…a Brexit vote could be the catalyst for another global crisis. This time, however, the workers who lose their jobs, the pensioners who lose their savings, and the homeowners who are trapped in negative equity will not be able to blame “the bankers.” Those who vote for populist upheavals will have no one but themselves to blame when their revolutions go wrong.
Anatole Kaletsky, “Brexit’s Impact on the World Economy” 17 June 2016
The people I read are pretty much all saying something along the same lines as what Kaletsky is saying this weekend. And by all accounts, the referendum campaign has reached a fever pitch – a pro-Remain Member of Parliament, Jo Cox, was mudered on Thursday by a partisan of the Leave camp, in this case a British nationalist with ties to the Neo-Nazi movement. Vox draws comparisons of the rheotoric of the Leave campaign to that of Donald Trump – both are driven by a populist fear of immigrants.
I don’t want to speculate on the outcome of next Thursday’s vote too much, but I think they will vote remain. But they might not. If they do, will it embolden the advocates of austerity? Will David Cameron take victory as a mandate for the tightening of the neo-liberal screws? If they don’t, will the British economy tank? Will Britain settle into a long, terrible recession.
I do think there are people who genuinely don’t care if they or their neighbors suffer hardship from economic reforms. If what you really wanted to do was to cut off immigration in your country, then going into a recession is a good strategy. What drives people to immigrate in the first place is the opportunity to work – a sure way to slow the rate of immigration is to reduce wages and the number of available jobs. It is easy to say that people who do not survive in the capitalist system simply do not work “hard enough” – the brutal logic of capitalism can be comforting when we do not want to face our role in the oppression of others – as long as the capitalist system sustains your particular fantasy. As long as you and your friends all have jobs, who cares, right? So long as your pension gets paid on time, what does it matter?
The main reason I think Britain will vote to Remain is because that’s the path of no change. Democracy, in my view, has a conservative bias. The question for England is the more conservative path: not leaving the international organisation that they have been part of for some half a century, or not allowing the population to change due to immigration. At the end of the day, a vote to Leave the EU doesn’t guarantee the desired outcome and it does mean deprivation.
But I don’t know.