So it turns out that being a leftie doesn’t automatically equate to being a libertarian socialist, someone who believes in an individual’s right to freedom, both social and economic.
If the events of the recent months, in the run-up to the Referendum, have taught us anything, it’s that the ideological split between libertarian socialist and left-liberalism (which is anything but liberal – and therefore an oxymoron when it comes to the political left) is almost as pronounced as the dichotomy between anarchism and authoritarianism.
It never ceases to amaze me how people who claim to be leftist can have such a narrow world view when it comes to the liberties and freedoms (again: both social and economic) of anyone outside their borders, in terms of actual as well as perceived borders. By ‘perceived’ I’m referring of course to a conceptualised realm which includes anyone who cannot be identified with, be it from the perspective of expression, persuasion, life-style or the way a person holds their pinky from drinking from a cup, to name a few.
So what conclusions can we draw from this? Well, the first thing that springs to mind is of course that we are having trouble consolidating our thoughts, our instinctual as well as intellectual knowledge of what is right and proper, with our feelings which are, in part, the reflection of our empathy, capacity for love, insecurities and fears. Unlike our thoughts, feelings can be all powerful. A thought alone may not provoke a reaction. However, a feeling, as irrational as it may be, can result in actions which are just as irrational, regardless of what our intellect may tell us and, often, in spite of it.
We may further deduce an inability or even unwillingness to confront certain realities. We are comfortable in a world which is easy, brings us relief from the daily slog and engenders feelings of security. Who doesn’t want that? We will defend this world. We will subdue our thoughts and feelings and we will fit the narrative to our needs, even if this ultimately skews our world view in the process.
So far as the Referendum is concerned, these realities have been clearly outlined in terms of arguments for the Pro/Remain as well as Con/Leave camps. However, what is not clearly outlined is the way in which the same arguments are used by both camps, whether left or right-leaning, for diametrically opposing purposes.
For example, one reality is the fact that EU membership has a price tag. £350 million have been quoted as the sum being syphoned off to the EU each week. The Leave camp feel that this amount could be put to good use elsewhere, such as our suffering NHS, the benefits system or housing. Although there may be some superficial truth to this, the argument ignores several important, other realities. For one, according to the UK Statistics Authority who, as a result of misuse of this statistic, have issued an unprecedented statement: “…the UK’s contribution to the EU is paid after the application of the rebate.” and “…there are payments received by the UK public and private sectors”. The actual annual contribution to the EU is negligible when compared with the UK’s expenditure according to the Public Expenditure Statistical Analysis (PESA 2015). The following graph, which is taken from the referenced analysis, reflects this:
For many Brexiteers, this has become the focus, the crux on which they have based their decision to leave, a decision blatantly manufactured and reinforced by Brexit leaders and their battle buses.
Be that as it may, why are Lexiteers in particular hoodwinked by superficial statistics and an inability to see the larger picture? Surely, the existing record of the net benefits to all of us, the British community, of remaining a member of the EU seem incontestable?
Unfortunately, left-leaning political ideology, be it libertarian or ‘liberal’, does not make us, ipso facto, immune to our underlying fears and resulting projections onto a perceived cause. The fact that the perceived cause is not the real cause has been obscured by confusion. There seems to be a cognitive failure, a break in the firewall that separates reality from our esoteric world and allows our our ideological innards to spill out and make a mess of reality.
Written for Elaine Garrod (Green Party and Friends of the Earth).