Monday, 20 June 2016

A hasty, ill-informed and increasingly tribalistic squabble



Four days before the EU referendum I posted this interesting 25 minute video presentation by an expert in EU law. Within literally 2 minutes some Brexiter waded in to the comments thread make the completely unsubstantiated statement that "the EU is doomed to failure" and that people who vote Remain are not "rational beings"!


I replied with a bit of light ridicule saying: "Yes, of course rational beings don't bother to listen to the expert's views with an open mind and then synthesise what they've learned with what they already know. They must immediately try to create counter-arguments to the points that they didn't even listen to ... So very rational!"

The next day I posted an article detailing how the UK legal system would need to be reformed after Brexit (to disentangle it from EU law), and asking whether people would really want to trust a lawless and fanatically right-wing bunch of Tories to undertake this task without restructuring UK law to suit the interests of their financial donors. Again a Brexiter waded into the comments section within 2 minutes to present an attempted counter-argument that showed beyond doubt that they hadn't even skim read the article before trying to discredit it with some simplistic Brexiter sloganeering.

When I complained about this ridiculous behaviour, more Brexiters showed up to play the victim card, saying that by pointing out the actual behaviour of two Brexiters, I was somehow guilty of generalising about and gravely insulting all Brexiters.

despite this barrage of criticism from Brexiters, I still maintain that wading into an argument without even listening to what the other person actually said is bad enough, but then posturing as if you're occupying the rational high ground whilst doing so is absolutely extraordinary behaviour, and certainly worthy of comment.

I find it amazing that people would try to leap in to defend such woeful debating tactics simply because they're on the same side of the EU referendum debate as the people behaving in this utterly ludicrous manner.

In my view these other Brexiters wading in to defend these absurd debating tactics adds a third layer of irrationality. People furiously attacking someone for picking apart a woeful argument just because they agree with the objective of the person who made the woeful argument is an indication of how tribalistic and ill-informed the referendum debate has become.

A lot of people seem to have picked a side, and having done so, they're intent on shouting down the other side without even listening to them, whilst simultaneously making utterly unjustifiable claims to be occupying the rational high-ground.

Upon witnessing this appalling behaviour other Brexiters have chosen not to say "for heaven's sake shut up, you're making us all look bad by association". They actually decided that the best course of action would be to attempt to ride to the rescue by launching character attacks against the guy who committed the "crime" of picking these ludicrous tactics to shreds.


The referendum debate has sunk into a quagmire of petty tribalism, but with unlikely, and even completely ridiculous alliances being formed on both sides. The radical left "Lexit" campaign seem intent on allowing the hard-right fringe of the Tory party to conduct a destructive ideological rampage through the UK economy (both factions of the Tory party are promising more austerity as a response to Brexit) , legal system (which would need to be completely overhauled in order to disentangle it from EU law), constitution (the English electorate tearing Scotland out of the EU against their will could trigger another independence referendum) and international relations (negotiation of a settlement with the EU, plus dozens and dozens of trade deals with non-EU states would need to be drawn up).

Meanwhile the remain camp has temporarily allied hard-right austerity fetishists like David Cameron and George Osborne with the leaders of the more left-liberal parties (Labour, the Greens and the SNP).

It's clear that the all-too-hasty EU referendum has descended into an ill-informed tribalistic farce, made all the worse by anti-intellectual interventions from the likes of Michael Gove, who actually said that "people in this country have had enough of experts" when challenged to name some economic experts who support Brexit.


Fortunately Jeremy Corbyn has had the wit to avoid allying himself closely with Cameron and Osborne, or sticking up for them when they're talking scaremongering rubbish or making threats of even more ideological austerity to punish people for voting Brexit. He's smart enough to realise that you can be on the same side of the debate as someone, without having to defend every shitty argument they put forward.

It's just a shame that some of the Brexit tribalists on the Another Angry Voice Facebook page haven't come to the same realisation, because the standard of debate is going to remain pretty damned low if, when they see one of their fellow Brexiters floundering about making an absolute tit of themselves, people decide to put up a hostile barrage of insults and criticism in their defence, rather than asking their tribal brethren to up their game and actually improve the standard of their arguments.

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