What do you think of FestivalUK*2022?

Benjamin P. Taylor
3 min readSep 27, 2021

Or, as it’s better known, the ‘Festival of “Brexit”’?

  • If you hate it, you’re falling into the trap.
  • And if you love it, you’re falling into the trap, too.

There are lots of discussions we could have about a £120m series of creative and cultural events planned to take place around the United Kingdom in 2022.

And none of them are the discussion that’s happening in the (social) media.

That’s because it suits the “Brexitists” to call it ‘the Festival of “Brexit”’ (precisely as Rees-Mogg did when he gave it the deliberately incendiary name) — they want only one thing more than for the festival to be a celebration of a ‘new global Britain’; to see the frothing at the mouth of their opponents.

And it suits the ‘Remoaners’ to sneer and condemn the ‘waste of money’.

And this is how schisms happen — what Gregory Bateson called ‘schismogenesis’ — a process which generates separation and opposition. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schismogenesis

Does either side actually want to hear that Sir Martin Green CBE, who organised the brilliant opening and closing ceremonies of the London 2012 Olympics, is running a festival to celebrate Britain’s diversity and inclusion, investing millions in the arts and public engagement, at a time when arts, culture, and music is still being decimated by COVID-19?

The problem is that taking any middle ground like this one is unpopular with both sides — another Batesonian point, a ‘double bind’. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double_bind

  • If I support the ‘Festival of “Brexit”’, I’m going to be punished by the #FBPE crowd.
  • If I oppose it, I’m automatically assumed to be a ‘Provisional Remainists’ by the Brexiteers.

And if I point out that FestivalUK*2022 is actually a completely different thing from the myth of the ‘Festival of “Brexit”’, well, I’m going to be shouted down by both sides — they both want their fake, symbolic issue to give juice to their fight.

The only way out is to illuminate the fake conflict — and to see what the actual festival is like. Looking at the teams selected, I’m optimistic.

By the way, I never understand why people accept and adopt these manipulative labels — why sports commentators don’t just ignore the sponsor’s name in stadia or cup competitions. Sir Ivan Rogers, one of the earlier of the many principled resignations over “Brexit”, is the reason why I always put that execrable word in scare quotes.