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Superposition: Transcript of Audio Essay Episode 35

Hi. It's Eric with some thoughts for this week's audio essay on the topic of superposition. Now, to those of you in the know, superposition is an odd word, in that it is the scientific concept we reach for when trying to describe the paradox of Schrodinger's cat and the theory and philosophy of quantum measurement. We don't yet know how to say that the cat is both dead and alive at the same time rigorously, so we fudge whatever is going on with this unfortunate feline and say that the cat and the quantum system on which its life depends are a mixture of two distinct states, that are somehow commingled in a way that has defied a satisfying explanation for about a century. Now, I'm usually loath to appeal to such quantum concepts in everyday life, as there is a veritable industry of people making bad quantum analogies. For example, whenever you have a non-quantum system that is altered by its observation, that really has nothing to do with the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. Jane Goodall's chimpanzees are almost certainly altered in their behavior due to her presence. But there is likely no competent quantum theorist who would analogize chimps to electrons, and Goodall to a Hermitian observable, executing a quantum observation. Heisenberg adds nothing other than physics-envy to the discussion of an entirely classical situation such as this.
However, I have changed my mind in the case of superposition, as I would now like to explain. To begin with, superposition isn't a quantum phenomenon. For example, imagine that you'd come from Europe to Australia, and that you had both euros and Swiss francs in your pockets. You might then be said to be in a superposition, because you have pocket change in both euros and francs rather than a pure state of only one currency or the other. The analog of the physical observable in this situation would be something like a multiple-choice question found on a landing card about the contents of your pockets. Here, it is easy to see the danger of this set up. Assuming you have three times as much value in euros as you do in francs, what happens when you get a question that doesn't include your situation as an answer? What if the landing card asked, is all of your change in A) euros or B) Swiss francs, with no other options available? Well, this as stated, is a completely classical superposition problem, having nothing to do with quantum theory. Were you to have such a classical question asked of you like this, there would have been no way for you to answer. However, if the answer were on the multiple-choice menu, there would be no problem at all, and you would give a clear answer determined by the state of your pockets. So, if the state in question isn't on the multiple-choice menu, the classical world is forced to go mute, as there is no answer determined by the system; whereas if it is found on the list of allowable choices, the answer is then completely determined by the system’s state at the time that the question was asked.
Oddly, the quantum world is, in a way, exactly as deterministic as the classical one just described, despite what you may have heard to the contrary. In order to understand this, we’ll have to introduce a bit of jargon. So long as the system (now called the Hilbert space state) is on the list of answers (technically called the system of Eigenvectors) corresponding to the question (now called a quantum observable) the question will return a completely deterministic answer (technically called the Eigenvalue corresponding to the state Eigenvector.) These are, in a sense, good questions in quantum theory, because the answer corresponding to the state of the system actually appears as one of the multiple-choice options.
So, if that is completely deterministic, well then what happened to the famous quantum probability theory and the indeterminacy that we hear so much about? What if I told you that it were 100% confined to the situation which classical theory couldn't handle either? That is, quantum probability theory only becomes relevant when you ask bad quantum questions, where the state of the system isn't on the list of multiple-choice answers. When the landing card asked if all your change were completely in euros or only in francs, the classical system couldn't answer because three times the value of your Swiss francs were held in euros, so no answer could be determined. But if your pocket change were somehow quantum, well then you might find that 75% of the time your pocket coins would bizarrely turn into pure euros, and would bewilderingly turn into pure francs 25% of the time just by virtue of your being asked for a measurement by the landing card. In the quantum theory, this is due to the multiple-choice answers of the so-called observable, represented by the landing card question, not being well-suited to the mixed state of your pockets in a superposition between euros and francs. In other words, quantum theory gets probabilistic only where classical theory went mute. All of the indeterminacy appears to come from asking bad multiple-choice questions in both the classical and quantum regimes, in which the state of the system doesn't fit any given answer.
Quite honestly, I've never heard a physicist rework the issue of quantum probabilities in just this way, so as to highlight that the probabilistic weirdness comes only from the quantum being overly solicitous, and accommodating really bad questions. For some reason, they don't like the idea of calling an observable that doesn't have the state of the system as an allowable answer, a bad question. But that is precisely why I do like it. It points out that the quantum is deterministic where the classical theory is deterministic, and only probabilistic where the classical theory is mute. And this is because it is weirdly willing to answer questions that are, in a sense that can be made precise, bad questions to begin with. That doesn't get rid of the mystery, but it recasts it so it doesn't sound quite so weird. The new question is, why would a quantum system overcompensate for the lousy questions being posed, when the classical system seems to know not to answer?
So why bring any of this up? Well, the first reason is that I couldn't resist sneaking in a personal reformulation of the quantum measurement problem that most people will have never considered. But the second reason is that I have come to believe that we are wasting our political lives on just such superposition questions.
For example, let's see if we can solve the abortion debate problem right now on this podcast using superposition; as it is much easier than the abortion problem itself. The abortion debate problem is that everyone agrees that before fertilization there is no human life to worry about. And that after a baby is born, there is no question that it has a right to live. Yet, pro-choice and pro-life activists insist on telling us that the developing embryo is either a mere bundle of cells suddenly becoming a life only when born, or a full-fledged baby the moment the sperm enters the egg. You can guess my answer here. The question of, is it a baby's life or a woman's choice, is agreed-upon by everyone before fertilization or following birth because the observable in question has the system as one of the two multiple-choice answers in those two cases. However, during the process of embryonic development, something miraculous is taking place that we simply don't understand scientifically. Somehow, a non-sentient blastula becomes a baby by a process utterly opaque to science, which as yet has no mature theory of consciousness. The system in utero is in a changing and progressing superposition tilted heavily towards not being a baby at the beginning, and tilted heavily towards being one at the end of the pregnancy. But the problem here is that we have allowed the activists, rather than the embryologists and developmental biologists, to hand us the life versus choice observable, with its two terrible multiple-choice options. If we had let the embryologist set the multiple-choice question, there would be at least 23 Carnegie stages for the embryo, before you even get to fetal development. But instead of going forward from what we both know and don't know with high confidence about the system, we are instead permanently deranged by being stuck with Schrodinger's embryo by the activists who insist on working backwards from their political objectives.
So, does this somehow solve the abortion issue? Of course not. All it does, is get us to see how ridiculously transparent we are in our politics, that we would allow our society to be led by those activists who would shoehorn the central scientific miracle of human development into a nutty political binary of convenience. We don't even think to ask, who are these people who have left us at each other's throats, debating an inappropriate multiple-choice question that can never be answered? Well, in the spirit of The Portal, we are always looking for a way out of our perennial problems to try to find an exit. And I think that the technique here of teaching oneself to spot superposition problems in stalemated political systems, brings a great deal of relief to those of us who find the perspective of naïve activism a fairly impoverished worldview. The activist mindset is always trying to remove nuanced selections that might better match our world’s needs from among the multiple-choice answers, until it finds a comical binary. Do you support the war on drugs, yes or no? Are you for or against immigration? Should men and women be treated equally? Should we embrace capitalism, or choose socialism? Racism: systemic problem or convenient excuse? Is China a trading partner or a strategic rival? Has technology stagnated, or is it in fact racing ahead at breakneck speed? Has feminism gone too far, or not far enough? In all of these cases, there is an entire industry built around writing articles that involve replacing conversations that might progress towards answers and agreement, with simple multiple-choice political options that foreclose all hope. And in general, we can surmise when this has occurred because activism generally leaves a distinct signature, where the true state of a system is best represented as a superposition of the last two remaining choices that bitterly divide us, handed us by activists.
So, I will leave you with the following thought. The principle of superposition is not limited to quantum weirdness, and it may be governing your life at a level that you never considered. Think about where you are most divided from your loved ones politically. Then ask yourself, when I listen to the debates at my dinner table, am I hearing a set of multiple-choice answers that sound like they were developed by scholars interested in understanding, or by activists who are pushing for an outcome? If the latter, think about whether you couldn't make more progress with those you love by recognizing that the truth is usually in some kind of a superposition of the last remaining answers pushed by the activists. But you don't have to accept these middlebrow binaries, dilemmas and trilemmas. Instead, try asking a new question. If my loved ones and I trashed the terms of debate foisted upon us by strangers, activists and the news media, could we together fashion a list of multiple choice answers that we might agree contain an answer we all could live with, and that better describes the true state of the system? I mean, do you really want open or closed borders? Do you really want to talk about psilocybin and heroin in the same breath? Do you really want to claim that there is no systemic oppression, or that it governs every aspect of our lives? Before long, it is my hope that you will develop an intuition that many long-running stalemated discussions are really about having our lives shoehorned by others into inappropriate binaries that can only represent the state of our world as a superposition of inappropriate and simplistic answers that you never would have chosen for yourself.
submitted by Reverendpjustice to ThePortal [link] [comments]

Superposition: Transcript of audio essay intro to The Portal Episode 35

Hi. It's Eric with some thoughts for this week's audio essay on the topic of superposition. Now, to those of you in the know, superposition is an odd word, in that it is the scientific concept we reach for when trying to describe the paradox of Schrodinger's cat and the theory and philosophy of quantum measurement. We don't yet know how to say that the cat is both dead and alive at the same time rigorously, so we fudge whatever is going on with this unfortunate feline and say that the cat and the quantum system on which its life depends are a mixture of two distinct states, that are somehow commingled in a way that has defied a satisfying explanation for about a century. Now, I'm usually loath to appeal to such quantum concepts in everyday life, as there is a veritable industry of people making bad quantum analogies. For example, whenever you have a non-quantum system that is altered by its observation, that really has nothing to do with the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. Jane Goodall's chimpanzees are almost certainly altered in their behavior due to her presence. But there is likely no competent quantum theorist who would analogize chimps to electrons, and Goodall to our mission observable, executing a quantum observation. Heisenberg adds nothing other than physics-envy to the discussion of an entirely classical situation such as this.
However, I have changed my mind in the case of superposition, as I would now like to explain. To begin with, superposition isn't a quantum phenomenon. For example, imagine that you'd come from Europe to Australia, and that you had both euros and Swiss francs in your pockets. You might then be said to be in a superposition, because you have pocket change in both euros and francs rather than a pure state of only one currency or the other. The analog of the physical observable in this situation would be something like a multiple-choice question found on a landing card about the contents of your pockets. Here, it is easy to see the danger of this set up. Assuming you have three times as much value in euros as you do in francs, what happens when you get a question that doesn't include your situation as an answer? What if the landing card asked, is all of your change in A) euros or B) Swiss francs, with no other options available? Well, this as stated, is a completely classical superposition problem, having nothing to do with quantum theory. Were you to have such a classical question asked of you like this, there would have been no way for you to answer. However, if the answer were on the multiple-choice menu, there would be no problem at all, and you would give a clear answer determined by the state of your pockets. So, if the state in question isn't on the multiple-choice menu, the classical world is forced to go mute, as there is no answer determined by the system; whereas if it is found on the list of allowable choices, the answer is then completely determined by the system’s state at the time that the question was asked.
Oddly, the quantum world is, in a way, exactly as deterministic as the classical one just described, despite what you may have heard to the contrary. In order to understand this, we’ll have to introduce a bit of jargon. So long as the system (now called the Hilbert space state) is on the list of answers (technically called the system of Eigenvectors) corresponding to the question (now called a quantum observable) the question will return a completely deterministic answer (technically called the Eigenvalue corresponding to the state Eigenvector.) These are, in a sense, good questions in quantum theory, because the answer corresponding to the state of the system actually appears as one of the multiple-choice options.
So, if that is completely deterministic, well then what happened to the famous quantum probability theory and the indeterminacy that we hear so much about? What if I told you that it were 100% confined to the situation which classical theory couldn't handle either? That is, quantum probability theory only becomes relevant when you ask bad quantum questions, where the state of the system isn't on the list of multiple-choice answers. When the landing card asked if all your change were completely in euros or only in francs, the classical system couldn't answer because three times the value of your Swiss francs were held in euros, so no answer could be determined. But if your pocket change were somehow quantum, well then you might find that 75% of the time your pocket coins would bizarrely turn into pure euros, and would bewilderingly turn into pure francs 25% of the time just by virtue of your being asked for a measurement by the landing card. In the quantum theory, this is due to the multiple-choice answers of the so-called observable, represented by the landing card question, not being well-suited to the mixed state of your pockets in a superposition between euros and francs. In other words, quantum theory gets probabilistic only where classical theory went mute. All of the indeterminacy appears to come from asking bad multiple-choice questions in both the classical and quantum regimes, in which the state of the system doesn't fit any given answer.
Quite honestly, I've never heard a physicist rework the issue of quantum probabilities in just this way, so as to highlight that the probabilistic weirdness comes only from the quantum being overly solicitous, and accommodating really bad questions. For some reason, they don't like the idea of calling an observable that doesn't have the state of the system as an allowable answer, a bad question. But that is precisely why I do like it. It points out that the quantum is deterministic where the classical theory is deterministic, and only probabilistic where the classical theory is mute. And this is because it is weirdly willing to answer questions that are, in a sense that can be made precise, bad questions to begin with. That doesn't get rid of the mystery, but it recasts it so it doesn't sound quite so weird. The new question is, why would a quantum system overcompensate for the lousy questions being posed, when the classical system seems to know not to answer?
So why bring any of this up? Well, the first reason is that I couldn't resist sneaking in a personal reformulation of the quantum measurement problem that most people will have never considered. But the second reason is that I have come to believe that we are wasting our political lives on just such superposition questions.
For example, let's see if we can solve the abortion debate problem right now on this podcast using superposition; as it is much easier than the abortion problem itself. The abortion debate problem is that everyone agrees that before fertilization there is no human life to worry about. And that after a baby is born, there is no question that it has a right to live. Yet, pro-choice and pro-life activists insist on telling us that the developing embryo is either a mere bundle of cells suddenly becoming a life only when born, or a full-fledged baby the moment the sperm enters the egg. You can guess my answer here. The question of, is it a baby's life or a woman's choice, is agreed-upon by everyone before fertilization or following birth because the observable in question has the system as one of the two multiple-choice answers in those two cases. However, during the process of embryonic development, something miraculous is taking place that we simply don't understand scientifically. Somehow, a non-sentient blastula becomes a baby by a process utterly opaque to science, which as yet has no mature theory of consciousness. The system in utero is in a changing and progressing superposition tilted heavily towards not being a baby at the beginning, and tilted heavily towards being one at the end of the pregnancy. But the problem here is that we have allowed the activists, rather than the embryologists and developmental biologists, to hand us the life versus choice observable, with its two terrible multiple-choice options. If we had let the embryologist set the multiple-choice question, there would be at least 23 Carnegie stages for the embryo, before you even get to fetal development. But instead of going forward from what we both know and don't know with high confidence about the system, we are instead permanently deranged by being stuck with Schrodinger's embryo by the activists who insist on working backwards from their political objectives.
So, does this somehow solve the abortion issue? Of course not. All it does, is get us to see how ridiculously transparent we are in our politics, that we would allow our society to be led by those activists who would shoehorn the central scientific miracle of human development into a nutty political binary of convenience. We don't even think to ask, who are these people who have left us at each other's throats, debating an inappropriate multiple-choice question that can never be answered? Well, in the spirit of The Portal, we are always looking for a way out of our perennial problems to try to find an exit. And I think that the technique here of teaching oneself to spot superposition problems in stalemated political systems, brings a great deal of relief to those of us who find the perspective of naïve activism a fairly impoverished worldview. The activist mindset is always trying to remove nuanced selections that might better match our world’s needs from among the multiple-choice answers, until it finds a comical binary. Do you support the war on drugs, yes or no? Are you for or against immigration? Should men and women be treated equally? Should we embrace capitalism, or choose socialism? Racism: systemic problem or convenient excuse? Is China a trading partner or a strategic rival? Has technology stagnated, or is it in fact racing ahead at breakneck speed? Has feminism gone too far, or not far enough? In all of these cases, there is an entire industry built around writing articles that involve replacing conversations that might progress towards answers and agreement, with simple multiple-choice political options that foreclose all hope. And in general, we can surmise when this has occurred because activism generally leaves a distinct signature, where the true state of a system is best represented as a superposition of the last two remaining choices that bitterly divide us, handed us by activists.
So, I will leave you with the following thought. The principle of superposition is not limited to quantum weirdness, and it may be governing your life at a level that you never considered. Think about where you are most divided from your loved ones politically. Then ask yourself, when I listen to the debates at my dinner table, am I hearing a set of multiple-choice answers that sound like they were developed by scholars interested in understanding, or by activists who are pushing for an outcome? If the latter, think about whether you couldn't make more progress with those you love by recognizing that the truth is usually in some kind of a superposition of the last remaining answers pushed by the activists. But you don't have to accept these middlebrow binaries, dilemmas and trilemmas. Instead, try asking a new question. If my loved ones and I trashed the terms of debate foisted upon us by strangers, activists and the news media, could we together fashion a list of multiple choice answers that we might agree contain an answer we all could live with, and that better describes the true state of the system? I mean, do you really want open or closed borders? Do you really want to talk about psilocybin and heroin in the same breath? Do you really want to claim that there is no systemic oppression, or that it governs every aspect of our lives? Before long, it is my hope that you will develop an intuition that many long-running stalemated discussions are really about having our lives shoehorned by others into inappropriate binaries that can only represent the state of our world as a superposition of inappropriate and simplistic answers that you never would have chosen for yourself.
submitted by Reverendpjustice to EricWeinstein [link] [comments]

‘They are us’ – an urgent, uncomfortable call to action

"By Morgan Godfery | Contributing writer March 13, 2020
A proper reckoning with March 15 2019 demands that we take up a generations-long struggle to destroy all the exclusions that make up our society and produce the conditions we know as racism. An essay by Morgan Godfery.
This work is made possible by Spinoff Members.

1

I was cleaning out the garage the other day and found an old Crusaders jersey. If I remember right it’s their team kit from 2005, the white knight sewn into the chest and the old Ford logo printed in the centre. The jersey itself is still as fresh as new paint, a novelty purchase from when we were passing through Christchurch on our way to Christmas in Oamaru. I was a year 9 in school and a Super 12 jersey was the kind of item you had, just so you could say you had one. This is about the same time it was still acceptable to whisper things like how the white players in the Crusaders were responsible for their team’s championship success, playing their footy with brains, and the problem with mid-table finishers like the Blues were too many brown boys who only knew how to throw their weight around.
I’m not quite white-passing, but my upper middle-class accent, generally preppy affect, and not-quite-pasty-not-quite-brown skin makes me ethnically ambiguous enough that people are happy to share their thoughts about big Polynesian units, Asian immigrants, Muslim terrorists, and the Jews. The first time I remember running into entirely casual racism was in Christchurch, on the way back from that Christmas in Oamaru, when a retail worker caught up with me on the street apologising for short-changing me in store. I didn’t realise or particularly care, but years later I thought about his apology. “Sorry, I just Jew-ed you”.
At the time it was nothing to me. In high school and later in my flat at Victoria that was just what people said. “Jewing” someone was a verb for ripping them off, taking an advantage, or just a way to give someone a bit of stick. In my experience it was especially popular with the Christ’s College boys, which probably has something to do with the city’s private schools inheriting their culture from Britain’s public schools. “A Jewish boy at a public school almost invariably had a bad time,” wrote Orwell in 1945. Things probably aren’t that much better in 2020. The other day I read an old mate – a private schooler too – on Facebook joking about how Jews are useless at sport.
I suspect for good liberals this is probably shocking. This isn’t language that ever sneaks through our circles. But outside of our cosy hermetic world words like coconut, boonga, fob, wog, gook, curry muncher, towelhead, the hundred variations on the N word, and “Jew” as more than a noun are common currency. The stains from that vocabulary seep into every part of the culture and society, and nothing much has ever been done to wash it out. The first time I remember encountering deliberate, menacing racism is on the rugby paddock when a white coach was yelling at my mate on the wing “run you BLACK bastard”. I thought about that moment when spectators in Christchurch were caught vilifying Fijian player Sake Aca in 2015, screaming from the stands “black cunt”.
Fandoms like to imagine their sports, multicultural rugby especially, as pure and independent realms (“a level playing field”) absent race, politics, or any disadvantage other than skill. It’s a seductive argument, I’ll concede that much, but it’s so self-evidently false it still surprises me every time someone insists on it earnestly. Sport? Not racist? In 2012 talkback callers and trolls went after then Blues coach Pat Lam and his family for the great crime of simply being Polynesian. In 2010 former All Black Andy Haden was put through the wringer for telling media the Crusaders only recruit a maximum three “darkies”, presumably to preserve the team’s famous brain-brawn balance.
Even in the laudatory histories New Zealand rugby was, and probably remains, a notorious nexus for down home conservatives, know-nothing administrators, and out and out racists. In 1960 the rugby union sent the All Blacks on tour to Apartheid South Africa, waving the team off without any Māori players or officials in a remarkable sop to the country’s colour bar. In 1976 the national team were sent back, this time defying international calls to cut sporting ties with the racist state. In protest at the tour more than twenty African countries led a boycott at that year’s Olympics, a moral stand that should perpetually shame New Zealand Rugby. Not racist? As if.
In an ideal world the Canterbury Crusaders would study this history, carefully considering whether their decision to retain the team name is another brick in rugby’s wall of shame. The managers might consider how “deus vult”, meaning God wills it, a battle cry from the first Crusade, and “Acre 1189”, a reference to a siege in the third Crusade, are URL shorthands and postscripts for white supremacist users constructing a historiography for their neo-fascist movement. The managers might also reflect on how real-life white supremacists in countries like Brazil, Norway, and Australia are adopting the Knights Templar, the Christian warrior monks who made up the crusading hordes, and the literal white knight that was formerly the Canterbury team’s logo, as their saints.
📷
CRUSADERS MASCOTS AT AMI STADIUM IN CHRISTCHURCH IN 2019. PHOTO: DAVID ROGERS/GETTY IMAGES. FEATURE IMAGE: FRIDAY PRAYERS AT AL NOOR MOSQUE ON MARCH 22, 2019. PHOTO BY SANKA VIDANAGAMA/NURPHOTO VIA GETTY IMAGES
As it happens the team’s managers, after kicking the issue to a “market research” firm shortly after March 15, made the call to save the name. It’s an unconscionable decision, for obvious reasons, but the team bosses seem cognitively incapable of reasoning through the issue and its implications beyond mere “branding”. In a statement announcing the name-stay the team’s PR people wrote “for us, the Crusaders name is a reflection of the crusading spirit of this community,” as if it’s possible to just reframe the holy war using a press release. It’s a cretinous thing to do when not even a year earlier an alleged shooter undertook a massacre at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques as part of his own “crusade”.
A28-year-old man is before the High Court facing 52 murder charges relating to the events of March 15. What we know about his life is little, save the things he was curating about himself online, which in this essay I treat with caution and scepticism. But it seems clear enough the Australian citizen was an obsessive for the Crusades, scribbling references to the religious war for the Holy Land across the weapon police accuse the man of using to carry out the massacre. Investigative reports note in his pilgrimage to Europe the 28-year-old – who pleaded not guilty to all charges – made particular visits to Christian-Muslim battlegrounds in the former Ottoman Empire, apparently as a tribute to the crusading warmongers he was so keen to match.
To outsiders the obsession with this particular historical episode is probably bizarre, if not creepy. But in the nether world this man and his neo-fascist comrades inhabit they imagine they’re acting out the thesis and title in Samuel P Huntington’s The Clash of Civilisations. In his 1993 essay the American political scientist argues that in the immediate past global conflicts were between warring ideological factions – capitalism and communism – but post-Cold War conflict will centre between clashing civilisations. The West vs the rest. Christianity vs Islam. The Crusades II.
In Huntington’s telling, and in the alleged shooter’s head, the West and the Islamic world are fated to compete. Yet that competition won’t centre over economic issues like stable oil supply lines, or even political issues like the territorial integrity of Western allies in the Middle East, instead the clash is meant to happen over Islam’s apparently regressive values and the West’s progressive tradition. It’s a striking thesis, especially for the generals and politicians who were hunting for cover for their military adventures in the Middle East and East Africa in the late 80s and early 90s. But it was always a notion that was impossible to apply, reducing the Islamic world to a series of stereotypes (it never had its enlightenment) and setting it against an equally reductive West (it did have its enlightenment).
The late Edward Said, the Palestinian scholar, cut right to the heart of Huntington’s argument in identifying it wasn’t an argument at all – rather, he was “a partisan, an advocate of one so-called civilisation over all others” who maps billions of people into “vague” and “manipulable” abstractions and then presents it as a true account of the world. “Thus to build a conceptual framework around the notion of us-versus-them is in effect to pretend that the principal consideration is epistemological and natural – our civilisation is now and accepted, theirs is different and strange – whereas in fact the framework separating us from them is belligerent, constructed, and situational.”
In other words, the thing separating the Christian us from the Islamic them, to the extent a clean separation is possible at all, is history – of colonialism, of Cold War power politics – and not immutable categories like “the West” or “the East”. That the categories exist at all are a function of history and political convenience, not a universal law stipulating conflict as the only end. Yet for the neo-fascists like the alleged shooter every thought they cherish orbits this particular rock: that the entire Islamic world is one dirty blob of terrorism, rape, and invasion, and that all its more than one billion members act with a single purpose and co-ordination unknown in the entire history of humanity.
But why commit to a dichotomy so obviously stupid at all? The 28-year-old grew up in Grafton, a waterway town in northern New South Wales, and in his time on the Eastern seaboard it seems unlikely he ever actually met many Muslim people at all. In his own family’s account they were just ordinary Aussies. It’s impossible to interrogate the claim – every family thinks itself the norm and we can’t penetrate their private lives to investigate how true it is – yet the family were probably ordinary in one sense. They were unremarkable. Just another white family. The alleged shooter’s parents were in traditional jobs. Mum a teacher. Dad a rubbish man.
The people who were closest to him – cousins, old school mates – pinpoint his OE to Europe as “the moment”. As RNZ reports in his manifesto the alleged shooter recounts his trip through North Korea and Pakistan, paying tribute to the locals’ kindness and hospitality (noticing the contradiction he explains he doesn’t hate the yellows and blacks who stay in their own “homelands”). Eventually he lands in Europe, road tripping France. In one passage he despairs that he can’t seem to find an all-white town or city. In another passage his travels take him, quite conveniently, to a cemetery for the European dead of the world wars. “I broke into tears, sobbing alone in the car,” he writes, mourning the apparent Islamification of Europe. “Why were we allowing these soldiers deaths to be in vain?”
He didn’t realise that the dead he mourned died trying to kill people like him.
In 2018 I wrote (presciently, without claiming too much credit for an insight this awful) that “white nationalism is, for the basement dwelling 4chaners, mouth breathing Redditors, and Youtube philosopher kings, nothing more than a desperate search for an alternative fatherland”. That search is what drove the alleged shooter from his Australian home. “The origin of my language is European, my culture is European, my political beliefs are European… most importantly, my blood is European”. To the alleged shooter his actual home was irredeemable. “What is an Australian but a drunk European?”
In each claim is a desperate narcissism, reaching for an imaginary identity when your existing accomplishments don’t match your personal ambitions. It’s tempting to extend that psychoanalysis. The alleged shooter’s fetish for imaginary “whites” is a cover for the trauma of being a nothing, disembodied. Or maybe the urge to order and rank the world into competing civilisations is a neurosis, like stacking your knives and forks in a row. Perhaps the pleasure he takes in trolling is jouissance, a momentary transgression in the service of briefly feeling. Yet those readings are weightless if they stand alone. The alleged shooter’s interior life is relevant, certainly so for a conviction on murder, but studying the actually existing politics that shaped his positions and actions seems more important than base speculation.
In The Invention of Tradition the historians Terence Ranger and Eric Hobsbawm argue that traditions, far from the ancient wisdoms of old, are often nothing more than recent beliefs that help foster a common identity when – to borrow from Said – “organic solidarities” like the family or village break down. The inventions are easy to spot in the courts and parliament where British ritual connects the two institutions to a pedigree and past that their move half away across the world broke. In the neo-fascist movement the inventions are slightly more subtle, taking actual historical happenings like the Crusades and pick-and-mixing the symbols (Knights Templar), battles (Acre 1189), and language (deus vult) that they can contort around the various anti-Muslim bigotries.
The idea that traditions are a kind of stand-in where old connections break down seems especially apt in settler colonies where the relationship to the past and a present community often amounts to nothing more than a shopping list of shared habits and references. Gumboots as culture. I appreciate that description could come across as banal, or even malicious, but it gets close to the impulses apparently guiding the alleged shooter: the search for meaningful political connections and political community. As he saw it Australia had no identity to offer. Instead he found his connection in an “imagined community” – in violent European nationalisms – and online.
“I am a racist”, the man writes in his manifesto. His neo-fascists comrades were too.

2

One of the first inspirations he cites is Luca Traini, a 28-year-old Italian neo-Nazi who, with a 9mm glock, went on a drive-by shooting injuring six African migrants in Macarata in 2018. The racist rampage lit a fuse under that year’s Italian general election. The left went after Matteo Salvini, the League Party leader, the same party in which Traini stood as a mayoral list candidate, for inspiring his violent work. In an ordinary election a political leader would make an immediate climb down, condemning Traini and his crimes. But Salvini, best known in the English-speaking world for closing harbours to refugees crossing the Med, was surprisingly consistent. He said the left had “blood on its hands” for packing the country with “illegal migrants”. The unspoken implication: Traini was doing his patriotic duty.
The alleged shooter, watching on from another hemisphere, found a brother in arms. The two men had built their identities around all the same hatreds and had clothed their boogeymen in all the same threads. One stitch for migrant “invaders”. Two stiches for liberals and Marxists, and a needle for the “race traitors” among them. But where the twin gunmen’s hatred really met, transforming from online big noting to a real-life passion, was in protecting “their” women. Traini undertook his crime as an apparent act of revenge against the three Nigerian refugees in court for killing 18-year-old Pamela Mastropietro.
In his manifesto the alleged shooter offers a similar provocation, taking 11-year-old Ebba Akerlund’s death as his red pill. In his self-mythologising, the Stockholm truck attack, a deadly terrorist attack that took Akerlund’s and four other lives, was his waking moment. “It was another terror attack in the seemingly never-ending attacks that had been occurring on a regular basis throughout my adult life,” he wrote. “But for some reason this was different”. What was that difference? Akerlund. An innocent. It’s a vile misuse – he doesn’t care for anyone or anything beyond himself – but the narrative demands an affect, the shooter turning in his coward’s rags for a knight’s armour.
For neo-fascists it’s essential to tell their origin stories through the opposite sex. For aspiring movement leaders like the alleged shooter it’s the fight to protect the “virtue” of “our women” against “Muslim rapists” that forces their hand. For lurkers, shitposters, and like-avores it’s the feminists and “Staceys” who never recognise the genius and vigour of their own race (plain meaning: “women don’t want me”) who lead them into fascism. Santa Barbara shooter Elliot Rodger, a martyr for beta males, undertook his crimes and suicide as an apparent act of “retribution” against women for denying him the sex and love he thought of as his by right.
This, not the customary declarations of love for the race, or even the thrill of sharing the same enemies, is usually the heart of online fascism – it’s a reaction against women.
In Male Fantasies the German sociologist Klaus Theweleit argues the fascist men who fought against the Weimar Republic from 1918 to 1933, and who went on to prominent positions and a political home in the Nazi regime, were in their heads and hearts afraid of women. For the “Freikorps” there were two womanly classes: White Women, “the nurses” representing order and servitude to men and country; and Red Women, “the communists” representing disorder, whoring, and the end of patriotic men. The latter were the women the paramilitary movement were under an obligation to kill. In one speech a general complains that when “a few old girls get blown up the whole world starts screaming about bloodthirsty soldiers”.
“As if women were always innocent,” he said.
This is why every fascist movement purges women first – metaphorically and actually. In Ruth Ben-Ghiat’s Italian Fascism’s Empire Cinema the American historian describes how films under the Duce’s regime “remove the Italian woman from the colonial space”, portraying the colonies as where men might find purpose through trans-national thuggery, and attacking women’s emancipation at home as a “corrupting” force and a check on the people’s success. The alleged shooter undertook his killings with similar illusions. That he could forge a new identity in gun fire and blood, and that liberated women (and Jews) were responsible for his personal and racial decline. In his manifesto the opening line is “it’s the birth rates”, repeated three times.
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THE WELLINGTON 15/3 VIGIL HELD AT THE BASIN RESERVE (PHOTO BY ELIAS RODRIGUEZ/GETTY IMAGES)
It’s easy to diagnose the same pathologies in his comrades. Game developers Zoë Quinn, Brianna Wu and media critic Anita Sarkeesian – the victims in 2014’s Gamergate troll – were made targets for harassment for no other reason than they were women crossing the border between a man’s stuff (the spacies) and a woman’s role (sex and housework). In New Zealand the death threats against Golriz Ghahraman, our first MP who arrived in New Zealand as a refugee, are so frequent Parliamentary Services ensures special protection for the Green MP. The critics go after Ghahraman for everything from fakery (her “CV” is a lie, she isn’t a “real refugee”) to acting as part of a globalist conspiracy to wipe out the white race. It’s impressively stupid, of course, but the point isn’t the truth in the charges. It’s that an Iranian-born woman sits in our parliament.
The same trolls go for the prime minister on Twitter’s #TurnArdern hashtag too, condemning Jacinda as a lazy woman (#parttimePM) who coasts along on nothing more than her femininity (“she’s a pretty communist”). That’s hardly out of the ordinary, of course. In the 2000s print commentators were comfortable enough to throw equally chauvinist slurs at Helen Clark, using “Helengrad” for Clark as the controlling woman and “political dominatrix” for ball-breaking the men around her. The difference is today’s trolls serve their sexism with Islamophobia on top. Last year activist Rangi Kemara found a telling correlation between tweeters of Turn Ardern and tweeters of Islamophobia. The Christchurch man selling MAGA hats – “Make Ardern Go Away” – on TradeMe once wrote he would destroy “mosque after mosque till I am taken out”.
Give me the misogynist, to corrupt an old saying, and I’ll show you the Islamophobe.
Simone Weil, the French philosopher, would recognise in the turn to Europe – and the turn against women – a classic “uprooting”. In almost every country material comfort and security often rely on cutting the cord between a person, the past, and a present community: removing Indigenous people from their land; separating citizens from their homes and families in one place for work in another; and reducing people to their supposedly “innate” categories (race, gender, etc). These uprootings, in Weil’s words, are a “sickness of the soul” that leave men especially vulnerable to demagoguery. In their search for past and present connections they turn to “false conceptions” like patriotism and national greatness, and at the core of each in 2020: hatred for and fear of women.

3

What’s notable about this neo-fascist movement isn’t necessarily its reach but its mode. Online, yes, but more importantly: politically free. Other than finance, the alleged shooter had no political or bureaucratic restraints. He could post all the tell-tale things he apparently did, and it seemed neither the police nor the spy agencies would ever flag it. He could acquire the semi-automatic weapon the Crown charge him with using with nothing more than a gun licence – and the seller was under no obligation to log the purchase. And he could move between Australia and New Zealand’s practically open borders with only a passport and a straight face for the eGate.
I hope you register the irony in this. Borders were the very thing the alleged shooter was desperate to enforce against the Muslim hordes. After moving to New Zealand, ostensibly to plan an attack back home, the 28-year-old found instead that “the invaders were in all of our lands”. Even at the bottom of the world in formerly lily-white Christchurch. “Nowhere was safe”, he wrote. The alleged shooter, in a bonfire of pomposity and self-regard, actually did think himself at the centre of a civilisational struggle between the out-bred West and Islam. In the mind of the manifesto writer, massacring Muslims would enforce the borders the supposed sell outs in government wouldn’t.
But in allegedly killing the innocent people he did he wasn’t taking on a powerful soon-to-be majority. Rather, on one side is the 28-year-old with all his political and social freedoms, and on the other are the shooting’s victims who were living their lives under significant political and social restraints. The spy agencies were dedicating their resources to “Islamic terrorism”, not the alleged shooter’s terrorism. Police commit more resources to “street gangs” – that is, Māori – and barely even bother with the alleged shooter’s brothers and sisters in white power. The immigration department, as any anecdote can confirm, focuses disproportionate attention on non-white entries, and the only people who move freely between borders are people like the 28-year-old.
In short: non-white people live their lives under scrutiny and surveillance.
The government’s official response to the Christchurch shooting is to extend that scrutiny and surveillance to, well, white people. Jacinda Ardern is leading reforms to gun laws and the rules governing how online users share violent, racist, and other objectionable material. Last month the country’s top spies told a parliamentary select committee that they’re keeping watch on dozens of suspect characters. Police, even a year on, are still making home visits to destroy illegal weapons and otherwise interview lurkers and posters. The changes, taken together, rightly remove the freedom and options the alleged shooter had, and make it almost impossible for his comrades to organise.
Yet as good and necessary as those changes are some of the structural conditions that produce the racial distinctions the alleged shooter holds so dear are left intact.
In organised debating one of the famous moots is the “balloon debate”. In it each speaker, usually arguing on behalf of someone famous, proposes why the others shouldn’t toss him or her over the side of a hot air balloon in order to save the others. It’s a riveting hypothetical, placing six people in disaster’s mouth and exercising the collective choice to doom one and rescue the others. But for anyone who understands how it feels to have their apparent merits and demerits subject to “debate”, with someone else drawing up a balance sheet in red and black, it’s horrendous. The idea is we’re born equal, but after that all bets are off. This is what women, takatāpui, Māori, Muslims, and other deviations from the “norm” deal with most days.
Are we worthy?
It’s the same principle that organises immigration to New Zealand: who’s worthy? In our system the government literally attaches “points” to the world’s hopeful according to their potential for improving the lives of the hosts. Good English? Points. A tertiary qualification? Add to the tally. Assets? You’re basically in. The system’s political champions admire this approach for its rationality. Unlike the US where immigration sometimes relies on a lottery – eg the American Diversity Immigrant Visa – or just keen racism – i.e. the Muslim travel ban – New Zealand immigration is hassle-free and non-discriminatory.
It’s a self-serving argument, of course, because an immigration system where the purpose and function is defining inclusions and exclusions (who’s in and who’s out) is never neutral. When Winston Peters calls for tighter English language requirements, for example, that’s really an argument for conferring an advantage on applicants from the Anglosphere over people with equivalent skills or greater need from other parts of the world. This isn’t explicitly discriminatory, at least in the sense the exclusionary threshold doesn’t depend on a person’s race, but the impact is racist in that one group of people (mostly white) enjoy an advantage over another group (mostly non-white) thanks to nothing more than the great good fortune of being born an English speaker.
It’s a perversity. Yet this is what border systems, including our points system, do: they force you to think about inners and outers. The threshold between the worthy and the unworthy. This is one reason the refugee-led campaign to end the “family link policy” was so important. In removing the rule barring African and Middle Eastern refugees from settling in New Zealand (unless their family were already here) the campaigners saw to one of the worst racial exclusions our border system made. If you’re an optimist you might hope the other racist exclusions in our border laws – like The Citizenship (Western Samoa) Act, the legislation stripping Samoans of their Privy Council-confirmed New Zealand citizenship – are but a campaign away from abolition.
I’m a pessimist.
I suspect most people imagine borders as objects, a line in the ground demarcating our country from theirs. Yet the American southern border, as one example, is notable more for “the Wall’s” absence than its presence. The northern border is even less dramatic, a largely wide-open space with fences here and there to pen in the farm animals. In New Zealand airlines usually enforce the country’s borders thousands of kilometres from our actual line on the map. Under the Advance Passenger Screening programme carriers only board passengers with the appropriate documentation.
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A POLICE OFFICER DEMONSTRATES ILLEGAL GUN MODIFICATIONS. (PHOTO: RNZ / ANA TOVEY)
It’s another marvellous technocratic achievement, appointing airline staff as de facto border patrol agents. But like the points system the screening programme’s impacts can end up perverse and racial making it almost impossible for refugees and asylum seekers from “non-visa waiver countries” (i.e. the developing world) from ever making it far enough to lodge a claim for protection in New Zealand. The programme, more than anything else, exposes borders for what they really are – a list of biased inclusions and exclusions – and the structural violence borders perform are in whom they include (the English-speaking, the educated, the wealthy) and who they exclude (the desperate, the poor, the mostly brown and black).
The alleged shooter and the neo-fascist movement understand a struggle is happening over the nature and function of borders. This man recognised new borders – the “balkanisation of the US” – as the only way to guarantee “the future of the White race on the North American continent”. His comrades, like the neo-Nazi who went on a stabbing riot on a train in Oregon, claim their end goal is smashing the US into competing ethno-states. For them – and their king in President Trump – reconfiguring the borders, whether as policy changes to the inclusions and exclusions or new border lines entirely, is the best way to guarantee their political supremacy this century.
Are borders by their very nature racist?

4

I took my last trip to Christchurch a month and a half after March 15. I had a speaking engagement with Network Waitangi Otautahi, the local tauiwi Treaty group. I thought about putting it off. Post-March 15 the only conversations that seem urgent and necessary are about March 15. Taking up space felt wrong, and even stepping off the plane felt intrusive. The city was grieving. Even the affect was off. People were unusually quiet in public spaces. In private one person I spoke to was literally in tears. We weren’t talking about March 15 at all but she was thinking about it every day. Even that felt like I was taking up space. Am I here to grieve too? I thought about Sam Neill breaking down in a taxi when the news broke, openly weeping, and how he took comfort from his Muslim driver.
Hmmm.
I spoke, in the end. Not entirely comfortably, but an intervention of one kind or another felt right after the racism debate went from “individual hate” to “firearms access” to “the internet”. Each is its own valid connection, sure, but it felt as if all the most important connections were missing. In the English-speaking world it’s fashionable to name private, individual acts as “racist”. The intolerant, unfair, or simply racial things that fall out of people’s mouths. Like “cheeky darkies” on the 7pm telly. But it’s unfashionable, of course, to name racist systems. Instead bureaucrats and opinion-makers opt for euphemisms like “unconscious bias”, reducing racism to a state of mind and not a systemic design.
This is why I thought it important to issue a reminder, in the very small way that I could: racism is a social relation. It’s the principle governing the relationship between coloniser – the people who took this land and built the institutions to control and profit from it – and colonised, the people from whom the land was taken and the institutions built to protect and exploit the founding theft. The same principle shapes the relationship between citizens – people who enjoy all the rights the state confers – and non-citizens, outsiders who must prove their worth through their contribution to citizens.
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These are the systemic conditions that produce racism – unequal power relations – and it’s what makes it so easy to condemn the Māoris or the immigrants or whoever else. When one people are up and the other are down, and the scales are apparently resistant to any remedial attempts to balance them with Treaty settlements or an increase in the refugee and asylum seeker quota, it makes it seem as if their disadvantage is a state of nature and not a centuries-long project to exclude certain people from prosperity. To the alleged shooter his victims were by their very nature irredeemable, abusing the West’s generosity, and he understood himself as enacting the same permanent exclusions his ancestors made, from the Crusades to the war on terror.
In this sense, the alleged shooter was an individual racist. Of course he was. But in another sense he was taking our exclusionary systems to their logical end.
Is there any response to savagery like this? The government’s reforms are one. I entirely support them. And yet they fall so short. People will still define their identity in different nationalisms, just like the alleged shooter did, so long as there are racist border system to enforce them. Neo-fascists will still define their identities against women as long as there is an unequal “domestic sphere”, an unequal workplace, and a society where one group – men – accumulate and exercise disproportionate power over another – women, trans people, non-binary people. That makes the struggle against the alleged shooter’s politics longer than his trial, his probable conviction, and his probable imprisonment. It’s a generations-long struggle to destroy all the exclusions that make up our society and produce the conditions we know as racism.
On my read Simone Weil’s original, vital insight is that as people and communities we find our identities in the obligations we owe – and in the obligations owed to us. In those reciprocal relationships we find meaning and purpose. In the give and take, in its delights and frustrations, and in the everyday work of making a home in these islands. This is where we find our roots, connecting to each other in different ways – whether as Māori or women or Muslims – but never excluding. “They are us” is an inclusion. They are us is an affirmation. They are us is also an urgent and uncomfortable call to action. As New Zealanders, it’s our responsibility to take on every exclusionary system, whether it’s racist borders or enduring gender roles. The memory of those who lost their lives on March 15 demands no less."
submitted by lolpolice88 to Maori [link] [comments]

The road to Brexit - a personal journey

Brexit. How did it come to this? As someone who was conflicted about the vote and who attempted to weigh up the arguments rationally, I would like to offer to the readers of reddit, a personal story of how my thinking evolved in the lead up to the vote, how I voted, and how my thoughts have developed since then.
Rather than post a one-sided polemic, justifying a particular view, I want here to present my thoughts as accurately as I can describe them, including nuances and doubts along the way. That probably means I'll end up getting criticism from both sides - but perhaps some people might be interested and appreciate it. So, here goes...
About Me
Demographic information: white male, 40s. Rural working class by family background; middle class by education and profession.
Voting affiliation: usually Conservative; formerly Liberal Democrat.
Background
I was never enthusiastic about the idea of the European Union, but rather saw it as a means to ensure trade and co-operation on a practical level. Certainly if you'd asked me 10 years ago, I would have argued that it's better to stay in to try to influence it for the better. But over the years, I had become less certain of this view, due to seemingly one-way ever-increasing centralization in the EU, towards something more akin to the United States. Actually worse, as I can foresee the EU taking more power from member states than does the US federal government, in some areas this is already the case in fact. At least the US has the 10th Amendment. But despite this strong skepticism of the EU institutions, I've always seen the other European countries as friendly, important allies, and want to see good trading, personal and cultural relationships across the continent of Europe. Therein lies my conflict.
Influencing factors
  1. The Euro. A single currency for the whole of Europe! What could possibly go wrong? As we know, plenty did go wrong. Perhaps this was the first indicator that something was seriously wrong at the heart of the EU project. It seemed to confirm a suspicion: that the philosophy of centralization and political integration was more important than practical economics. A generation of EU politicians, who so believed in the project, seemed to have allowed their utopian vision to override practical, pragmatic considerations. Furthermore, as the EU gets ever increasing powers, it will inevitably be run more in the interests of Euro members. As a non-Euro member, the UK would be particularly exposed to being forced into things against its national interest.
  2. Government by continent. I am in favour of international trade and co-operation. But I really don't see why this has to be done to such a large extent at continent level. The idea of the EU seems to be predicated on having strong border on the outside and you're either in it or out of it. Sure, on a practical level, there may be some need for some Europe-wide institutions, and there are plenty of EU agencies that I'd be happy to part of. But for me the EU goes way beyond what is necessary or desirable. My preferred model would be less tied to continental masses. Especially when it comes to western democracies: I see no reason why links with Canada or Australia must necessarily be lesser than those with European countries. I am also skeptical of the need or benefit of a "European identity" that is distinct from people in other continents. Like how UKIP supporters are sometimes branded "little Englanders", I think that fanatical EU supporters can equally be branded "little Europeaners".
  3. Localism. I am in favour of the decisions in general being taken and the most local level that makes practical sense. Indeed, the UK itself is too centralized too, and I would welcome more powers for cities and counties. Despite any claims to the contrary, the EU can and does make laws on things that could easily be left with member sates. The mantra is harmonisation, but that might be just another way of saying centralized control. Some things will necessarily require international bodies to decide upon, but where this is necessary, in many cases it might make more sense to have global bodies rather than continental ones.
  4. The votes for prisoners judgement by the ECHR. It might seem esoteric - and before people jump in to say it: yes I know the ECHR is not an EU institution. But there was a lesson to be learned here, so let me explain. This was an outrageous decision and an affront to democracy. I was disgusted. Not just at the decision, which was offensive enough, but at the fact that there was apparently nothing that could be done about it. A court had ruled it, so that was that. In my view, the UK should have immediately left the ECHR in protest at this decision. Don't get me wrong, I am in favour of human rights law, and would happily subscribe to the basic text of European Convention on Human Rights. But what we had here was unaccountable judges overstepping their remit into areas of political policy, without being subject to democratic accountability: If it had been a UK judge, at least the Parliament could subsequently change the law. What this case showed to me, more than anything, was the absolute and critical importance of sovereignty and democratic accountability in a political system. While the ECHR might be relatively easily ignored for now, clearly this represents a danger: future outrageous judgements, perhaps next time by the ECJ, would be binding. So while not directly an EU issue, this case for me was critical in developing my thinking about questions of sovereignty.
  5. The awkward UK. It always seems to be that we are the ones that are holding things in the EU back. Personally, I can't really understand why other countries seem happy to subordinate themselves. But if that's what they want, maybe we should just get out of the way and let them get on with it. On the other hand, by staying in, perhaps we could find common cause with others to offer a different vision for Europe - one that is more strictly limited to the practical needs of co-operation over trade.
The lead up to the vote
When the referendum was announced, I wasn't clear how I would vote. I decided I would wait and see what David Cameron came back with after negotiating a so-called "reformed EU" package. Sadly, the answer was not much. Even in the face of one if its biggest members and contributors having serious doubts about even remaining a member, the inflexibility and zeal from the EU was undiminished. They were willing to call our bluff.
I listened to the debates. Both campaigns in truth were awful. Whether it was the £350 million we send to the EU, or the £4300 a year worse off, there were stupid statistics being thrown around on both sides. The one thing that cut through was the "take back control" message. The reason this resonated, in my view, was that is crystallised in a neat phrase the pre-existing concerns over the sovereignty question.
Apart from the fears that the economy would be worsened if we left, I don't remember a single convincing pro-EU argument being made from the Remain side. It might be have been put: "Vote Remain - the EU is a necessary evil"!
If we were to Leave, I could see, there would be short term uncertainty and turmoil, and it would give the politicians on both sides of the channel a big headache. On the other hand, if we were to Remain, the forces in favour of centralizing the EU would see it as tacit approval for their plans. Still, leaving outright felt too extreme to me, too drastic. I was also put off by some of the more strident anti-immigration messages that were coming from certain Leave extremists, but there were plenty of mainstream politicians arguing what seemed to be a reasonable case for Leave (and I'm not counting Boris in that list). I found myself wishing there were another other alternative, a middle ground. But, it was a binary choice, so I had to pick a side.
What should I do? In the end, I couldn't see how I could vote for doing nothing, which is what a Remain vote would be. A message had to be sent. Even if, as the polls were saying, Remain would win, a very close result might at least act as a warning.
The day of the vote
With some mixed feelings, I voted Leave.
The immediate aftermath
Watched the results coming in with some surprise, to say the least! Did I feel happy or joyful that my "side" had won? No, not really. I felt trepidation. Had I done the right thing? In truth, I wasn't sure. But, had I voted Remain and that side had won, I'm sure I would have felt a different set of anxieties - the consequence of having a vote where neither option is entirely satisfactory. The trouble with being on the winning side, is you are then partly responsible for what follows. There is a certain joyful freedom about being on the losing side - you can take the moral high ground at anything that goes wrong subsequently. Still, I did have a sense of optimism that despite the initial upheaval, a new beginning where the country reconnects more directly to the wider world was possible.
Events since the vote
There have been two events since the referendum that have caused me to question my vote:
  1. Calling the 2017 general election. I am completely with Brenda from Bristol here. Having triggered Article 50, you would think the government would have been fully concentrating on the exit process and preparing a sensible new arrangement. But no, instead Mrs May decides to put selfish party advantage before that of the country. Although I was angry about that, I still voted Conservative, as the best hope for a decent Brexit deal.
  2. The election of Donald Trump. What a disaster: America first, protectionism, and anti-free trade. My Leave vote had been in large part to have more global links and co-operation, but now this vision seemed a lot less likely. Leave and Trump voters are often mentioned in the same sentence, but my definition of Leave is virtually the complete opposite of Trump's policies.
Current state of play
So how do I feel now? I still hope that a decent deal can be found that maximises trade and co-operation, but at a level that the UK as a whole feels comfortable with, both Leave and Remain voters. However I have my doubts, the referendum has opened up a cultural division that I don't see disappearing even after Brexit is complete. The whole country is still polarized as ever, and the issue has now become a matter of political identity - something I regret.
Unsurprisingly, the EU institutions are intransigent and inflexible as ever, so getting a decent deal is not going to be easy. Does that mean Brexit should be cancelled and revert to the status quo? I don't see how that can happen either, the mistrust and negative feeling toward the EU institutions has only grown, and I wouldn't feel optimistic about that option either - the issues outlined above with the EU would still be there if we remained in on the same terms.
In summary, I still have some hope that Leave will turn out to be the best long-term option, given the unfortunate binary nature of the vote, but wish a different solution could have been found - a genuinely reformed EU - that would have avoided having the vote in the first place, and potentially have been a more satisfactory outcome all round.
Phew, that about sums it all up. Thanks for reading this long post.
Edit: Some have asked me about the future arrangement and what kind of deal I think there should be, so I'm going to add a new section:
Future
I support the ongoing negotiations, and subscribe neither to the "relax, everything will be great" blind optimism of some Brexiteers, nor the "everything will be disaster, cancel it at once" cries of some Remainers. I think in the end, if a sensible compromise is found, it'll probably be less of a big deal than people are expecting. People will adapt to the new system and carry on as normal.
As a mere layperson I can't say exactly what I think the deal should be, but my desire for us to be more interconnected directly with the wider world necessitates leaving the customs union - otherwise, there isn't really any point in Brexit at all! I am open to exploring EFTA-style arrangements though if they can be made fair to both sides.
The atmosphere is tense at the moment but I think we all need to take a breath, remain calm, and hold our nerve, and then assess the final deal (both economic and sovereignty-wise) once negotiations are complete.
submitted by shieldofsteel to ukpolitics [link] [comments]

Tumult in your Model Parliament: private members overtake government bills (Fri 21 Aug 2015)

FRIDAY 21 AUGUST 2015 | NATIONAL POLITICS | CITIZENS’ PRESS
There’s finally been some activity in parliament this week. Very little of it has interfaced with the community, but at least some debates have been underway. Three new bills were introduced into the House of Representatives and could pass next week (the government’s previous commitment to public consultation has gone out the window). The first tied vote almost happened. Diplomatic relations have been extended, but the government hasn’t made any announcements. The possibility of holding any constitutional referendums at the next federal election sits on a knife edge.
Up until today, most of the week’s excitement in /ModelParliament and /ModelAusHR had come from lurker281 MP. Finally, on Friday, there has been some new play from the government, opposition and cross-benches. The deafening silence from most Government MPs has seen private members’ bills supplant the Greens’ legislative agenda. Conversely, Labor MPs’ non-participation has cost the Deputy Opposition Leader two votes in the House.
SOCIALIST ALTERNATIVE, LIBERAL PARTY & AUSTRALIAN PROGRESSIVES
The Socialist Alternative’s only sitting politician, lower house member for Melbourne Surrounds lurker281 MP, announced their departure from that party and has now joined the Australian Progressives instead. They retain their seat in parliament. An official statement from the MP is expected in parliament soon, announcing their move from the cross benches to the opposition benches. This move was due to party inactivity, not because of internal conflict (unless GuestAlt has any leaks to report).
Both the Liberal Party and Socialist Alternative are now gone from the 20-member parliament. The Greens, Labor, Progressives, Catholics and 3 independents remain.
More: [Public Forum] Lurker281, Member for Melbourne Surrounds. More: [PRESS CONFERENCE] Lurker281: Leaving the Socialist Alternative Party. More: [Press Conference] Lurker281: Joining the Australian Progressives.
IMMIGRATION PORTFOLIO: DETENTION OF NON-CITIZENS (OPPOSITION COALITION)
The week’s major policy development has also come from lurker281 MP who introduced their hotly-anticipated Migration Amendment bill, with personal support from the Prime Minister. It was their last act before leaving the Socialist Alternative. The new measures, if passed, will have budget implications and could undo the slashing of the Sovereign Borders budget announced two weeks ago. In-principle support from the government is due to be tested in parliament when the bill is debated.
Lurker281’s introductory speech (“second-reading debate”), highlighted measures for the humane processing of asylum seekers, new minimum standards for detention centres, and an option for community onshore processing. The effects of the bill have not yet been itemised in parliament, but a preliminary analysis of key provisions by Citizens’ Press reveals:
Section 4AAA Immigration detention: Declares detention centres as a last resort, to be used for the shortest time possible, and only to manage risks to the community while a non-citizen’s immigration status is being resolved (visa or deportation).
Section 38B Maritime crew visas & Section 114 Visas 7 Section 133F: Allow legal recourse relating to detention.
Section 133F & 137K Applications: Remove statute of limitations.
Section 154: Repeal some legal immunity from detention enforcement officers.
Section 189(1) Detention of unlawful non‑citizens: Limit the justifications for mandatory detention and make it discretionary, unless the person poses an unacceptable risk to the community.
Section 193 Application of law to certain non‑citizens while they remain in immigration detention: Remove limitations on legal rights.
Section 194A Temporary community access permission: This entirely-optional strategy (allowing a ‘detained’ person to be unrestrained and unsupervised during processing) was introduced by Rudd Labor but did not make it through parliament. An extensive discussion of it, including public submissions and parliamentary committee review, can be found IRL (PDF, 47 pages, 615 kB).
Section 256: Ensure mandatory advice is given to detainees rather than waiting for them to request it, so that no one misses out.
Section 508 Detention Centre Conditions: Raise the minimum standards for detention centre conditions and treatment will “require a significant increase in spending”.
There has not been public consultation on this bill, however some questions were raised in lurker281’s personal public forum.
Portfolio Office Bearer Party Achievements
Minister for Immigration and Tourism Hon VoteRonaldRayGun MP Australian Greens None
Private Member lurker281 MP Socialist Alternative (now Australian Progressives) Migration Amendment (introduced)
More: lurker281 MP’s introductory bill speech (second reading debate, opening remarks) More: [Public Forum] Lurker281, Member for Melbourne Surrounds. More: M2015B00009: HoR 12-8: Bill – As Introduced – Migration Amendment (Detention of Non-citizens) Bill 2015, Monday 17 August 2015
ENERGY PORTFOLIO: CARBON PRICING (GOVERNMENT) & RENEWABLE ENERGY TARGET (OPPOSITION COALITION)
The Treasurer Hon agsports MP (possibly acting in a personal capacity to spur discussion) recently floated the idea of re-introducing a fixed-price carbon tax. A public forum is currently underway in /modelparliament. So far, most of the public opinion has favoured an international capped-Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) at market rates, not a carbon tax. Add your voice today!
This comes hot on the heals of the Opposition Coalition’s (Labor and Progressives) launch an enhanced Renewable Energy Target. The government has silently supported this revised RET in parliament, but we haven’t heard how it will achieve the results, given Australia’s backward steps since 2013.
The Greens’ Energy Minister, Hon TheEvilestElf MP, has been AWOL for two weeks and has not publicly commented on any of these issues at any stage.
Portfolio Office Bearer Party Achievements
Minister for Resources and Energy Hon TheEvilestElf MP Australian Greens None
Opposition Coalition Leader Senator Hon this_guy22 Australian Labor Party RET Act (50% by 2035, 150 TWh)
More: Public consultation on re-implementation of a carbon tax More: Good Policy - The Building Blocks of a Good Government.
HEALTH PORTFOLIO: UNIVERSAL DENTAL CARE
The Progressives are making good on their [election promise of federally-provided free dental care](3d7usf) by announcing the Denticare bill today. Read their press statements, view the bill, and join in the conversation now. It’s worth up to $10 billion a year, with the cost partially offset by an increased Medicare Surcharge. Their Opposition Coalition partner Labor has challenged the government to help fund it by repealing the $3b private health rebate and removing the 50% capital gains tax discount.
Portfolio Office Bearer Party Achievements
Minister for Health ? Australian Greens ?
Shadow Minister for Health phyllicanderer MP Australian Progressives Denticare Bill (TBC)
More: [Press conference] Introducing the Dental Benefits Amendment (Denticare) Bill 2015
DEFENCE PORTFOLIO: DECLARATION OF WAR
Since the Greens announced a $4 billion cut to the military budget, there have been few if any announcements about Defence. Today, the Minister for Defence Hon MadCreek3 MP has floated the idea of Constitutionally blocking the Executive Government’s power to declare war. Currently, the Commander-in-Chief (Governor-General) can declare a time of war based on Government Ministers’ advice in the Top Secret Federal Executive Council. It is currently a signatory to the United Nations Charter which means this is only done in cooperation with the UN Security Council. The last time Australia declared war was 1939. Instead, Australia’s involvement in the modern era is usually by providing assistance to allies at war.
Community feedback so far has been against Constitutional change, especially due if it means giving up Australia’s ability to act quickly and with the necessary secrecy. Instead, it’s been suggested that some kind of parliamentary parliamentary supermajority should be required to keep our troops on the ground. This would amount to resolving that current actions are reasonable, without necessarily revealing confidential information. This kind of power could also be used to limit sub-war campaigns like in the middle east, whether combat or training. Add your voice today!
More: [Public Consultation] Parliamentary Right to Declare War
THE TIE-BREAKER THAT WASN’T TO BE
Up until now, the government and opposition have generally been able to negotiate agreement and vote together, meaning most motions pass with an absolute majority of members voting Aye (albeit rarely unanimously). But on Tuesday, a House of Reps vote was tied 4:4 for the first time, with Government MP Hon TheEvilestElf and Cross-Bencher MP Sooky88 absent. The tie was broken by a 5th Aye from the government, narrowly defeating the opposition when coalition Labor MP CyberPolis didn’t show up to vote. Speakers of the House haven’t yet needed to exercise a casting vote.
REDDIPOLL SUMMARY AND ANALYSIS
Several people in parliament still aren’t doing ReddiPoll. Last week was another low show from Greens, with only 4 turning up (out of 8 in parliament and over 40 party members flaired). ReddiPoll is going a couple of weeks without new laws for you to vote on, because nothing’s been passed through parliament recently. The current government has only introduced 2 new bills in the first 5 weeks of its term (one in the first week and one this week). The Senate is still discussing bills from nearly 60 days ago. The public confidence-in-government rating has shifted from ‘unsure’ to ‘wrong direction’. We’re now relying on private members’s bills to keep the place alive. However, Greens voters are likely to get mobilised for the Senate half-election in September, meaning results could go in any direction from now on.
More: Previous week’s summary and analysis
PUBLIC FORUMS
Compensating for the lack of official policy consultation from the government, several personal public forums have been held in /modelparliament. The ones mentioned above, plus more below:
More: [Public forum] Unhappy with the government? More: [Public Forum] MadCreek3 - MP for Melbourne Urban and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Defence
SOCIETY PORTFOLIO: MARRIAGE EQUALITY
It’s been a messy weak for Marriage Equality in parliament. [Ed: typo in weak, but it seems apt.]
There have been some anaemic attempts at debate in the Senate. Finally, a recent amendment from the Australian Catholic Party Senator Cwross has generated some counter-opposition almost 60 days since the Marriage bill was introduced. There it remains.
In the House of Representatives, the Australians Progressives’ Deputy Opposition Leader phyllicanderer MP moved to censure the Marriage Alliance’s recent actions described by some as hate speech. The Greens Attorney-General Hon Ser_Scribbles MP succeeded in watering down the motion when the (almost) tied vote went the government’s way. Immediately afterward, phyllicanderer’s attempt to restore the force of the motion failed when no one seconded it, despite Labor and the Socialist Alliance previously debating in favour of the strongest wording.
The basis of the government’s challenge was that an Australian Government has no constitutional, legal or moral right to legislate against citizens’ freedom of political speech, and therefore has no right to condemn it. Others argued that fraudulent and discriminatory speech causes harm to citizens and their rights, and so deserves the parliament’s condemnation on those grounds. Like many large scale political debates, it was a battle between the freedom of one group and the rights of others.
After waiting 8 days for MPs to debate it, it was put to the vote. Here is is:
The House of Representatives:
  1. Recognises that the Marriage Alliance has released an advertising campaign on television and online, meant to evoke fear and anger in Australians about proposed marriage equality laws; and
  2. That where the “Marriage Alliance” has stated:
    (a) that people could lose rights; and
    (b) that sex education for children would change if the proposed laws were passed; and
    (c) that children will have their rights negatively impacted under the planned new laws,
    the House categorically rejects these statements as false.
  3. That the House acknowledges that real pain has likely been caused as a result of the Marriage Alliance’s unfounded advertising campaign.
Portfolio Office Bearer Party Achievements
Minister for Society Senator Hon Team_Sprocket Australian Greens Marriage Equality Act
Deputy Opposition Coalition Leader phyllicanderer MP Australian Progressives Marriage Alliance Motion
Shadow MP for Society CyberPolis MP Australian Labor Party None
HOUSE OF REPRESENATATIVES: SETUP & COMMITTEES
Only one committee has been appointed, and it’s just an internal committee that doesn’t relate to portfolio policies. Therefore, the Setup thread remains pinned at the top of this sub.
The Procedure Committee only began meeting this afternoon. It now has a chance to deal with the Prime Minister’s motion to sack two members. It will also consider an Opposition amendment to re-arrange the general-purpose portfolio committees. Ministerial responsibility for Employment remains unclear.
FOREIGN AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO: AMBASSADORS & ATTORNEY-GENERAL’S PORTFOLIO: HIGH COURT
News remains under wraps.
SENATE
The Senate has remained mostly idle for another week, with a late start on Monday their foot off the throttle through much of the rest. It almost gave up on hopes of fully debating the National Integrity Commission and Marriage Equality bills in committee. With the NIC, Labor successfully passed a option to reduce penalties for threatening or causing harm or loss to witnesses: allowing a fine instead of jail time. It passed today the Green government’s support. A win for rich, corrupt politicians.
The controversial motion to change Senators’ terms has been withdrawn, so it never got a chance to be debated.
submitted by jnd-au to modelparliament [link] [comments]

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