Language of Brexit
It takes one communist (me) in the history of this great island to point out that the PM, the Surrender Boris, and other brekkers (formerly known as brexiters, or, to the admirers, as brexiteers) get their language mostly from communist sources.
Here is a short list of the common words and expressions thrown by brekkers at anyone who supports the core democratic principle of fighting for your views, that is that Britain should stay in the EU.
[Surrender Bill = the Benn Bill = democratically adopted Parliament Act forbidding a no-deal Brexit]
It may sound like it’s evoking Churchill’s famous ‘We shall never surrender’ speech, but in fact it has other, sinister overtones.
It hails back to Lenin’s ‘defeatism’, the idea that socialists should help the defeat of their own country in an ‘imperialist’ war in order to facilitate a revolution. Lenin, it is claimed, was paid by the German General Staff in the hope that his ideas would help defeat the Russian Empire in the first world war.
The point of this reference is in accusing your opponent of being a surrenderer/defeatist, and on top of this being an agent of a foreign power or an agent of its influence.
The ‘Red Flag’, anthem of Labour, both British and Irish (and also of the Japanese Communist party and the North Korean Army), goes as follows
Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer We'll keep the red flag flying here
The original tune is the German ‘O, Tannenbaum’ made famous in the form of ‘Oh, Christmas Tree’ by Disney’s ‘Swiss Family Robinson’ (1960).
However, note the word ‘traitors’ in the text. The violent hatred of ‘traitors of the cause' goes back to the roots of socialist-communist movement, and has become a curse word since long ago, and a killing curse since Stalin’s great purges of 1930s, when ‘traitors of the Motherland’ were summarily executed.
A communist source again.
It is an invention of Trotsky. In 1930s he suggested that radical left-wing groups should dissolve and join larger, main-stream socialist and social-democratic parties to work inside them and shift their agenda to radicalism, hence ‘entryism.’
Enemies of the people —
Next, and most obvious. It is another Stalinist term. This is not a Soviet invention, but the term was widely applied during Stalin's rule, became known throughout the world, and is associated with the infamous Show Trials of the Great Purge under Stalin in 1930s when often innocent people were accused of being 'traitors of the Motherland' and ‘enemies of the people’ on trumped up accusations and killed or sent to Gulag. Some were rehabilitated twenty years later.
Non-aggression pact —
Farage promises a majority of a hundred or more for brekkers if tories agree to a ‘non-aggression pact’ with his Brexit Party.
But what is this ‘non-aggression pact’? The term comes from the agreement between Stalin and Hitler in 1939 that helped to unleash the second world war with the attack on Poland, and to dragg England and France into war.
On the ashes of that war, the European Union was founded to prevent such catastrophe happening ever again.
Now Farage is offering it to us again. Thank you, Nigel.
People’s will —
What is this ‘people’s will’? It is one of the oldest populist cliches of all. Roman Emperors ruled dictatorially in the 'name of the people.' Bolsheviks suppressed the people in the ‘name of the people’.
While our own John Stuart Mill fiercely argued against the ‘tyranny of the majority.’
What about democracy?
Defending democracy, i.e. the people’s will, a democratic choice, expressed in the 2016 Brexit referendum, has become the main line of attack by brekkers on all those who want a reasonable European deal for Britain. That leaving the EU means losing Britain’s independence in the face of such superpowers as the USA, China and, yes, the European Union itself, is another story.
What is important for the purposes of this argument, the debunking of the brekkers’ language, is to point out that this ‘democratic’ point is taken straight out of the Communist Party Charter. There, it is called ‘democratic centralism’ and demands ‘absolute submission of the minority to the majority’.
It was the guiding principle of the Soviet Communist Party since Lenin, and then of the whole of the Soviet Union as a state. It is still in use in China and North Korea.
Needless to say that true democracy demands respect for minority rights and opinions.
So, be careful, when you talk of democracy. Ask for definitions and their sources.
PS: Here, we look at it from the left point of view. Tetradki will look at how the right views the language at a late stage.
In this clip Winston Churchill (played by Gary Oldman aka George Smiley in 'Tinker, Tailor') makes his famous speech 'We shall never surrender'. At the end, one of his tory rivals says, 'Winston mobilised the English language and sent it into battle.' In fact, this phrase was made famous much later by President John Kennedy, who in turn borrowed it from an American broadcaster, the great CBS anchor Ed Murrow. —
And here is the Red Flag sung by Billy Bragg —