Brexit Beer and The Implosion of The Establishment

 

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Jolly Good 

Last night a group of friends and I quite unintentionally stumbled into the Churchill Tavern and proceeded to drink pints of Fuller’s London Pride while watching the Brexit returns. Contrary to the elites’ counsel and predictions, Leave beat Remain. While there were plenty of Americans at the bar having a bloody good time, oblivious to the going-ons across the pond, one could pick out the Brits tensely watching the TV. When BBC called the referendum for Leave there was no cheering.

Stepping outside, I bummed a cigarette from an unhappy looking fellow. Mid-twenties, well-dressed, he was imperious, defiant, and British. I asked him what he thought, and while we both stole glances through the window at the TV, he declared: “Farage is a twat. This entire campaign is based on a bigoted, xenophobic lie.” Gesturing to his friend, a Frenchman, he declared, “There will be consequences with the EU and especially the French.” I held my tongue. It isn’t my country or my election and if there is one thing that annoys me it is when Europeans pontificate on American politics (John Oliver, go home). I told the man as much so there was no fisticuffs. Plus, there was no need to rub in the victory. Despite what I just said, I am for Brexit.

When scholars reflect on this tumultuous decade, a dominating theme will be the revolt of the silent majority against the nefarious and vague entity titled “The Establishment.” With the conclusion of the Cold War, the future looked bright and the initial results proved promising. Liberal technocratic democracy worked; and not just worked: it was the system that would ensure worldwide peace and prosperity. We had arrived at the end of history. But the present belies that hope. Reagan famously asked the American people in 1980, “Are you better off than four years ago?” Put the question to the present, and lots of people would answer in the negative—for the last twenty-five years. Far from entering a glorious future, the West is in dangerous downward flux. And now the people are speaking out and declaring that the emperor is wearing no clothes. The EU’s grand project teeters on the brink. The American political order is in a state of disarray.

Say what you will about the negative facets of the anti-Establishment forces roiling across the political spectrum, The Establishment has brought this upon themselves. In the Western world they failed to deliver the prosperity and security that was suppose to wipe away all tears and in Europe eliminate once and for the sordid nationalism that had caused so much conflict over the centuries. Instead we have a resurgence of nationalism and populism. Far from being the refuge of the scoundrel, nationalism is turning out to be the Titanic’s lifeboats as the EU takes on more and more water.

The Establishment, frustrated, still demonstrates a smug confidence and a dismissive disdain for the plebs who dare rise up against the Western world order so long legitimized by the very same plebs participating in the democratic process. The arrogance and frustration of the elites is not totally unfounded. Trump and Brexit’s supporters promise the moon and advocate many a ridiculous proposal (ten foot high wall?) that will result in even more fanciful benefits. Furthermore, they’re awful, hate-filled people. Sure, The Establishment admits that things could be improved, but it is smarter to stick with the devil you know and reform from within than join the cuckoos. The issue The Establishment faces: how to convince the unwashed masses of their elite wisdom? Apparently these well-bred fellows, with all their graphs and fear-mongering, were not capable of thwarting Brexit. And scoff as they did, they could not stop Trump from becoming the presumptive GOP nominee. So now there is talk of convention shenanigans and how the Brexit vote was non-binding and therefore reversible.

But this is what The Establishment types don’t seem to get. They bandy about technical strategies to reverse the results of elections in an era dominated by anti-establishment sentiment. Playing tricks only proves the anti-Establishment correct: these Establishment bums only care about themselves and are anti-democratic. And then they ask: If Brexit was non-binding, what’s the point of the vote? If winning the most votes in GOP primary history isn’t enough to lock up the nomination, what’s the point of the primaries? Is this a democracy or isn’t it? It seems that The Establishment accepted the trappings of democracy only so long as they agreed with the results. But as soon as elections slip through their fingers, pull out Robert’s Rules of Order and spin some parliamentary trickery! If that’s not a form of self-destructive soft fascism, I don’t know what is.
That isn’t to say that Brexit or Trump or any of the other anti-Establishment forces simmering in the West are without problems. There is plenty to complain about. The more fundamental issue, though: this is a NO vote—a blast against The Establishment. This is a repudiation of business as usual. The politicians, the bankers, the businessmen, the incestuous halls of power must be shattered. Taxes are too high. Fees are too high. The economy stinks. Get some fresh blood in there. Trump’s a buffoon? Brexit is risky? Well why not? What have we got to lose? Who knows, maybe we can get a better deal for THE PEOPLE? If we’re going to suffer, might as well be at our own hands!
You know The Establishment is in trouble when a orange-haired orangutan is the frontrunner. They did this to themselves.
I thanked the angry Brit for the cigarette and the conversation. Conservatives and liberals alike harbor feelings of pessimism. The liberals of yesteryear shook their fists at The Man. As The Who declared so pessimistically in their famous song “Won’t Get Fooled Again”: “Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.” And yet the liberal religiously believes in progress. Eventually we won’t get fooled again and will arise and the bosses will get what’s coming to them. The conservative on the other hand expects setbacks and defeats and a general muddling about. In this way conservatives are specially suited to deal with the coming cataclysm in a way liberals are not. The conservative, oddly enough, can burn it all to the ground whereas the liberal is not psychically prepared for the death cycle. On a victorious night, a conservative is cautiously happy. On a night of defeat he remembers that history is long and full of strange twists and turns and that the light is never snuffed out completely. My liberal interlocutor I’m sure went to bed very anxious having taken a nasty spill down the mountainside of progress.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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