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10 styczeń 2017

Left Behind [ENG]

2016 will go down in history as a year full of unexpected and incredible political, social and sport events. Taiwan elected first women-president, Tsai Ing-Wen. Son of the Polish immigrants, Petro Pablo Kuczynski, became president of Peru. Presidents of Brazil and South Korea were impeached. The longest civil war has come to an end in Columbia and their president, Juan Manuel Santos, received Nobel Peace Price. In Turkey we had unsuccessful coup d\’etat, in Philippines brutal Rodrigo Duterte was elected President. Bob Dylan was awarded Nobel Prize in literature. In Rio, XXXI Olympic Games, and in France XV European Football Championships took place. The danger from radical islamist in ISIS didn’t stopped, hurting people in terrorist attacks in Brussels, Orlando, Berlin or Nice, but most of all, citizens of Syria and Iraq. The Republican Party in France 1st time elected presidential candidate through US-style primaries – Francois Fillon. But all of this was eclipsed by two events, which resonated the world the most – shocking voting results in UK and US, where Britons has voted to leave the European Union, and Americans has elected Donald J. Trump as 45. President of United States.

Paul, 24, just leaved his students’ dorm at eastern borough of London, Stratford. This building was a part of Olympic village during 2012 London Olympic Games. Paul is studying law at University College London (UCL), one of the most prestigious colleges of University of London. His parents are typical London middle class – father has a grocery store in Hampstead, mother teach literature at local school. Parents of Paul’s father came from India right after World War II. On his way to the University Paul is checking, how much money he raised in the fundraising organized to help refugees from Syria and he happily concluded, that sufficient amount of money was collected. After classes he meet with friend from around the world, when they talk politics most of the time. Dominant topic is outrage about closing the boarders against immigrants and refugees in eastern Europe. The other subject is the world after UK’s Brexit referendum and election of Trump as 45. President of The United States. Overwhelming majority of Paul’s colleagues thinks, that problems they face in adults’ life, such as skyrocketing housing prices, low wages for entry level employee, but also this more psychological and social struggles, such as speed of life, the pursuit of carrier, which makes impossible deeper life afterthought and establishing long lasting relationships but also making depression and isolation more possible, are caused by current neoliberal capitalist model. In the same time they believe that right-wing attachment to traditions, national identity and border control is fundamentaly endangering their values of openness and tolerance. Values, which are profess not only by their University, but also by all of their colleagues and media their follow. Because of that their wholeheartly reject campaigns led by Donald Trump and Vote Leave, which not only profess those right-wing ideals, but also point finger to immigration as an obstacle for further prosperity of their countries. Facts are obviously on student’s side. Firstly, both in the US and UK mass immigration brings visible economic development, which is reflected not only in the statistics, but also on the streets of London or New York. Secondly, Centre of Economic Performance report clearly said, that immigrants brings key skills, build new buildings, cure patients at hospitals and have profitable businesses, all of which move country forward. Costs of their integration are far lower than benefits. In the same time, there is no proof whatsoever to support the motion that immigrants disproportionately break the law or in any other way do something wrong in the society. Because of all of this evidents, Paul’s friends all confident that everyone who view immigration as a problem in any way either was influenced by demagogue politicians like Nigel Farage or is simply ignorant or, worse, is simply lying to the detriment of their country.

Meanwhile in Sunderland Sandy Taylor, 62 years old former sailor has completely different view of the world. Sandy whole his life spent on sea fishing. Basically, his first participation in the democratic processes was taking part in 1975 EEC membership referendum, called by Labour Party prime minister Harold Wilson. He experience first-hand graduate collapse of fishing industry in his country. He part the blame in half between EU and their Common Fishery Policy, which promotes big companies and foreign fisherman’s over small local players, and oblivion by consecutive governments in London, which completely stopped to take care of them. At the same time Sandy is the great patriot and history fan. At local Trafalgar Square he proudly narrate about his roots and British army achievements. He is not hiding that he do not approved the direction where London and other great cities are heading. He underline separateness of Britain against Europe, he is concerned about immigrants and believe that Christian culture and his nation has unbreakable bond. Nowadays mr Taylor is on pension even though he’d like to work. Unfortunately his place at fishing market was taken by Romanian, who is able to work for half of Sandy’s previous salary. Referendum was for Sandy and his colleagues a change to manifest his problems and the feeling of lack of representative in the Westminster system. Together with his friends Sandy insist that dishonest media disrupts true face of today’s Great Britain, which is not that Great anymore. There is no fishing, no native industry, no native mines and ironworks, people are getting paid less and less and they can’t afford anymore even local holidays. If only those naive, bemused youngsters will go out of their big cities and experience real world they’ll understand, how much damage they are doing to their parents and grandparents by opting in favour of open borders and full European integration.

Midland, Texas, USA. In this home city of 43. US president, George W. Bush, immigrant from Mexico, Trita, lives. Her husband has mining company, which is quite common here. She herself teach Spanish at local school. Mirta thinks, that the biggest problems of the US is women discrimination and insufficient control over gun sale. She is declared and vocal Hillary Clinton supporter and everything that is called „liberal views”. Fundamentally she view US as the greatest country on Earth, where everyone who wants to achieve success can do it. That’s way she find mendacity of statistical facts made by GOP and Donald Trump really harmful. During the campaign Trump has tried to convince people, that criminality is raising and millions of people lives in poverty and unemployed. Meanwhile facts are showing something exactly opposite. Therefore Tirta view election of Trump as a fundamental thread. She is afraid of racial tensions growth, ostracism against Hispanics and trivializing women’s problems, which will be huge step back.

Tucson, Arizona, USA. For Troy it is just another day, when he wake up early morning to his job at bakery. He earned 11,25$ per hour. 25% of this sum is taken by bank to pay for his car credit even though his car was taken months ago. He is travelling by bike. Because of his debts he can’t afford house, so he is living in social facility, without electricity, because he had to choose between financing his children’s life or bills. Previously, before the crisis, he has company with his brother, where he was landscaping. After 4 years and financial crisis, Tucson was turn into ruin. Troy himself lost his home and his company bankrupt.  Since that moment 7 years goes by. Troy was left by everybody. He was jailed 4 times because of his inability to pay debt. Every day on his way to work he is passing rows of house owns by nobody. He would love to take second job at construction, but he can’t, because all of that is taken by immigrants and refugees. He would like to hire themselves in on of US Corporations, but he can’t since they’re fleeing to China or Mexico. What he is risking then wholeheartly supporting Trump? What does he had to lose, if current state of play leads him to where he is, without hope, left alone and struggling to survive another day? No one has a right to criticize him of racism, sexism or anything, when he literally has no certainty whether he will make it until tomorrow or will be consume by scorcher of Arizona’s desert.

What connects 2 pictures of UK and the US presented above? Surprisingly not much. For Paul and Tirta cosmopolitan, open and tolerant world is the only chance to advance social and economic development. They believe that in XXI century world national nostalgia are unnecessary and dangerous, because we have to take as much as we can from globalization, which gives us internet and advance in new technology. After all, the world is heading into the right direction, so there’s no need for sudden drastic change of government philosophy. Meanwhile Troy and Sandy are on the edge strength. They lost their jobs, families left them, car was re-possessed, they can’t even dream of holidays. Their only way to demonstrate and to remind everyone of their existence was to go to the voting station, take a card, close the curtains and putting X next to the option which will turn upside down this whole system, which took their life’s away. Satisfaction of showing middle finger to politicians, journalists, bankers, corporations and international organizations was the only thing they were able to do and they were absolutely determent to achieve that.  “This isn’t about whether he’s going to do a better job or not,” said Ken Magno, 69, leaving his polling place in Everett, Mass., during the primaries, wearing a red Donald Trump winter hat. “More or less, it’s the statement: Listen, we’re sick and tired of what you people do. And we’re going to put somebody in there — now that it’s our choice, we’re going to put somebody in there that basically you don’t like.”

So what shall we do now? We live in the bubbles, created by ourselves environments, where we talk only to the people with the same views and we read only the media which confirm our outlook. When we watch the news, we are interested in the wide world and conflicts in Syria, Israel or Somalia. Meanwhile we completely ignore the necessity of interest in our own country. Alexander Betts, sociologist, analysing causes of Brexit realize, that in his whole life he spent only 4 days combined in the 50 most Brexit constituencies. And this is the biggest problem – we do not know each other, we just have some imaginations. We do not understand each other, we are exposed to completely different problems. The fact that we speak the same language and we have the same passport doesn’t have to mean, that we are connected by similar values or life goals. In the same time, we don’t want to talk to people with completely different views, because we are afraid of ostracism and being offended, which completely denies the values of freedom of speech and expression, on which the success of the West was built.

The Ignoreland throughout last few years were concerned about the direction the country is heading. Dominant factor was fear. Fear that they are no longer understanding processes taking place in their country. Fear that they do not understand elite’s language, which is shaping political discourse. Fear of losing control of ultimate destiny of their country. Fear of losing control under the future of their childrens in this economically turbulent times. The triumph in the election gave them hope. No one would ever forget about them again. No one would ever dare to make economic decision without taking into account those left behind. From now on, politicians in their campaign trail will always remember about those left behind. Nigel Farage in the victory glory after the referendum said “This is a vicory of normal people, little people, decent people over big banks, carrier politicians and dishonest media”. Donald Trump in his victory speech said “The forgotten man and woman shall never be forgotten again”. There is no doubt, that those heroes of 2016 understand their electorate. 2016 was for Ignoreland a last chance for peaceful cry of despair at the voting booth. And don’t You dare once again ignore that voice.

Marcel Lesik