On Brocialism

One of the most unsightly sights on Twitter is also one of the most frequent. What I speak of, of course, is mobs of keyboard warriors descending on individuals for committing some imagined transgression. Whether it be Cybernats attacking ‘traitorous unionists’, UKIP voters abusing ‘liebour pedos’ or Corbynistas berating ‘neoliberal, blairite warmongers blood on your hands!’, the Twitter keyboard warrior rarely fails to conform to a very specific set of characteristics. Namely, adopting a pseudonym, not having their face in their profile picture and overuse of the crying laughing face emoji. They will also either have dreadful spelling and grammar or use lots of complex lexis – which would make them appear intelligent if it weren’t so apparent that they had no idea of its meaning. However, recently it has become more and more apparent that there is another key characteristic of such people.

When I first saw the term ‘brocialism’ about two years ago, I was skeptical. Plenty of buzzwords get bandied around on Twitter, and as a general rule you should ignore 80% of them. Similarly, I am always wary of any catch-all generalisations, due to their tendency to homogenize people and obscure nuance. However, when you look at where the abuse on Twitter comes from and the way in which it manifests, it is quite obvious that there is a pattern. Almost without fail, the abuse comes from men who then retweet any responses they get to call down ‘the boys’ to attack the offender. Furthermore, this abuse is disproportionately directed at women – especially young women. Finally, the dynamic between these ‘brocialists’ is resplendent with the awkward, feverish homoeroticism that is always present in groups of straight men who are insecure in their masculinity.

The reality of this is self-evident, but why should this pattern manifest? In my view, it is mostly down to two factors: a) the cultish mentality of these groups and b) the ultimate weakness of their positions. Earlier, I mentioned Cybernats  and Corbynistas. They are both cultists. They have a fanatical devotion to an abstract concept – nationalism or ‘real’ socialism – and their dear leaders. They are also on the fringes of political thought, and as such any perceived slight towards them is magnified a thousand fold. It is in this tribalism that we find the reason for the makeup of these Twitter abusers being largely male. They view their spokespersons as something of ‘pack leaders’, and as such rally to defend them whenever they are threatened. These leaders tend to be male, such is the makeup of our society, and even when they are not – in the case of Nicola Sturgeon – the most vocal supporters online – such as WingsOverScotland – always are.

Tribalism isn’t only observed in men by any means, but it does manifest in a specific way with males. One only has to observe football fans to see how quickly affronts to the chosen tribe of men can incite violence. On the internet, as there are no bottles or traffic cones to be thrown, this takes the form of abuse. The reason this abuse is disproportionately directed towards young women is that these men want to prove their worth to their fellow ‘soldiers’ by winning battles, and sexist assumptions tell them that young women are stupid, out-of-their depth and weak, therefore making them easy scalps. If you want evidence of this, just observe how quickly brocialists resort to using patronising terms like ‘love’ and ‘dear’. I guarantee you it will be within 8 tweets.

As I mentioned, the other reason for this abuse is the inherent weakness of the above parties’ positions. It is a truism that when people realise their argument is bankrupt, they resort to violence. The fascists knew their ideas of racial purity had no basis in science, the Church knew they had no answer to the first rationalists, so rather than argue with their opponents, they killed them. In the modern world, when you have no faith in your argument, you no-platform your opponent, deselect them, or abuse them online. The arguments of the SNP are based on a nationalistic pipe dream, and the idea that Corbyn would ever get elected or has any semblance of a coherent policy platform which would benefit the nation is so laughable I won’t even address it. But the faithful also know this, and rather than face the horrible knowledge that they are wrong, they group together, howl, beat their chests and throw excrement. This is the face of modern brocialism, and Christ, is it ugly to behold.

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The leader’s debate proves one thing: class is still the real dividing force in the UK

The first leader’s debate has finished, and has left me feeling the saddest I’ve been since I discovered ‘Songs of Leonard Cohen’. Miliband put in a good performance, to be sure, but there was no knockout blow and Cameron was left with a nicely split left and no real slip up from him. The split left is exactly what he wanted, which is why he insisted on the minor parties being invited. But the real thing the debate highlighted is how class is by far the largest rift in society and prevents us from succeeding in being a socially mobile and just nation.

The left has become, in my view irretrievably, riven with identity politics with people warring about every badge they can pin on themselves. It was the first victory of Neoliberalism to change the left from being a debate about economic justice to being a debate about culture. Walk into any university and, aside from the inevitable free education demos which themselves are often intertwined with identity, the activism will be about ‘-isms’ and ‘-phobias’, they will not be about creating a more economically just society. Students voted to avoid condemning ISIS for fear of being ‘Islamophobic’, shut down debates around the culture of abortion because ‘#whitemen’ and banned the SWP altogether. Did they protest against the bedroom tax, the 50% tax cut or sweeping welfare cuts? Did they fuck.

Now I’m not saying issues around gender and race etc don’t matter. Of course they do, hugely. But they ultimately still play second fiddle to class. And here’s why. Today two major national newspapers, including the most widely read, are running with the front pages ‘Miliband Flops as Outsiders Shine’ and ‘Oops! I just lost my election. Miliband blows his chance live on TV’. These are nonsense. Not just dubious interpretations: nonsense. The Telegraph is quoting from a poll which had ‘outsiders’ Wood and Bennett floundering below 5% and The Sun wilfully ignores the two other polls where Miliband was ahead or tied for the lead. But what does it matter? What can we do when the information the public get is a distortion from the smallest and wealthiest elite? No one with a voice will challenge it, there will be no rebuttal. It is a disgrace to our democracy, an absolute disgrace. But that’s just it, there’s nothing we can do, so they can do what they like.

Trying to reduce this to ‘white privilege’ or patriarchy misses the point. The primary advantage these people have is their wealth, not their genitalia or skin colour. Such talk only serves to ignore poor white men demonised as chavs, by ‘progressives’ nearly as much as conservatives, and changes the debate from the correct one about wealth to a rhetoric of division and generalisation that only splits the left and serves the wealthy. Because that is what this is. Make no mistake that those who own the production of both media and goods will do everything they can to fight off Miliband’s moving Labour to the left. It’s there with the letter of 100 business leaders denouncing Labour, it’s there with the shameful headlines tomorrow and it’s there with the past five fucking years of caricaturing a man as some weak grotesque with a plan to enslave Britain with taxation and state control.

And that is the tragedy of tonight. Britain actually does have the best chance to at least put itself on the path to social democracy since 1992, but it will blow it. It will blow it because of the lies from the right and a split left. The Greens do not really have anything to offer Britain. They have uncosted policies reinforced with absurd ideas of dismantling the armed forces and the removal of all border controls. But they have a female leader and rhetoric that sounds nice in campuses and around bien pensant dinner tables. I get that the SNP want to kick Labour, I really do, and I wish we hadn’t stood with the Tories in Better Together. Doing so will prove fatal.

But the reason this makes me so sad isn’t because I’m some white guy with an axe to grind or because I’m going to personally hit. Sure I’d get a tuition fee cut with Labour and better-paid work in the holidays, but my life isn’t going to be thrown into turmoil because of it. No. I’m sad because we are going to unwittingly allow in the most savage, cold-hearted and ruthlessly driven Conservative party we have seen. We have the majority of cuts still to come from a party that has already destroyed so many lives. There will be a full-blown assault on trade unions and what is left of workers’ rights in the UK. And it terrifies me. It terrifies me that so many desperate people will suffer because of a right drunk on its own paper and a left too selfish to attempt to see past its differences to aid people who so direly need it. I do not know how bad the full effects will be, but I do know that when I worked in Social Services safeguarding cases for adults in crisis increased by over 200% since the coalition came into power, I know that I have a father suffering from cancer whose drugs will almost certainly not be funded, and I know that if we do elect a Conservative government in May, it will be to our shame as a nation.

My 5 predictions for the UK General Election

As I’m sure you all know, we in the UK have a general election coming up in May, so I’m going to run a quick series of five predictions for the coming election, hopefully with some guest posts. So here are my, completely unscientific, general election predictions.

1. It will be a hung parliament.

Okay, so this is hardly a dramatic prediction – it’s basically universally agreed upon amongst pundits. However, I still hear people insist that the Tories are going to win a majority. To be clear, this is almost impossible. For the Tories to achieve this, they would need a 7% lead in the final polls. This would require either a complete collapse in the Labour vote or the Tories to increase their vote share drastically in the next election. Neither of these will happen. The Labour vote has held steady at around 32% and no sitting leader has increased their party’s vote share since 1974, not even Thatcher or Blair. Cameron is not as popular as Thatcher or Blair were at their height, and he has alienated public sector workers, teachers, the low-paid and the old guard of social conservatives to UKIP. Likewise, with the SNP surge in Scotland, Labour will not achieve a majority. We are in for another round of negotiations and uncertainty.

2. Nick Clegg will hold his seat.

Lord Ashcroft’s polling today has Clegg 2 points behind Labour in Sheffield Hallam. However, I do not believe that this means he will lose this seat by any means. 2 points is a small margin, and I expect it to be recouped in the short campaign when voters tend to swing back towards incumbents. Labour need to be careful also, as focusing on kicking him out in the seat may be seen as bullying, and will turn voters off. It’ll be tough, but an incumbency bounce and a bit of anti-Labour tactical voting will be enough to see Clegg home.

3. Nigel Farage will be elected to Parliament. (Just)

Since announcing his candidature for South Thanet, there has been a lot of discussion concerning whether Nigel Farage will live up to the hype and make it in to parliament. It has been pointed out that South Thanet, where he is standing, is not one of the most UKIP-friendly seats, and that there is the potential for ‘Anti-Farage’ tactical voting. However, I still think Farage will scrape in. His popularity and presence is enough to win over disillusioned Tory and Labour voters, as well as crucial ‘non-voters’. Furthermore, Labour are polling second in the seat. This makes the ‘tactical voting’ less of a problem for Farage. It is unlikely many Tories will vote Labour to stop Farage, and you can guarantee that much of the Lib Dem vote has already gone to Labour, and we won’t see many more here making the switch. Farage will take the seat, if only by a percent or two.

4. The two major parties will do better than expected

One of the most common themes during this election has been the claim that it will be ‘the dawn of five-party politics’, and the final nail in the coffin for the supremacy of Labour and the Conservatives. Don’t count on it. At the moment, polls frequently have the two parties on or in excess of 70%. UKIP’s vote is already beginning to seep back to the Conservatives in polling and expect this trend to continue as the election draws closer. Likewise, the (non-existent) Green surge will not amount to anything more than a hold in Brighton Pavilion and the Lib Dem vote will collapse everywhere that is not a Tory-facing marginal. Don’t be at all surprised if the combined vote share of Labour and the Tories ends up at around 72%, higher than in 2010.

5. Having said that …

UKIP will become the main opposition to Labour in many northern seats. Building on their success in local and European elections, the party will supersede the Liberal Democrats and take a raft of second places in the North. The party’s rhetoric resonates with many disillusioned working class voters in old industrial towns, who believe Labour have abandoned them and their, traditionally more socially conservative, values. Likewise, already existing tensions between ethnic groups have only been amplified by child abuse scandals in Rotherham and Rochdale. Expect UKIP to exceed expectations in such seats.