting started. Perhaps it's more like a contagion that has to run its course until it reaches a fever that one either survives - or not.

Toby said...

Owen, while I agree with your essay I am worried that the use of terms like "racist" and "misogynistic" will be used against those of us who would like to tear up or, at least, radically re-write trade deals like NAFTA. As you know, these deals have distorted life wherever they touch making the rich richer and the poor poorer. Confronting the real problems we face shouldn't be shut down by accusations of "racism" and "misogyny" but I can see it coming.

Dana said...

We're in deep trouble anyway. It's nigh on immaterial what kind of political decisions are made by the asses and nines attracted by the power hormone.

When human social constructs meet the hard physics of reality guess what happens.

Owen Gray said...

You're right, Toby. There are real reasons to oppose the trade deals. Unfortunately, Farage, Johnson and Trump are not the ones to carry the message. Besides, once they create the mess, they leave.

Owen Gray said...

That's the ultimate question, Mound. Are there circuit breakers in place that can put an end to the fever?

Owen Gray said...

I watched the same film a couple of nights ago on Netflix, Lorne. And I was struck by how right Samuel Johnson was when he declared that patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.

Owen Gray said...

I fear you're right, Dana. No one cares to examine the consequences of what they've been sold.

Anonymous said...


The good the bad and the ugly are out in force airing their laundry.
The Anglosphere is sitting upon a tinderbox.
Bigotry of the masses is pacing foot by foot the race by the 'establishment' to retain power.
If reason does not prevail we are in deep shit.


Steve said...

If we look at the leaders of Brexit today, the future is full of Monty Python Black Knignts
exept its not a comedy.

Owen Gray said...

And I suspect, Steve, that the Black Knights will be cut down to size.

Owen Gray said...

Absolutely true, TB.