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A modicum of hope from the Brexit vote

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Image: Flickr/Roberto Trombetta

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If Jeremy Corbyn and his team have any sense, they are already planning on how to bring onboard a million or so young people who cannot believe their two choices were either the fascists or the neoliberals.

An imagination vacuum needs to be filled with a communitarian view of Britain's future or it will be filled by the racist "blame the immigrants for neoliberalism" tendency we've seen grab hold.

We keep having to learn this lesson. When there is no grand articulated vision, or even contextualized information, any old hate-filled garbage will do. Articulate the vision, challenge the fascists on all sides, make engagement with the politically neglected a priority --- turn this vacuum into a pathway through. That goes the same for the U.K., America and Canada.

There are major challenges. Rupert Murdoch and Fox News have megaphones that deliver right-wing talking points with monotonous regularity. The fact that they are so predictable is a distressing confirmation that their branding has been almost perfectly executed.

Two things can disrupt them. The first is legislative: break up media concentration. Link broadcast and newspaper licenses to news production, where you can lose your license after a certain number of "factual" errors. Ronald Reagan deregulated the FCC in 1987 and overthrew the Fairness Doctrine, allowing Fox News to pretend to be actual news. And hyper-concentration of media ownership means news has to be run as a profitable business, making its mission to actually report the news a far second priority (and leaving it open to editorial manipulation).

The second, and just as important, is putting forward a leftist political program that is about meeting people where they are at. Talking one-to-one, asking opinions and then actually listening. It can work online but it is better in person. In a certain sense, we need an army of evangelicals spreading the good word. A lot of people go for narratives that completely exculpate the ruling class from blame because there are no others on offer, or the ones that are come from people who are also scornful of the people who don't already agree with them.

Brexit has some disturbing parallels in the American context, even though the usual suspects were out in force today reassuring everyone that the Brexit has no real application to the choice between Clinton and Trump.

During the primary, social media campaigners working for the Clinton campaign under the "Correct the Record" initiative actively worked to discredit the part of the Sanders campaign that focused on white working-class alienation, rage and despair. They pushed the "there's no free stuff" line through their networks until it saturated the media landscape.

That is exactly what some of us were objecting to when they were pushing the narrative that even talking about white working-class anger was derailing and basically racist. You let people bottom out and then you're surprised when they lash out at anyone who doesn't look or act like their kin.

It doesn't make it right, but it's predictable. And here we see it again. Without a coherent ideological vision for a U.K. that could take care of its own and help refugees dying as they ran from the natural consequences of U.S. and U.K. policies in the Mideast, the window of opportunity for the far-right to funnel that anger into a scapegoat widened big enough to drive a van festooned with proto-Nazi imagery through.

We either reach out to these people and hear them when they say they are desperate, their life expectancy is shrinking and they can't access services or they blame it on whoever is handy. Otherwise I reckon it's about time for World War Three.

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Image: Flickr/Roberto Trombetta

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