Brexiting Britain, spring 2019

Remainers and leavers, republicans and democrats, older and younger, cosmopolitan and patriot, Muslim and non-Muslim, comfortable and left-behind, them and us, ingroup and outgroup, self and other.

All these binaries, all this dualism, these polarisations.

So much either/or thinking, so little both/and.

So much zero-sum, so little win-win.

Trolling, snarling, impatience, mockery, curses, rudeness.

What are the causes and exacerbating factors? What are the opposites, the alternatives? What constructive ways ahead are worth considering?

Three papers posted on the Insted website contain readings, weblinks and video clips on these questions, most of them dating from 2018. Most are from the UK but quite a few are from the United States or elsewhere.

The first paper is entitled Brexiting Britain in Troubling Times: reflections and resources. Its authors and characters include a historian, a rabbi, several journalists, a political theorist, social psychologists, members of parliament, teachers, various researchers and observers, several activists and campaigners, a poet, an orchestra, and a choral society.

The links and thoughts are clustered under 12 headings:

1) What we human beings get up to
2) The two Englands
3) Hate in the media
4) The current demeaned other
5) The denial of death
6) Wot u lookin @?
7) New positive narratives
8) Faith in us
9) Democratic renewal
10) Repairing our humanity
11) More in common
12) Joy in the public square

The second paper is entitled Post-Brexit Counselling in Middle England: notes for a programme. It contains thoughts and concerns arising from an episode in Jonathan Coe’s wonderful new novel Middle England, published in autumn 2018.

The third is a bibliography about Brexit. It is entitled Brexit Tales and contains about 40 items. Some of these are books but most are weblinks to articles published in the last 12 months. Most of the books and articles are more, or much more, sympathetic to Remain than to Leave. But a high proportion are at the same time challenging and critical regarding the ways the Remain case has all too often been advanced.