This divisive EU referendum. By; for whom, and why is it being called? Objectively, it makes no sense that it would be happening. If you had wanted to leave the EU, then you would have voted for the party that wants to leave the EU. You didn’t. It’s weird not to take the choice of leaving the EU, in order to take the choice of being given the choice to leave the EU.
I don’t think that most people have thought about the referendum, let alone what the referendum is demanding. I’m assuming this because I subscribe to the school of history best described as “idiots scrambling after random catastrophes of their own idiot making”. I believe the referendum to be one of those random idiotic catastrophes. I also believe that we’ve brought it upon ourselves, because while we’re all better educated, fed and housed than we were 100 years ago, we are not when compared with 50 or even 60 years ago. In the 20 post-war years we staggered from the primordial soup of wholesale slaughter, horror and bankruptcy, and reached up to the universal values of the EU. Now, bad politics and poorer education have slithered us back down the snake away from universalism; towards nationalism.
Existing somewhere between the wall of a public lavatory and a prison yard, the comments sections of any online British newspaper reveal the many competing grievances currently being clumped together against the EU. English nationalism, through this referendum, is doing the clumping. In order to talk about the referendum, you have to talk about English nationalism. Like the Scottish referendum, the EU referendum is by the nationalists and for the nationalists, in order to bring about what they want. The only difference between the two referendums is the scale: England’s institutional hegemony gives it the capability of speaking as Britain. “Enfranchised” Scotland speaks only for itself. The seemingly unfair asymmetry of this is not lost on anyone.
Nationalism is, like a lot of radical politics, narrowly local and circumstantial; harnessing the most convenient institutions to justify and fulfil itself. To the nationalist, everything to do with the nation, however incidental, from its “bake-off”; weather and farming practices, is an autonomous national actor in a far-greater narrative of autonomous national history. This “History” is a proper noun, with a set of rules and laws that have unfolded in a logical development to the glorious inevitability of their nation and its institutions. This is history like the spirits of Wiccan nature; it’s history written in the tea leaves, and nationalists employ themselves as Marxist-style seers and druids, the diviners of History’s autonomous will and it’s “true consciousness”. This means that those of us who refuse (at the very least) to acquiesce to the mystical legitimacy of the nationalists are to be Marxist-style disenfranchised as the possessors of “false consciousness”.
Nationalism is also really big on incompatibility. It’s why there is no Nationalist International, and why they can barely speak to one another in the European Parliament. Nationalists frolic at their unhindered happiest in areas where they do not have to share intellectual space, or experience the repercussions of their opinions being countered. A room full of unchecked opinions quickly devolves from Shakespeare to shit-slinging monkeys, however, and this explains English nationalism’s success as a huge Internet trolling presence, grotesquely flowering as the Lee Rigby cult and Britain First.
Surely, it is not in the interests of any representative democracy to legitimise, politically, the aims and methods of those who refuse to recognise the pluralism of opinion that representative democracy is. But that’s exactly what has happened in Britain. In allowing referendums to be called, the British Government is legitimising the nationalist concept of intentional state disenfranchisement, and legitimising the nationalist belief that the political process itself is both insufficient and unrepresentative.
They claim to be unrepresented not because they are unelectable, but because they’re not the only voice in the room. Britain isn’t England. It has to share space with those who are not anti-EU, such as Scotland and Wales, who do not want to leave the EU and have threatened secession if they are forced to do so. Further, are serious questions regarding the legality of Northern Ireland’s being able to leave the EU while in a period of transition. All of this means that the EU referendum is not asking us if we want Britain to remain in the EU. It’s English nationalists wanting to totalise their view of what membership of the EU means for their view of England, onto their view of Britain, even if that *shockingly* results in the creation of a separate English state. It’s asking us to clear the room of dissenters.
In the spirit of their Patron Saint Enoch Powell, the underlying English Nationalist view of what England and Britain are is an almost theological argument, built upon a series Daedalian false premises. The main false premise is the rather ludicrous assumption that one can take an unwritten constitution literally. The official title of the British state in its unwritten constitution is “The Queen in Parliament under God”. It is often referred to as “Crown-in-Parliament” and invoked as “the sovereignty of parliament”. “The sovereignty of parliament” is most frequently invoked by English nationalists as that which they’re defending from the EU. In this instance “sovereignty” does not mean Westphalian independence; it means a recognition of “Crown-in-Parliament” as a sovereign (monarchic) institution. In 1962, when Labour leader Hugh Gaitskell made what was to become (after “sovereignty of parliament”) the second most-meme’d English nationalist argument against Europe (that British membership of the EEC “means the end of a thousand years of history”), he was referencing a thousand years of English monarchic history, beginning with Æthelstan, the first pan-English Monarch in the early 10thC.
If there were no monarch, the argument would simply be that the EU alters the structure of English or British governance through devolution. If there were a written constitution, it would be a question for the constitutional courts as to whether or not this was the case and to what extent it could be allowed. With the EU’s founding principle to “lay the foundations of an ever-closer union among the Peoples of Europe”, it’s the accumulation of rather dull questions of harmonization across diverse institutions, which results in scandals about weights and measures (because they are also autonomous royal actors in English history). But with a rejection of universalism, without a written constitution, and with the Monarch, what the EU referendum demands us to believe is that the EU threatens a complicated and archaic view of governance (“The Queen in Parliament Under God”) which the English nationalists believe to be the logos of “a thousand years of history”; an Acme-nationalist view of an endemic and autonomous English History, without which there is no Britain.
So what? Well, start by considering that “Determined to lay the foundations of an ever-closer union among the peoples of Europe” is the first founding principle of all 28 EU member states. Before the Second World War, no European state would have claimed the universalism of a European people, except along those Racialist lines, which now find a new voice as the unpleasant defenders of “Christian Europe” during the current migrant crisis. Most English nationalists are far short of such extremism, and to claim all nationalists to be proto-”Fascist” is to claim all paprika to be proto-Gulasch. However, through their aforementioned obsession with enfranchisement, entitlement and participation, they always intentionally place themselves in opposition to the principle of universalism, and thus are fundamentally opposed to the first founding principle of the EU.
Having cleared the room of dissenters such as the Scots, what the English nationalists want is to be in control of the enfranchisement of who is left, which means having the monopoly of definition. This is why most English nationalists look like bouncers. As stated earlier, they believe that the English monarchy is the logos of England, in that its institutions and its History are of and from it. Their belief is that because the other nations of Britain have been enfranchised into England to create Britain, their enfranchisement requires a voluntary participation within the animating principle of The English Monarchy. In simpler words, in joining they have agreed with the nationalists on everything being a part of the Monarchy, including the nation itself. They’ve agreed to this by willingly adopting the English monarchy. In adopting the English monarchy, they have chosen to become part of a greater English History which they have to then claim to be their own. In layman’s terms: This means that they have chosen to be English.
If you ever wonder how “the sovereignty of parliament” ties into this, then you have to think, as they do, about participation. The entitlement of being British requires participation in the (exhaustively described) orthodoxies and institutions of English nationalism. This means the physical arena of participation in England nationalism becomes all-important. The institution of “participation” within The Queen in Parliament Under God is the sovereign Parliament, where the subjects of the monarch are represented to the monarch. This is where the knot comes together and tightens. Because participation requires enfranchisement within England, and the adoption of England is required in order to be enfranchised, this means that the referendum demand that we defend “The sovereignty of parliament” is a smokescreen. “Sovereignty of Parliament” is a tool used to enfranchise only those who meet the strict English nationalist definition of England and English identity. Because it is only through the adoption of the nationalist definition of England that you will get to participate in the parliament, the parliament is therefore also strictly defined along English nationalist lines. In doing so, enfranchisement in The Queen in Parliament Under God is guaranteed only to English nationalists. This guarantee is “the sovereignty of parliament” that we are being asked to defend.
You might ask, “Again?” This intellectually nauseating argument is like being led deep into the twisted and terrifying forest to be shown a turd. These are the same arguments the nationalists used in the 1970s. The 1970s was the last time anybody really thought to argue about EU membership, immigration, or who gets to be British. Then, the Nationalists lost. Since then, we have gotten complacent, while they have bided their time in Mordor or Great Yarmouth. Now, liberated by internet anonymity, absurd, old, 1970s English nationalism is wheeltapping and shunting itself from the terylene grave. It’s hard not to laugh, because the whole situation is farcical. Mostly, though, it’s embarrassing, because the Nationalists own the argument, and are winning.
They are winning because, compared to the nationalists, we believe in nothing. “Toute nation a le gouvernement qu’elle mérite,” those with the luxury of access to such epigrams will certainly say, and I agree. It makes sense that only a country so bankrupt, so directionless, and so politically, ethnically and morally balkanised would choose to elect a Conservative party that, for all intents and purposes, is the same. You get the government you deserve.
We have elected a Conservative Party that cannot govern itself. It cannot even contain the pathetic forces it resurrected to stay in power. Our government is like an (Ayn) Randian utopia: Thousands of different elements, alien and even hostile to one another, held together by lies, promises, money and ambition. The modern Conservative Party exists only as a means to power, in its most vain and modern sense, and those in power will claim and do anything to maintain it.
One can only assume that if there were a radical Sunni wing of the Conservative Party, its party leadership would promise them a Sharia Caliphate to remain in power. The cowardly actions of the current government to buy-off the English nationalists by giving them what they want will destroy this country.
The passions of nationalism that the Conservatives fear; the fears and prejudices that they stoke and emulate to win their votes; the votes that they buy by calling referendums on who gets to be British: This is cultural preparation for the nationalists.
This divisive referendum is an abdication of responsibility. We have to take responsibility back from the government and say no to them and the English nationalists. We need to vote to stay IN, and afterwards we need to never take our EU citizenship, and the universalism behind it, for granted again.
Posted 5 years ago