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This issue: Brexit, Jeremy Corbyn, and Contempt for Democracy
Brexit, the British vote to leave the European Union, has thrown
the political elites into turmoil and confusion. The referendum was
supposed to be a safe political manoeuvre, a way to produce an
appearance of democratic legitimacy for the profoundly undemocratic
structures of the EU. The gambit turned out to be a spectacular
miscalculation, as millions of people turned out to express their
opposition to a state of affairs that is leaving the majority worse off
while enriching a small minority.
What the result will be is not clear. For one thing, it is far
from certain that Britain will actually end up leaving the European
Union. Ruling elites in Europe and elsewhere have a long history of
ignoring referendum results which displease them. Last summer’s
referendum in Greece, in which the Greek people voted overwhelmingly to
reject the terms dictated by the European Union and the International
Monetary Fund, is a case in point. Within a few days, the EU,
representing the interests of the banks whose Greek loans were at risk,
compelled the Greek government to submit to terms that were even worse
than those rejected in the referendum. Greece’s Syriza government
capitulated utterly, and became the enforcer of the agenda of austerity
and looting which it had been elected to oppose. Those who feel tempted
to believe the claim that the European Union represents a form of
international co-operation from which all benefit might want to consider
the case of Greece, and of other countries who have been forced to
shred their social infrastructure and sell off their assets to enrich
investors and bankers.
A constant theme in elite reaction to the Brexit referendum,
expressed especially through the mainstream media, has been a visceral
contempt for democracy. Ordinary working people are portrayed as stupid
and reactionary, incapable of understanding how wonderful the European
Union project is. Again and again, one hears the comment that the great
unwashed should not be allowed to vote on issues which they are
incapable of understanding. This reaction is not new: ruling classes for
centuries have loathed democracy, which is seen as an existential
threat to the wealth and privileges of the elite.
The attitudes of the elite have been mirrored on parts of the
liberal left as well. The racist rhetoric emanating from the xenophobic
UKIP party is seen as reflecting the attitudes of everyone who voted to
leave the EU. Never mind that UKIP commands 12% of the vote, whereas 52%
voted to leave. Everyone who voted to leave, according to some
commentators, must automatically be a racist. The liberal left shares
this attitude with the mainstream elite: neither of them is capable of
seeing, let alone offering solutions for, the economic devastation
caused by neoliberal institutions such as the EU and the various ‘free
trade’ agreements, and neither of them cares about the working class.
In Britain, the referendum results have also provided a pretext
for the Labour hierarchy to try to remove Jeremy Corbyn, the leftist who
unexpectedly captured the leadership of the party nine months ago in
another instance of democracy producing the ‘wrong’ result. A majority
of the Parliamentary Labour Party (the MPs) are still holdovers from the
Tony Blair era, known for their support of the war in Iraq, the
intervention in Libya, and their willingness to vote for anti-labour
legislation introduced by the Conservative government of David Cameron.
These MPs have been desperately looking for an opportunity to get rid of
Corbyn, and thought the referendum results would provide an
opportunity. Corbyn, however, has reacted to their vote of no confidence
by informing them that he was elected by the membership, not the MPs,
and that he has no intention of resigning. In this battle, Corbyn
represents not only the left-wing majority of the Labour members who
elected them, but the hopes of people in other countries who see him as
an inspiration and an example to follow.
This issue of Other Voices features a variety of articles and resources analyzing these and related issues.
As always, we invite you to share this newsletter with your friends. You can forward this email, or send them the link to the Other Voices home page on the Connexions website at www.connexions.org/Media/CxNewsletter.htm.
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Topic of the Week
Brexit: The British exit from the European Union
Connexions has compiled a selection of left analyses of the British vote to leave the European Union. You find them on this page.
For more information and historical context, check out the subject index pages on the European Union here.
Why the British Said No to Europe
The majority vote by Britons to leave the European Union, says John
Pilger, was an act of raw democracy. Millions of ordinary people
refused to be bullied, intimidated and dismissed with open contempt by
their presumed betters in the major parties, the leaders of the business
and banking oligarchy and the media. This was, in great part, a vote by
those angered by the sheer arrogance of the apologists for the "remain"
campaign and the dismemberment of a socially just civil life in
A nineteenth-century contempt for countries and peoples, depending
on their degree of colonial usefulness, remains a centrepiece of modern
"globalisation", with its perverse socialism for the rich and capitalism
for the poor: its freedom for capital and denial of freedom to labour;
its perfidious politicians and politicised civil servants. Read more
Keywords: Brexit - European Union
This vote was about far more than immigration
The vote to leave the EU was fuelled by class divisions, argues
Alastair Stephens. The media and the establishment are spinning the
referendum result as a huge mistake by the ignorant masses who are
motivated by parochialism and xenophobia. This is a gross distortion. It
is clear that millions of working class people, including the majority
in Labour's heartlands, voted to leave. Was this all driven by racism?
Certainly immigration is what much of the media and in particular the
press has gone on about. But working class people have many valid
reasons to vote Leave. Read more
Keywords: Brexit - Referenda & Plebiscites
Brexit and the new hostility to participatory democracy
The reaction to Brexit illustrates the desperate need for the
Left to return to first principles. For, as the result broke on social
media, a remarkable number of progressives directed their anger not at
anti-immigrant demagogues and opportunist politicians but against the
voters themselves and the very idea of a referendum in which they might
express their will. It's merely the most recent illustration of a
growing estrangement from democracy, not only on the Right but also on
The best way to defeat a newly emboldened Right is to undercut
its claims to give voice to the silent majority. The racists across
Europe hate democracy – many of them have lineages directly traceable
back to the fascist era. They can only present themselves as tribunes of
the people because so much of the Left now sees ordinary voters not as
agents of history but as a problem to be managed. Read more
Keywords: Anti-Democracy - Democratization
Brexit and the Diseased Liberal Mind
The enraged liberal reaction to the Brexit vote, says Jonathan
Cook, is in full flood. The anger is pathological -- and helps to shed
light on why a majority of Britons voted for leaving the European Union,
just as earlier a majority of Labour party members voted for Jeremy
Corbyn as leader. Read more
Keywords: Brexit – Elite Panic
The 'Brexit' referendum vote, split 52% to 48% in favour of leaving
the European Union, has been exploited by the 'mainstream' media to
launch yet another assault on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. In this
article, Medialens documents the hysterical anti-Corbyn onslaught by the
media, and the extent to which lies and distortions have replaced any
pretense of objectivity or honest reporting. Read more
Keywords: Media Analysis & Criticism - Propaganda
Anatomy of a Propaganda Blitz
We live in a time when state-corporate interests are cooperating to
produce propaganda blitzes intended to raise public support for the
demonisation and destruction of establishment enemies. Two articles by
Medialens examine five key components of this kind of propaganda
campaign, and then look at how a recent propaganda blitz aimed at
British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn fits the pattern outlined. Read Part 1 and Part 2
Keywords: News Bias - Propaganda
Website of the Week
“Correcting for the distorted vision of the corporate media.” The editors of MediaLens
say that their project is a response based on their conviction that
mainstream newspapers and broadcasters provide a profoundly distorted
picture of our world. “We are convinced that the increasingly
centralised, corporate nature of the media means that it acts as a de
facto propaganda system for corporate and other establishment interests.
The costs incurred as a result of this propaganda, in terms of human
suffering and environmental degradation, are incalculable. In seeking to
understand the basis and operation of this systematic distortion, we
flatly reject all conspiracy theories and point instead to the
inevitably corrupting effects of free market forces operating on and
through media corporations seeking profit in a society dominated by
corporate power.” Visit Medialens here
Keywords: Media Analysis & Criticism - Propaganda
Book of the Week
Democracy for the Few
By Michael Parenti
How does the U.S. political system
work and for what purpose? What are the major forces shaping political
life and how do they operate? Who governs in the United States? Who gets
what, when, how, and why? Who pays and in what ways? These are the
central questions investigated in this book. Michael Parenti makes the
case that America is not a pluralistic democracy, but a plutocracy where
an unelected wealthy capitalist class controls social and political
institutions, which they use as tools to legitimize their rule and
further their interests. Parenti argues that what makes a system
democratic is not only its procedures, such as voting, but its social
and economic structures. Read more
Keywords: Anti-Democracy - Minority Rule
Film of the Week
Farmland is becoming scarcer and more and more valuable. Every
year we lose about 12 billion hectares of farmland through soil sealing.
After the financial meltdown in 2008 the global financial capital
discovered the profit potential of global farmland. Through land
grabbing the rich of the world want to secure access to the world’s most
important resources. Consequently, instead of farmers, profit is put
before soil. If we don’t stop the raids, we will destroy our livelihood.
Keywords: Land Seizures - Land Rights
The perfect organizer - almost
An introduction to the life and work of organizer Fred Ross Sr. His is
a story, write Mike Miller, that should be read by anyone interested in
labour or community organizing or the future of democracy.
Keywords: Community Organizing - Labour Organizing
41 Years Since Jumping Bull (But 500 Years of Trauma)
Leonard Peltier is a Native activist who has been in a U.S. prison
since 1976, convicted of a crime – the killing of two FBI agents on the
Pine Ridge reservation – that he did not commit. Amnesty International
considers Peltier a political prisoner and has called for his immediate
release. Peltier himself writes about his situation and the history of
injustice against indigenous people in this article. Visit the website of the International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee here.
Keywords: Leonard Peltier - Political Prisoners
‘Lost’ New York police surveillance records found in the archives
Records detailing decades of police surveillance of radical
groups, which the city had claimed were ‘lost,’ have been located by
municipal archivists. The once-lost records comprise 520 boxes
containing more than one million documents, evidence of massive
decades-long spying and infiltration directed at groups such as the
Puerto Rican activist group The Young Lords. Read more
Keywords: Police Tactics - Surveillance
When the climate comes for you
By Kamala Emanuel
“I wrote this poem after I read
about people in Pakistan digging mass graves in advance of the forecast
heatwave, so as to not be caught unprepared, as they were last year.”
— Kamala Emanuel
Will you be ready when the climate comes for you?
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July 2 – International
International Day of Co-operatives
An annual celebration of the co-operative movement observed on the first Saturday in July.
July 7 - 10 – Winnipeg
Winnipeg Folk Festival
A summer folk music festival held in Birds Hill Provincial Park, near Winnipeg.
July 8 - 10 – Antigonish
An annual music and cultural festival near Antigonish,
dedicated to the promotion of sustainable living and environmental
July 14 - 18 – Massachusetts
People over Pipelines
A massive march and action against new gas pipelines in Massachusetts.
July 23 – Philadelphia
The People’s Convention
A grassroots attempt to reclaim our democracy by uniting behind a
common policy framework, rather than a personality or party.
The Connexions Calendar is an
online calendar that exists to advertise events that support social
justice, democracy, human rights, ecology, and other causes. We invite
you to use it to promote your events. Adding events to the Connexions
Calendar is FREE. We'll give you a username and password which you use
to log on. Use the contact form to arrange for a username and password. Read more →
July 2, 1809
Tecumseh organizes resistance
Alarmed by the growing encroachment of whites squatting on
Native American lands, the Shawnee Chief Tecumseh issues a call to all
indigenous peoples to unite and resist. By 1810, he has organized the
Ohio Valley Confederacy, which unites Indians from the Shawnee,
Potawatomi, Kickapoo, Winnebago, Menominee, Ottawa, and Wyandotte
nations. For several years, Tecumseh’s Indian Confederacy successfully
delays further white settlement in the region.
July 2, 1839
Captive Africans on the Cuban slave ship Amistad, led by
Joseph Cinquè (a Mende from what is now Sierra Leone), mutiny against
their captors, kill the captain and the cook, and seize control of the
July 14, 1789
Storming of the Bastille
Storming of the Bastille. Demonstrators in Paris attack the
hated Bastille prison, symbol of royal authority in Paris, which is
known to store a large quantity of arms and ammunition. A crowd
numbering perhaps one thousand people surrounds the Bastille in the
morning, demanding the surrender of the prison and the release of the
arms stored inside. In the afternoon, negotiations break down and
fighting begins. By late afternoon, the garrison surrenders and the
people take possession. The successful insurrection becomes the
flashpoint of the revolution that spreads across France.
The King, Louis XVI, meanwhile, has spent the day hunting,
oblivious to events. He returns to Versailles towards evening, and
writes a brief entry in his diary: “July 14: Nothing.”
Then a senior courtier, the Duc de La Rochefoucauld-Liancourt,
approaches him and tells him of the storming of the Bastille.
Shocked, the king exclaims: “Why – this is a revolt!”
“No, Sire.” La Rochefoucauld replies. “It is a revolution.”
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This issue was edited by Ulli Diemer.
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