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My 350 on BREXIT: The outcome of the referendum has made sure that the politics of anger is now the only one left

Brexit has never been the epic struggle between the ordinary man and the establishment. Rather, it is a storm-in-a-teacup skirmish between two neoliberal elites, each with its own social project.

Martin Lampprecht
29 June 2016

In the aftermath of the historic British vote to leave the EU, openDemocracy is asking for our readers' thoughts on Brexit and what needs to happen next in 350 words. We've had an extraordinary response and you can read them all here.

Brexit has never been the epic struggle between the Little Man and his corporate and political overlords in Brussels or London. Rather, it is a storm-in-a-teacup skirmish between two neoliberal elites, each with its own social project.

One of these is a long-term enterprise, knowing in a nineteenth century patrician way that its success will erode if it does not keep up a modicum of social security and stability - that bare minimum EU membership guarantees British citizens. In pretending to speak for the embattled middle classes, it gambled high and lost.

The other one is a short con that succeeded in harnessing to its cause the multitudes of the discontent and passive-aggressive globalisation has left behind – in other words, the very people it will now be even easier to exploit, demonise, and humiliate.

The first project operated on a politics of fear: the middle and educated lower classes justified fear that without the EU, their precarious situation will be substantially worse than it already is. The other elite (the one that dare not speak its name) uses the politics of anger: the equally justified anger of the working and uneducated classes about being left out of the national debate.

The outcome of the referendum has made sure that the politics of anger is now the only one left, as the middle class now shares with the lower castes the feeling of loss and alienation that goes with being cheated out of something that rightfully belongs to you: the educated but socially precarious youth will not without a fight give up the mobility and transnational opportunities they, correctly, see not as some privilege to be taken away from them but as a basic civil right.

Meanwhile, the shared politics of anger manifests itself in universal ugliness, as the racism of the winners (no, they are not all racists, but without all the racists they would never have stood a chance) is rivalled by the equally shameless if more elegantly worded classism of the losers.

What is entirely absent is any attempt at a politics of progress, as the only all-British party potentially able to formulate it is laying waste to its own foundations. 

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