Will. For a moment her heart hesitated. She remembered when Will had died, her agony, the long nights alone, reaching across the bed every morning when she woke up, for years expecting to find him there, and only slowly growing accustomed to the fact that that side of the bed would always be empty. The moments when she had found something funny and turned to share the joke with him, only to be shocked anew that he was not there. The worst moments, when, sitting alone at breakfast, she had realized that she had forgotten the precise blue of his eyes or the depth of his laugh; that, like the sound of Jem’s violin music, they had faded into the distance where memories are silent.
The thing is, both ‘Remain’ and ‘Leave’ are socially empty concepts.
Neither idea - as articulated within the 'official’ forums of public debate in press, media and Parliament - was a comprehensive vision of social transformation. Both became immediately and inevitably subsumed into the contentless war-of-position between neoliberal elites who fundamentally agree with one another on the tenets of post-Thatcher free-market capitalism: the concrete realities of how European states relate to one another and their citizens politically and economically became hopelessly lost, buried amidst debate undertaken on duplicitous premises.
Therefore, it was left up to ordinary folk themselves to project symbolic social content onto these categories which had been hollowed out by meaningless public discussion. On the one hand, in the minds of young, and relatively affluent voters, 'Remain’ became the symbol of anti-racism, cosmopolitanism, and global community; whilst for precarious, generally older workers, 'Leave’ became a nostalgic shibboleth associated with encompassing public welfare institutions, state-managed economics and a hazy, monocultural notion of social empowerment. Given this poorly defined, culturally relative plane of public debate, it’s no wonder at all that class allegiances shattered, with new political cleavages opening up between generations, party loyalties and cultural outlooks.
The only way to comprehend, and ultimately to navigate the Brexit from the perspective of working-class interests is to nail it firmly to the deck. We must fill those empty social containers. What does Brexit have to look like to guarantee our collective interests? Nationalisation of the large financial institutions, the refoundation of the British welfare state, the unilateral withdrawal from NATO and nuclear disarmament, a strongly anti-racist migration policy.
Brexit is not a cultural quest for self-knowledge. It is a political question about power, resources and which class wields them.