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June 24th, 2016

A big win for tribalism. Have your say, bearing in mind the comments policy.

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  1. June 24th, 2016 at 15:02 | #1

    Is tribalism/democracy a bit like terrorist/freedom fighter?

    Norway is doing exceptionally well without being part of the EU. Why can’t the UK? (oil is not the only reason Norway is doing well).

    And couldn’t further unravelling of the EU be a good thing, especially the monetary unity? Can’t see what good the euro does for the PIGS countries at the moment at least.

    Interesting question: would the USA have been better off if they did split in two? Could have produced a worse future, could have produced a better one. But that’s my point: it’s difficult to say either way.

  2. June 24th, 2016 at 15:13 | #2

    And a big loss for betting odds. Again.

    I think they have a bias in favour of VSPs/status quo and against populist revolts.

    If you lose money, it’s always more defensible to say “but all the serious people were saying that, so you can’t blame me”. But if you lose on a contrarian view, you just look crazy. This affects market prices.

  3. Peter Chapman
    June 24th, 2016 at 15:30 | #3

    If by tribalism you mean something negative, I disagree. The majority of Brexit supporters, like the rest of us, simply want more control over their lives, and the British political system does not give them that sense of control at present… the vote may make them feel empowered to some degree. For Marx’s sake, there is no historically predetermined path to European unity and internationalism. Have we not learned that yet? Yes, according to Simon Wren-Lewis and others, a majority of economists thought Remain was the correct and desirable choice, but oddly enough, for somewhat technocratic reasons… it is one thing to say what the goal should be, and another to identify a practical path to that goal. Brexit is in the ascendancy at the moment, but what will happen the day after? The Scots are already murmuring dissent, so it seems their tribalism is tinged with some internationalism, perhaps? Meanwhile, back in the City of London, the 1% will be looking to their own interests. For the rest of England and Wales, and Northern Ireland, if post-Brexit politics are left in the hands of the likes of Boris and Nigel, yes, we all have a problem. If “taking back control” meant taking back control of the public lands and assets and urban spaces that have been increasingly privatised in recent years; if it meant taking control of state revenues that have been hijacked by the 1% business owners such as “Sir” Phillip Green; if it meant dealing with the international billionaires whose empty tax-avoiding luxury apartments dull the London skyline; if it meant policies to ensure the secure future of the NHS and other key institutions; then that would be something. Admittedly there is not much evidence that anyone on the Brexit side understands these challenges. But if political debate descends even further into squabbling about poor migrants, spurious issues of border control, etc., yes, we have a problem. If those who now feel empowered find, after the Brexit is a done deal, that nothing much else has changed, then watch what they do with their energies then. From this (not entirely safe) distance, certainly, the processes will make interesting watching over the next several months. And with British politics, has it not ever been thus?

  4. Douglas Hynd
    June 24th, 2016 at 15:42 | #4

    It is not clear given the constitutional structure of the UK whether the ordinary person will be any more empowered interns of redress against executive power outside of europe. I am inclined to doubt it. It is however going to put pressures on the current party and parliamentary system given the divisions that it has highlighted. The division between support for remain in Scotland and the vote to exist just south of the Scottish border points to something significant

  5. Newtownian
    June 24th, 2016 at 15:44 | #5

    The Guardian detailed data analysis site http://www.theguardian.com/politics/ng-interactive/2016/jun/23/eu-referendum-live-results-and-analysis has a series of six interesting plots showing:
    a. A range of sociological correlates as well as how noisy the data are and hence that these explanatory variables are incomplete.
    b. Crudely it suggests if you are educated, rich, see yourself as a better class of person, are younger and/or have overseas links you wanted to remain.
    c. And if you are the opposite you wanted out. This looks as much like vested interest as tribalism.
    d. And the balance is pretty fine over this issue of the EU.

    Additionally if you are Scottish or a Londoner you mainly want to remain even though the Scots or Londons can hardly be called single tribes.

    Beyond we all tend to belong to overlapping tribes which these 7/8 factors exemplify – for professional, social, sporting, academic and other reasons. So broad tribalism is not strictly bad. So your use of the term tribalism here needs qualification perhaps. Maybe John you should be referring more precisely to nativist or xenophobic groupings which are a bit different to the broad tribes identified by the Guardian.

    Altearntively we are perhaps seeing simply another vote based on ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’.

    Dont get me wrong. I find Boris and Nigel almost as painful as Trump. But I think there is more to Brexit than Tribalism and its maybe time to develop a more sophisticated factor analysis of what is going on. One thing this might reveal is why despite virtually every high status expert (politician, economist, churchman, US president, Guardian journalist) saying stop wait, the majority said stuff you. This loss of credibility of experts is a worry for me as despite my suspicion of experts our society is dependent on them and this so-called independence seems to correlate with disbelief in real problems like climate change.

    We know something of the sources of this rejection of expertise e.g. decades of patronizing and management of the populace by policy makers…currently exemplified here in Sydney by bulldozer development plans like WestConnex and the sacking of NSW local government…. But we understand less about what will happen next and the pressure cooker being heated. We are not the same people we were in the 1930s so suggestions of Trump being a new Hitler are laughable. But that doesnt preclude some unknown types of destructive chaos like a second financial collapse or at least slowing off an already slow base. It will be interesting to watch how this unfolds.

  6. Ivor
    June 24th, 2016 at 15:46 | #6

    It is the opposite of tribalism.

    The so-called “tribe” of Tories was split right down the middle – Boris vs Cameron.

    The winning side was comprised of two completely different “tribes” – the Farage right and the socialist left.

    The European project just represented capitalist internationalisation – it did not represent proletarian internationalism. UK capitalists used Europe to destroy the working conditions and opportunities.

    For example:

    In particular, she highlighted decisions of the EU Court of Justice in the Viking, Laval, Ruffert and Luxembourg cases which ban trade union or regional and national government action to enforce equal employment terms for ‘super-exploited’ imported workers.

    British leftwing and rightwing workers have moved to defend their own interests against the designs of capitalist politicians, academics and journalists.

  7. Ikonoclast
    June 24th, 2016 at 15:58 | #7

    We need a few reality checks here.

    1. It does appear that the Brexit referendum has been “called” and that the outcome is “Leave the EU.

    2. This is a democratic outcome of the voting polity in question. The minority view can question and criticise but this is the democratic outcome.

    3. The referendum outcome (as I understand it) does not force the government of the day to exit the E.U. It is just possible that the government of the day might not enact the result but rather take it to the next polls, thus using delaying tactics.

    Now, for some opinions;

    4. Just about everyone is “tribal” at times, in the derogatory sense used by J.Q. This includes moderate left social democrats.

    5. If the UK as a democratic polity decides to halt net immigration then this is a reasonable decision, especially in the light of limits to growth issues and ecological footprint analysis with respect to the UK. There is no reason that immigration to replace emigration need be racially based. Commitment to a steady, sustainable population need not be a racist policy. Having said this, there probably was a xenophobic element in some campaigning.

    6. Britons made the right decision economically even if some made it for the wrong reasons (xenophobia). The EU is a failed experiment, a failed economic union, a neoliberal democratic deficit zone and a non-optimal currency area sans a true and democratic federation.

    7. The global neoliberal elites will attempt to manipulate markets to punish the UK. Democracy is not allowed under their system. Rather, everyone must do what the neoliberal elites dictate or be punished.

    8. If people lament the taint of “tribalism”, racism and xenophobia in the outcome, they should blame the neoliberal capitalist elites who promote inequality, ignorance and wedge politics. Remember, neoliberals want a border-less world to promote the freedom of capital and falling wages via global wage arbitrage. They certainly don’t want equality. While democracy is limited to national polities, national democracy is the only defence against globalised neoliberal corporatocracy of which the EU was and is a prime example.

  8. Willy Bach
    June 24th, 2016 at 16:03 | #8

    Thanks John

    Tribalism is the right word. Funny that the British at the height of their Empire blamed tribalism for all the insurrections against their cruel rule.

    I am very sorry to see the mess that Britain has got itself into through xenophobia and narrow parochial attitudes. Will we be too late to see Australia do any better. OMG, we’re nearly there.

    The common thread is the wonderful advice of Mark Textor and (now Sir) Lynton Crosby from Australia have given to Tory parties in Canada, Australia, New Zealand (I think) and Britain over the years. The advice is always to play the race card, fan hatred against refugees or immigrants, use the dog-whistle. Brexit, their latest achievement will be regretted for decades. David Cameron won’t benefit from this. He will lose his job to more extreme people with help from UKIP and all those nutters with swastikas tatooed on their scalps.

    To think of it that I was once on radio and sitting across a small desk in the radio studio. He thought he’d eat an inexperienced Greens candidate, but I didn’t let that happen. It was a robust discussion.

  9. Zvyozdochka (@Zvyozdochka)
    June 24th, 2016 at 16:20 | #9

    Isolationism has always been a failure, more-so in the world these super-conservatives have created.

    I think I saw a quoted figure of the UK having just written off ~20% of their purchasing power?

    An even more pure neoliberal experiment is about to run I guess.

  10. GrueBleen
    June 24th, 2016 at 16:39 | #10

    @David Sligar

    Is this just a variation of the old saw about “better to lose for the right reason than win for the wrong reason” ?

    Because there’s always a lot of that going on.

  11. Tim Macknay
    June 24th, 2016 at 16:52 | #11

    @David Sligar
    It sounds like you’re saying that the betting markets are subject to a kind of herd behaviour. That strikes me as pretty plausible.

  12. GrueBleen
    June 24th, 2016 at 16:54 | #12

    @Willy Bach

    If you think that “tribalism” is the right word, then I suspect that “tribalism” doesn’t mean what you (and ProfQ) seem to think it means. I can see a certain amount of “cohortism” – ie people with a shared characteristic (in this case perhaps being ‘xenophobia’), but not “tribalism”.

    In any case, I think it’s much more a case of “shared intentionality” – based on ignorance and prejudice to be sure, but nonetheless shared and intentional. Remember, you can have a state without tribalism, but not without shared intentionality (which may be just a different name for ‘enlightened self-interest ?)

  13. Tim Macknay
    June 24th, 2016 at 16:56 | #13

    It’s certainly the case that the decision is democratic, and the U.K. establishment should respect the outcome and make the best of it, even if they aren’t happy about it. Whether or not the decision is the right economic one, or indeed does anything to address the various issues plaguing the British people, remains to be seen.

  14. bjb
    June 24th, 2016 at 17:00 | #14

    Despite what all the pundits are pontificating about, my guess is it’ll make almost no difference to the average Brit – they’ll still go to work every day, drop in to the pub the way home and watch their football team on the weekend. All the nonsense of doom and gloom all the new services are running will come to nought.

  15. nick j
    June 24th, 2016 at 17:19 | #15

    whilst I’m neither parochial or xenophobic, I voted out. tribalism would have dictated my voting remain rather than being even remotely associated with a load of fascist knuckledraggers. but if we go ad hominem, remain has some pretty unsavoury war criminals, neo liberals and worse.

    with luck this vote heralds the end of neo liberalism. a lot of people who were doing quite nicely are going to find their lives a little more difficult and they’re squealing. others who’ve had a hard time have given the elite the finger.

  16. Newtownian
    June 24th, 2016 at 17:25 | #16

    Here is a positive take on Brexit http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2015/06/john-king-left-wing-case-leaving-eu . Reading it suggests Brexit is likely not just about Farage and tribalism. Many on the left see the EU as more of a problem that Johnson and Farage because so much of it is antidemocratic. The trouble is the choice is a devil’s alternative.

    On the plus side for Remain – there were things such as ease of movement and internal cooperation, slow national and racial barrier removal and integration, good environmental initiatives. But on the negative side Remain in effect accepted an unaccountable neoliberal hegemony which has created and locked the EU peoples into an economic straightjacket and stimulated the rise of the very reactionary forces it was supposed to mitigate. Consider the Greeks.

    Conversely for the Leave camp there was the offer of greater Britsh autonomy, closer control and inhibition of the out of control City financiers, and better control over Transatlantic trade agreements which this Leave vote may have scuppered more widely. But on the negative side, much of this liberatarianism was a cover for irrational tribalism as John puts it focused on immigration.

    And this is before we come to the controversy around standardisation of the English sausage.

  17. Ikonoclast
    June 24th, 2016 at 17:33 | #17

    Lots of distorted signals all round. People will be running celebration or commiseration parties in some quarters depending on their views. Might I suggest this soundtrack? It turns distorted signals into an art-form, IMO.

    Link Wray – Full Concert – 11/19/74 – Winterland (OFFICIAL) on Youtube.

  18. Newtownian
    June 24th, 2016 at 17:48 | #18

    The trouble is that the leaders of both sides of the Brexit argument are horrors.

    In the US we have the same choice – Hawkish lovechild of Wall St Hillary v. the laughing golfer clown.

    What Brexit also tells us is:
    a. (once again that) The polls can be quite wrong.
    b. There is a rising anarchism that could go any way…..ergo Trump is still a possibility.

    Of course there is a another possibility. Rather than a clash between libertarians and internationalists what we are seeing is a ploy by the Illuminati/Extraterrestrial Lizards to crash the economy again so that further transfers of money into the hands of the wealth from the public and ordinary people can take place, as in 2008. Or maybe there is a plot to resurrect https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rise_and_Rise_of_Michael_Rimmer by life imitating art again as in 2001.

    [Sorry about this last silliness but it seems appropriate given the Silly Party has finally been victorious]

  19. Geoff Edwards
    June 24th, 2016 at 18:03 | #19

    1.Tribalism need not be derogatory, but as an alternative I put forward “cosmopolitans” and “parochials”, Katharine Betts, The Great Divide (1999). The neoliberals are more-or-less cosmopolitans, but there are other cohorts of intellectuals who would place themselves in that camp.

    2. The European project seems to have been commandeered by the neoliberals to make life easier for global capital, but originally neoliberalism was not the only driver, and arguably not the main one. Europe was determined to ensure that Germany never again became a military power and the EU was a step towards demilitarising continental Europe.

    3. We have the neoliberals to thank for the rise of the far right, for want of a better term, in the UK and continental Europe. Resentment against economic oppression has meshed with nationalist resentment, although one can identify different intellectual origins. The nearest Australian equivalent I can think of is Pauline Hanson, whose platform was part nationalist and part anti-free trade and foreign investment.

    4. If Britain leaves and retains neoliberal policy settings it could muddle around for years with the worst of all worlds. However, if it ditches the neoliberal project and localises its economy, it could thrive.

  20. Ivor
    June 24th, 2016 at 18:18 | #20

    In the midst of all this there is a clear message to all the various strata dumping Australia into adverse trade deals and damaging globalisation.

    If Australians get the chance, they will also reflect on the destruction of their working conditions brought on by unfair competition imposed by Keating, Howard, Rudd, and Abbott.

    But I am sure that our keepers will never allow Australians to vote on trade deals they then have to live under.

    Capitalist globalisation is not proletarian internationalism.

  21. paul walter
  22. Droo
    June 24th, 2016 at 18:35 | #22

    @Peter Chapman
    How does replacing one set of privileged white public school boys with another set give the British people more democracy?

  23. Droo
    June 24th, 2016 at 18:39 | #23

    Or indeed more control over their lives? Anyone who thinks a Tory government led by Boris Johnson or Michael Gove is going to wind back austerity or give more to the disaffected ex-Labour voters is living on a different planet.

  24. Ernestine Gross
    June 24th, 2016 at 19:12 | #24

    Norway is part of the Schengen area, allowing free movement of people. Norway never flinched about contributions via the European Economic Area structure. Norway does not have ‘the City’. But ‘the City’ is (was soon to be?) a major stumbling block for the EU to introduce a Tobin type tax. ‘The City’ was a major stumbling block for Cameron and Merkel to agree during the Greek crisis.

    Contrary to what seems to be a strong belief among some, the EU is not the centre of neoliberalism. France, Germany, Italy (in alphabetical order) and without excluding many other EURO countries, have a long tradition of governments having a crucial role in an economy. This was again evidenced during the GFC.

    I interpret Brexit as a popular objection to ‘globalisation’ (of the financial capitalism type) and the growth in income inequality (immigration is a coal face problem experienced by people on low wages or being unemployed). I take the marked difference in the voting behaviour between Scotland and England as being consistent with my interpretation. It was via the EU that there was some income redistribution within the UK. By income I mean development funds, support for some industries and labour laws. (Part of the UK contributions coming from London to Brussel ended up in Scotland – to provide a geographical footnote.)

    Newtonian above outlines possible development paths regarding what I believe are the underlying drivers.

    And now I wait for the EU’s first response.

  25. paul walter
    June 24th, 2016 at 19:33 | #25

    Your blood is worth bottling, EG.

    Another fair cause misappropriated by the populist right, as happened with the early Tea Party atroturfed by the Kochs.

  26. Droo
    June 24th, 2016 at 19:52 | #26

    The successful leave campaign will do nothing to change the neoliberal policies of the Tories, no matter who the leader. And whatever role Farage might have he is not the workers friend that’s for sure. He’s just a racist xenophoe with no idea about what to do next.
    Boris, as mayor of London, proved so willing to give business everything it wanted that I’m pretty sure that neoliberalism will be even worse under a Johnson or Gove run Tory government.

  27. Ivor
    June 24th, 2016 at 19:55 | #27

    @Ernestine Gross

    I interpret Brexit as a popular objection to ‘globalisation’ (of the financial capitalism type) and the growth in income inequality (immigration is a coal face problem experienced by people on low wages or being unemployed).

    Yes, these are the key symptoms. Capitalist globalisation produced or aggravated income inequality both inside OECD economies and inside China and India.

    Maybe anti-Brexit Chomsky will rethink his position and put his finger on it.

    So far only the British socialist left (excluding Corbyn) has come out of this with any credibility.

    See: http://www.communist-party.org.uk/communications/press/2272-communists-urge-leave-vote-and-criticise-pro-eu-pessimists-and-defeatists.html

  28. Ivor
    June 24th, 2016 at 19:55 | #28

    @Ernestine Gross

    I interpret Brexit as a popular objection to ‘globalisation’ (of the financial capitalism type) and the growth in income inequality (immigration is a coal face problem experienced by people on low wages or being unemployed).

    Yes, these are the key symptoms. Capitalist globalisation produced or aggravated income inequality both inside OECD economies and inside China and India.

    Maybe anti-Brexit Chomsky will rethink his position and put his finger on it.

    So far only the British socialist left (excluding Corbyn) has come out of this with any credibility.

    See: http://www.communist-party.org.uk/communications/press/2272-communists-urge-leave-vote-and-criticise-pro-eu-pessimists-and-defeatists.html

  29. Ikonoclast
    June 24th, 2016 at 20:10 | #29

    Ernestine Gross,

    The EU in fact has became more neoliberal than the USA. It is only historically true that “France, Germany, Italy (in alphabetical order) and without excluding many other EURO countries, have a long tradition of governments having a crucial role in an economy.” That tradition is history as the EU and EMU have followed a full neoliberal trajectory.

    This paper explains the situation well.


    A quote from numbered pages 14 & 15 (not necessarily displayed pages 14 & 15);

    “The EMU, perhaps, is the most obvious manifestation of neoliberal restructuring at the European level. While the SEA guarantees “free” trade and capital mobility within Europe, the EMU fortifies the principles of monetary restraint and budgetary austerity by forcing EMU member states in to a tight fiscal corset. As we will discuss in the following pages, the budgetary constraints imposed by the convergence criteria also compel member states to introduce far-reaching reforms in labour and social policies as their ability to confront unemployment and social exclusion is sever
    ely limited by the lack of budgetary funds. Whereas the Commission (2003a:9ff) continues to advocate price stability and fiscal austerity as the most effective measures to promote growth, the outcomes of theses policies are slow growth rates if not stagnation, very moderate real income increases, and an unemployment rate that amounts to more than eight per cent across the union (Euromemorandum Group 2004).”

    The EU is a real and very damaging centre of neoliberal orthodoxy. By “damaging” I mean damaging to economic equality and worker rights. See “Increasing inequality plunging millions more Europeans into poverty” Published: 9 September 2015 – Oxfam.

    The Brexit in essence is an attempt at a strategic withdrawal from neoliberalism by the people of the UK. They will next have to fight a national political battle to make a further withdrawal from neoliberalism. The outcome of that battle is as yet uncertain.

  30. Peter Chapman
    June 24th, 2016 at 20:24 | #30

    @Droo Exactly. This is a class issue through and through. Different fractions of the dominant class may argue with each other but replacing Cameron with Boris will make little difference, I venture, to the average citizen. Meanwhile the 1% can and will look after themselves, regardless of who is in “power”.

  31. Ernestine Gross
    June 24th, 2016 at 20:43 | #31


    I am not surprised that the communist left is now competing with the populist right to gain grounds. I don’t like either of them. Aren’t they all just interested in power?

  32. Ikonoclast
    June 24th, 2016 at 20:51 | #32


    That makes just two issues where I have discovered I disagree with Chomsky.

    Chomsky romanticises Europe excessively – “Europe is more civilised than the USA”. When? In what period? Now? Well maybe now but “now” doesn’t usually last long in historical terms.

    The other issue was that of “free will” where Chomsky was dismissive of any view contrary to his and baldly stated that it is “obvious” that we have free will. Actually, it’s not obvious at all. It’s arguable but it’s not obvious. The contrary position and other more nuanced positions are also arguable. I argue that we have “pseudo free-will”. “Pseudo free-will” is probably just as good for most realistic, practical purposes as genuine free will and it feels like genuine free will. But… I stray off topic… again. Note, I argue for “pseudo free-will” not that “Free will is a pseudo-problem”.

  33. Ivor
    June 24th, 2016 at 21:01 | #33

    Ernestine Gross :
    I am not surprised that the communist left is now competing with the populist right to gain grounds. I don’t like either of them. Aren’t they all just interested in power?

    No, Boris and Farage supported the Leave side for the wrong reasons.

    The Left supported the Leave side for the right reasons.

    Google “Lexit”. There is no competition because their pathways are completely different.

    Defending workers’ rights is not power seeking.

    There is a negative in all this, in that Boris’s buffoonery and Farage’s rightist rants will now combine and possibly enter Downing St.

  34. Ivor
    June 24th, 2016 at 21:02 | #34

    Ernestine Gross :

    I am not surprised that the communist left is now competing with the populist right to gain grounds. I don’t like either of them. Aren’t they all just interested in power?

    No, Boris and Farage supported the Leave side for the wrong reasons.

    The Left supported the Leave side for the right reasons.

    Google “Lexit”. There is no competition because their pathways are completely different.

    Defending workers’ rights is not power seeking.

    There is a negative in all this, in that Boris’s buffoonery and Farage’s rightist rants will now combine and possibly enter Downing St.

  35. Ernestine Gross
    June 24th, 2016 at 21:04 | #35


    There are hundreds if not thousands of academic papers published every year on topics related to the EU. To pick one from 2005 – before the GFC – doesn’t support your argument.

    The GFC did not originate in the EU. The date I associate with neoliberalism arriving in Europe is the date of Thatcher’s ‘big bang’ (financial deregulation).

    You seem to like words like ‘austerity’. I don’t because this term does not have a unique meaning under all possible circumstances in any one cultural setting and, even more so, across cultures.
    For example, if there is a practically equal income distribution(1) but, for one reason or another, there is a growing public sector deficit, then calling for ‘austerity’ doesn’t mean much else than ‘we have to tighten our belt a little’, where we refers to each and every member of society. I can’t see a problem with this. On the other hand, if there is significant income (or wealth) inequality (1), then a call for ‘austerity’ can mean that a segment of society can barely exist while another notices nothing except perhaps one zero less among many in their the net wealth account statement. I see a lot wrong with this.

    As the above discussion about the meaning of ‘tribalism’ indicates, words are a tricky thing as soon as the world of abstract ideas is entered.

    (1) In contemporary Australia, I would consider an income distribution with a minimum of $40,000 and a maximum of $500,000 p.a. as equal enough for practical purposes (people don’t start off with $500,000, they may get it for a few years after many more modest income years, assuming fair play). But a maximum of $15,000,000 p.a. would really overstretch my imagination as to plausible justification.

  36. Ikonoclast
    June 24th, 2016 at 21:25 | #36

    @Ernestine Gross

    History makes fools of us all. Which feels like something Santayana might have said. There would have been a time when I would have been much in favour of the proto-EU and EU project, if I had taken much notice of Europe at that time. I mean from about 1975 to 1990. I only became aware of the deeply pernicious nature of neoliberalism (and its capture of our political economies) from about the first Howard government (1996-1998) onward. I am a slow learner obviously.

    Neoliberalism captured and perverted the EU. The thing is that one can be in favour of a political movement until it is captured by bad actors. Then one is deeply embarrassed. Sadly, even the best of movements can be captured by the worst of people.

    History has many cunning passages, contrived corridors
    And issues, deceives with whispering ambitions,
    Guides us by vanities. – T.S. Eliot

  37. Ikonoclast
    June 24th, 2016 at 21:46 | #37

    Ernestine Gross,

    To reply more directly, I think a pre-GFC paper supports my position even better. EU neoliberalism was clearly going badly well before the GFC. The USA-generated GFC simply gave it the coup de grace or something close to that.

    Remember Wynne Godley and his 1992 essay “Maastricht and all that”. Godley nailed it.


  38. Ivor
    June 24th, 2016 at 21:50 | #38


    When you look at the imprisonment rates, the food stamp population, the working hours and the shooting gallery that is USA, Europe could well appear more civilised than the USA.

    Maybe others supporting Brexit were quite properly concerned about the right-wing and racist undertones the Brexit campaign carried.

    I hope Chomsky and others review their stances.

  39. Historyintime
    June 24th, 2016 at 22:06 | #39

    Thank heavens for tribalism (English Nationalism) in 1940.

  40. Ikonoclast
    June 24th, 2016 at 22:07 | #40

    And consider this paper from the EC, Economic and Financial Affairs Directorate, no less…


    One can read this paper in different ways I guess. To me, their conclusion reads as if they are struggling to find and prove the most minuscule of benefits to a few core nations. Too bad about the periphery I guess. Real improvements were prognosticated to be out in the never-never somewhere. Meantime, the GFC became proof positive that the EMU simply could not withstand an economic shock and would struggle seemingly indefinitely to recover from it.

  41. Ernestine Gross
    June 24th, 2016 at 22:12 | #41
  42. paul walter
  43. Ikonoclast
    June 24th, 2016 at 22:50 | #43

    Memorable quotes from a Joseph Stiglitz interview on or about April 27, 2016.;

    1. “The Euro zone has been a failure; a dismal failure.”
    2. “Financial markets are always volatile, always looking for a reason for a shock.”
    3. “Germany dominating totally, economic discussions. You’ve (countries with 20% to 25 % unemployment) lost your economic sovereignty. It’s a compelling case (to get out).”

    To be honest I feel on sound ground with the “Stig” as my backing.

    Point two highlights what has actually happened now, a lot of financial volatility. This volatility is largely unnecessary. It’s a case of the Chicken Little market running around saying the sky is falling. It’s an illustration of the facile nature and rank stupidity of unregulated capitalist markets. “There’s going to be crisis now even if we have to create it by panicking.” – seems to be their mantra. Of course, it’s really about deliberately creating a crisis to punish people for making a democratic decision. The neoliberal econocrats hate democracy and will do anything to quash it.

  44. June 24th, 2016 at 23:22 | #44

    Anyone who claims to be of the left and stands with Farage and Johnson against Europe is a first class nincompoop who can’t look past their own privilege to what Brexit is going to do to the poor and disadvantaged in Britain. I am disgusted that people like @Ivor and @Ikonoclast have the gall to spout anti-neoliberalism ideology in support of the UKIP agenda.

    Europe is not perfect – no government is – but the poorer regions and demographics of Britain will do a lot worse under Boris than they would under the EU, and acting as a useful idiot to deliver this pain to the proletariat on whose behalf you claim to act is just disgraceful.

  45. Ivor
    June 24th, 2016 at 23:54 | #45


    Try reading what people write. There is no support for the UKIP agenda and it has been made abundently clear to the slowest of learners that Farage supports Brexit for the wrong reason while the left supported Bexit for the right reasons.

    This must have given you a brain ache.

    It has also been explained that the Left support and Farage support for Brexit represent completely different pathways.

    There is absolutely no possibility of conflating the two, except as a fraud.

    You are the disgrace.

  46. Tim Macknay
    June 25th, 2016 at 00:58 | #46

    Pity about that German tribalism though, eh?

  47. June 25th, 2016 at 01:15 | #47

    That’s a lovely set of foolish lies you tell yourself, but if your thinking reaches the same conclusion as Nigel Farage, maybe it’s you who need to go back to the hall of mirrors.

    Your contention that you wear a different brand of steel-capped boots to the fascists is nothing to be proud of. You’re still standing side by side with them, kicking down the state that cares for the poor and disadvantaged to serve your ideology.

    Regular people in normal society are repelled by both neoliberalism and communism.

  48. Marco
    June 25th, 2016 at 02:01 | #48

    @David Sligar
    Oil (and gas) is a *very* important reason Norway is doing well, along with an abundance of natural resources. The petroleum sector alone provides a whopping 15% of GDP and 40% of exports.

    Also, if the UK were to follow Norway’s example, it would have to become a member of EFTA, thereby paying for access to the EU market and still having to follow many relevant EU rules and regulations. You wonder what the advantages are to be paying the EU to be allowed to play along, but having no say whatsoever about the rules you have to follow to play along…

  49. Ikonoclast
    June 25th, 2016 at 07:14 | #49


    It is certainly true that capitalism, especially late-stage neoliberal capitalism, engineers complex predicaments where workers are “exploited if they do” and “exploited if they don’t”. British workers were due to be exploited if they remained in the EU and they are due to be exploited when they leave. They are still bound to the globe’s fate. The power of globalised capital ensures that socialism in one country is impossible. This is as Marx and Engels predicted.

    From the Poverty and Exclusion Website:

    “A paper by the OECD in Paris has highlighted growing income inequality in European countries – with large income gains among the top 10 per cent of earners as the main cause. The paper’s author constructs an aggregate measure of EU-wide inequality that takes into account inequality both within and between countries.

    Key points;
    – Inequality in Europe has risen ‘quite substantially’ since the mid-1980s.
    – Towards the end of the 2000s the income distribution in Europe was more unequal than in the average developed (OECD) country, though notably less so than in the USA.
    – It is the within-country, not the between-country, dimension that appears to be the most important factor. Although European Union enlargement has contributed to increasing inequality, it is not the only explanation: inequality has also increased within eight ‘core’ countries, including the United Kingdom.
    – Large income gains among the 10 per cent top earners appear to be a main driver behind the overall trend, while the poorest 10 per cent have been losing ground.

    The paper (Kaja Bonesmo Fredriksen, Income Inequality in the European Union, Economics Department Working Paper 952, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) is available from the OECD website.”

    (I think the paper is from 2011.)

    Neoliberalism is the late stage capitalism project nonpareil. It is more correct to say that if you support the EMU then you support late stage capitalism and increasing inequality in practice, even if this is not your ideal or intention. The only weapon workers have is to withdraw their labour and cooperation from capitalists. In leaving the EU, the workers of the UK have withdrawn their cooperation from the neoliberal EU project.

  50. Nicholas
    June 25th, 2016 at 09:06 | #50

    A loss for neoliberal economics. This is a heartening result.

  51. Ivor
    June 25th, 2016 at 10:10 | #51


    I am not so sure – what sort of economics will a Boris and a Farage produce?

    Presumably they will get support from a large section of the British Tories based on National independence and even the right of the Brit Labour party.

    Farage and Boris could make things worse.

  52. GrueBleen
    June 25th, 2016 at 10:54 | #52

    I’ve just read Paul Krugman’s latest post, and I’m not going to register with his NYT blog hence I can’t comment there. So I will here (and praise be to ProfQ for his ‘liberal’ commenter permission !).

    Krugman says (inter alia): “…blame .. Britain’s tabloids, who fed the public a steady diet of lies. ”

    Hmmm. If people are still so easily taken in after all this time by “a steady diet of lies”, shouldn’t we actually blame the people for being so gormlessly gullible ? Or just plain carelessly ignorant and maybe a little stupid ?

    The same goes for Australia too, of course.

  53. Ikonoclast
    June 25th, 2016 at 11:39 | #53

    Those who don’t want to see a Brexit (which group obviously does not include me) need not give up hope yet. A Brexit is not inevitable even now. The losers want to change the rules, predictably enough.


    This movement might yet gather steam. In one sense, I can understand where they are coming from. An entry to or an exit from the EU, and especially the EMU, is a momentous change for any country. It would not be unreasonable to stipulate a need for a 2/3 majority referendum for a country to change their situation by entering or leaving. However, that ought to be stipulated up front before any referendum and failing referendums should be required to languish for a set period. Referendums on non-constitutional matters are non-binding on the government of the day unless the constitution expressly mandates such referendums as binding. The UK of course has no constitution which complicates the matter further. The Continent’s demand for a quick exit, coupled with alarmist and even combative rhetoric implying a retribution aspect, might be a bluff. They just might be hoping to break the UK’s nerve and get them to stay via some expedient or other.

    The situation is non-ideal. Both events, “leave” or “remain”, have serious downsides which vary nation to nation, class to class, party to party, person to person. This to me is somewhat diagnostic of neoliberalism which continually hands workers dilemmas of this kind, “You can lose this way or you can lose that way. Take your pick.” Meanwhile, many of the 1% can win out of either scenario.

  54. Ikonoclast
    June 25th, 2016 at 11:46 | #54

    Correction for above: “the UK has no written constitution”.

    “From a comparative perspective, we have what is known as an ‘unwritten constitution’, although some prefer to describe it as ‘uncodified’ on the basis that many of our laws of a constitutional nature are in fact written down in Acts of Parliament or law reports of court judgments.” – Robert Blackburn.

  55. James
    June 25th, 2016 at 12:13 | #55

    As has been pointed out in many places in the above discussion the underlying cause was not tribalism but economics. The demographics show this up very clearly. The losers under the neo-liberal orthodoxy (and its bastard child, globalism), when freed from the tribalism of the political duopoly, in the majority voted out.

    Was that a smart move? As Ivor points out, the disaffected have no effective leadership, and the vacuum has been filled by political opportunists, Johnson & Farage in the UK, Trump in the US. Corbyn and Sanders offer some alternative, but as yet perhaps not a coherent alternative.

    The media are to a large extent a contributor to opportunism. The tabloids construct a narrative that dismisses real economic duress for the many under the current orthodoxy, possibly because as winners under the current regime they literally do not comprehend the issues. Instead they demean and incite with their divisive use of the other, as in immigrants, welfare recipients, and any group without standing to defend itself (which, by definition, excludes the rich).

    Unfortunately, Brexit is unlikely to change any of the underlying causes of itself, so the UK is set for more dislocation before a renewal can be effected. From an Australian point of view, I can only hope that the lessons from this upheaval can be learnt here without having to descend to the same depths.

  56. Jim
    June 25th, 2016 at 12:56 | #56

    I’m not sure if the Brexit takes the foot off the brake or puts the foot on the brake for the UK’s gradual slide into global irrelevance.

  57. Ivor
    June 25th, 2016 at 13:11 | #57

    So this is Krugman:

    A number of people deserve vast condemnation here, from David Cameron, who may go down in history as the man who risked wrecking Europe and his own nation for the sake of a momentary political advantage, to the seriously evil editors of Britain’s tabloids, who fed the public a steady diet of lies.

    Unfortuately it is our institutionalised Keynesians who deserve “vast condemnation”.

    They will go down in history as the men and women who risked wrecking society for the sake of artificially maintaining countervailing tendencies to protect capitalist profits.

    They are the “seriously evil” spin doctors who provided a steady diet of lies.

    They promised growth but produced stagnation.

    They promised wealth but produced poverty.

    They promised jobs but produced zero-hour contracts.

    They promised houses but produced street-people and food stamp ghettos.

    They promised that trade would lift all boats – it destroyed half of Europe.

    They promised their price on carbon would reduce greenhouse effect – it didn’t.

    Maybe Krugman has finally learnt that 1 + 1 does not equal 3.

  58. Ernestine Gross
    June 25th, 2016 at 13:42 | #58

    In the meantime I learned there is not only a sharp geographical divide in the Remain vs Brexit votes but also among age groups. The young (16 to 24) voted overwhelmingly (close to 70%) for Remain. The next age bracket(s) combined into a 25 to 49 age bracket, voted close to 50% for Remain. Only those who don’t have all that long to live with the consequences voted overwhelmingly for Brexit.

    It seems Ikonoclast has a point when he writes: History makes fools of us all.

  59. Ivor
    June 25th, 2016 at 15:01 | #59

    The divide is not so much geographical but wealth related;

    The Remain was clustered in the South East with a y=shaped extensions into both Oxford/Cotswolds on the west and Cambridge on the East.


    Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds were hotspots for the Remain in the North. These have been the recipients of northern development policies.

    You cannot use the youth vote because they did not turnout to the same extent as the rest of the population. So their sample would be the least representative.

  60. Ernestine Gross
    June 25th, 2016 at 16:02 | #60

    Quote: The page, set up by William Oliver Healey, reads: “We the undersigned call upon HM Government to implement a rule that if the Remain or Leave vote is less than 60% based on a turnout less than 75%, there should be another referendum.” End of Quote

    The petition has already been signed by 200,000 people. [Source: the guardian]

    It is a bit late, it seems, to now think about voting rules in a democracy to distinguish between electing a government for a few years (ie simple majority) and a popular vote on an institutional change that is either permanent or lasts for a very long time.

    From what I can gather, Boris Johnson’s immediate response to the outcome was to stall the ratification in Parliament – not only by three months as is implied by Cameron’s time of departure. It seems to me, Boris Johnson will need his bicycle for backpeddling on a number of claims.

  61. Ken Fabian
    June 25th, 2016 at 16:43 | #61

    After all this time blaming the EU for their woes, the promoters of exit can and will blame everything that doesn’t go well in the lead up to and after the exit on the EU!

  62. Know Teeth
    June 25th, 2016 at 17:14 | #62

    All very interesting. Yet someone has been winning the propaganda ‘war’ since1900… press council has no teeth… why…
    wikipedia.org wiki Daily_Express …” If Winston Churchill was Britain’s bulldog, then Lord Beaverbrook’s Daily Express andSunday Express were surely his bark. His papers were always bright, lively, and fiercely patriotic, and Beaverbrook had no qualms in telling a Royal Commission on the Press that he used them “purely for the purpose of making propaganda”
    … you may all pontificate, reference, agree or not, most seemed to have missed the boat.
    It seems porn, money and rogues beat all the history and evidence you’ve provided here.
    Rogue: a dishonest or unprincipled person. Something’s crook! in tallarook.
    I love this blog by the way John.

  63. David
    June 25th, 2016 at 19:52 | #63

    Peter Chapman has got it right.

    Globalisation has failed for a reason. It was implemented without the necessary high tax rates (rent taxes) on the wealthy. Taxing the wealthy on their unearned income, gives them an incentive to pay their workers fairly. If they don’t the government can redistribute the profits from the taxes collected.

    That way you don’t get the angry masses voting against their own best interests.

  64. Ikonoclast
    June 25th, 2016 at 19:54 | #64

    I hope people feel this post is at least tangentially related to Brexit. I want to point to a short article which I think provides an excellent overview of macroeconomics.

    Keynes, Steindl, and the Critique of Austerity Economics – by Nina Shapiro.


    Its topics are listed as : Economic Theory, Global Economic Crisis , Political Economy and Stagnation. However, it also deals centrally with issues involving “the fallacy of composition” and the economy as an interconnected feedback system (complex system). It does this even though phrases such as “fallacy of composition” and “complex system” appear nowhere in the article. The article does not take a specifically Marxist stance despite the fact that it appears in the socialist Monthly Review.

    Indeed, the article presents a basic overview of macroeconomics under capitalism or under the mixed economy (pick your preferred term) which Keynesians, Marxians and even MMT proponents would all be equally comfortable with, in my view. Only followers of the neoclassical synthesis would reject its position. This illustrates, I think, that Keynesians, Marxians and MMT proponents all essentially understand capitalist mixed economy macroeconomics in basically the same way. There is no fundamental disagreement so far as I can see within the bounds of macroeconomics concerning our really existing economy. Disagreements occur elsewhere, in “political economy” (which is more than just macroeconomics) and in moral philosophy. But that would be another long post under quite another topic header.

    What is the relation to Brexit? It is this I think. We need to overcome the fascination with the crisis of the day or even the crisis of the year or the decade. We need to think more deeply; both historically and systemically to discover the fundamental reasons for the recurring long-term patterns and crises in our extant economic system. Because some are not doing this they are misinterpreting the Brexit issue IMO.

    A key point going along with this is that if nationalist democracy is the only kind of democracy going around (and that largely is still the case) then the Left must support nationalist democracy for the time being (at the price of charges of chauvinism and xenophobia from others of the moderate left and centre). If the Left does not do this, it cedes its only institutional democratic arena to right wing populists and demagogues to use and abuse without any serious contest. This last because the soft left or centre are unduly influenced by at least some neocon ideology and tactics in economics, if not in the issues of human rights and culture.

  65. June 25th, 2016 at 20:35 | #65

    Pr Q said:

    Brexit…A big win for tribalism.

    The present commenter, who is conservative social democrat and not a “tribalist”, was a small winner out of Brexit*.

    Brexit is a vindication of the Alt-Rights critique of the post-modern liberal Establishment attempt to dismantle traditional nationalism and replace it with “multicultural” regional/global administrations. As one of the early members (2001) of Steve Sailers HB-D discussion group I take some intellectual pleasure in this vindication. Although as an EU citizen I am saddened by its disintegration.

    By the middle aughties it was clear to me that the EU swing to the Cultural Right was based on a solid underlying shift in public preference towards traditional national self-governance. Not a flash in the pan result of “dog whistling”, “wedge politic”, “moral panic”, “scapegoating”, “scare campaign” or any other of the Cultural Lefts litany of lame excuses.

    Back in MAY 2008 I drew attention to this this massive conservative swing, which seemed to be flying under the Ozblogistan pundit radar:

    The Centre-Right parties now hold national office in Finland, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, Austria, France and Italy. I make that a clean sweep for the Centre-Right in all of the USE’s Big Four. These parties have swept to power in pretty much all the main USE states over the past few years, generally running on conservative populism.

    That makes about 3/4 of the USE’s population listing to starboard.

    And I will wager that the Tories will win the next [2010] UK election. The defeat of Livingstone is significant since he is a strong candidate, obviously a capable manager and electoral contestant. Bo-Jo, by comparison, appears to be an affable light-weight. So the swing to the Right was probably based on policy rather than personality.

    This is exactly as my “Decline of the Wets” theory predicts. The Cultural Left is on the nose with the general populace in most OECD countries. Most notably in Old Europe where cultural policy has been mishandled by Brussels-insulated elites.

    If party politics is now reflecting the underlying secular change that I predicted almost a decade ago then the European Centre-Left will be given a stark choice: lose your loonie liberalism that indulges special interest groups or lose political power needed to make good public policy.

    Well the European Centre-Left did not loose its “loonie liberalism”. Quite the opposite, it was joined by the Centre-Right – Merkels Million Man Middle Eastern Muddle – in doubling down on the open borders multicultural madness. With the predictable result that the EU Establishment has now “lost political power”.

    The only way the EU can survive over the long term is if it is based on a recognition of the fundamental importance of the traditional cultural identity of its constituent nations:

    – Caucasian race,
    – Christian religion and
    – Constitutional ruler.

    i.e. you can only enjoy your socialist economics & liberal ethics if you get your Darwin/Durkheim/Bagehot conservative ethnicity sorted out. As Faulkner said: “The past is not dead, it’s not even past.” Putin, for all his faults, gets this. I predict that CIS will demonstrate more political unity than the EU.

    But post-modern liberal elites, whose opinion of their “chav” populace does neither them or their electoral prospects any credit, don’t want to be told. We don’t call them “knee-jerk” for nothing.

    The electoral scoreboard is clear. My question to liberals of all parties is: what have you learned from this “teachable moment”?

    * Betfair Brexit
    Back: In favour of leaving EU (matched)
    For $100.00 @ 3.15 Profit $215.00
    Bet id: 69758348168
    Bet Placed: 12-Jun-16 14:03 GMT

  66. Ivor
    June 25th, 2016 at 21:22 | #66

    @Jack Strocchi


    The only way the EU can survive over the long term is if it is based on a recognition of the fundamental importance of the traditional cultural identity of its constituent nations:

    – Caucasian race,
    – Christian religion and
    – Constitutional ruler.

    You obviously do not know what Caucasian means, you don’t know much about the Christians and no-one wants a Constitutional ruler, thank you very much.

    Enjoy your betting but remember, the workers were never asked if they wanted to bet their jobs and conditions for the sake of giving British capitalists a hand up and a hand out.

  67. June 25th, 2016 at 21:44 | #67

    The better part of Europe has been populated by the Caucasian race, observing the Christian religion and ruled by Constitutional regents for much of the past millennia. All I am saying is that perhaps we can learn from our ancestors before blundering into a continental-building project armed with nothing more than the conventional liberal pieties.

    As my mother used to say: you won’t be told, will you?

  68. Ivor
    June 25th, 2016 at 22:28 | #68

    @Jack Strocchi

    Europe observing the Christian dogmas and ruled by monarch of all kinds was nothing but a field of war, bloodbaths, serfdom, Inquisition, and slavery. The rack, the wheel, the stake and the guillotine were all emblems of European “past millennia”.

    Life in Europe was nasty, brutish and short.

    Europe, at every stage of history until they chopped of the heads of Charles I and Louis XVI, was a violent, oppressive totalitarian-ridden continent, that no-one should learn from.

    From that point the Europeans spread out and desecrated the rest of the profitable world using opium when possible but usually just musquets and cannon and microbes.

    Good bye to all that.

  69. Ernestine Gross
    June 25th, 2016 at 22:45 | #69

    Jack Strocchi, your ‘caucasian race’ criterion is sufficient for Boris Johnson to to feel save (great grandfather was Turkish, executed by Ataturk) but it raises the question why you have a problem with Merkel’s humanitarian policy on refugees.

    1 (or 2 if you like) out of 85 million isn’t really the ‘larger part’, is it Jack Strocchi?

    Wasn’t there one or several wars over shorter and longer periods between Protestants and Roman Catholics Christians, Jack Strocchi, at various places populated by your caucasian race and led by constitutional rulers? And, Strocchi, aren’t the caucasian refugees fleeing from caucasian rulers?

    Talking about muddles.

  70. Ernestine Gross
    June 25th, 2016 at 23:15 | #70

    Suppose the Ireland decides to have Goidelic as its official language. With the completion of the UK leaving the EU and assuming Scotland either remains in the UK or separates and decides to have Scottish Gaelic as its official language then the EU would have no obligation to continue publishing all its communications in English. I wonder whether this would make any difference to the opinions held about the EU.

  71. Historyintime
    June 26th, 2016 at 00:13 | #71

    @Ernestine Gross

    The EU’s non French and German states will continue to support the English language.

  72. June 26th, 2016 at 00:14 | #72

    Brexit is not a strike against neoliberalism. It will mean more neoliberalism for Britain, as the Tories (and probably Labour after them) will just heap more and more austerity upon the poor with no Euro subsidies to soften the pain. Farage has already put a lie to the Leave campaign’s promise to reinvest in the NHS. Brexit sharpens the knives for the ruling neoliberal clique in British political elites to gut the welfare state.

  73. Luke Elford
    June 26th, 2016 at 02:01 | #73


    As is your wont, you’ve written an impossibly long list of incorrect things in this thread, and I’ll correct just one of them.

    “British leftwing and rightwing workers have moved to defend their own interests against the designs of capitalist politicians, academics and journalists.”

    The exit polling indicates that most workers wanted to remain—as, rather emphatically, did students. It was the pensioners who wanted out. The exit polling also indicates that those who view capitalism purely as a good thing were, if anything [1], more likely to vote to leave—hardly a surprise given that the referendum was a product of the Tory hard right and the far right which, if successful, would obviously empower them. Left-wing voters in the UK certainly understood this—pre-referendum polling indicates that the support for remaining in the EU from voters describing themselves as “very left wing” and “fairly left wing” was very strong. Why so many commenters here can’t see Brexit as the disaster for left-wing aspirations that it is I find quite remarkable.


    [1] By my calculations, the difference from 50 per cent is less than the margin of error (95 per cent confidence interval).

  74. Luke Elford
    June 26th, 2016 at 03:04 | #74

    Authoritarianism and Brexit:


    “The Leave campaign’s stunning upset has barely sunk in and already the pundits are flogging a familiar storyline. Those ‘left behind’ in the hard-luck provinces have punched privileged, corporate London in the nose.

    “The facts tell a different story: culture and personality, not material circumstances, separate Leave and Remain voters. This is not a class conflict so much as a values divide that cuts across lines of age, income, education and even party.”

    It’s an argument that certainly makes sense in terms of the exit poll results I linked to above. A dislike of multiculturalism, immigration, social liberalism, feminism and the green movement are stronger predictors of support for Brexit than old age or low socio-economic status or lack of education.

  75. Ivor
    June 26th, 2016 at 08:50 | #75

    @Luke Elford

    I find it amazing that people are trying to push weird polls as if they were more representative than the actual ballot.

    British polls are false and just generate partisan noise.

    The so-called poll you linked to was one of the worst offenders – it was not a properly constructed statistical sample but “online field work”. You have been misled.

    These gimmicks are part of the problem

    However most trade unions organisations supported Remain. They now have a serious problem.

    Some pensioners supported Leave, some supported Remain. These people have had years of experience from entering the Common Market and the destruction of British manufacturing.

  76. Ikonoclast
    June 26th, 2016 at 09:08 | #76

    @Luke Elford

    Stating that particular groups tend to vote Remain or Leave does not address the merits of each actual case. Analysis of such groupings is an interesting after-the-fact exercise and has its own lessons and insights for the arts of public persuasion and the social sciences like sociology and psychology. However, it is not an analysis of political economy nor contemporary movements in it like neoliberalism. It is not an analysis of the merits and demerits of the EU and the EMU. If we don’t analyse the system in terms of political economy we will not gain any understanding of what really is at stake.

    The EU started as a capitalist and corporate construct. State involvement was largely of a state capitalist nature which is not the same thing as social democracy or socialism. The EU was not and is not a democratic construct. In addition, it has now been captured by the neoliberal program and remade as a neoliberal construct. Its democratic deficit is severe. It’s understanding or its rather lack of understand of macroeconomics is deplorable. It’s arrogance and disdain for poor and unemployed people, especially in peripheral EU countries like Greece, is boundless. it’s macroeconomics in practice has led to a “dismal” performance. That is Joseph Stiglitz’s descriptor.

  77. Ivor
    June 26th, 2016 at 09:28 | #77

    @Luke Elford

    I am stunned that people would spread Fabian tales so carefully constructed to deliberately only present the views of

    … restricted to White British respondents, …

    to show

    ‘Surprise’, ‘surprise’ ….

    … shows almost no statistically significant difference in EU vote intention between rich and poor.

    You could pull the same trick in America. Just poll white Americans and declare only a trivial minority are poor and need food stamps.

    Why did you delete the information on the Fabian sample? ? ?

  78. Ernestine Gross
    June 26th, 2016 at 10:04 | #78


    To the best of my knowledge, there is no ‘dominant’ official language in the EU. The EU publishes all its communications in the language of each member state. In 2014 there were 23 official languages (dialects are ignored. Hence Ireland’s language is English and Austria’s language is German, etc) I am not aware of there being another rule.

    If you like, you may practice or refresh a second or third or fourth European language you may have studied privately by reading the same news or official documents in EU publications. eghttp://hu.euronews.com/news/web/ (I arbitrarily preselected Hungarian for you.)

    My best guess is that the Irish would be persuaded to retain English as their official language. It is not only the people and their politicians of ‘smaller’ countries who are interested in keeping English as one of the EU’s languages. It was the late H. Schmidt, former German Chancellor, who argued for adopting English as the common language of the EU. He was Chancellor during the period 1974-82. The number of member countries, ‘small’ and ‘big’ in terms of population, has increased a lot since then.

  79. Ernestine Gross
    June 26th, 2016 at 10:11 | #79


    Have you ever lived and worked in any of the current EU countries (UK is still a member)?

  80. Ikonoclast
    June 26th, 2016 at 10:13 | #80

    Enrico Tortelano gets it right.

    “It’s being argued that the EU underpins our rights and that if we leave Britain we will become prey to a Conservative government free to attack workers in ever more aggressive ways. These fears are not justified. It is not the EU that protects our rights; the EU is their greatest threat.

    We have rights because trade unions and the labour movement fought for them. The struggles for improved workers’ rights in Britain were long and hard and led to many advances here before similar rights were secured in other countries. Our rights were not given by a right-wing EU, but by our determination to fight for them and our ability to channel this action into laws through our parliament.

    The right to vote has always posed a threat to organised capital, especially since the second world war when reform of the economy in the interests of working people began to be realised. Today the EU has become the means by which people are once again segregated and marginalised from those in power. As EU laws become more distant from democratic control, they inevitably act against the interests of working people and in favour of large corporations and corporate finance.

    The lack of transparency and the complexity of law making have allowed the powerful business lobby to shape the EU’s agenda in its interests. The secretive TTIP deal is a perfect example of how remote and elitist the EU really is.

    As a result, the EU is eroding workers’ rights across the continent. Two rulings by the European court of justice (ECJ) make the point. In both the Viking Line and Laval cases, the ECJ created new restrictions on industrial action and required these to be recognised in UK courts. In short, they ruled that employers’ rights always trump workers’ rights.

    The recent fiscal waterboarding of Greece by the European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund brilliantly illustrated the new limits of national democratic power in the eurozone. These neoliberal policies are part of an austerity agenda intent on cutting public pensions, applying downward pressure on wages, privatising public services and removing the safety net of benefits right across the EU.

    The EU has no regard for our most fundamental right either – the right to work. EU reforms have devastated employment on a staggering scale. More than 21 million people are unemployed in the EU today. According to Eurostat, the average rate of unemployment among under-25s across the eurozone is 21%. In Spain the figure is 45% and in Greece it is 51%.

    There is no democratic governance, only management of austerity measures and of repression by unelected commissioners and financiers. The treaties have ensured reform remains an illusion. That is why now is the time to leave the EU.” – Enrico Tortelano.

    Expressions of astonishment at dissenting views seem to be de rigueur in this thread so I feel I must express my astonishment in turn. I am astonished that those who claim to be “left” or social democratic don’t understand the clear and obvious case against EU neoliberalism. Neoliberalism has run an incredibly effective and persuasive propaganda machine. Tentacles of neoliberal ideology have now penetrated deep into the minds of many of the centre and “moderate left” and seriously distorted their picture of political economy and social democracy.

    The fact that the EU supports the TTIP ought to ring major alarm bells in the minds of centrist and “soft left” social democrats. The fact that it doesn’t is testament to their completely confused and incoherent thinking on this issue.

  81. Ikonoclast
    June 26th, 2016 at 10:33 | #81

    @Ernestine Gross

    No. I travelled though the UK, Europe, the EU and Russia in 1991 for six months but I did not work there. This still qualifies as a “no” to your question of course. How could I afford this? But that time I was part the “aristocracy of labour” in the West but I had done my hard yards over many, many years.

    In turn I ask you.

    1. Have you ever lived as an unemployed young person under 25 years in the EU in the last two decades?

    2. Have you ever been unemployed in Australia and a worker in the mining and extractive industries and in the building industries and in a fibro factory covered in fibro dust (asbestos) and for a cleaning contractor and in a bank and in a Federal Government Department? I have experienced all these over the entirety of my working life. I have experienced low wages, highly unsafe working conditions and capitalist exploitation. In other words I have been a real worker. I know what I am talking about. I have been down in the belly of the beast. In addition, I self-educated in political economy and obtained a B.A. in Humanities (a fairly soft qualification in intellectual terms, I admit.) I don’t take kindly to suggestions (if they are being made) that I don’t know what I am talking about. I have the theory AND the praxis.

    It’s alright so far is it goes for liberal, university intellectuals and secure, white collar liberal professionals to opine about these matters but I hope over their entire life span they have some real experience down in some kind of pit. Otherwise it is theory without practical experience.

  82. Luke Elford
    June 26th, 2016 at 11:33 | #82


    By all means, prove your point about left-wing and right-wing workers using the “actual ballot”. Do you think voters fill out a questionnaire in the polling booth?


    You’re misrepresenting Stiglitz’s (entirely valid) criticism of the Eurozone to make out as if he is supporting Brexit. He is not your “backing”. The comments about “a compelling case” relate specifically to Eurozone countries run into the ground by the Eurozone’s macroeconomic mismanagement. He even says:

    “They have a much strong argument for getting out of the Euro than Britain has for getting out of the EU…it’s an economic case there that is much stronger”.

    No wonder you didn’t provide a link to the interview. I will:


    I’m not really interested in arguments about whether Brexit is good or bad any more than I would be in debates over whether the UK joining the Euro would be good or bad, because in both cases the answer is clear. The issue of the relative role of economic and social factors in feeding right-wing populism is much more interesting, and is very important—you know, Trump and that.

  83. Luke Elford
    June 26th, 2016 at 11:35 | #83


    “You could pull the same trick in America. Just poll white Americans and declare only a trivial minority are poor and need food stamps.”

    You can do lots of things, but that doesn’t make doing one thing analogous to doing another. In particular, exploring how voting intentions vary with income and views on social issues, whilst holding race/ethnicity constant, is not the same as pretending that some races or ethnicities do not exist and making policy recommendations on this basis. It was whites who voted for Brexit; other groups voted to remain, by a very strong margin.

    “Why did you delete the information on the Fabian sample? ? ?”

    Because I doubt Professor Quiggin wants the thread clogged with the entire article, when an introductory quote and a link will do.

  84. Nicholas
    June 26th, 2016 at 12:07 | #84

    It’s perfectly legitimate for people to withdraw their consent and cooperation from a political order that hurts them. Brexit should be understood in those terms. What happens now is up for contestation, and I acknowledge that the odds are long that a non-neoliberal outcome will emerge. Nevertheless, Brexit at least opens up the potential for non-neoliberal possibilities. Brexit puts massive pressure on elites to change their ways or lose power.

  85. Ivor
    June 26th, 2016 at 12:40 | #85

    @Luke Elford

    Do you think voters fill out a questionnaire in the polling booth?

    Yes, and they were given pencils to fill it out.

  86. Ivor
    June 26th, 2016 at 12:44 | #86

    @Luke Elford

    IF what you say is correct that:

    It was whites who voted for Brexit;

    Then this only emphasises the uselessness of a survey of:

    “… restricted to White British respondents, ”

    Try something else.

  87. Ivor
    June 26th, 2016 at 12:57 | #87


    It could be one fantastic disaster as the the two forces that combined to just get over 50% are in fact incompatible with each other.

  88. Ernestine Gross
    June 26th, 2016 at 13:15 | #88


    It seems to me the various anti-TTIP grass root organisations in the EU have a greater chance in convincing their national governments and their representatives in the EU Parliament to vote NO deal than you and I agreeing on anything regarding the EU.

    The TTIP is, roughly speaking, the mirror agreement of the TPPA, except for the name of the ocean of course. It is strictly speaking not true what you wrote in your post #80 that “The fact that the EU supports the TTIP …” The EU does what the various national governments agree with. Recently, one French EU official, stationed in Strasbourg, was so annoyed about the misinformation regarding TTIP that he or she ‘leaked’ to the French press that the French politicians make statements (concerns about TTIP) to the French public (who are largely against the TTIP) while saying the opposite to the EU officials. A dismantling of the EU, as you seem to be in favour of, would also result in the dismantling of the network of grass root organisations as well as labour unions across the countries within the EU.

    My question to you was not intended to imply in any way that you are not qualified in some general sense. It was motivated by my observation, rightly or wrongly, that you don’t seem to be aware of the role of national governments in the EU framework. For example, income and wealth redistribution via taxation and subsidies is entirely under the control of national governments. (As for Greece, the current PM, Tsipras, is the first who has shown determination to use this power with the result that the EURO members have gained confidence in the Greek government and debt relief is on the agenda.)

    I like your question 1. It is a hypothetical choice situation for me: Would I rather be 20 years younger and unemployed in the EU or not? I can give you a hypothetical answer, which I hope will indicate to you that to talk about ‘the EU’ as if it would be a homogenous institutional environment with a homogeneous history is misleading. If I were unemployed in the Netherlands (EURO member), Denmark (EU but not EURO member), Germany (EURO member, if I would be living in a relatively small town), I would be indifferent between being 20 years younger and unemployed. If I were say 20 years younger and unemployed in Spain but fluent in French or German or Italien or all with an engineering degree, I would be indifferent. If I were 20 years younger and from Polen but working in the UK, I would now be upset by the outcome of the referendum.

    I can also tell you a story about my experience travelling as an actually very young person in then Western Europe and Hungary (then Eastern Europe). At that time I observed inequality of income and living conditions in Hungary that were much worse then I’d seen anywhere in ‘the West’. Specifically, a Hungarian Professor and his wife had a three-bedroom spacious apartment in down-town Budapest and, while he did not own a car, he and his family members had access to a chauffeur driven official car at their disposal. The apartment building had a concierge, an elderly woman living in one small room in the basement, dark and damp. There were fine restaurants and plenty of politics being talked quite openly. I learned, early on, that both sides of the iron curtain are good in propaganda.

    I don’t feel like responding to your question 2 because I don’t feel like participating in a competition for who has suffered most.

  89. Joe
    June 26th, 2016 at 14:55 | #89

    I wonder if Brexit will actually happen. It seems to me that the Tories will be saying, ‘we have never listened to the little people before, why listen to them now? ‘ So in a month Cameron will give a speech saying that Brexit will not be legislated, and daring the Right to kick him out.
    The speech would write itself, as they say. “Brexit is too big for Britain alone, the world wants us in… I want to be PM of Great Britain, not Little England…Our seat on the Security Council…our nuclear deterrent… I want London to be a major financial player…”.

  90. Ernestine Gross
    June 26th, 2016 at 15:21 | #90

    The original members of what has grown into the EU (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Luxumburg) understood that if there is ‘free capital movement’ then ‘free labour movement’ is also called for. At that time, the Brettonwoods international monetary system was in place. Direct foreign investment by corporations was of primary concern regarding ‘free capital movements’. Prof Vernon comes to mind, among the English language economists who have written on this topic.

    Cameron negotiated with the other 27 EU member countries a special deal for the UK late last year, signed in February 2016. IMHO, he managed to take the basic framework to its limits regarding divergence of freedom of capital vs labour in the UK’s favour (that is ‘the City’s’ role in capital movements). He showed grace in the face of the Brexit result. This agreement is conditional on the REMAIN vote not on the eventual separation of the UK. It is cancelled as of 24 June 2016. France has a bilateral agreement with the UK regarding EU internal borders, which is the legal basis of large numbers of refugees living under miserable conditions in Calais (because there are UK border control officers on French soil.)

    It takes years until a negotiated agreement filters through to the last official in the various countries. I’d hate to think how long it will take to undo the various agreements. The reaction to Brexit of local French in the Calais area is very different from that of the French President.

  91. tony lynch
    June 26th, 2016 at 15:35 | #91

    From Glenn Greenwald:

    Guess which one you are.

    The decision by UK voters to leave the EU is such a glaring repudiation of the wisdom and relevance of elite political and media institutions that – for once – their failures have become a prominent part of the storyline. Media reaction to the Brexit vote falls into two general categories: (1) earnest, candid attempts to understand what motivated voters to make this choice, even if that means indicting one’s own establishment circles, and (2) petulant, self-serving, simple-minded attacks on disobedient pro-leave voters for being primitive, xenophobic bigots (and stupid to boot), all to evade any reckoning with their own responsibility.

  92. Ikonoclast
  93. Ivor
    June 26th, 2016 at 17:07 | #93



    That was one of the best considerations of all the issues.

    A key one was:

    Worryingly, in two landmark legal cases – Viking and Laval – the European Court of Justice ruled that collective action by a trade union could be deemed illegal if it is taken to prevent an employer setting-up in, or posting workers to, another member state, for example in an attempt to pay cheaper wages.

    And it is a pity more Trade Union executives, and Jeremy Corbyn, did not give a damn.

  94. June 27th, 2016 at 02:40 | #94

    Video: Prior to Brexit victory, Paul Craig Roberts puts the compelling case for Britain to leave the European Union

    On 23 June, just prior to the vote on whether Britain should leave the European Union (referred to as ‘Brexit’), Paul Craig Roberts put the case for Brexit in a 30 minute interview with Richie Allen. The interview is embedded below as a YouTube video.

    This 30 minute interview, provides clear, compelling arguments as to why it is urgently necessary for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union, not only to preserve its national sovereignty, but to prevent the war against Russia planned by the rulers of the United States.

    In the interview Paul Craig Roberts also confronts, and thoroughly demolishes, claims by those arguing for Britain to remain in the European Union, that those advocating Brexit are racist and xenophobic.

    He puts clearly and succinctly the arguments that everybody has the right to control the numbers of people entering their community. It is not unreasonable for a community to object to large numbers of people from a different culture suddenly moving into their midst.

    Paul Craig Roberts argues that while the British and other Europeans are right to object to as sudden high influx of refugees and immigrants, they should remember that these people are fleeing their own countries because of wars that the rulers of Europe and Britain have inflicted upon their countries.

  95. Ernestine Gross
    June 27th, 2016 at 09:16 | #95

    Paul Craig Roberts argues the UK must leave the EU. He asserts the EU has been set up by the CIA and is controlled by the USA. Further he says the USA is planning a war with Russia and the EU is part of NATO. There is one little problem with this story. The UK remains part of NATO after Brexit and his war argument hinges on NATO.

  96. pablo
    June 27th, 2016 at 09:18 | #96

    Reality could hit home to the ‘leave’ brigade in a very Tampa moment. Imagine the RN participating in patrolling the Mediterranean between Libya and Italy. As in previous patrols it rescues an overloaded vessel and proceeds to Sicily to disembark. A port authority refuses to accept the non-EU member’s ship causing initial embarrassment in Rome but later capitulation following a popular backlash against the Brits. The RN ship proceeds to a Channel port where UKIP blockaders gather under Nigel’s leadership. Far-fetched? Maybe but I can see a minor EU official calling the initial shots on what then becomes a major reality check

  97. June 27th, 2016 at 12:14 | #97

    Ikonoclast :
    I am astonished that those who claim to be “left” or social democratic don’t understand the clear and obvious case against EU neoliberalism.

    There is no question that the EU is a vector of neoliberalism in some respects. In others, it’s a vector of socialism, as in the subsidies it gives to poorer regions. An England under Tory rule without the ameliorating effects of EU investment in poor areas would be more neoliberal than one without.

    It’s a case of choosing the lesser evil. But those of you on the far left are never, ever good at that, are you? They’d always rather not play the game if those are the only two choices available. Nice privilege you’ve got there, Captain Kirk, if you feel you can declare yourself barley cross-fingers in that game, but others are going to cop the consequences either way. Their suffering will be a direct result of the harm done by Lexiters.

  98. J-D
    June 27th, 2016 at 15:24 | #98

    Ernestine Gross :
    Paul Craig Roberts argues the UK must leave the EU. He asserts the EU has been set up by the CIA and is controlled by the USA. Further he says the USA is planning a war with Russia and the EU is part of NATO. There is one little problem with this story. The UK remains part of NATO after Brexit and his war argument hinges on NATO.

    Only one problem?

    If it is sensible to reason like this:
    the CIA talked about how they wanted something to happen;
    then it did happen;
    therefore. the CIA made it happen
    — then it’s also sensible to reason like this:
    some people talked about how they wanted it to rain;
    then it did rain;
    therefore, those people made it rain.

    Some people don’t find anything unreasonable about that kind of thinking.

  99. Ernestine Gross
    June 27th, 2016 at 19:35 | #99


    You are quite right, there isn’t only one problem with Paul Graig Roberts’s theory but finding one critical error, an error which changes the conclusion, is sufficient to discard the rest. (I am told we all must work efficiently.)

  100. Ikonoclast
    June 27th, 2016 at 21:07 | #100


    I happen to think that Brexit is the lesser evil for the world. Peaceful political actions, like voting, which impede the march of global neoliberalism are a good thing to the best of my analysis. That is not to say that such actions are without dangers or costs, local or global. No action is risk free. No course of action in an extraordinarily complex world is guaranteed to be free of unintended consequences or to lead to the intended result. Those in favour of the EU, like yourself and Ernestine Gross on this thread, just might be right after all (although my opinion is contrary obviously). That is why we have freedom of expression and democracy.

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