You don’t get anywhere arguing with Lexit supporters, just like you don’t get anywhere arguing with TERFs or religious fundamentalists or gun owners. The truth is, they are not willing to have good faith conversations with you. They are only interested in repeating their own strict adherence to a theoretical interpretation, no matter how much counter evidence is piling up in front of them.
The Lexiteers have been exposed to an incredible amount of evidence that there is no such thing as a left-wing Brexit. They have been exposed to the reality of a post-Brexit world where hate crimes of all kinds have increased. They have been exposed to the reality of a post-Brexit world where food prices immediately went up whilst the richest remained largely unaffected. They have seen UKIP values become mainstream Tory values. They have been exposed to people from their own unions, their own pressure groups and their own friendship groups talking about their fears for worker rights in the wake of Brexit. They will not allow themselves to see that Brexit is a disaster for the left and they will perform any amount of cognitive dissonance to avoid it.
They can’t get past “the EU is a neoliberal institution.” They refuse to acknowledge any deeper nuance than this, they refuse to consider that Greece is very different from the UK, they refuse to acknowledge Britain’s own role in fostering neoliberal values in Europe and they refuse to acknowledge that things could possibly ever get worse than they are, because that would mean acknowledging that Marxist theory struggles with modern international institutions and their contradictory place in the world.
It’s like Noel Gallager walked into a record shop and convinced everyone to start listening to more Beatles records, right? And Noel’s girlfriend is sick of listening to Beatles records at home all the time day and night, so her solution is to ban Noel from the record shop. Because in her head, it’s all the record shop’s fault that Noel likes the Beatles so fucking much, you see? This is the truth that Lexiteers can’t acknowledge – that EU membership was not the driving force for neoliberalism in Britain, because we were doing that to ourselves.
This is what happens when people are too attached to a theory. You shut your eyes to anything you can’t manipulate into evidence for your viewpoint. Marxism has a lot to offer, but if you take a theory from the 18th century and apply it uncritically to 2017, you’re going to look like a dick. You can’t just sit back and watch things fall apart in the hope that crisis theory will save the day.
The reality is that Brexit for the UK does not mean freedom from the shackles of neoliberalism, it means widespread hate crimes, stripping the rights away from migrant workers, betraying union members and a potential economic crisis that will hit the poor harder than anyone else. But Marx doesn’t have anything to say about that, so it’s cool, just keep sticking your fingers in your ears.