• Brexit, Tribalism and Related Musings

    Most of you are probably tired of reading about Brexit, so I’ll try to make this as painless as possible. The tribalism associated with the referendum is worth discussing, though. As part of the more left-wing remain camp, I’ve been struck by the way certain liberals reflexively sided with the leave campaign. When the result came through, my timeline was filled with people gloating over the outcome. Many of them didn’t actually seem to care about the substance of the issue nor did they appear to understand its consequences.

    They were crowing as though PZ Myers had been caught on camera groping a student while sporting blackface. To them, this was just another victory against the regressive left. The remain side was Salon.com and the leavers were standing up for true liberalism. This is tribal nonsense, of course, and the perception owes much to the bizarre liberal-conservative alliance born out of opposition to the far left. I call it bizarre because it is based almost entirely on agreement over a narrow range of pet issues. Liberals are seemingly so pre-occupied with left-wing lunacy that they overlook the excesses of their conservative allies.

    Let’s take Milo Yiannopoulous as an example. I agree with a fraction of his views, but they just so happen to be on issues I’m passionate about. It’s easy to forget that the man is little more than an attention-seeker. He’s a reality television star without a show. Someone needs to give him a series on E! so he can stop pretending to be a journalist. You may have missed this nauseating exchange with Nigel Farage.


    If you’re on the Gamergate side—as I generally am—I would like you to swap Farage with a major video game publisher and Milo with any unscrupulous gaming journalist of your choosing. Now, does the above exchange seem even remotely ethical to you? Of course not. If you’re a liberal, why are you reflexively deferring to people like this on unrelated issues? The same goes for Steven Crowder and conspiracy nuts like Paul Joseph Watson and Mike Cernovich. These people are not infallible simply because they share my disdain for the regressive left. Quite the opposite, in fact.

    Even the ordinarily brilliant parody account @GodfreyElfwick is attempting to satirize remain voters. As I pointed out to him, satire is only effective when you occupy the intellectual high ground. It should be clear at this point that Brexit wasn’t the clever choice. This is what happens when you’re tired of experts, I suppose. You begin to sound like a creationist attempting to satirize Richard Dawkins or Uwe Boll trying to lampoon Steven Spielberg.

    None of this should be interpreted as a wholesale endorsement of remain voters. The racist elements of the leave camp are well documented, but some of the ageism on the other side is appalling. If you’ve been whining about old people stealing your future, I’d like you to tell me at what age you think we should start cutting back on people’s rights. Should the right to vote be rescinded when you hit 50? I only ask because I’m about to turn 34 and I’d like to know how long I have until my life starts to lose value. I haven’t fought in wars like some of our current pensioners, but it would be nice to know nevertheless.

    We also need to abandon the delusional idea of a second referendum. Arguments about the vote being merely advisory are plain silly. Is that really what you think was going on? The government wanted advice from the general public on a complex issue? They’ve got teams of experts, but it was important to get the input of Dave the plumber and James the freelance writer? It’s a disingenuous claim. It’s true that we were fed lies by the leave campaign. But if you think lying politicians is grounds for another vote, we’ll be making weekly visits to the voting booth.

    Well, I’m satisfied that I’ve offered something to piss off both tribes. I’ll see you in six months for another of my bi-annual blog posts, assuming the UK hasn’t turned into Mad Max.

    Category: FeaturedNewsSkepticismSocial Justice


    Article by: James MacDonald

    James MacDonald is a freelance writer and featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. In addition to sports writing, James holds masters degrees in both Psychology and Social Sciences and covers subjects including sex, gender, secularism, media, and gaming, among others.