On the Remain and the anti-no-deal side of the Brexit debate, we have developed a tendency to magnify even the slightest glimmers of hope into reasons to believe this Brexit won’t happen. This fallacious logic has become a house we have built on the sand of normalcy – the erroneous and dangerous belief that the conditions which prevail at present will remain the same in the future. Together, these beliefs have conspired to create in our various camps a form of political wishful thinking.
This is of course something we should all fear. There’s nothing good on offer in English politics right now. Looking over the options – the so-called alternatives, is like surveying a mediaeval torturer’s work bench; while some of the implements are qualitatively better or worse than others, none of them are exactly what you’d call ‘health promoting.’ There are the pincers, there to rip the flesh from the victim – used to inflict maximum suffering while not endangering the life of the condemned.
Every one of the commitments made today by our new Prime Minister outside Number 10 cannot be delivered. At best, over the next few weeks and month, we will be fed a diet of platitudes, slogans, and outright lies. But, as the saying goes, Johnson is all fur coat and no knickers. In a previous essay I believe I hit the nail on the head when I described Johnson as the Anton Drexler of British politics. He is the placeholder leader who will make the monster to come more palatable.
Students of the far-right are well acquainted with this strategy of waiting. Since Oswald Mosley and his British Union of Fascists, all the essential ingredients of true ideological racism – white supremacism and fascism – have been patiently waiting in the undergrowth, moving through a series of permutations; the National Front, the BNP, UKIP, and the Brexit Party – to name a few. Farage is not like the more obvious racists. He’s not like Nick Griffin or Tommy Robinson.
There are plenty of open calls for violence against Muslims. “Punish a Muslim Day” was not a one-off, it was merely a call to action from the far-right that, thanks to the internet, came to more people’s attention. Theresa May and Boris Johnson know about these calls for pogroms and acts of violence. In fact, they are no longer threats. Muslims all over the United Kingdom are regular targets of violent attacks and routinely subjected to Islamophobic hate speech.
What is described here is a transcendence of the centre. In order to occupy the safe and risk-averse middle ground of political discourse – in order to hold power for its own sake, the centre abandons ideology. Rather than seeking to advance the political aspirations of a class or social group (ideological politics), centrists and the centre political parties become administrators as opposed to leaders. By this behaviour politics is reduced to a type of financial governance managed by mere managers – a professional class comprised of depoliticised career politicians.
So now let us ask: What will throwing a milkshake at Farage achieve? Well, Nigel Farage – the victim of the attack – is not the important element in this equation. It’s his constituency, those who are prepared to vote for him because they are sick fed up being ignored, laughed and sneered at, and humiliated. How might people in this bracket react to the man saying what they want to hear being humiliated in public, and humiliated with a Five Guys shake – not a cheaper McDonald’s or a Burger King shake, but a Five Guys shake?
The economic philosophy of the libertarians, as UKIP has long understood, does not win elections. Ordinary voters are not interested in economic arguments. They are even less impressed with men in suits who remind them too much of “the establishment.” Successful libertarian parties quickly adopt populist arguments; they single out scapegoats, they manufacture fake narratives, and they offer easy and deceitful answers to complex problems. This was precisely what UKIP and the Leave campaign did during the Brexit referendum campaign – and they won.