British Vote to Leave: A Victory for Putinist Pseudo-Politics

Facts are irrelevant, truth is non-existent and semblance and suspicion define the acts of a political community.

Russian president Vladimir Putin looks out a window in Budapest, Hungary, February 17, 2015
Russian president Vladimir Putin looks out a window in Budapest, Hungary, February 17, 2015 (Facebook/Viktor Orbán)

As I see it, the Brexit vote signaled the worrying deterioration of political discourse in the West.

While it would obviously be a mistake to blame it on Vladimir Putin, I am pretty sure that the Russian president rejoices in the result, not in the least because it is the first triumph of the sort of postmodern pseudo-politics that is hallmarked by his name and that aims to create a world where facts are irrelevant, truth is non-existent and where semblance and suspicion define the acts of a political community. I’d call it Putinism but it has different faces, variants and names throughout the world — from Viktor Orbán to Nigel Farage to Donald Trump.

This pseudo-politics is a challenge that the EU has not found an answer to. Britain’s vote to leave had much to do with appalling leadership from both the Conservative and the Labour Party, neither of which made a positive argument for remain.

When the prevailing sentiment is uncertainty — justified or not — arguing for the status quo without a compelling “story” is close to impossible. And this is what the EU has become for too many (although not, as we’ve seen from the example of young Britons outraged by the vote, all): the status quo rather than a project or a vision. Jean-Claude Juncker promised to make the EU more political exactly with the purpose of improving this situation and he has certainly failed.

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