I don't shy away from politics on the blog. I don't, however, really enter into mainstream party politics, restricting my thoughts to mostly Green Politics. Somehow, it's non-mainstream so people don't feel too threatened, although, of course, it should be more mainstream than it is. It's a bit wimpy of me to not want to upset people (though some of you may be surprised to hear that) or to alienate them. I am actually very interested in other views and why people think the way they do. But Brexit has genuinely depressed me and shocked me in a way that feels very new and unfamiliar.
It's a no brainer to me that we should have stayed in Europe. Culturally, I'm a Europeanist; my first degree is in Italian and I lived in Italy for 5 years. It's perfectly natural for me to be able to live, work and exist in the EU as a member. I know it's imperfect, and I've been reading more about it's imperfections since Brexit, but still, you don't leave your family however dysfunctional it is (unless it's abusive). I have a sometimes troubled relationship with my family, and I am happy to be 600 miles away from its sometimes invasive bosom, but I'm still in its system. You need a few outliers in any system for its throbbing core to exist, imho. Strangely enough, the time that crystallised my European identity was when I lived in Ecuador. I had thought Italy was a different universe until I lived outside Europe. I loved Ecuador, as you'll see from my recent post about it, but I saw in sharp relief what it's like to live in a country with minimal social support, where the divisions between the haves & have nots create a different kind of survival mentality, a different kind of insecurity. I saw our shared liberal values, education system and health care were in many ways similar in all EU countries. The US is just a richer version of South America in that regard; not a place in which I'd ever feel entirely comfortable living, despite its many charms and positivity.
You don't need to study much history to see how our British magnificence is flawed, in particular our imperial past and even our behaviour more recently in Iraq and Northern Ireland. And I know, when you look at this sorry past, we're dreadful hypocrites when we patronise other countries in our view of ourselves as pillars of virtue and models of good governance. But, I felt some pride in what I thought we'd become; an open country, with robust democracy, a challenging media (mostly) and, ok, a few right wing loonies, who we intelligently tolerated. I won't list all the things that were wrong with this country before Brexit; they're still there, but I don't really feel like I know my country any more.
I also realise how much politics has, in fact, influenced some of my moves over the years. I'm pretty much a fair-weather armchair activist, having occasionally campaigned for the Green Party, and then returned to work, friends, family and working out what to do with those nice gooseberries I've been given. (Nigel Slater goosebery pie if you ask). I became very interested in Italian politics when I was living there in the 1990s. It was a period of great upheaval, when the old order (the Andreottis etc and the hegemony of the Christian Democrats) was toppled by mani pulite and the Mafia was finally put under pressure by the likes of Giovanni Falcone. (Pls watch the excellent and moving film, Giovanni Falcone.) It was exciting and augured a new workable Italy. But then they voted in Berlusconi. I felt really disillusioned and somehow this influenced my ultimate decision to return home. I also realised that my move to Scotland was, in some part, a desire to get away from what seemed to be an increasingly Conservative England. I loved that much of Scotland loathed the Tories.
So now I see my country of birth, which I had been proud of, make such a dreadful choice, I hardly recognise it. I know enough about globalisation, thanks to my tutor, Naomi Klein, to realise that this is a symptom of the distress of the dispossessed and marginalised, who have born the brunt of neo-liberal economics. However, whilst not a Corbynista particularly, I was encouraged by the sentiment to stand up to the neoliberal agenda. I felt it in my bones that a revolt of some sort was on the cards. I just feel so stupid that I didn't see it coming from the right. This is what scares me, and on my home ground too. I thought it was just in countries like Hungary and Austria. We weren't in the main racist and xenophobic; but of course we are.
A couple of observations. I'll stick to the 'filter bubble' and BBC's impartiality straightjacket, or this will get too long.
I've worked in new media, and in social media in particular, so whilst I'm too wrinkly to be a digital native, it's been a big part of my corporate life, and also my fashion business life and personal life (but I take holidays from it too). I use it a lot. When I read this very good piece by Katharine Viner (scroll down for the filter bubble bit) it all made sense to me why I'd not realised the extent of the Brexit sentiment. Facebook had quite rightly put me into a Remainer filter and so I mostly read about stuff I could outrage about like all my friends. I wasn't reading the stuff I now find scary. I was bemused and depressed when my neighbour said she voted Brexit because all her friends were voting that way; it seemed the right thing to do in her filter bubble.
Now for Aunty. That nice man, Justin Webb, on the oracle of the truth, the Today Programme wrote a compelling piece about how the punctilious impartiality meant that they had to herd onto the news all those theatrical fibbers without really calling them to account. I know the Remainers piled on the horror-fantasy speak too, to their discredit. But, as we now know, the Brexiters' claims and promises vanished in a puff of smoke as soon as the results were declared. The BBC should not have given them so much airtime, if they were talking such nonsense all the time.
So, what to do? Nothing much, it seems. I'm just going to make sure I read more than just The Guardian and listen to Radio 4. Slightly begrudgingly, and mostly because the culture pages are good, I'm going to read the Sunday Times as well as my other oracles in order to keep abreast of the other sides of arguments. I would have chosen the Financial Times on the weekend, as their cultural pages are better, but you can't buy it up here for love nor money. Then I might just have to subscribe to the Guardian, as I've been reading it for free for years, as I feel guilty about paying Murdoch when I'm not supporting their excellent journalism. But, also I'm fuelling my sense of outrage by reading the likes of Yanis Varoufakis and, next up, Mark Blyth, both perfectly at home in my own filter bubble.