Political Dreaming

In Yiddish there is a distinction between kholem, the dream that occurs when we sleep, and troym which is the dream as ideal (“I have a dream”). In politics there is a distinction between policies that occur when the politician espousing them is asleep, and policies that are ideals (and therefore not vote-attracting). So at Party Conference policies are usually avoided, dumped in favour of dog-whistle slogans about immigrants, benefit-seekers, and trans people. What I am writing is obviously a none-too-disguised attack on the current Tory conference in Manchester, but it will also inevitably be true of Labour in Blackpool. So it should be a mistake to judge Politics and Political Aspirations in terms of heavily managed (or often mismanaged) Party Conferences. The problem however is that those dog-whistle slogans, so often geared to narrow-minded bigotry, have the unfortunate self-fulfilling quality of becoming Policy. The most catastrophic example of that of course was Brexit. The majority of the population now recognises Brexit as a mistake, but the majority of pro-European political forces still believe it is too soon to think in terms of promoting a return to the EU. The fear of being seen to oppose the so-called ‘will of the people’, together with the recognition that the EU itself is not immune from the wave of right-wing populism that is rolling across the world, is paralysing progressive movements from even starting to their develop strategies for reversing that 2016 moment of collective anti-establishment madness. That is why the streets of London were recently crowded with people coming together in a grassroots demonstration to rejoin the EU. But as an idea that dare not speak its name, it was roundly ignored by the BBC, which dared not mention an idea that is so firmly ignored by the main political forces of the country.


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