Guardian scribe, George Monbiot, sees a dark ideology at play in the political ranks of Brexiteers who would be happy with a 'no-deal' Brexit.
We make a mistake when we assume that money is the main motivation. Our unreformed, corrupt and corrupting political funding system ensures it is an important factor. But what counts above all else is ideology, as ideology successfully pursued is the means to power. You cannot exercise true power over other people unless you can shape the way they think, and shape their behaviour on the basis of that thought. The long-term interests of ideology differ from the short-term interests of politics.
This, I believe, is the key to understanding what is happening today. The Brexit ultras in government are not just Brexit ultras. They are neoliberal ultras, and Brexit is a highly effective means of promoting this failed ideology. It’s the ultimate shock doctrine, using a public emergency to justify the imposition of policies that wouldn’t be accepted in ordinary times. Whether they really want no deal or not, the threat of it creates the political space in which they can apply their ideas.
Neoliberalism is the ideology developed by people such as Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman. It is not just a set of free-market ideas, but a focused discipline, deliberately applied around the world. It treats competition as humanity’s defining characteristic, sees citizens as consumers and “the market” as society’s organising principle. The market, it claims, sorts us into a natural hierarchy of winners and losers. Any attempt by politics to intervene disrupts the discovery of this natural order.
...The doctrine was imposed by central banks, the IMF, the Maastricht treaty and the World Trade Organization. By shutting down political choice, governments and international bodies created a kind of totalitarian capitalism.
It has failed on its own terms, and in many other ways. Far from creating general prosperity, growth has been slower in the neoliberal era than it was in preceding decades, and most of its fruits have been gathered by the rich. Far from stimulating an enterprise economy, it has created a gilded age for rent-seekers. Far from eliminating bureaucracy, it has created a Kafkaesque system of mad diktats and stifling control. It has fomented ecological, social, political, economic and financial crises, culminating in the 2008 crash. Yet, perhaps because its opponents have not produced a new, compelling story of their own, it still dominates our lives.
...Johnson uses neoliberal framing to justify his attacks on public safety. He wants to pull down environmental standards, create free ports in which businesses can avoid tax and regulation, and strike a rapid trade deal with the United States that is likely to rip up animal welfare rules and threaten the survival of the NHS.
He rages against red tape, but the real red tape is created by the international trade treaties he favours, that render democratic change almost impossible, through rules that protect capital against popular challenge, and shift decision-making away from parliaments and into unaccountable offshore courts (“investor-state dispute settlement”). This explains the enthusiasm among some on the left for Brexit: a belief that escaping from the EU means escaping from coercive trade instruments. In reality, it exposes us to something even worse, as the UK enters negotiations with the US, holding a begging bowl.