Populism in the Liberal Mind: A Review of Brexit: The Uncivil War
I recently had the opportunity to watch Channel 4’s made-for-TV movie The Uncivil War, which recreates the story of the June 2016 British referendum on withdrawal from the European Union, commonly known as “Brexit.” Personally, I am not a fan of biopics and docudramas covering very recent history. More time needs to pass before we can get the perspective necessary to judge events. In the case of this film, the storytelling is very much distorted by the contemporary manias of the liberal mind. That is instructive in itself.
The film stars Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock, Dr. Strange . . .) as Dominic Cummins, the chairman of the official Leave Campaign. Cummins is portrayed as brilliant, irascible, and indeed intellectual (he’s spent all spring reading Thucydides and Tolstoy, we are told with no subtlety). He’s a maverick, who would flourish if only the suits would let him play by his own rules, a typical TV trope. Cummins is too smart, too ahead of the curve for the old-fashioned British politicians to understand. He’ll have to impose his online campaign strategy by hook or by crook. And he did so, with great success. We are never shown Cummins’ motivations in leading the charge for Brexit. He comes across as largely amoral.
As depicted in the film, Cummins’ main strategic decisions are twofold. First, the rejection of any collaboration with Nigel Farage and UKIP. For you and me, Farage may be a funny bloke to watch on TV, but he and UKIP are a pretty thin gruel indeed. Hovever, for the writers of Uncivil War, these folks are already beyond the pale. They are no more than unscrupulous troglodytes. In particular UKIP financier Arron Banks, played by Lee Boardman, is portrayed as gratuitously vicious and petty. Second, a ban on explicit discussion of immigration by the Leave Campaign. Instead, Leave would emphasize the EU’s cost to the UK (allegedly £350 million per week) and potential Turkish membership of the EU. (That’s a good dog whistle, since Turkey is, ridiculously, an official candidate country to join the EU, although is unlikely to join for the foreseeable future.) These two strategic decisions tell you how policed things are in mainstream UK politics.
The film is a good example of the congenital inability of the contemporary liberal mind to come to grips with national populism. On the one hand, there is an ostentatious effort to show ‘empathy’ and ‘understanding’ for Brexit voters, who have been “left behind.” On the other, even the slightest mention of “immigration” in political discussion — let alone particular sources or problematic populations — is clearly affirmed be to evil. As far as the writers are concerned, any campaigning against immigration is simply morally beyond the pale. The film almost goes so far as to blame the ‘uncivil’ anti-EU campaigning for the assassination of Jo Cox, a pro-EU Labour Member of the European Parliament.
Of course, in the end the British people voted to leave the EU by a majority of 51.89%. In politics, as I believe Richard Nixon said, there is no prize for second place. Liberals today are sore losers indeed and are doing their damnedest to prevent Brexit from happening (just as they, along with much the Republican Party, have systematically worked to prevent the implementation of many of President Donald Trump’s campaign promises).
When reality does not go the way someone expects or wants, the sensible response is to be self-critical: Why were my expectations misplaced? Do I have assumptions that prevent me from understanding the world? Most liberals however have opted for a less intellectually demanding but more immediately gratifying route: scapegoating.
I have been amazed at the media-political Establishment’s ability to come up with the most far-fetched excuses for having lost the Brexit vote — much like Hillary Clinton and her apologists in the United States. The most popular are Russia-related conspiracy theories, one more hair-brained than the next, which make Alex Jones look grounded and mellow by comparison. In Uncivil War, we are darkly shown how the Leave Campaign used social media and the Internet (in 2016) to . . . reach out to new potential voters.
Those dastardly devils! Using the media to further their interests. Liberals would never do that.
Cummins is shown working with hip North American IT consultants who dramatically bring their equipment into his office in a dangerous-looking chest. (What does it contain? Anthrax? Uranium? USB sticks?) We are also treated to brief guest appearances of Steve Bannon and Robert Mercer (the wealthy American tech entrepreneur and contributor to Trump’s 2016 campaign). We are made to understand that these evil figures are wielding a malign influence from the shadows.
These sorts of conspiracy theories go right to the top of the globalist power structures. The nefarious forces they see everywhere are the glue which keeps them zealously together as supposed “more community” against the forces of darkness. As Wikileaks recently observed, French President Emmanuel Macron has been peddling such claims regarding Brexit:
Macron pushes claim that Brexit was caused by outside forces and fake news, although there is presently no evidence that this is the case–other than the fake news that is typical of the British press. https://t.co/9e0NrFdsYw
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) January 16, 2019
The film makes no attempt to acknowledge that people engaged in Right-wing politics (which, whether liberals could ever recognize it or not, entails no small amount of personal adversity) might be doing so for rational, idealistic, or even understandable reasons.
On the one hand, I find this sort of thing quite sad. It means dialogue is quite impossible with a very large percentage of our so-called educated class. On the other hand, it is a good thing: when liberals are so tone-deaf, so closed-minded, so stuck in a sandbox of their own making, they have little ability to understand the world or counter the rising tide of nationalism and populism.
Personally, I think Brexit is an important symbolic development. Brexit was voted for and Brexit must be implemented because the globalists don’t want it. It shows that the globalist power structure is not invulnerable. Brexit is a spear thrown at the globalists, proving that they can indeed bleed. To not implement Brexit now — after two insufferable years of hysteria, moral blackmail, and intimidation on the part of the liberal politico-media elite — would be outrageous.
Leaving the EU will not solve Britain’s economic and demographic problems. Economically, Britain will get some money back from the EU and will have to negotiate a new place in the global economy. It’s true that there may be short-term disruption and that Britain’s relationship with the EU was actually in some respects quite unique and optimal (the UK is not in the Schengen area of free movement and not in the eurozone). But I have no doubt the British, who have almost always been among the most economically dynamic nations in Europe, will be able to thrive in their new position.
More importantly, the EU was not in fact the source of Britain’s demographic problems. True, the indigenous English and Celts of Britain are being replaced by virtue of the EU’s free movement of people, but mostly by European migrants. For the most part, these are quite assimilable and hard-working, and represent relative demographic gain. (The only exception would be the considerable number of Gypsies from Eastern Europe, who as EU citizens currently have a right to move to the UK.) Worryingly, net migration of EU nationals to the UK fell to 74,000 in January-June 2018, the lowest in since 2012, while the share of non-EU migrants rose to 248,000, the highest since 2004.
Is that what Brexit voters were voting for? There is a serious risk that endless Brexit discussions, with certain politicians perpetually dissatisfied with the UK’s relationship to the EU, will suck up all the ‘patriotic’ discourse and activism in Britain. That would be a grave mistake. British patriots need to keep their eye on the ball: national sovereignty, good relations with their fellow Europeans, and, above all, keeping Britain British!
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