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British Politics Today:
Optimism, Pessimism, & Realism
3,745 words / 25:20
Counter-Currents readers may be familiar with the name Tai Lopez. Tai Lopez runs commercials which regularly appear on YouTube. He is a self-made millionaire and latter-day preacher of the “God helps those who help themselves” school of economics: Those who deserve to succeed will do so by virtue of their talent and the seriousness of their will to succeed, but above all, a realistic approach is required. Seen this way, says Lopez, life is “fairer” than many believe. In one talk on how to be a winner in business, Lopez explains that he divides people into three groups: pessimists, optimists, and realists. Of these three groups, Lopez claims, only the realists will consistently succeed.
The pessimist is one who stresses the fact that he is in dire straits, who spends more time describing what is wrong than proposing measures to improve a situation and who blames everyone and everything but himself for the state of the world. The optimist pins his faith on specific individuals or movements who will put the world to rights. He foresees a dramatic event, a rapture, a second coming, a salvation, or anticipates a bequest or the collapse of competition. Both pessimists and optimists share some characteristics: They are inward-looking and prefer their own company and the sound of their own voice to listening to those they need to influence. Both optimist and pessimist seeks those who are as much like himself as possible to engage in sessions of mutual reassurance. By contrast, the realist goes out into the world, seeks compromise with others, forges alliances, and moves relentlessly – however slowly – in the direction his ambition drives him. A realist neither overestimates nor underestimates his competition. He is constantly networking and seeking advantage where advantage can be gained.
Optimistic and pessimistic attitudes reflect a kind of laziness, a reluctance to work and interact in the greater world. Both views reflect psychological positioning and wishful thinking, not a sober assessment of facts. Both lead to despondency, while the mixture of both views in one group or organization is likely to be fatal to survival. The realist has too much work to do to have the time to be pessimistic or optimistic. It is easy to see how this winning formula might be usefully applied to the world of politics. In fact, this reviewer has argued for years that “pessimists” and “optimists” are alike the bane of political parties and movements. Parties and movements succeed where realists dominate and neither optimists nor pessimists are given too much airtime.
Since the campaigns leading to the historic vote in 2016 to leave the European Union, politics in Britain has provided a public stage for an abundance of optimists and pessimists; but the referendum result of 2016 was itself an example of the triumph of political realism.
With half a year to go to blast off from the European Union, the British political stage is still dominated by optimists and pessimists. While there are those – notably the leader of the Labor Party, Jeremy Corbyn – who wish to play the subject down, for the majority of political actors and for the media, the forthcoming exit from the European Union remains the Leitmotiv of political discourse. The referendum result was hugely significant: It was the first major event in British politics in decades which unquestionably pointed to widespread dissatisfaction among Britons with the One World project, of which the EU is unquestionably a part. The referendum result was won by an alliance of the Union’s opponents, many of whom are deeply divided politically but who were political realists enough to realize that they alone could not have achieved the result they sought. The result of the referendum bore them out: Without the support of millions of socialist voters, the English middle-class conservative Right, which had massively rejected the European Union, would not have been strong enough to gain a victory for leave; and socialists opposed to the Union have always known that alone they could never persuade enough fellow citizens to vote down the EU.
The chaos which ensued immediately after the referendum revealed the optimism and arrogance of the remain cause, and the pessimism and irresponsibility of the leave cause. Both sides had expected that a majority of Britons would vote remain. Neither remainers nor leavers had planned for the contingency of a leave vote. Remainers had no “plan B” and leavers were not prepared for the power which fell into their laps. To use Lopez’s formula: Both groups were wrong-footed by their lack of realism.
That is the background to the confusion and unpredictability of British politics today. Since 2016, it has taken the bizarre turn of seeking to continue as normal while the huge interest groups for whom Britain’s exit from the EU cannot be permitted – sometimes openly, sometimes occultly – have not ceased from influencing politics to the greatest extent possible with the aim of ensuring that the decision is rendered null and void.
Following the initial shock, the remain side chalked up a significant victory in shoehorning Theresa May, an uncharismatic remainer, into Number 10. The fact that the Prime Minister who succeeded David Cameron was not a leaver had more to do with the lack of realism of leave politicians than any great act of cunning on the part of remainers. Reverting to their usual pessimist colors in the wake of victory, leave politicians, who had not planned for the eventuality that they might win, were unable to push their victory home. Were British politics as they had been for most of this reviewer’s adult life, such a monumental blunder would have been enough to secure a reversal of the referendum, for the overwhelmingly pro-EU parliamentary Labour Party would have supported Conservative pro-EU rebels in rejecting any Brexit bill in Parliament. However, a recent change to Labour rules for electing their leader had placed the vote exclusively in the hands of party members, and they had chosen the deeply anti-Zionist, life-long Left-wing radical Jeremy Corbyn, a man more concerned with becoming a Prime Minister wielding a full-blown socialist program than saving the EU. The country was presented with the bizarre reality of a Labour Party leader who was deeply distrusted by the great majority of his own parliamentary group. Corbyn is a committed supporter of the Palestinians, has spoken by invitation on Iranian television, and seems to many to be more pro-Russian than pro-American; it is even questionable whether a Corbyn government would remain a member of NATO. Corbyn’s position on the EU was also insufficiently “Bildeberger,” if one may so express it.
A ham-fisted attempt by Labour MPs to overthrow him left Corbyn even stronger than before. Predictions that under his leadership, popular support for Labour would fall have also proved wrong. Big finance has been presented with a Hobson’s choice: the price of keeping Britain in the European Union might be to have a radically socialist Prime Minister hostile to Israel. I was not being jocular when expressing the opinion in the past that Jeremy Corbyn should be especially careful when crossing the road or mingling with crowds, a kind of political campaigning which he evidently enjoys.
Putting their respective programs aside, the resemblances between Jeremy Corbyn and Donald Trump are striking. Both appeal to their support base over the heads of party grandees, both have shot to the top with no ministerial experience whatsoever, both have a limited vocabulary of soundbites which they repeat at rallies with evident success, both appeal to a fan base whose adulation is like that of a rock star’s fans, both leaders are distrustful of the mainstream media (Corbyn even warned press barons that they “are right to be worried” by the prospect of a Labour government), both unnerve established interests, and both have parried attempts to push them aside within their own circles by their ability to garner votes and by virtue of their considerable charisma and dogged determination to reach the top.
However, in the last Labour Party conference that was held before Brexit, and after Corbyn was invited to Brussels for talks with the European Commission, there are now signs that Jeremy Corbyn is weakening under the relentless pressure over the last two years to force him to back down from his acceptance of the results of the 2016 referendum. This came to a head at the Labour Party conference this year with a declaration (“unscripted,” according to journalists) by one Kier Starmer, a highly successful lawyer and committed anti-Brexiter, newly appointed to Labour’s front bench. Labour, he declared, should not rule out overturning the referendum and keeping Britain in the EU, either with new legislation if elected to government or by forcing a so-called “people vote” (second referendum) should the Conservative government fail to pass legislation on a set of plans to leave the EU acceptable to the Labour Party.
This declaration runs in the face of Jeremy Corbyn’s assurance that Labour will not support a second vote on the EU, but Starmer’s speech, delivered with the persuasive skill of the experienced lawyer that he is, was met with enthusiastic applause, and a subsequent motion to include the option of a second referendum was supported by a large majority of delegates. It is just possible that too much optimism stole into delegates’ hearts at this point, since the four million (at least) Labour voters who voted for Brexit are Labour supporters underrepresented both in the Parliament Council and at the conference. There is always the risk that they could return to UKIP, the party which spearheaded the demand for a referendum, and which is down, but not out. UKIP might recover its strength if Labour were to renege on its promise to accept the result. If that happened, radical socialists would find that divisions over Brexit had cheated them of the chance of having a radical socialist Prime Minister in Number 10 Downing Street.
Corbyn’s hostility to Zionism evokes unhappy associations among many influential British Jews. The divided Conservative Party has seized on accusations of “anti-Semitism” in the British press (which loathes Corbyn) as a way to embarrass Labour, indirectly supporting further attempts to overthrow Corbyn and having its own membership singing from the same song sheet. The fearsome charge of “anti-Semitism” has been levelled time and again by Theresa May, in Parliament and at conference. The Labour slogan “For the Many, not the Few” has been – predictably, perhaps – satirized by online wits as “for the Many, not the Jew.” Corbyn’s sympathies for the Palestinians and his guest appearances on Iranian television, plus rumors of pro-Zionist Labour members being intimidated by far-Left groups, has been a welcome addition to the anti-Corbyn campaigns. At the Conservative Conference, Theresa May specifically sought to drive a wedge between the traditional Labour Party – seen as somehow “decent” and adhering to certain standards – and the Labour Party which has been “captured” by a hard-Left cabal. Corbyn has had to answer hostile questioning by the media about his association with the Jewish Paul Eisen, an anti-Zionist who calls himself a “holocaust denier.” In April, during a debate on anti-Semitism, Jewish Labour MPs one after another vociferously denounced the “scourge of anti-Semitism” in their own party. Following on from this, the press uncovered a video of a speech that the hapless Corbyn had delivered in 2013 about a Zionist who “did not understand English irony.” Both the Jewish community’s representatives and the press were shocked, and even “sickened” (Lucinia Berger). In a society obsessed with inclusiveness, and hating anyone suspected of hating, it is hardly worth more than a footnote to observe that the Black Conservative candidate who is challenging the Pakistani incumbent in the forthcoming London mayoral election has been attacked for his . . . Islamophobia.
While it is clear what they are against, what fundamental policies are the leading parties of Britain for? Simply put: growth and jobs. The debate over Brexit has been dominated by disagreements as to whether Brexit will give Britain the opportunity for more growth and jobs, or if it will rather stymie such opportunities. The leading Conservative pro-Brexiters Jacob Rees-Mogg and former Mayor of London Boris Johnson argue that the EU is undesirable because it restricts free markets. Leaving the EU, they claim, will strike a blow for economic freedom. Their position is that of liberal nationalism, which believes in free markets while maintaining national sovereignty. In contrast, the pro-EU position in the Conservative Party is that the time of national sovereignty is past.
Both major parties have made it clear at their conferences that they believe in massive funding of the National Health Service, fighting all kinds of prejudice and discrimination, and, in view of the pressures on the housing market, a massive public construction program, with Labour promising to build a million new homes. Subjects given little or no airing by the major parties – and not just the major parties – were security, the environment (both natural and social), and race. Vague, but mostly inconsequential, noises are made in the direction of a “healthy environment” (to be fair, the Conservative government introduced a sugar levy in 2018 as a countermeasure to the rising levels of obesity in Britain, a small and wholly inadequate measure in one country towards improving the health of European citizens), and “racism” (but never race!) is frequently hauled out as a useful explanation for a failure, a source of discontent, or as a weapon to attack proponents. And the environment? Leading politicians do not seem to care about it very deeply. If the voter has other priorities, politicians will not address the subject. Opposition to fracking, however, is one issue which has brought Labour activists close to environmentalists.
Those most concerned with this issue, the Green politicians, have failed to make a strong impact on British political life. Among the policy statements of the British Green Party you can find, “Long-term trends in population size are proper considerations for public debate and government policy in order to plan housing, health, education and other needs” (Green Party Policy, PP 107). One might have thought this was a statement of the obvious, but not even the Green Party itself – let alone the Labour or Conservative parties – show any desire whatsoever to enter into a discussion about population trends, for to do so would be to raise the specter of racism. It is not white Europeans whose population is exploding, it is Black Africans.
The truth is that population growth, immigration, sovereignty, and ecology are all interrelated subjects. The principle driving force behind the demand for a massive building program in Britain is – leaving aside the phenomenal growth in population of Asian and African immigrants since the war – the presence of no fewer than three million non-British EU nationals who have settled in the UK.
Ecology and racial survival are not only interrelated subjects, but those who think about the environment, ecology, and the future of their people and culture also have in common that they are not merely concerned with the present, with the well-being of people, or indeed with the planet as it is today; they are concerned with the future, too. They are both focused not on the ephemeral ambitions of human individuals striving to realize individual ambitions in the course of their brief lives, but on how the world will look centuries from now. The etiological role for most of the problems which beset Europeans today – and which will destroy Europeans – lies with overpopulation and the destruction of the environment. It is time that the ethnically aware taught ethnic awareness to environmentalists and environmentalists taught ecological awareness to the ethnically aware. This is not only logical, it is a matter of political realism. Working in tandem, both movements would be considerably more effective than they are today. False pride and imbedded prejudice, with often badly distorted notions of what the other side is like, especially at the personal level, only serves the interests of the internationalist free-movement society they both oppose.
To return to where I began: Those who are defined by Tai Lopez as pessimists – who preach “no hope” scenarios – are doomed to live the fate of their own predictions in their own lives, and help to bring that fate on others, too. The optimists who believe that power will soon fall in their hands, who believe that it is not necessary to work because events are moving their way in any case, who don’t have to take precautions because certain threats “won’t happen to me,” and most especially if they maintain positions of ideological purity (ideological purism and political optimism often manifest themselves in the same person), are foredoomed to wait vainly for a Redemption, or a Messiah, or “the-coming-catastrophe-shooting-us-to power” until death draws a curtain over an unfruitful life. It is the realist, who among other things is able to see the necessity of forging alliances even with groups distasteful to him, who will be rewarded with success, as the realists of the Brexit campaign were rewarded with success in their campaign, but were undermined by their fatal pessimism, which left them ill-prepared for victory, divided, and chaotic.
At a time when the British electorate is showing itself capricious as never before, realists have the opportunity to pursue neglected agendas and encourage alliances, willing if necessary to “hold their noses” while doing so. Realistically, this means bringing environmental sustainability and population planning to the forefront of debates on housing, health, farming, and more. Nobody can be sure how British politics will develop in the months and years to come. This writer has never witnessed them as so unpredictable as they have become today. What is certain, however, is that the champions of white awareness and white survival in Britain, as in most white majority countries, have been reduced to dire political straits. Groups suspected of racism are persecuted, and their sources of finance are being cut off. Nevertheless, white identity organizations persist in being predominantly pessimistic or optimistic rather than realistic. They continue to be pessimistic in terms of ultimate developments and the power of their foes; optimistic when they ignore practical measures of security or fail to seek in advance the means of financial survival in the optimistic illusion that they will not themselves be attacked, or that their means of communication or remittance will never be cut off.
It is realistic to be aware that political tolerance is declining in Britain. A multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-cultural society lives in a constant state of nerves that one group or other will be so enraged, its sensibilities so offended by the actions of another group, that it will erupt and threaten the security of the state. Britain has been shaken by many acts of Islamic terrorism in recent years. British governments know that if they do not nip all anti-Islamic protest in the bud, British society will be even more afflicted by gang-related and ethnic conflicts. The importance expressed by voters in recent years on the subject of security and living in a safe social environment must be at the back of the minds of all those in public office, or with ambitions to achieve public office. Successive governments are gradually taking the steps necessary to extinguish opposition which draws on ethnic identity in terms of rights or conflict of any kind. To achieve the multi-ethnic panacea, it will be necessary to deny all right to oppose anyone or group on the grounds of that person or that group’s ethnicity. This restriction on free speech concerning ethnic and religious groups has been taking place in Britain over the last thirty years beneath the public’s awareness.
It is worth recalling the theory of the Jewish writer Ernest Fraenkel, whose The Dual State, published in 1938, argued that all power-holders tend, when allowed the opportunity, to maximize their power by extending it while working behind a facade of traditional authority. The judicial and political traditions, laws, and procedures of a state continue while new holders of power discreetly and surreptitiously extend their own power, to the point that they will one day have completely destroyed the original power structures and their hegemony. According to Fraenkel, there is a tension between the tradition of a nation and the drive to overwhelm it and revolutionize society. Fraenkel was analyzing National Socialist Germany, but it can be applied to Britain today, where the traditional rights and structures of British society are being weakened by successive measures of what Fraenkel would have called the state behind the state. Free speech is being questioned and restricted in Britain today to a degree inconceivable to liberals of this writer’s father’s generation. Restrictions on the right to trial by jury as laid out in Britain’s Magna Carta, restrictions which began under British Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2000, are being constantly tightened. Denunciations of Zionism or Islam are already viewed as problematic, and critics of Islam or any ethnic group except Caucasians may be prosecuted on legal grounds based on legislation enacted to prevent “hate speech.” University unions in Britain have been imposing “no platform” policies on speakers they deem to be too insensitive to given interest groups. In this case, being politically realistic means neither ignoring this trend nor sinking into ineffective resentment about it. It means seeking out anyone similarly affected and working with others in the shared cause of the right to free speech, even if the activists involved have to “hold their noses” towards one another while working together.
A realistic approach politically will be the search for political allies wherever they can be found, being willing to compromise, learning from past mistakes, and being willing – even keen – to forge any alliance that may help one to realize a political ambition. A realistic approach will take measures necessary to assure long-term social and financial survival. Maybe dissidents should take a Tai Lopez business course in order to learn how to prosper politically.
British politics today, shaken and unpredictable, offers opportunities for new political leaders and new organizations with new ideas for the kind of society they want Britain to be, but only if they are willing to work slowly and carefully, realistically assessing their field of operations and being ready to forge alliances openly (or perhaps discreetly, as circumstances may dictate), and above all, being realists when they assess each political development, exploit the circumstances arising from every political balance of power, and deciding what it is they are seeking to achieve.