After a night’s sleep that would literarily precede one’s transformation into a cockroach, I find myself in the weekend preceding the summer term’s Minipalooza, which begins Monday. However, the potpourri must flow. So here we go.
Instant autopsies of the Brexit referendum abound, and I can’t visit the Book of Faces without folks from Manchester to Mondoville opining on the results, their causes, and their consequences. Friend and occasional commenter Dara passed along an interesting article by Will Davies at the Political Economy Research Centre, affiliated with Goldsmith’s at the U of London.
Davies presents a sociological take on the referendum. Naturally, he’s working from a Left perspective, and you’ll find the expected comments on Thatcherism and neoliberalism in general. However, to his credit, he seems to have figured out things that have eluded the “What’s the Matter with Kansas” crowd, as well as their equivalents in the U.K.. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard a well educated person’s condescension toward people “voting against their own self-interest”… well, I’d have a lot of nickels. Those folks are inevitably restricting “self-interest” to economic concerns, and frequently to the availability of the welfare state. But people have other interests, and perhaps selves beyond the economic as well. Here’s Davies:
While it may be one thing for an investment banker to understand that they ‘benefit from the EU’ in regulatory terms, it is quite another to encourage poor and culturally marginalised people to feel grateful towards the elites that sustain them through handouts, month by month. Resentment develops not in spite of this generosity, but arguably because of it. This isn’t to discredit what the EU does in terms of redistribution, but pointing to handouts is a psychologically and politically naïve basis on which to justify remaining in the EU.
In this context, the slogan ‘take back control’ was a piece of political genius. It worked on every level between the macroeconomic and the psychoanalytic. Think of what it means on an individual level to rediscover control. To be a person without control (for instance to suffer incontinence or a facial tick) is to be the butt of cruel jokes, to be potentially embarrassed in public. It potentially reduces one’s independence. What was so clever about the language of the Leave campaign was that it spoke directly to this feeling of inadequacy and embarrassment, then promised to eradicate it. The promise had nothing to do with economics or policy, but everything to do with the psychological allure of autonomy and self-respect. Farrage’s political strategy was to take seriously communities who’d otherwise been taken for granted for much of the past 50 years.
This doesn’t necessarily have to translate into nationalistic pride or racism (although might well do), but does at the very least mean no longer being laughed at. Those that have ever laughed at ‘chavs’ (such as the millionaire stars of Little Britain) have something to answer for right now, as Rhian E. Jones’Clampdown argued. The willingness of Nigel Farrage to weather the scornful laughter of metropolitan liberals (for instance through his periodic appearances on Have I Got News For You) could equally have made him look brave in the eyes of many potential Leave voters. I can’t help feeling that every smug, liberal, snobbish barb that Ian Hislop threw his way on that increasingly hateful programme was ensuring that revenge would be all the greater, once it arrived. The giggling, from which Boris Johnson also benefited handsomely, needs to stop.
There are parallels, which (as my old calculus textbook would say) are left as an exercise for the student.
Elsewhere in Davies’s piece, he discusses the concept of “fact” in the current political arena. It’s really a thoughtful article, and worth your attention.
Alternating feet update: Did eleven miles this week, in a total time of three hours +/- two or three minutes, for an average pace of about 3.67 mph. Lost another bit of weight as well, bringing my total loss since I started this stuff to 31 pounds (down 66 from my all-time max of a few years back). My next target/milestone weight is about 9 pounds away. As is my practice, I’m taking it easy for the weekend, and then back to the treadmill on Monday.
Had a bit of a scramble earlier this week on the Berries front. We’ve been booked for a big show at our home-away-from-home of Art Bar on 23 July. It’s their 12th annual anniversary concert, and it’s an honor to be headlining the bill. As part of the business, the venue is buying a full-page ad in the local alternapaper, and the booker contacted me for a band photo. The only problem is that the last set of band photos date back to around the time we cut our album, when we were a quartet. We’ve added another member since then, but had never gotten round to shooting more photos. Fortunately, one of the members of our buddies in The Albatross (who have a new CD out, by the way!) had a few “action shots” he had taken, and I passed one along to the booker. Problem solved. All the same, we’ve gotta get some new pictures done.
In other Berries news, we’re playing our first show in the Upstate this Friday, at the Soundbox Tavern in Simpsonville, SC. It’s the longest distance we’ve yet traveled for a show, and we’re going to be supporting a couple of local groups, Town Crier and The Venture Squad. So we’re the underdogs for this gig. Still, we’re hoping that some of our friends from Berries Nation may make it to the show, and we’re also hoping to make some new friends. Heck, even the Mad Dog is making a trip down (although I don’t know if he’ll be signing autographs). So if you want some pre-Independence Day musical fireworks, come on out and say hello!
I mentioned last weekend that I picked up three standalone graphic novels from Ed Brubaker’s and Sean Phillips’s Criminal series. I’ve read two of them thus far, and I highly recommend them. As I told my colleague and brother-in-noir, David Rachels, they’re like Frank Miller’s Sin City series, only smarter and less grotesque. So if you like your crime stories hard-boiled and well drawn, you might want to check them out. (Of course, if you’re into comics, this isn’t a news flash — the series has won half a dozen major awards in the industry. Still, if you haven’t read them, you should.)
Well, I think that’s enough potpourri for the moment, so I’ll give you a little bit of music as I move into the rest of the day. Translator are one of my favorite bands from the 80s, and while they’re best remembered for “Everywhere that I’m Not” (the opening track on my walking playlist), they’ve done a lot of terrific stuff over the years. Here’s some of it, in a rare live performance from an old USA network show. Here’s “Everything Is Falling”, which I love both for its sentiment and the joyousness of the guitar solo (played by Steve Barton, although the camera stays on Robert Darlington.)
And when everything is falling, I hope the right person catches you as well. See you soon.