Understanding Brexit: The Powerless Press Their Thumb In The Eye Of The Power Elite

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Charles Hugh-Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

The sense of having a real say, and possessing actual agency, is very empowering, and very rare, for members of the lower-middle class and the working class today.

The premier strategy for retaining power is to give the powerless a carefully managed illusion of decision-making and autonomy. Having a say over one's life and choices is called agency, and it is the illusion of agency that makes democracy such a powerful tool of control.

The second most effective means of maintaining power is to limit the choices offered the powerless. Offering the powerless false choices, i.e. the choice between two functionally equivalent options, provides the comforting illusion of agency while insuring that the status quo Power Elites remains in charge, regardless of the choice made by the powerless.

For example, give the powerless a choice between Tweedle-Dum (Republicans/Tories) and Tweedle-Dee (Democrats/Labour). Whomever they elect, the self-serving Power Elite of entrenched interests and wealth remains firmly in charge, for the Power Elite speaks with one voice through two mouths, one Establishment Democrat/Labour, the other Establishment Republican/Tory.

If the powerless get restless, make them fearful. This is easily managed via external threats and dramatic predictions of economic doom should the Power Elite be threatened.

If fear has lost its edge due to over-use, then whip up social controversies that divide and conquer the powerless. Divisive, hot-button social controversies are easily staged and media-managed; these serve to distract and fragment the powerless in endless culture wars.

The powerless get very few opportunities to express their dissatisfaction with their gradual impoverishment and powerlessness, and few opportunities to register their disapproval of the Power Elite. They know complaints go nowhere, petitions are ignored, and demonstrations accomplish nothing.

So when a rare chance to stick a thumb in the eye of the Power Elite comes along, they take it. The Brexit vote was just such an opportunity.

Though the benefits that flowed from membership in the European Union may well have been substantial, many people did not have any direct experience of those benefits, which largely flowed to a handful of privileged classes: young, well-educated workers in finance, people who bought housing in London before the huge run-up in valuations, and workers providing services to the wealthy foreigners and highly paid financial professionals.

Many households have seen their quality of life and living standards stagnate or decay during the U.K.'s membership in the E.U. The benefits touted by the Power Elite are either illusory or too modest to matter to these households, and their rage has only grown as the Power Elite tried to browbeat them into approving a membership that yielded no benefits to their households.

The Power Elite simply repeated what has worked well for 60+ years: tout the systemic benefits of E.U. membership, confident in the belief that some of these benefits have trickled down to the lower economic classes, and stoke fears of economic decline if the Powers That Be don't get their way.

Unfortunately for the Power Elite, the benefits of E.U. membership, financialization and globalization have been concentrated at the top of the pyramid: the already wealthy got wealthier, and the young, well-educated, mobile, entrepreneurial class had enhanced opportunities to generate private wealth or at least secure an excellent salary.

A third privileged (i.e. protected) class includes all those benefiting from direct E.U. subsidies.

Those outside these classes saw little if any benefit.

The slow decay of living standards and social mobility was crystallized into anger by the Brexit vote, which was intended to be yet another rigged, illusory choice. The masses were supposed to be persuaded by either the list of goodies that flowed from membership or from fear-mongering about the catastrophic consequences of Brexit.

But neither worked as planned: the benefits were too diffuse or too concentrated in the hands of a few to be persuasive in terms of self-interest, and the fear-mongering only increased awareness of how much the Power Elite wanted a Remain outcome.

Will Brexit hurt the classes that did not directly benefit from E.U. membership? Perhaps. Perhaps it was not in their self-interest to vote for Brexit. But the immeasurable pleasure in depriving the Power Elite of their "democracy" legitimacy was worth any potential sacrifice.

The sense of having a real say, and possessing actual agency, is very empowering, and very rare, for members of the lower-middle class and the working class today. the wealthy and powerful are accustomed to vetoing anything that impairs their wealth or power, and they're accustomed to either winning over or distracting the powerless.

Thus it was a shock when the powerless took the rare opportunity to stick a thumb in the eye of the Power Elite by depriving them of something they wanted.

Is this childish, or self-defeating? Perhaps. But when the system erodes a citizenry's sense of agency, they have little to lose by relishing the chance to use the same power the wealthy constantly wield without any qualm or hesitancy: the power to say "no."

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Bunga Bunga's picture

Look what happens when the President of Germany comes to an average German town these days: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AFDkfiFGAgo

Manthong's picture

Looks like the natives are getting restless.

Too bad they are truly powerless because about that fearful thing... what if the powerless numbered in the tens of millions and are armed to the teeth?


SimpleJackBlack's picture
SimpleJackBlack (not verified) Jun 27, 2016 1:19 AM

The kids now must be undereducated so they have no idea how much the previous generations have fucked them along the way.

Déjà view's picture

Should be all Sleep Walkers reading...

UK was in decline before EU...more things change, more they stay the same...

The Slow Death of British Industry: a 60-Year Suicide, 1952-2012
Nicholas Comfort
Biteback Publishing, 344pp, £8.99

In the early 1950s, Britain was an industrial giant. Today, it is an industrial pygmy. Manufacturing was industry’s bedrock. In 1952, it produced a third of the national output, employed 40 per cent of the workforce and made up a quarter of world manufacturing exports. Today, manufacturing in this country accounts for just 11 per cent of GDP, employs only 8 per cent of the workforce and sells 2 per cent of the world’s manufacturing exports. The iconic names of industrial Britain are history; in their place are the service economy and supermarkets selling mainly imported goods. What happened? Was it inevitable? Does it matter?


ENGLAND...21st. CENTURY ARGENTINA...don't cry for me Argentina...

xtop23's picture

Pretty much. Yep.

Brexit is going to be painful. I hope the Brits can endure it.... because the truth is staying in the EU, in the long term, would be even moreso.

Johnny Caine's picture

I didn't think those beautiful limeys had the grit and guts to do this, bravo Britain! What a great history the English have and wouldn't their ancestors be proud 

umdesch4's picture

“If voting made any difference they wouldn't let us do it.”  - Mark Twain (or not)

Batman11's picture

What we are seeing is a desire to escape the status quo.

If the status quo was better people would be happy with it.

The status quo in the US is so bad people are leaping on the Trump bandwagon.

The establishment must ask themselves, why have they made such a mess of everything?

The head of MI6 saw problems ahead:

“Sir Richard Dearlove warned the continent is facing a “populist uprising” amid growing anger from voters who feel they have been betrayed by political elites in London, Paris, Berlin and Brussels.”

The UK is just the first to have its uprising.

Well the Greek’s were the first, but their referendum could be ignored as the ECB could hold the Greek nation to ransom.

The globalisation project was always fatally flawed having neoclassical economics at its heart.

This was used to design the Euro, disaster, it has no mechanisms for recycling surpluses so the rich nations get richer and the poor nations get poorer until the surplus nations have no one to export to.

Neoclassical economics is a perversion of classical economics missing out the distinction between “earned” and “unearned” income. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer with no mechanism for recycling the surplus such as progressive taxation.

The problem with global aggregate demand, it’s a design feature of neoclassical economics. It naturally heads to its, all supply and no demand, conclusion.

Its simplistic assumptions about money and debt leave its disciples blind to the debt inflated asset bubble.

2008 – “How did that happen?”

A debt inflated asset bubble leveraged up with derivatives.

The use of neoclassical economics doomed the globalisation project to failure from the start.

The UK is the first of many success stories looking to escape the status quo resulting from this dire economics.


Batman11's picture

Neoclassical economics led us into the Wall Street crash of 1929.

Then we had the Keynesian economics of the "New Deal".
These ideas worked very well for the Golden Age of the 1950s and 1960s.

Neoclassical economics came back in the 1980s with Thatcher and Reagan.

Neoclassical economics has ended up in another Wall Street Crash in 2008.

What doughnut ignored Einstein?

Einstein’s definition of madness “Doing the same thing again and again and expecting to get a different result”


Multi's picture

If what you refer for 'neoclassical economics' is free markets. I don't know how you have the balls to blame current woes on free markets.

We live in the era of Central Banking (e.g. monetary stimulus will solve all the problems, bailouts, public deficits out of whack, Wall Street in all-times high, currency wars, and son on). Hopefully you have the minimum IQ needed to realize that Central Banking is NOT a product of free markets. But you still have the fucking balls to blame the free markets? (not to mention the amount of new legislation/regulation passed every day everywhere in the world, the growth of the public sector, unfunded liabilities, e.g. Obamacare, the insurmountable amount of bureaucratic structures, e.g. EPA, USDA, FDA, DHS, and so on; worldwide: EU, WTO, IMF, BIS, NATO,  and so on.)

Yeah, these free markets are killing us brother, if we could just have more mandarins, oops I shoud say public servants, forcing us to do what is good for us, because we are too dumb to do it for ourselves.

If you ask me, the parasites have grown to the point where they are beginning to kill the host.

True Blue's picture

I don't know where you get your delusions.

The market crashed in 1922, and was met by the Fed with rounds of easy money and credit expansion that fueled a rise in stock prices that led to the even bigger crash of 1929. Nothing 'classical economics' about it.

Batman11's picture

Keynesian economics kept us free from debt inflated asset bubbles.

1929 – US (margin lending into US stocks)

1989 – Japan, UK (real estate)

1999 – US (margin lending into US stocks)

2008 – US (real estate bubble leveraged up with derivatives for global contagion)

2010 – Ireland (real estate)

2012 – Spain (real estate)

Coming soon – Australia, Canada (real estate)


Dancing Disraeli's picture

While I agree economics played a part, the overwhelming though non-PC reason for Brexit/European/USA/Trump unrest is more visceral-- the dawning realization that Whites everywhere are deliberately and rapidly being replaced by vast hordes of swarthy third-worlders, jammed down their throats by a corrupt media/govt complex which demonizes anyone who dares object.  Since no sane person desires the extinction of his own race/culture, the Whites in these countries are willing to take whatever financial hit a decoupling entails quite readily, if it ensures the continuation of their race/culture. 

iAmerican's picture

Whites, other than fake "Whites" (viz. Khazar Bushes, et al) of the satanic ruling false-elite helping Christ-killers Rome and the Talmuds "own the world," in general promote mores developed through Western Civilization's path from Babylon's rape of Fallen Jerusalem toward "Albion's" fulfillment in the American Dream/Zion "into which all nations of the world flow" "ruled only by Truth and Justice under God alone," righteously disdain the perversions and tribalism of Islam's and Hinduism's false religions' being foisted off on them wittingly for subjugation and "divide and conquer" confusion by the sexually deviant initiates of the "real Anti-Christ's" ruling false-elite whose Talmud/papist Fifth Column infiltration Protestant England permitted, as has "whig"-founded America, long ago.

Kina's picture

As I have said.

Across the globe anti-establishment sentiment has grown and is growing.


  • Any futher sense of betrayal of the public by the political class will dilute their power thorugh replacment by non elite members.

So here is hoping the political establishment continue to fuck up, over play their hand, so that those hitherto crazy independent and minor parties get elected.




css1971's picture

The powerful deliberately put mechanisms in place to limit the power of the ordinary people. Representative Democracy being the primary one. And even that is too liberal for the EU.

They've gone too far. And it's obvious.

I think representative democracy has failed and has been seen to have failed. The first thing that happens after you vote for your representative is they are co-opt by the establishment.

Fiddling with it won't help. Germany has an entirely different electoral system and exactly the same problem.


It is time for direct democracy.


snakehead's picture

Direct democracy: Even assuming the votes are counted and reported legitimately, your neighbors can vote to stone you to death because you don't believe in Jesus. 

css1971's picture

Has that ever happened in a direct democracy?

snakehead's picture

Pick a few discussion forums (like this one, sometimes), or Twitter. Give yourself a couple hours to mine the veins of kneejerk solutions offered.

css1971's picture

170 years is hardly kneejerk.

Ghordius's picture

"Representative Democracy being the primary one. And even that is too liberal for the EU"

sorry, in the european context the EU is something very, very liberal, in the classic sense. it's based on Four Freedoms, after all

and Nigel Farage, the victor of the BreXit Referendum is an elected Member of the EU Parliament, voted with a proportional representative system that was btw key to get BreXit even noted on the British national political stage

so no, I have to reject this phrase in it's entirety

css1971's picture

It certainly tries to appear that way, (as all elite constructs must do) but in practice it fails to be liberal (also in the classical sense for those Americans reading). The Four Freedoms are a great example of the problem.


So I have those four freedoms? Really? Only four? ok, just to take that example, how are they phrased?

  • Free Movement of Goods
  • Freedom of movement for workers
  • Right of establishment and freedom to provide services
  • Free movement of capital

Again... WTF? If that's what the EU means by freedom it can fuck right off. My own definition of freedom is somewhat different:

I am free to do whatever I fucking please, as long as it harms no-one else.

Obviously I realise that these are market freedoms, and maybe that's part of the problem. They're trying to turn a market into a state.

As you noticed I don't think much more of the British electoral and parliamentary systems either. I spent decades trying to get that reformed, with bugger all result, and I'm seeing the same co-opting happening in the Scottish parliament where they also make use of a hybrid direct/proportional list based system. Same here in Germany. Oh my god Big Pharma.

The big problem as far as I can see is fundamental to all representative democracies. As soon as you choose your proxy (and in most cases, long before), he is co-opted by external interests. There are plenty of exceptions of course, people and parties with integrity but they seem to be very much in the minority.

Representative democracy and in particular, party politics, just doesn't work (as marketed).

Ghordius's picture

"If that's what the EU means by freedom it can fuck right off"

explain that to a Polish worker in the UK

"Obviously I realise that these are market freedoms"

free movement of goods and services are market freedoms. the opposite are trade quotas and regulations specifically made so that imports can't happen much, for example

free movement of capital is market freedom. the opposite is not allowing foreign banks to enter the national markets, for example

OverTheHedge's picture

Whilst your four freedoms are all warm and cuddly, they are freedoms for the benefit of corporations (and I include free movement of people in that). The problem Ghordius never addresses is the disenfranchisement that comes from diluting an individual's vote. Firstly, MEPs are electorally responsible for millions of people in their constituencies, rather than the thousands most national MPs look after. Secondly, they are remote geographically, but also remote politically, as there is the national government in the way. Finally, the legislation is actually created by the committees in darkened rooms in other countries, and whilst theoretically these people are beholden to an electorate somewhere, it is all very vague and indistinct. Anyone, such as Ghordius, who actually lives in the Europe union, will know that in reality eu laws are arbitrary, undemocratically instituted, and appear from the top with no possibility for any tiny, insignificant individual to do anything about. These laws are like the weather: unpredictable, changeable, and you have no control over them. You will just get wet from time to time.

In my opinion, it is this perceived disenfranchisement that caused brexit, and will cause other countries to leave. If Europe gets more draconian to counter this movement, the people will go postal. It's what happens when you disenfranchise them.


Boubou's picture

One of the mistakes the british and eu leaders made was to treat states as if they were only spreadsheets. There was nothing in the leadership to inspire. Just an almighty bureaucratic machine grinding out regulations with no explanation, no discussion, thrusting  unpalatable measures down people's throats and diluting their cultures and traditions and values with immigration forced with heavy legal penalties. 

Freedom to move and work?  Right, let's go job hunting in Slovenia or Ukraine. Turns out to be freedom to work in the relatively successful states such as germany and UK.

Those who opposed were labelled racists ,and foreign leaders including O lined up to wag fingers and tell them how to vote.

It was like being invaded by the Klingons who go ahead and tell you how to live from now on, while shipping all your kryptonite back home, and your own leaders just cave. Maybe you would have  few more magnons in your pocket with the klingons, but you've sold your soul.

Other than that, I am feeling OK.

True Blue's picture

Two or three solutions would clean up the process at least.

First, let people give their proxy to a specific person; gather 10,000 legitimate signatures on a petition and you represent those 10,000 people exclusively, rather than some 'majority' in an arbitrarily 'Gerrymandered' geographic area.

Second: Require referendi on every issue -it doesn't become "Law" until a 2/3 majority of people actually vote to approve that specific legislation.

Third: Since power and responsibility must balance; when one of those bastards who 'represents' us leaves office, we should get the choice to decide if they get a paycheck or a prison sentence equal to or longer than their term in office.

Innominate's picture

The only "direct democracy" that matters is that found in pirvate property and property rights. Get rid of government and you get rid of the problem, which is monopoly power and coercion over the population by a tiny group that will use that power for their own benefit. It doesn't matter how you chose these wankers, these wankers still have the power to force you to use their services, dictate to you how you use their services and at what price, and demand payment whether you want their services or not.

css1971's picture

Meh. I'm not an anarchist, or anarchocapitalist, though I sympathise somewhat with the argument. History shows you always end up with the biggest bully. That biggest bully becomes the state.

Direct democracy though, removes the need to choose wankers and you choose the services directly.

Dancing Disraeli's picture

No, it's instead time for draconian punishments for political corruption.  Hang a few scumbags, and watch corruption diminish rapidly.

Boubou's picture

True. Cameron would NEVER have called a referenum if he thought for a second it counted and the people would speak.

smacker's picture

"But when the system erodes a citizenry's sense of agency, they have little to lose by relishing the chance to use the same power the wealthy constantly wield without any qualm or hesitancy: the power to say "no.""

Except that after voting Brexit, they are now discovering that it will not be implemented and was just a negotiating tactic by the Brit ruling elites against Brussels.

Ghordius's picture

+1 for "...by the Brit ruling elites..."

I note that you still carry the avatar of "the EU, evil socialism, period"

the vote for BreXit was a vote of confidence for the British national setup, i.e. for the Westminster Parliament and the British Courts

now free from any Continental Standards

free to do the National Power-Play, free from treaths like continental quality standards, food standards, product standards, legal standards, political standards

free from horrible things like the dreaded metric system. free from an European Court of Justice, free from us Continentals

that's National Freedom. now, smacker, is the question of you can keep your Personal Liberties in this setup

you have my support, on a personal level. but that's it, more then that would not be warranted

you won't be nasty with my co-eu-citizens, the Poles in England, will you? I'm sure we will have fun with them Fisheries. I already see British fishermen ramming our warships, or something similar

smacker's picture

The vote may backfire on the Brit elites ,,, Brussels may say to London:

"Brexit won and you must implement it as-is. There'll be NO new negotiations for you to remain in the EU with a different status. You cannot pick 'n mix membership."

That would force the Brit elites to either implement a true BrExit or to find a way of trashing the referendum.

css1971's picture

Another point I'll make is that democracy is there to prevent bloodshed. By fucking with it, the elites are risking their own necks.

Having said that, I think that regularly cleansing the gene pool of the psychopathic genee set that is prevalent at the top would probably be a good thing for humanity in general.

Ghordius's picture

"democracy is there to prevent bloodshed". historically, very difficult to hold up

democracies have, in history, the tendency to have more wars then autocracies, just for starters

compare the Spartan Hegemony with the Athenian Thalassocracy, for example

css1971's picture

Specificially, the elite's blood.

smacker's picture


And more recently, look at some of the "new" democracies in the Middle East.

Sandmann's picture

yes but they did not let slaves or women vote Ghordius, 

Boubou's picture

Right,USA , how's democracy working for you?. Any bloodshed lately?

Lyman54's picture

Now that the common  people in the UK have tasted a tiny  bit of power through the Brexit vote it will be hard to quench their thirst for more.

James's picture

In the coming days, weeks, months, and even years you'll come to see that this "Brexit" means nothing. Not a damn thing. The immigration of the hordes will not stop.

Only the faces of your rulers will change. BOJO? Trump? hahahahahaha. Jokes on you!

Wherever you currently are economically stationed in life is where you will stay. If you are lucky. The same forces that beat you down plan on beating you further. This will continue until morale improves.

What the hell makes people think they have a say - you don't. You won't.

As for me here in the States i'm going to run for Congress. The public has proved themselves ripe for a good ass-raping and dammit i want my share of the spoils.

But don't listen to me. Get out there and vote!

Lore's picture

The author presumes that this referendum will actually result in Brexit.  Thus far, the outcome is STILL "illusory."  I didn't believe it would result in any substantive change prior to the vote, and I still don't, all else being equal.  (Leaders who genuinely intend to serve the best interests of their nations would never have entertained membership in this union in the first place, given all the inequity that it seems to feed and protect.)  The whole exercise seems a sham, another pageant, easily controlled through equivocation and bureaucratic wrangling and contrived delays and distractions.  However, if additional member nations start to follow suit, delivering such referenda and then actually moving forward shortly thereafter with something resembling "Article 50," and pursuing additional means of repudiation (e.g., DEBT), THEN there might be hope. 

Sandmann's picture

Have you actually read Art 50 ? Do you know where to find it ?

silverer's picture

Article 50

1. Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.

2. A Member State which decides to withdraw shall notify the European Council of its intention. In the light of the guidelines provided by the European Council, the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union. That agreement shall be negotiated in accordance with Article 218(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. It shall be concluded on behalf of the Union by the Council, acting by a qualified majority, after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament.

3. The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period.

4. For the purposes of paragraphs 2 and 3, the member of the European Council or of the Council representing the withdrawing Member State shall not participate in the discussions of the European Council or Council or in decisions concerning it.

A qualified majority shall be defined in accordance with Article 238(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

5. If a State which has withdrawn from the Union asks to rejoin, its request shall be subject to the procedure referred to in Article 49.

Planetary Books's picture
Planetary Books (not verified) Jun 27, 2016 4:32 AM

Don't get caught with "your pants down!" Everything you need to know about how the globalists, and their banking cartel's market manipulator allies, will be playing the "Brexit" can be found free of charge, simply by reading the latest web blog posting of a Planetary Books novelist here:


ft65's picture

With the UK riots of 5 years ago, TPTB used free parties / concerts to distract the disaffected. Then most of the trouble was with the youth.

This time it's the white middle aged lower middle and working class that have been ignored. They have been told that they are racist, when they see prospect and decent paid jobs drying up for their kids and grand kids.

There is a wiff of revolution in the air. The games that were played to carry the remain vote and scare people away from exit didn't work. All politicians colluded with MSM and corporations to try undermine exit.

People are angry, for good reason, TPTB have nothing left that can ameliorate the situation. Surely it's the end of the line.

Sandmann's picture

You think "youth" is thrilled with Student Debt, no affordable housing, no summer jobs, zero hours contracts ?

Your Creator's picture

The vote is not even binding from what i've read.

silverer's picture

You remember the child games, when something doesn't go the way somebody hoped or expected? The cry was "do over!" We're already seeing it. But if that actually occurs, more people will be awakened to what has really happened to them and how they've been hoodwinked for years. Then what's next?