• Brexit, Tribalism and Related Musings

    Most of you are probably tired of reading about Brexit, so I’ll try to make this as painless as possible. The tribalism associated with the referendum is worth discussing, though. As part of the more left-wing remain camp, I’ve been struck by the way certain liberals reflexively sided with the leave campaign. When the result came through, my timeline was filled with people gloating over the outcome. Many of them didn’t actually seem to care about the substance of the issue nor did they appear to understand its consequences.

    They were crowing as though PZ Myers had been caught on camera groping a student while sporting blackface. To them, this was just another victory against the regressive left. The remain side was Salon.com and the leavers were standing up for true liberalism. This is tribal nonsense, of course, and the perception owes much to the bizarre liberal-conservative alliance born out of opposition to the far left. I call it bizarre because it is based almost entirely on agreement over a narrow range of pet issues. Liberals are seemingly so pre-occupied with left-wing lunacy that they overlook the excesses of their conservative allies.

    Let’s take Milo Yiannopoulous as an example. I agree with a fraction of his views, but they just so happen to be on issues I’m passionate about. It’s easy to forget that the man is little more than an attention-seeker. He’s a reality television star without a show. Someone needs to give him a series on E! so he can stop pretending to be a journalist. You may have missed this nauseating exchange with Nigel Farage.

    If you’re on the Gamergate side—as I generally am—I would like you to swap Farage with a major video game publisher and Milo with any unscrupulous gaming journalist of your choosing. Now, does the above exchange seem even remotely ethical to you? Of course not. If you’re a liberal, why are you reflexively deferring to people like this on unrelated issues? The same goes for Steven Crowder and conspiracy nuts like Paul Joseph Watson and Mike Cernovich. These people are not infallible simply because they share my disdain for the regressive left. Quite the opposite, in fact.

    Even the ordinarily brilliant parody account @GodfreyElfwick is attempting to satirize remain voters. As I pointed out to him, satire is only effective when you occupy the intellectual high ground. It should be clear at this point that Brexit wasn’t the clever choice. This is what happens when you’re tired of experts, I suppose. You begin to sound like a creationist attempting to satirize Richard Dawkins or Uwe Boll trying to lampoon Steven Spielberg.

    None of this should be interpreted as a wholesale endorsement of remain voters. The racist elements of the leave camp are well documented, but some of the ageism on the other side is appalling. If you’ve been whining about old people stealing your future, I’d like you to tell me at what age you think we should start cutting back on people’s rights. Should the right to vote be rescinded when you hit 50? I only ask because I’m about to turn 34 and I’d like to know how long I have until my life starts to lose value. I haven’t fought in wars like some of our current pensioners, but it would be nice to know nevertheless.

    We also need to abandon the delusional idea of a second referendum. Arguments about the vote being merely advisory are plain silly. Is that really what you think was going on? The government wanted advice from the general public on a complex issue? They’ve got teams of experts, but it was important to get the input of Dave the plumber and James the freelance writer? It’s a disingenuous claim. It’s true that we were fed lies by the leave campaign. But if you think lying politicians is grounds for another vote, we’ll be making weekly visits to the voting booth.

    Well, I’m satisfied that I’ve offered something to piss off both tribes. I’ll see you in six months for another of my bi-annual blog posts, assuming the UK hasn’t turned into Mad Max.

    Category: FeaturedNewsSkepticismSocial Justice


    Article by: James MacDonald

    James MacDonald is a freelance writer and featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. In addition to sports writing, James holds masters degrees in both Psychology and Social Sciences and covers subjects including sex, gender, secularism, media, and gaming, among others.
    • You’re going to have to work harder to piss me off, bro.

      From where I’m sitting across the pond, the UK’s famously unwritten constitution looks a lot like Calvinball. There is even a betting market going on whether and when Article 50 will actually be triggered. Thinking of laying some money down, since the dollar is relatively strong against the pound at the moment.

    • kraut2

      On one hand it throws a bit of a spanner into the EU with the UK leaving – on the other hand watching the politics of the UK vs. the EU I never got the impression they actually wanted to be in. So – maybe it is better for all concerned they leave and thanks for the wake up call to reform the EU to be a more – or even a – democratic organization.

    • sigh moon

      The gamergate comparison re Milo & Farage sounded good but it doesn’t bear scrutiny. Milo wasn’t secretly colluding with Farage, he was very publicly editorialising and supporting Brexit. Not the same thing as games journos secretly co-ordinating in order to create a perception of industry consensus that did not really exist.

      • The issues aren’t identical, but he’s still spreading propaganda for Farage. Milo is supposedly a journalist, and he is being thanked by a politician for favorable coverage.

        The only difference is that he is openly being unethical. Let’s just swap Farage for Clinton to make things simpler. Would Milo be seen as ethical if he was spreading her propaganda?

    • Fed24

      “We also need to abandon the delusional idea of a second referendum. ”

      Why?! Sorry I am utterly sick of this argument as a Remain supporter! I accept that there was a referendum that Remain lost, I also accept that Brexit as it stands will happen but why should I also accept that there can’t be a referendum at some future date to rejoin the EU? There is no limit on the number of referendums that can be held on a single matter!

      During the referendum campaign we were repeatedly told by Leave and their myriad supporters that they would not accept a Remain win and continue to call for future referendums until they got the answer they wanted. Farage famously said a 52>48% win for Remain would be unfinished business.

      So how come Remain supporters are now meant to just shut up, stop Remoaning (an asinine label) and get behind Brexit? I don’t support Brexit, I will never get behind it, I will vocally point out every problem with it and call for a future referendum to reverse this national disaster!

      Ten years of Brexit and all the damage it will do to our economy the loss of rights it also entails and I don’t see why we can’t have another referendum!