Posted by: rogermitchell | May 28, 2019

Brexit and Loving the Enemy Other

As I see it, love to be love requires an other. As I have often pointed out, this is what makes it necessary for God to be trinity if God exists and is by nature love. If God is not a plurality of persons then God has spent eternity loving him, her or its self. And if you have ever spent any time with someone who only loves themself, then it feels like an eternity! So we need to love the other, and the politics of love is an inclusive politics configured around love for the others, not love for myself. As the Jesus story makes clear, to love one’s neighbour as one’s self is not the multiplication of selfishness but the inclusion of myself in an exercise of loving the other. Trinity and incarnation put the corporate, the plural, first, not the self first. There is only one commandment “love one another as I have loved you.” This is why I have suggested elsewhere, that the myths of trinity and incarnation are so suitable for remythologising the contemporary political discourse in our post-secular West. [See my recent article “What Are the Politics of Love?” in the latest edition of Global Discourse Journal, free pre-print version on my Academia site, and my contribution to the AltVisions blog

Configuring love politically is no easy task. As some of you may be aware, we are currently in the middle of a series of conversations about how to promote a culture of love and kindness here in Morecambe Bay One of our speakers last week gave a great overview of British social history to the present and in the process of this she gave the BBC and the current political establishment a bit of a roasting. I agreed completely with her point and it was highly relevant to our experience of pursuing social justice here in the Bay. But it also highlighted for me the challenge of loving the other, particular the other whose politics is emphatically not about love and kindness or its promotion. As a result I volunteered to take an open space slot on the topic of loving the opposing other in the conversation that followed later in the day in which there was a brief but helpful interchange of applied thinking which has continued with me ever since.

Putting it bluntly, what about the enemy other? And in case ‘enemy’ seems rather harsh as a description of one’s political opponents, it’s worth remembering that the context of the incarnation story positions the enemy as precisely these. So it is not the case of easy love, calling one’s enemy one’s friend or configuring a society with which we all agree, enemies included, but rather treating the enemy in a loving way and configuring a society where love is the political culture in which one’s enemy is valued as a human being. There are some issues in which one must take sides, not least when one’s opponents are advocating a society in which the vulnerable suffer.  Such issues include the austerity cuts and the benefits changes of the last two or three governments. This makes them the enemy of the poor, consciously or not.  Brexit is likewise the enemy of the people despite the fact that many who vote for it don’t see it that way.  Point 94 of the UN Special Rapporteur’s UK Report on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights (23rd April 2019) states: “If Brexit proceeds, it is likely to have a major adverse impact on the most vulnerable”. I agree.

To redeem Brexit, a change of direction is now needed. Last time I blogged on Brexit I was discussing how it might be redeemed. All along I have recognised that there are good, if from my perspective misguided, people who voted to leave the EU. I also recognised that the referendum, however mistaken and ill-suited to a binary first- past-the-post process, was a democratic exercise won by the Leave campaigns. Given that the incarnation narrative that I apply as a hermeneutic is one about entering into and bearing with others’ wrong decisions and not giving up on them in the process, my conclusion was to go with Brexit despite the presence of xenophobes and enemies of justice at a leadership level among the Leavers. Of course the Remainers have some selfish players but the overall positioning is not the politics of selfish sovereignty in the way that is front and centre for many Brexiteers.  But since my earlier post important things have changed. The European Election results have revealed new space opening up three years on from the referendum. It is clear from these results, that despite the success of the Brexit Party, the remain vote is now significantly ahead. So redeeming Brexit as I see it now involves taking sides and facing up to the injustice both behind and in front of it and working for loving ways out of it that remedy the reasons for it.

Insisting on our own way is not the way of love.  But now that the parliamentary log jam is so huge and no constructive way forward without real damage can be found, then advocating a public vote on whatever outcome is put forward by the government, be it leaving with another deal, no deal or not leaving at all seems the only just and loving way ahead. But it must then be accompanied by a national healing conversation towards a fairer society for all the inhabitants of these islands. It will certainly require serious leadership and some of the best skills available. However it is doable with the will to achieve it.  This is the path that I now favour and any agency able to cultivate such a conversation has my backing, whether it be a citizens assembly, an initiative of the art of hosting and harvesting meaningful conversations, a wider version of the conversation Hope not Hate held on immigration or something new. For this I pray!




  1. Reblogged this on hungarywolf.

  2. […] via Brexit and Loving the Enemy Other […]

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