~ by aga
Solidarity with everyone affected by this horrific result
Britain voted to leave the EU in a people’s referendum yesterday.
We, at the Anti-Speciesist Collective, are devastated and spent half the day in disbelief over this result. None of us can imagine the consequences this political decision will have but we know that none of them will be beneficial to the people in or outside the UK, the animals and the planet.
First, let me say, I am not an EU-sympathiser. Under ordinary circumstances I always criticise the neoliberal imperialist politics and classist austerity measures that are results of EU politics. And I will, of course, continue to do so. However, I am devastated at Britain’s decision to leave, as the -by far- lesser evil would have been to stay.
We, as a collective, want to express our solidarity with everyone who will feel immediate (or indirect) repercussions of this dramatic shift in global politics.
In the rage, despair and anxiety I experienced receiving the bad news, it was hard to actually picture some of the consequences that are awaiting us now. In this blog post I tried to articulate 4 of my fears.
1 – The Rise of the far right
This referendum decision is a victory for nationalism and far right leaders (and followers) across Europe and beyond. The leave-campaign rhetoric was fuelled by nationalist, xenophobic and islamophobic propaganda from start to finish. There was no access to critical information engaging with horrific EU policies affecting women and non-binary people, people of colour and the working class in Britain or elsewhere and most information was based on polarising polemic fear mongering. So any supposed comrade who tells you they voted ‘leave’ out of some sort of leftist solidarity and in protest of EU austerity measures in Greece or elsewhere unfortunately sold their vote to Nigel Farage, Marine Le Pen, Vladimir Putin etc. who will all gain even more momentum now. Even Donald Trump is already touring the UK in his quest for fascist unity on this side of the Atlantic. The ultra conservatives are celebrating and Nigel Farage went as far as to claim today as ‘Independence Day’. Centuries of colonial violence perpetrated by Britain and gruesome struggles for actual independence by the colonised are disrespectfully stomped upon, invalidated and forgotten about in one day. I don’t want to imagine where else this will lead.
2 – Geopolitics is a human concept of division that animals suffer from
I do denounce the concepts of borders, nation states and private property as violent for the economic and physical conflicts and devastation they cause. There are ideas about diminishing and even abolishing the sovereignty and power that nation states have so as to establish one unified, global government (this is worked on in theories about Cosmopolitanism, for example). The EU is precisely such an experiment on a continental level.
I like to imagine state and border abolition, along more anarchist lines. The former merely moves the power holder from one institution to another, where potentially differences would be erased and many parts of our lives could be assimilated to whoever will be in power (in a eurocentric capitalist world, implementing such a government would most likely not better the experience of most people in this world). An anarchist imagination on the other hand, removes the idea of a government, a patronising centralised institution that exerts its power over a variety of people and could never possibly accommodate their differences. Instead we think about localised, destratified and bottom-up decision making.
We need to remember that borders are a human construct. They were put into place to determine private property, to separate and protect possessions so as to ensure sustenance and even abundance for one party at the expense of another. In a world dominated by white cis human men, it is clear who is on the losing end of this deal.
Ideas such as private property, economics and geopolitics are alien to animals, yet they are affected by human divisions of the world just as much as we are. The help animals in certain countries get depends on the economic and geopolitical status of that state. Rumanian street dogs for example are at the mercy of Rumanian domestic and foreign politics just as much as Swedish law decides which animals can be shot for sport when and where in the country. With a reduced international influence upon the UK, it is questionable whether the welfare of cows on British farms, foxes and badgers in British forests, and dogs, rats and monkeys in testing laboratories will improve. Britain has a long history of opposition to vivisection and animal activists have celebrated many successes. The EU has also played a big part in influencing vivisection practices across the globe. Now it brings chills down my spine to even think about these poor souls imprisoned in British universities, breeding facilities and animal testing companies.
So Britain’s decision to leave the EU will have horrendous consequences upon animals inside and outside the monarchy. Additionally, international influence and restrictions upon environmental hazards (fracking, GMO, pesticide use) will be reduced, affecting the climate and all life far beyond the island.
3 -Austerity in Britain
cw: mention of suicide
Britain is already suffering from budget cuts to much needed services whilst at the same time private companies are sweeping them up. Recipients of disability benefits were already seeing drastic cuts to their finances and a experienced a reduction in their well being when Britain was still part of the EU.
Women’s shelters are being shut, doctors are overworked and underpaid like all staff in the care sector is, and Brexit has reduced Britain’s chances of outside support of these already suffering services.
Tuition fees skyrocketed during EU membership and universities are being privatised like nowhere else in Europe. Now that the education system will be even less influenced by Europe, British universities are likely to be more deregulated and education will become even less accessible.
Those who will suffer the most are of course young people of colour, the MOGAI/ LGBTQAI+ youth and girls as well as disabled kids and those growing up in a working class home.
Suicide rates amongst these marginalised identity groups are on the rise in the UK as it is.
4 – The EU brings social unity not just political and economic (in)depence
The press speaks of economic and political consequences but nobody ever mentions the social impacts Brexit has. Simply put, Brexit sends one very clear signal to Europeans living on the island: ‘We don’t need you. You’re not welcome here’.
The anti-immigration propaganda is very dominant in England. Islamophobia and xenophobia especially towards the many Eastern Europeans in the UK has been highly dangerous in recent years.
In his resigning speech, David Cameron made very clear that the referendum’s result will not have any initial effect upon the Europeans living inside the UK, nor on British citizens. In reality he knows, as do we, that families and friendships will suffer from Brexit making travel and migration in and out of the country harder than it already is. Access to services for non-citizens will be reduced (as it is already being reduced for citizens) and possibilities to form private connections to people through travel (without economic or political purposes) will become increasingly harder. This is not just due to upcoming policies but more so due to the interpersonal climate of fear and hate created by Brexit propaganda.