Brexit and the Politics of Resignation

Peter Denson and Stuart Kirsch’s article Capitalism and the Politics of Resignation (2009) hits at this cynicism common among young people who operate knowing that much of the world is highly problematic but taking part anyway. I teach at a university, and am seeing the students’ work quality decrease, see them become less satisfied with university, seeing increasingly dysfunctional IT systems introduced, and I do this because teaching can be great and, more importantly, my capacity to effect change is entirely circumscribed. Here, after seeing that traditional modes of resistance and negotiation have been co-opted to the benefit of corporations, Benson and Kirsch (2009) suggest that we are left with a cynicism, a pragmatic acceptance of systems, and a deferral of resistance.

I see the Brexit as being somewhere along those lines, an act of cynicism, a play toward resistance that never truly saw itself making any change, that – perhaps because of the widespread cynicism – came to radically change the UK. It’s tragic that the people who are suffering structural subordination, who’ve been consummately exploited by people like Farage in the scapegoating of immigrants, are likely the ones to suffer further crises as austerity attempts to level the UK’s ship. It’s all the more tragic that the cynicism of working class people was so widespread that they could vote as one without realising that they were doing so, without thinking that anything would change.

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