I’m not going to apologise for yet another post about politics: for years now this blog has made it patently obvious that I don’t believe in a stark division between politics and life — or, for that matter, between literature, politics and life. But I wish, I dearly wish, that I could be writing about something else today. I can’t, though — not when this is the most devastating political event of my lifetime. Not when the possibility that this will ruin the life I’ve built seems all too real from where I’m standing. At some point last week I said I couldn’t wait for this to be over. How wrong I was. I’ve spent the last few days crying into cups of tea, venting on Twitter, and reading Adrienne Rich. It’s all I can do.
So, this is where we are:
I don’t entirely disagree with the people who are pointing out that it’s not so much that every single one of the 52% of Leave voters will start harassing foreigners and racial minorities on the streets, but that the people likely to do so now believe that 52% of voters are on their side, and have been emboldened by this belief. Having said that, I also agree with whoever was saying that splitting hairs between actual racists/xenophobes and people willing to align themselves with them for political gain is utterly beside the point right now (apologies for not sourcing this properly; I’ve read too much these past few days and can’t remember what was where). The consequences are the same.
I know this is difficult to react to and I completely trust that everyone I know means well, but if I have one request it’s this: please don’t say social media is distorting our perception; please don’t urge people to remember not everyone hates them. We know that, but we also know that this is happening. We need it to be made visible; we need our sense of reality not to be undermined. We need to be able to talk about it. Silence and isolation will get us nowhere.
Now, left separatists, answer me this: Have you considered the effect that Brexit will have on women who need to travel to Britain for an abortion because of Ireland’s draconian laws? Sure you say, the common travel area between the UK and Ireland existed before the EU came along, but there was nothing in the referendum to protect that. There is nothing to say that these arrangements won’t be removed, especially due to the fact that so many people who were born outside the EU have become Irish citizens. Even then, think of all the non EU citizens who live in Ireland who now will not be able to travel. And what if new regulations are brought in with regards to healthcare provision that remove the right to obtain an abortion from non-UK citizens? Have you considered any of these things?
Now former comrades, do tell me if you asked yourself any of these questions or if the people whose lives you have willfully thrown into precarity are just pawns in your pseudo-Marxist chess games? Were you sitting in your offices with wall charts outlining possible outcomes based on the immutable science of Historical Materialism? Because if you have a plan, now would be the time to fill us all in.
I’m desperately afraid, friends, and I need all the comfort and support you can spare. I’m finding it hard to cling to any hope.