Yesterday morning we woke up to confirmation of a new reality. Half of the British public had announced their isolationist views, fuelled by a deep-seated hatred for immigrants and their fear of a brown planet. Elderly white British people voted against their children and grandchildren’s interests, refusing them the opportunity to live, love and work in 27 other countries, for the sole purpose of ideologically ‘taking their country back’, although who exactly had taken it from them was a question that went unanswered. Fascist, sexist skinheads emerged from their lairs wearing Vote Leave t-shirts, carrying St George’s flags, well chuffed with what they saw as a victory for their own. The EU referendum results have given them the encouragement and ego boost they needed to posture and crow more than ever before in recent memory. This is supported by the approval they have received from the extreme right across Europe, from the Greek Golden Dawn to the Dutch Party for Freedom and French National Front calling for similar referenda for their own countries. The tension produced by this energy is leading to even more harassment and negative actions against already marginalised people, which are being well documented on social media (see below). And yet, it is very unlikely that any of those who voted to Leave would have known to point to neoliberalism as the true source of their woes, nor would they have seen the irony in the country that colonised half of the world cannibalizing itself due to fears of immigration.
We at Sisters of Resistance are opposed to ignorance in all its forms, yet we call attention to the fact that it is not always the ignorant who are fully to blame for the states of affairs that they may unwittingly enact. We note that from the Brexiters’ perspective, a vote to leave the EU must seem a rational response to the lies, Islamophobic hatred, and purposeful misinformation spread by the Leave campaign, combined with the general untrustworthiness of the elitist Tory government with David Cameron at the helm, and the City, banks and big business urging people to Remain. We also note that the many lies told fell on fertile ground because of the conditions of social inequality wracked by decades of neoliberalism and a half decade of austerity. Moreover, we call attention to the similarities between the social conditions of the populist movements in the US that are buoying Donald Trump and those in England which set the groundwork for the tragedy that is Brexit.
Like the rest of the world, we do not know what will happen next. We hold our breath in anxious and fearful anticipation of a domino effect that has the power to undo the past 70 years of peace in Europe and cause lasting chaos in the global economy. But unlike half of Britain, we are willing to learn from history to avoid at all costs the onset of fascist ideals that creep into mainstream society stealthily, in the guise of nationalist pride. There is no room for nationalism in a global society. In the face of socio-economic, environmental, and political crises like those never before seen, we need each other more than ever, now.