As the Brexit process – and quite possibly the United Kingdom itself – continues to jump the shark, original and rational (let alone coruscating) analysis of this phenomena remains that scarcest of commodities. It was therefore with great relief that we were alerted (via the Twitter feed of the inimitable Paul Mason) to the existence of Lea Ypi’s excellent There is no left-wing case for Brexit: 21st century socialism requires transnational organisation.
Ypi – who is a particularly iconic Professor of Political Theory at the London School of Economics and Political Science – posits a compelling and sophisticated case for why Britain’s impending departure from the world’s most valuable single market is unlikely to engender a more humane set of outcomes for a general population apparently in thrall to that curious mix of uncritical neoliberalism and buck-passing xenophobia laced with deliberate ignorance.
However, it is her analysis of why those social demographics commonly (and not always accurately) lumped together as ‘the Left’ have failed to advance politically from the 1990s onwards which stopped us in our tracks: ‘As representatives of the centre-left wore business suits and moved into central bank buildings, those of the radical left kept the squares, the flags, and the slogans. But both lost ordinary people.’
After some reflection on this exquisite sentence, we at Mediolana aver that it merits unpacking as follows:
- The non-distinction between those members of society who (to use a Chinese metaphor) leap into the sea of business and those in the financial services sector mirrors the Left’s broader analytical weakness in not distinguishing between people who engage in productive wealth generation on the one hand, and those who use this same wealth to subsidise their own bad bets (cf. the 2007– global financial crisis).
- More broadly, the Left’s antipathy towards capitalism as a whole – and not, say, the grotesque elements of financial capitalism specifically – is not merely analytically bankrupt, but helps ensure the continued rampant exploitation of vulnerable groups by its misidentification of the problem, which is fundamentally a moral and even spiritual one, albeit one with a partially material solution. (Indeed, the most extreme instances aside, whether an economy is ‘capitalist’ or not tells us surprisingly little about the state of equity and the quality of life experienced by the people who inhabit that system.)
- On a final and related point, given the fundamental nature of the problem, the Left must at last seriously consider how it is going to mine the world’s great ethical systems for guidance on how to sustainably address complex human impulses such as greed, dehumanisation and the erosion of empathy. To this end, Karl Marx’s facile orientalism needs to be rapidly discarded; instead, sustained and respectful engagement with both Western and global spiritual traditions should commence with immediacy.
As regular readers of this blog will be well aware, back in the comparatively innocent days of January 2017 we published a piece – inspired by an article at the magnificent Fashion Artista – which exhorted women to help make relationships great again, in large part by recognising the power that they have to reject mediocre processes and outcomes.
However, since the recent, explosive and murky revelations involving the now former CEO of The Weinstein Company – accusations which are themselves giving birth to a seemingly endless and grotesque reel of similar allegations against all manner of entities – it has quickly become apparent that the relationship scene in much of the developed world is even worse than we thought: a broadly post-religious, post-modern milieu which is not merely defined by empty sex, but arguably some seriously abusive practices which are rapidly corroding the very fabric of the individual.
Given this reality – and to avoid a situation where the human interaction environment resembles a zero-trust zone in which the only winners are lawyers – there is, perhaps now more than ever before, an absolutely desperate need for some new rules which help obviate the desecration of male-female relationships. After some contemplation, here they are:
- The ‘Serie A Handball’ Rule. Those soccer fans with even a passing familiarity with Italy’s Serie A will have noticed an intriguing development in recent seasons: that of defenders placing their hands behind their back at the mere possibility of an incoming aerial pass into the penalty area by the opposing team. The reason they do this is to avoid any suggestion that they might intentionally handle the ball and give away a spot-kick. Similarly, men in positions of power over females should adopt a zero ambiguity approach pertaining to physical contact that leaves no doubt as to their good intentions.
- The ‘Female Sexual Desire Exists’ Rule. A longstanding moral precept in Western Christian and even post-Christian culture is the idea that women are – somehow – not supposed to show interest in sex. This is problematic on many levels, but the key point here is that it deprives women of agency in relationships: because they are not meant to display certain emotions and desires, this in turn gives creepy predators a kind of cultural licence to proceed with nefarious acts on the grounds that lukewarm reactions to even wanted sexual advances are normalised. Conversely, in traditional Chinese, Islamic and Japanese cultures, fulfilment of female sexual desire is itself perceived as a sublime goal, so long as this takes place in the right context. Comprehending these teachings in their fullness is not merely viable; it is urgent.
- The ‘Just Be’ Rule. When women are (i) not under constant threat of being intimidated, groped, or worse; and (ii) respected as people who have a powerful and discerning sexual dimension that is not afraid to make itself known, the psychological space to develop deep emotional connections can appear. And men can, in turn, relax and just be, safe in the knowledge that females – who are an order of magnitude more obsessed with love, sex and relationships than most males can ever realise – will not hesitate to let a man they like be aware of precisely that fact. Moreover, this system incentivises non-predatory behaviour whilst rewarding virtue; it represents a serious upgrade on today’s degraded dynamics.