Sunday, 21 April 2019

We need to talk about groupthink


Groupthink is a condition that tends to manifest in all organisations and all political movements, but some cases are obviously worse than others, especially when the groupthink ideas that are spreading like wildfire are strategically inept and counter-productive nonsense.

The groupthink propensity 

The Remain campaign is particularly prone to groupthink for two big reasons.

One is that they've developed an extraordinary echo-chamber on Twitter based on the FBPE hashtag, meaning all kinds of nonsense, misinformation, lies, abuse, and strategically inept gibberish gets spread through the cult-like uncritical amplification by other #FBPE activists.

Not everything written by FBPE hashtaggers is bad, obviously, but it's become so infested with abusive people and partisan liars it's extraordinary that anyone with any basic human decency would still want to be associated with it.

Another reason for the propensity to groupthink is that an awful lot of Remain activists seem to hang on the every word of the clueless centrist hacks who have been wrong on virtually every major political issue over the last decade.
  • They told us to vote Lib-Dem in 2010 which enabled the malicious and incompetent Tories back into power, and led to the disastrous austerity policies that trashed our living standards and eventually led to the Brexit backlash.
  • Then they chickened out of properly opposing economically illiterate Tory austerity fanaticism and all kinds of other Tory malice (Wage Repression, Bedroom Tax, Secret Courts, Hostile Environment, Workfare exploitation, systematic disability denial, infrastructure under-investment, annihilation of local government budgets, Academification, disastrous prisons and probation service privatisation scams ...).
  • Then they actually convinced themselves that Labour should push "austerity-lite" at the 2015 General Election and leave the public the impression that the entire political establishment was colluding to rip-off the poor and ordinary in order to further enrich the gilded class to which they belong.
An awful lot of people in the liberal media are so economically insulated from real world issues (wage repression in-work benefit cuts, sanctions, workfare, disability denial, child poverty, public service cuts, the housing crisis, exploitative employment practices, food banks ...) that they simply can't grasp what's actually going on in the UK, why people are so angry, and why "more of the same" just won't cut it any more.

And what's more is that they suffer no actual consequences for their perpetual wrongness. They just rapidly settle on another absurd groupthink narrative to push until that one collapses too, then it's onto the next reality-averse narrative, and on, and on, and on, with nobody ever asking why they deserve their bloated six figure salaries considering the fact they're so repeatedly wrong.

So when a lot of people uncritically rote learn and repeat the political opinions of these economically insulated mainstream media bubble dwellers with vested interests in not rocking the neoliberal boat too much, it's hardly surprising that strategically inept groupthink nonsense ends up infesting mass movements like the Remain campaign.

Euro election groupthink

The latest display of absurdist Remainer groupthink centres on the European Parliament elections that Theresa May and the Tories swore blind that the UK was not even going to participate in just a few weeks previously.

This new groupthink narrative is that the five very different hard-Remain political parties should scrap off all of their existing policies and hastily cobble together a "Remain coalition" in order to turn the Euro elections into a de facto referendum on Brexit.

This Remainer coalition of convenience is a spectacularly stupid idea for so many reasons. Especially the fact that Euro elections have historically suffered very low turnouts; the recklessness of turning elections into single-issue ballots and referendum reruns; the failure to acknowledge that pro-Brexit activists have a huge advantage having finished first in the previous Euro election; the nonsensical expectation that pro-austerity and anti-austerity parties to join forces is (and ignores the fact that austerity fanaticism is one of the root causes of Breixit in the first place); the absolute fantasy that the rabidly unionist Lib-Dems would happily join forces with the SNP; and the intense ignorance of the fact that parties like the Greens, SNP, and Plaid Cymru have democratic structures that simply wouldn't allow the leadership to unilaterally join forces with rival political parties, even if their leaders were daft enough to think this absolute nonsense was a good idea.

The idea seems to be that if all five of the minor hard-Remain parties (SNP, Plaid Cymru, Lib-Dems, Greens, and CUK) were to join forces they might have a slight chance of coming first in a fight against the various shades of Brexit which range through the "no deal" militancy of UKIP and Farage's Brexit Party, hard-right Tory Brexit, and Labour's soft-Brexit and confirmatory referendum compromise position. 


But despite all of the flaws, this blatantly absurd "let's turn the Euro elections into a de facto Brexit referendum" has become the widely accepted groupthink for Remainers to mindlessly parrot at each other.

Self-defeating nonsense

The consequences of this groupthink nonsense are quite extraordinary: When the Green Party tried to point out that turning the Euro elections into a de facto Brexit referendum is poor idea the FBPE mob turned on them in an instant, spitting torrents of bile and abuse at them for their lack of ideological purity to their brand-new Remainer groupthink idea.

Countless Guardian articles have been written pushing this absurd strategy, none of which highlight the importance of opposing the ruinous austerity fanaticism that caused Brexit in the first place, or acknowledge the absurdity of expecting anti-austerity parties and their activists to throw their support behind undisguised pro-austerity neoliberals like the Lib-Dems and the CUK squatters.

In one article the Guardian columnist Marina Hyde complained bitterly about the split Remainer vote being "a masterclass in political incompetence" without a single mention of the "centrist" political incompetence of failing to oppose austerity when they should have, nor providing any sensible perspective either on the fact that the Leave vote is also extremely divided with Farage's Brexit Party and UKIP promoting a ruinous "no deal" meltdown, the Tories pushing hard-right Brexit, and Labour going for soft-Brexit and a final say referendum.


These groupthink Guardian articles, including the Marina Hyde piece, are also infested with massively-upvoted below the line comments from toxic Remain extremists bitterly smearing all Brexit voters as bigots, Racists, and Faragists (as if shrieking "bigot" and "racist" at people for three years because they made a mistake in a hastily conducted referendum that nobody understood the full consequences of at the time isn't infinitely more likely to cement their existing position, rather than win them over to your cause).
What's the strategy here?

So the groupthink is that the five minor hard-Remain parties should scrap all of their pre-existing policies in order to form a coalition of convenience in the vain hope of topping the Euro election polls. 

But what if they combine forces and still lose? How would that failed gamble look to the rest of us?

And even if this hard-Remain coalition of convenience were somehow able to finish first, everyone would easily see that they'd just benefited from the fact that hard-Leave was divided between three parties (UKIP, Brexit, and Tory).

Why is a hard-Remain coalition of convenience so damned important? What's the actual strategic objective of forming one? What happens if they turn the Euro election into a de facto referendum and still lose? And how is having groupthink tantrums because this fantasy isn't happening doing anything to enhance the Brexit-sceptic cause?

Why not just give up?
  • The unfathomably popular Remainer strategy of turning the Euro elections into a de facto referendum on Brexit (which they'd still probably lose in a low turnout election) is a catastrophically shit idea.
  • Screeching hate at the Green Party (your hard-Remain allies for God's sake) for pointing out the practical unworkability of an undemocratic five year coalition of pro- and anti- austerity, pro- and anti-privatisation, pro- and anti- Scottish independence parties is an unbelievably terrible idea.
  • Elevating toxic political figures like Anna Soubry and Chris Leslie as your political heroes despite the fact they promote "more of the same" pro-austerity, pro-privatisation, anti-worker neoliberalism that caused Brexit in the first place is an appalling idea.
  • Spitting hate at anyone who tries to disarm Tory Brexit by ruling our a "no deal" meltdown and developing a compromise fail safe Single Market +Customs Union Brexit (just in case Remain manage to lose the next roll of the dice they've invested so much effort in campaigning for) because any sign of compromise fails your Remainer ideological purity test is an absurdly counter-productive idea.
  • Endlessly abusing and repeatedly lying about the very people you desperately need to convince to support your cause in another referendum (especially 2016 Brexit voters, and the Labour left) is an unbelievably inept strategy.
  • And how can anyone believe that it's constructive or strategically coherent to arrogantly sneer at people in left-behind communities rather than reach out to them to talk about how collapsing living standards have been caused by the malicious domestic policies of the Tory government (austerity, wage repression, public service cuts, infrastructure under-investment, appalling inaction on the housing crisis, vandalism of the social safety net,  ...) rather immigrants and the EU as the far-right Brextremist liars keep pretending?
Given that people who are prone to this despicable behaviour, condescending arrogance, absurd over-optimism, strategic ineptitude, and ridiculously counter-productive idiocy are jockeying for position at the forefront of the Remain campaign, how are they ever going to win?

Their ideological purity shrieking is so repulsive, and their groupthink desperation to gamble again is so strategically inept that they're actually turning Brexit-sceptics away from their cause, let alone actually convincing 2016 Leave voters and abstainers to join their cause (like they absolutely need them to).

Under the circumstances it's hard to not just give up and accept that Remainer strategic ineptitude, and the toxic antics of the #FBPE mob is actually likely to make Brexit far worse than it could have been because if the hard-Remainers burn all efforts at compromise and de-escalation in order to create a final clash of civilisations showdown between them and the hard-Brexit militants, they're highly likely to lose it. 
They're likely to lose because despite how dreadful the
Brextremists are, their far-right propaganda, and misinformation, and conspiracy theories, and hate-mongering, and outright lies they keep pushing actually have a clear strategic purpose.

If you're stuck in the middle between ideological fanatics on one side who know exactly what they're doing, and exactly who they're trying to convince to join their movement, and exactly which lies are beneficial to their cause, and exactly how to stoke hatred and division to their own advantage ... and a bunch of ideological puritans on the other side who insist on spitting hatred and derision at the very people they need to convince, and fantasising about ridiculous absurdities, and having pathetic groupthink tantrums because their absurdities aren't happening, and endlessly bickering between themselves over failed ideological purity tests ... then only the foolish would end up backing the latter to win, no matter how much you might actually tend to agree with their cause.

Apologies for the pessimistic conclusion, but it's increasingly difficult to have any faith that Brexit ruination can be avoided given the blinkered, counter-productive, and strategically inept groupthink nonsense that continues to infest the Remain movement.


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16 comments:

CMG said...

I'm voting Labour as the party whose candidates are running to represent their area in the European Parliament should they be needed; from what you say the Greens are the only other option. The Tories and Brexit Party don't want to be there at all, and Tinge and Libs are fighting a one - issue battle they can only lose. Keep it simple as a Labour supporter and just vote Labour!

Anonymous said...

The problem is that the whole debate has just become meaningless now.

Effectively we have plenty of Remainers who claim to be on the "left" now defending the Euro, the treatment of Greece, TTIP, rail privatisation and market liberalisation directives. Equally they castigate anyone who calls for EU reform.

We also have equal amounts of those who support Brexit who refuse to accept that anything the EU does is good - be it the recent rulings with zero hour contracts, clean beaches, monopoly break ups and tax avoidance directives, and treat the EU as a massive conspiracy theory.

It's effectively become religious dogma on both sides.

Anonymous said...

Thomas literally lying to you again, as members of the E.U the U.K has to follow out its economic policy. The E.U created and made Europe implement austerity from 2009. Thomas is literally lying to you, the E.U is still carrying out these measures and will continue to do so. Heres the evidence:
https://www.europeaninstitute.org/index.php/112-european-affairs/special-g-20-issue-on-financial-reform/1180-austerity-measures-in-the-eu

You massive bunch of bell ends. You want austerity is you want to remain in the E.U. it's not like we can vote off the European commission or council, you dont elect them.

Anonymous said...

Your examples of defending the E.U dont add up yo the massive economic damage caused by the last ten years of austerity. Its recognised as an actual human rights abuse by the U.N and has lost all of Europe a massive cut in standards of living. On top if this, they still insist on implementing it.

I find your description of them having broken monopolies quite farcical considering: the European commission is run by majority shareholders of massive transatlantic corporations.

Clean beaches and directives on zero hours contracts vs: Ttip, austerity, Greece, The Euro, article 13 (goodbye hamster, lol) do not compare on the slightest. These are relentless policies that have affected the entirety of Europe negatively and line the pockets of corporations. To even think that the good the E.U does on any comparable scale of improving peoples lives is dishonest.

Snial said...

"as members of the E.U the U.K has to follow out its economic policy. The E.U created and made Europe implement austerity from 2009" This is not true since we're not part of the Eurozone and don't use the Euro (which is the same thing).

The UK implemented austerity, simply because we elected the Tory/LibDem coalition in 2010 and the Tory manifesto was pro-austerity. Prior to that, Gordon Brown's policies weren't austerity, but half-Keynsian.

Anonymous said...

I've literally provided the link from the European Institute which stated the austerity measures the E.U dictated to the member states. It's literally above your comment, you've either missed it or chosen to ignore it. Every member state implemented them at the behest of the Eyropean Council (who are unelected), you dont need to use the Euro to implement the E.U's austerity programme.

Read this very slowly: The. E.U. Is. Pro. Austerity.

They are responsible for it. They did it to Greece and that country suffered horribly because of it.

Read the link I pasted before replying or you're writing from a position of ignorance.

Anonymous said...

You want go remain in the E.U. It's pro austerity. Fact.

Anonymous said...

From a morale perspective I simply couldn't vote for Labour or Tories because they have absolutely embraced institutionalised pedophilia on a massive scale. Their councillors allowed thousands of minors to be repeatedly raped over a two decade period and they've received absolutely no come upance for it. Many of them are still councillors.

You appear to be fine with this. How do you sleep at night?

Anonymous said...


I don't think you can ever get them to not partake in group think, it's just characteristic of liberal thinking. They would put their shoes on the wrong feet if they weren't told to by an "expert" forecaster or the newspaper they have deemed as always correct.

The #FBPE people are probably the most nauseating people on social media, It's like a cult. They hate the working class. It's funny really because If I was working a subterfuge strategy, I would act exactly like they are.

Anonymous said...

"I don't think you can ever get them to not partake in group think, it's just characteristic of liberal thinking."

Says he/she doesn't like groupthink, supports a political party with racist policies that specifically separate people based on race and gender. *Clap* *Clap* *Clap*

Anonymous said...

"Says he/she doesn't like groupthink, supports a political party with racist policies that specifically separate people based on race and gender. *Clap* *Clap* *Clap*"

Who supports what political party? Please be more clear.

Mighty Drunken said...

Anonymous the europeaninstitute are lying to you. The EU's Stability and Growth Pact is not austerity as the pact looks at deficits and GDP to debt ratios. Therefore a country could spend more by raising taxes. The UK government chose austerity instead.
The other very important fact is this.
"Paragraph 4 of Treaty Protocol No 15, exempts UK from the obligation in Article 126(1+9+11) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union to avoid excessive general government deficits, for as long as the state opts not to adopt the euro. "

The UK simply has to avoid "excessive" debt and does not need to meet the stricter criteria and even if they ignored this advice there is no mechanism to punish the UK as it has not adopted the Euro.

Last hussar said...

What the hell is "hard remain"? Is there a soft remain? Or are you losing it because Corbyn won't enact conference policy and gets criticised for it.

Anonymous said...

I've already replied to this in another article thread regarding the Greece and Portugal bailouts, but...

Are you seriously telling me the E.U merely lay a couple of guidelines down regarding E.U members Deficit and it's the fault of all the other member states for doing it wrong?

This is hilarious. As of therexnot video after video of E.U representatives stating austerity is the best thing since sliced bread. You literally want to stay within the bastion of neo-liberalism you plonker.

Anonymous said...

Holy fuck, you actually stated it's a good thing we didnt adapt the euro so we cant be punished?? Fucking hell mate you're cool with punishing Greece??

I dont know if you're stupid or amoral.

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