The nostalgia of centrism

This is absolutely spot on from Phil BC about the nostalgia animating contemporary centrist politics:

This uneasiness on sacred cow politics is compounded by the successive hit jobs undertaken on Corbyn. Because he doesn’t share the same conservative goals as centrism, it follows he does not respect the same rules either. And so the fall out of the anti-semitism crisis, suggestions Jezza is a puppet of Stalinoid functionaries, and every single smear story from the last four years feeds this unease, this angst. It’s not that media content brainwashes people, but exposed consistently over long periods of time it sediments into the consciousness. Their frames become your frames, their natural assumptions, without you noticing, become your assumptions. They can be resisted, but no one is totally free of how they condition our outlook. Least of all liberals and remainers and their emotional attachments to the BBC.

Therefore for a layer of people, Corbyn is an instantiation of the political instability we’ve seen since 2015. It does not matter how many hoops he jumps through – a second referendum, cancelling Brexit, shacking up with Guy Verhofstadt, changing his name to Remainy McRemainyface – nothing will ever suffice. Corbyn is a barrier against where they want to be, the past. A place they knew their place and could relax, leaving the business of ontological anxiety to others away from the public eye. Even if Britain under Corbyn ends up staying in the EU and properly funds the kinds of things they affect to care about, they are still out of joint, their heroes dethroned and the cognitive map of their social environs completely skewed, out of time and irrelevant.

This is why there are hundreds of thousands of “progressives” who can never countenance back Corbyn’s Labour, despite the party accepting the second referendum position. It’s more than a question of identity. It is a matter of being at ease in the world. And these people are very uneasy, to the point political realities have melted for them. They can’t go back, but trapped in the past they can’t move forward either. Stuck, their hard remain stubbornness symptomatic of a paralysing longing for a world doomed never to return. It means their politics are fundamentally reactionary and self-destructive, a mirror image of the Brexit zealotry they affect to despise. Such figures don’t deserve your anger or your social media invective, they are piteous and beyond reasoning. Nevertheless understanding the roots of their extremism is useful for getting to grips with weaker forms of Corbyn-scepticism and left phobia, and how we can go about addressing them.

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