In accusing the British elites for causing Brexit, Pankaj Mishra unfortunately, ends up making the same mistake as those he rightly accuses. Mr Mishra fails to give agency to millions of people in his narrative. Perhaps like a colonial historian, Mr Mishra restates popular opinion by discussing only the ‘Brexiteers’, the tiny elites propounding the view that Britain leaves Europe. What about majority of people who actually voted to Leave. In his analysis, Mr Mishra blames racism for leaving Europe. Racism, xenophobia, imperialistic nostalgia may partly explain why people voted leave, but it is also true that for many people who voted leave, the most defining aspect was the uneven distributional results of the current economic system, which has proved injurious to the hopes of working class people living in Britain.
Mr Mishra uses the phrase 'Brexiteers' to imply the British elites and lays blame on the elites for their actions but cares not to explain the underlying causes why they were successful in their approach. Mr. Mishra rightly criticises Cameron 'who recklessly gambled', 'opportunistic Boris Johnson', and Rees-Mogg, 'whose fund management company has set up an office within the European Union even as he vehemently scorns it'. But, Mr Mishra does not see, or explains, the rise in inequality in Britain which is responsible for creating vehement hatred and intense mistrust of the British political system.
In his article, Mr Mishra makes one assertion. He says that ‘British people stand to suffer from untreatable exit wounds' and akins these wounds to the legacy of colonies in the Asia and Africa. First, what data, report or analysis which concludes the ‘untreatable exit wounds’. What do these ‘wounds’ look like? Are they economic, political, or technological in nature? Or are these ‘untreatable wounds’ have a moral character? Also, when Mr Mishra talks about the ‘British people’ who stand to suffer these wounds, who exactly are these ‘British people’? Are they the one percent of Britain, or the elites of London, or they the working class people living in Britain, or the children living in areas like Coldhurst, with 6 out of 10 children growing in poverty?
By only mentioning the top-brass of Leave camp, who without doubt spread lies and misinformation, not unlike the Remain camp, which relied on fear mongering, Mr Mishra is only repeating popular beliefs held by many in the liberal-elite circles of Britain? Or else, Mr Mishra’s title, ‘The Malign Incompetence of the British Ruling Class’ would not only point not the the debacle of Brexit, to the disastrous economic policies which have once again flourished class divide in Britain. The ‘opportunistic’ Johnson and ‘Top-hat’ Rees-Mogg, as Mr Mishra calls them, wouldn't have convinced majority of people to vote Leave if things were hunky-dory in Britain.
Original Article: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/17/opinion/sunday/brexit-ireland-empire.html