Monday, June 27, 2016

A total communication breakdown. Sarah Grange on the #OSLIST (just after Brexit)

Sarah Grange via OSList

eka. 26 (Duela 1 egun)

"For us, here in the UK, it’s about a lot more than the stock exchange. Since the reckless decision to hold this unnecessary referendum -  an attempt by a power-greedy man to hold on to his power at all costs - the country has been split in half. To dismiss voters and campaigners as idiots is to belittle and denigrate some very real feelings of alienation, disengagement and fear that have been quietly bubbling up for a long time. It feels like history repeating, although the poverty levels are not as visible as in inter-war Germany (there have been no wheelbarrows full of cash to buy a loaf of bread - yet), the extreme rich/poor divide generated by an elitist system that simply doesn’t listen is possibly even more poisonous and dangerous because of this invisibility. It feels like there is no alternative, it feels like there is no control. Time and again, protest marches are ignored. Time and again, petitions are dismissed. Time and again, the big corporations are bailed out, unaccountable to the damage they cause, whilst struggling communities are derided as stupid, uneducated, worthless.

We aren’t crazy, or stupid. But we are divided, angry, impotent and in thrall to a system that feeds lie after lie, empty promise after empty promise, to people looking for a way out of the trap but unempowered to take responsibility for escaping themselves. Someone said to me today that we have moved to a post-truth society. (Michael Gove on television last week: “The British people are sick of experts”). The Leave campaign was built on outright lies, but it tapped into an emotional imbalance that had no other route of expression.

People in many places feel they have no agency or voice  - the voting system here means that in general elections (and therefore almost all voting scenarios) the individual’s vote is mostly meaningless. The number of people now saying “I didn’t think my vote counted” is astonishing, but it’s not because they’re stupid, it’s because the space is not open. Their sessions never got called. The agenda has been fixed for so long, everyone has forgotten how to use their two feet.

Some interesting statistics have emerged. Among these is the fact that the 48% who voted Remain trust largely in experts, whilst those that voted leave trust no one. For me, this highlights the greatest lesson to be learnt. Good conversation - face-to-face, crossing class and professional barriers - has been sorely lacking. Politicians, bankers, bureaucrats are described all too often as “faceless”. A crucial connection between the systems of power and the people living daily lives within those systems is utterly lacking. That one MP who diligently tried to create such a connection was violently murdered on the street by a right-wing extremist shows how far the rift has grown. Dialogue is met with violence.

Don’t laugh at this, please, because it’s an illness half the world is sick with. We think Trump’s rise to power is crazy, hilarious, madness - how can America be so stupid? we were saying last year. Now we know. It’s not stupidity, it’s a total communication breakdown, it’s an ideological Berlin wall, and it’s being built higher every time we call each other ‘stupid', ‘crazy', ‘idiot'...


It should also be noted that this referendum was advisory, not mandatory, so it could be that many voters were expressing a preference that they were not expecting to be acted upon immediately. The government is under no legal obligation whatsoever to follow through with actually leaving the EU. The fact that they look to be pressing ahead on such a slim margin (only 4% between Leave and Remain!) is perhaps the really truly crazy behaviour.

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