Friday: When the Beau Breaks and Brakes

In this roundup: Brexit breaks, Turkey’s troubles trebled, shattered guardrails.

I’ve been trying to get a handle on culture in the United Kingdom, to understand why the country is both so divided about its membership in the European Union and the nature of its identity. One of the places I’ve looked has been fashion, which is an outward expression of cultural identity and values.

British GQ and Vogue worked together on a video series looking at four different major movements in UK fashion. I have to admit I’m both enlightened and confused after watching them. I’ve embedded the first one here, and offer the rest as links.

(1) The Lad | (2) Modern Dandy | (3) New Traditionalists | (4) New Romantics

There isn’t a direct correlation with cultural segments in the U.S. so it’s difficult to translate what some of these mean. Lad culture, for example, is somewhat like our blue collar men and yet it’s also like high school and college jock culture. But then neither of these U.S. groups would own up to being a culture with a differentiated sense of style.

I think Americans will understand both the New Traditionalists and New Romantics most easily. They’ll recognize the correlates in their own U.S. culture. They’ll also recognize how segments of these three UK movements — Lad, Traditionalists, Romantics — might cleave with Remain or Brexit.

The one part of this series I found most odd was the Modern Dandy — these British literally did not know the roots of their own dandyism even when pointing to Beau Brummel. Brummel rebelled against the excessively ornate fussiness of pre-Regency fashion and is responsible for the adoption of trousers and white dress shirts as standard men’s’ wear (not to mention daily bathing). Brummel ultimately shaped global expectations of men’s business attire and our standards of hygiene. The contemporary dandies interviewed may grasp the notion of differentiation, but they don’t know their own history.

Not unlike the U.S., the UK has an identity crisis. It’s changed in ways it doesn’t fully understand and it’s out of tune with some of its own history. And while white nationalists like those in Ukip believe the UK should be more homogeneous, the UK hasn’t been for as long as it’s been a center of global business — even the monarchy is not lily white. We’re witnessing a struggle for control of identity, and it’s touch-and-go as to which faction will win.

Brexit breaks and brakes

Turkey troubles treble

  • Internet throttled, social media choked overnight (Turkey Times) — Erdoğan’s standard M.O.: shut down the internet and social media so that no one can report to the outside world what he’s doing to throttle democracy. VPNs are also targeted this time since the government knows they are used to bypass censorship.
  • Turkish police raid homes and arrest opposition party members (Andalou Ajansi) — This is insanity, like a U.S. president ordering the FBI to arrest the leaders of any other political party. The HDP had support of six million Turkish voters. HDP is the third largest political party holding more than 1/3 of the seats in parliament and the representative party of the Kurdish minority.
  • Car bomb detonated after HDP arrests, PKK blamed (USA Today) — Is this a prompt retaliation for political arrests? Whatever it is, instability is increasing in Turkey.
  • EU worried about HDP members (Twitter) — High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the EU Commission Federica Mogherini expressed great concern for HDP members arrested; held phone meeting with Turkish officials.
  • ISIS claims responsibility later in the day for car bombing (The Star) — Unfortunately, many pro-Erdoğan supporters were riled up against PKK by the time ISIS piped up. Expect even greater hostility toward the Kurds.

Longread: A conservative’s POV on this election
Yeah, yeah, I know, David Frum, whatev. But his op-ed for The Atlantic is quite good, examining ‘guardrails’ of democracy Trump’s candidacy has broken. Which is all well and good — a conservative recognizes the serious threats to democracy — but what will conservatives do to fix this mess? Will they ever look carefully at their ownership of this dumpster fire they stoked pushing Movement Conservatism to excess, and begin to build a rational escape toward sanity?

A little over four days — mere hours — away from the end of this debacle we call a general election. Rest up.

25 replies
    • Rayne says:

      I am horrified at the papers’ response to the high court’s ruling. Like reading German newspapers from the 1930s all over again. They’re literally inciting hatred and violence.

      The worst part is knowing outlets like The Sun and Daily Mail as well as the misinformation concentrator Facebook are the primary sources of information for the Brexiteers. Same outlets outright lied to them when they didn’t merely misinform them — and now incitement?

      Wretched and terrifying. We’ll be lucky if Jo Cox is the only casualty from this stupidity.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        It’s funny because the court ruling merely cites black letter law regarding parliamentary supremacy, a constitutional concept several hundred years old.  The parliamentary act by which the UK entered the EU must be revised by subsequent act of Parliament.  But in neoliberal politics, any infringement on the leader’s prerogative (assuming the leader is sufficiently neoliberal) is an existential threat to neoliberals and must be excised from the culture.

  1. Alan says:

    Also note that various people have noted that the Sun appears to have darkened the skin color in photos of the main plaintive in the Brexit court case. She’s black and was born in Guyana.

  2. bevin says:

    The court ruling was predictable. And correct. The Royal prerogative argument is very weak and very Blairite. There is no question that Parliament is supreme: the problem is that the House of Commons regularly endorses the Executive’s ‘prerogative’, sometimes before and sometimes after the event.

    As to the idea that”A key difference is that the US doesn’t have the risks of royal prerogative exercised without a constitution” this is true in a formal sense. But in fact the President exercises the royal prerogative to make war without the consent of the Congress on a regular basis. As in the UK, however, Congress can be counted on to do nothing about this abuse of the Constitution. 

    As the legislation with which this blog is primarily concerned has shown the difference between a written and an unwritten constitution is now, evidently, very small. In both countries the Bill of Rights is breached with Parliamentary approval every minute of every day.

    • Rayne says:

      “…the President exercises the royal prerogative to make war without the consent of the Congress on a regular basis.” 

      Uh, no. Congress is the purse; it can defund the executive when it damn well wants to. The problem is Congress actually supports the executive’s military action or it would find a way to defund any military action it disagreed with — especially since Congress is led by a political party in opposition to that of the executive.

      Both Authorizations to Use Military Force remain active for this reason. Ditto any other actions by the executive relying on military resources, like cyberwarfare.

      • bevin says:

        Congressional power of the purse-the ability to stop the Executive in its tracks by withdrawing funding- is what the House of Commons has too. When Prime Ministers, such as Blair, take Parliament’s approval for granted and do as they please (or as ordered by Washington) they are not using the Royal Prerogative but trusting that their party’s whips will ensure that they will get a majority when the supplementary estimates come up.

        The system is essentially the same, which is not really surprising. My point is that one thing that the GWOT has underlined is that it really doesn’t matter whether the Constitution is written or unwritten (which is really to say written in lots of different places rather than a single accessible document) when the Executive branches control the legislature.

        There are differences, of course, and big ones between  two systems which have evolved independently since 1776, but the codification of the Constitution is not, in my view-and contrary to many in the UK who regard a written constitution as a key reform, and very much to be desired- important. The problem lies in the centrist duopolistic nature of politics in both countries…

  3. bloopie2 says:

    I’ve been trying to get a handle on culture in the United Kingdom.”  If you don‘t have that handle, then how can you be so cocksure that the 52% of them who voted Leave are ignorant bigots?

    • Rayne says:

      1) Rise in anti-immigrant violent acts just before and since the referendum (don’t forget MP Jo Cox’s assassination);

      2) Anger over subsequent ‘revelations’ that Brexit leaders actively lied to the public about NHS funding post-Brexit (anybody with a functioning brain and decent literacy could see this was bullshit);

      3) +4 million voters who signed a petition within days after the referendum, asking for a do-over;

      4) Surveys showing Leave voters obtained their primary info on Brexit from The Sun, Daily Mail, and Facebook pushing Ukip’s white nationalist agenda.

      Just the first four easy indicators that Leave voters were poorly informed and often racist.

      Why not ask Alan? He’s from the UK. Ask him if I’m off base. I have known and worked with folks from the UK since the early 1980s; while some of them were charmingly and annoyingly conservative, they were never as flagrantly obnoxious as Farage or Johnson. They would have felt that quite rude. What happened since 1980s to change UK culture enough to make Farage, Johnson and their kind and their openly xenophobic attitudes acceptable?

      Could look here in the US — we’ve seen something similar happening right here, but it doesn’t look the same. Like this week’s church burning here versus the white guy who punched a Polish woman in the UK. US bigots are very focused on persons of color, where the UK’s bigots target non-English speakers. How did it come to this in the UK?

      • bloopie2 says:

        I’m trying to reply substantively, but your “not a robot” thing won’t let me.  So I’ll make the fried chicken and mashed potatoes now and try again later.

  4. Alan says:

    BBC News is often little more than establishment propaganda but BBC Newsnight’s recent playout was right on the money.

    40th anniversary of the release of  Anarchy in the UK is later this month. They were ahead of their time.

    • Rayne says:

      Yeah, that playout was awesome! Right in the face of royal prerogative!

      I don’t think the Sex Pistols were ahead of their time at all. They were exactly the antidote needed at that moment. What’s missing is a comparable artistic rebellion in the UK right now. I can point to Beyonce here offering up Lemonade in the US, but where’s a counter to the toxic wedding of  Tories and Ukip?

      EDIT — 6:25 pm EDT — Did you catch this drubbing of Mail’s Paul Dacre by Alastair Campbell at GQ? If only more folks in UK read GQ and not the wretched Mail, but I supposed that’s like wishing more folks in the US would stop watching Fox and avoid ClearChannel talk radio.

  5. bevin says:

    ” where’s a counter to the toxic wedding of  Tories and Ukip?”

    Politically its Corbyn’s success. Artistically it is typified by Ken Loach’s ‘I,Daniel Blake’. There’s lots of music too but I don’t listen to it so I don’t know.

    Incidentally the anti-immigrant acts are common throughout Europe, unfortunately, and Britain is rather less dangerous for foreigners than many other countries. It can be argued that many voted for Brexit in order to escape from the burgeoning fascist movements in Europe.

    Very few will have credited the Tory/UKIP line on saving the NHS: most people know that the Johnsons and Farages hate it and envy the US for its callous and profit centred systems. Just as socialist understand that the right wing is looking not for independence but for more direct inclusion in the US Empire- and not least because the US seems to the right a model of class rule by the wealthy, in which socialist legislation-such as that of 1945-51- would be well nigh  impossible.

    • Rayne says:

      I don’t even know where to begin with this. I need a bulldozer, a backhoe, maybe a torch.

      1) Corbyn’s success? Care to be more specific and define that so-called success?

      2) We aren’t talking about anti-immigrant violence in the EU. We’re talking about the UK and its response to immigrants. I have yet to see an article in which any pro-Leave UK citizen pointed to the continent and said, “Wow, that anti-immigrant violence is really scary, keep it there.” On the contrary they pointedly said, “Get the fuck out.”

      Like this aimed at Poles. And this, even in Polish.

      Or this by Ukip.

      And of course this fearmongering bullshit with Farage.

      Not to mention all the same hyperbolic crap about immigrants taking UK jobs, nearly word for word the same hype Trump has used here. Pretty sure the white guy who socked a Polish woman wasn’t thinking about anti-immigrant violence in the EU.

      3) Pretty sure you missed the entire hullabaloo about the 350M pounds the Leave campaign claimed they could spend on NHS instead of sending to Brussels. It was an egregious lie they used to persuade a vote for Brexit, and they didn’t backtrack on that claim until it was too late. That was the issue I was talking about, not the Tories’ persistent pressure to privatize NHS, including under-funding it to make it look bad.

      Damn it, I’ve started using ‘s’ instead of ‘z’. Time for me to do something more productive.

  6. bloopie2 says:

    Damn your robot thing.  I have a simple three paragraph post with no links, and I’m blocked straight up.  What are the criteria?  What am I dong wrong?

  7. bloopie2 says:

    1.  15 million Britons voted Leave.  So, the racist acts are completely representative of the feelings and motivations of all 15 million?  I don’t believe that.  Prove it.
     2.  “Anger over subsequent ‘revelations’ that Brexit leaders actively lied to the public about NHS funding post-Brexit (anybody with a functioning brain and decent literacy could see this was bullshit)”  So, you’re saying that 15 million of them did not have functioning brains and decent literacy and could not see that was bullshit?
     3.  What percentage of the 4+ million petitioners were Leave, and what percentage Remain?  Not knowing that, I find the fact meaningless.
     4.  “Surveys showing Leave voters obtained their primary info on Brexit from The Sun, Daily Mail, and Facebook pushing Ukip’s white nationalist agenda.”  So what?  Does that mean they could not possibly have any valid reasons (economic or otherwise) for voting Leave?  Bull.  Look at Trump voters as an analogy.  Sure, lots of them are voting Trump because they are racist or uninformed.  But many are voting simply anti-Clinton (understandably) and many are voting “Republican not Democrat” (understandably) and many are voting “anti-establishment” (again, understandably.)  Those are not, per se, racist or uninformed reasons.  And many have honest, valid economic problems (their jobs, for one) or fears that Trump seems to be addressing.

  8. bloopie2 says:

    As a basis for discussion, I’m wondering if you agree with the following.  “If I believe my job is at risk from immigration, then it is okay for me to vote to keep out competitors who are known to be just like me (same color, faith, language)—and, also, competitors who may be a different color or faith or language from me.  That’s my prerogative; I was here first.  I don‘t need to give up my livelihood, and squander the chance of my children having a shot at a good livelihood also, for someone else from another country, no matter how bad off they are.  Period.”  Agree, or no?

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