A number of political developments that will eventually have serious consequences took place last year, primarily in the United States and the United Kingdom. What happened can be distilled into two points, the decision by a majority of British citizens to leave the European Union, and later on the election of Donald Trump to the presidency of the US of A. These things are not necessarily as strongly related as is being implied in some places.
First of all, opposition to the European Union being strictly associated with the far right is a very new phenomena. In the nineties and early 2000’s, the hard left in several European countries opposed the Union too. By hard left I mean people of the same inclination as those who recently rioted in Berkeley and before that in Washington DC. As an example, the most dramatic riots in the last couple of decades in Sweden took place in 2001, in Gothenburg during an EU top meeting there. The rioters where mostly communists, anarchists and so on, protesting ”globalization”. Read this, or if you read Swedish read this instead.
It goes without saying that not everyone who voted for Donald Trump belongs to the far right. But more importantly, the notion that all of a sudden one has to be a hardcore conservative, or member of the ”alt-right”, to oppose EU encroachment on national governments is of course nonsense. It is a manufactured narrative that didn’t even exist just a few years ago. This is especially true after the public referendum in the United Kingdom on the matter. I am not British and didn’t promote one position or the other on Brexit before the referendum, but now I want the United Kingdom to leave because I want referendums to mean something. With some effort, democracy could actually be a thing.
To reinforce this point, consider this speech given by Theresa May, the new prime minister of the UK. Prime minister May will now be leading the Brexit effort. She is no Donald Trump, obviously, but she also doesn’t seem to be trying to attract the same crowds as Trump. Neither do many of the other anti-EU spokespeople who are bound to spring up soon, they will be motivated by a host of different reasons, some might be bad but some will definitively be good. This will be very important to remember in the days to come.
The kind of one-dimensional thinking I try to object to here can also be exemplified by the fact that Cenk Uygur of TYT has recently implied that the rioters at Berkeley were infiltrating right-wingers rather than leftist extremists (read this). This is a one-dimensional narrative, everyone who does things Uygur doesn’t like is suspected of being a right-winger. It goes to why Uygur on Twitter for example has been trying to imply that Sam Harris and Bill Maher (an arch-leftist) are “right-wing atheists”.
This is what I call the Star Wars-ification of modern politics, there is a rebel alliance, there is an evil empire, and everything is shoehorned into one of these categories. The so called “alt-right” make the same mistake, connecting everything they dislike to the same globalist (sometimes they say jewish) conspiracy. The reality is of course that sometimes things one dislike happen, sometimes they are connected, but sometimes they are not. There is no one single narrative that explains the world, there isn’t a single global trend that moves everything, and there is no end to history when this has been fixed and all is well and no completely new and original threats will show up.
For the sake of positivity and because I am making the point that there are nuances, there are reasonable self-identified “progressives” who oppose all of this garbage and who are not responsible for the rioting and the nonsense in any way. One such person is Kyle Kulinski, who gives a good take on the Berkeley riots that you can find here and that I recommend listening to. His Youtube channel is quite good, even though he lays the social democrat stuff on a bit too thick for my taste.
The point that needs making here, and one that Kulinski (and perhaps also Uygur though he is far too cautious in mentioning it) seem to get is that it is a goal in its own right to oppose individuals who set cars on fire and break windows, regardless of how it fits into a bigger narrative. The other point, which I began with and want to end with, is that if you like the EU and think that anyone who opposes by definition belongs to or is a pawn of the far right, then your brain is malfunctioning and needs maintenance.
For the last time (hopefully) remember, it takes more than one narrative to explain contemporary issues.