Skip to main content
Passa alla visualizzazione normale.


“The war is over”. Militarizing the language and framing the Nation in post-Brexit discourse


This chapter analyzes the militarization of political language in digital contexts in the post-Brexit discourse, and how such militarization, which is often constitutive of hate speech, contributes to framing an “exclusive” concept of the nation whose meaning is reproduced and circulated (as well as challenged) in society. It will address the role of emotions and hate in language in fueling and aggregating online communities around a key political issue, i.e. the Brexit negotiations, and a core cultural and social concept, i.e. the nation. The militarization of language, which is based on certain discursive structures, e.g. war metaphors (Lakoff and Johnson 1980, Musolff 2020), is one of the linguistic strategies used by political groups to convey symbolic and material forms of action in signifying practices (i.e. hate and violence) and to accelerate the legitimation of emotive/ideological reception of the values (Pascale 2019). This is particularly evident in the social network environment, which promotes aggressive and denigratory exchanges legitimizing assumptions, narratives and ideologies in over-emotional claims/response (Breeze 2020; Demata 2019, 2020; KhosraviNik 2018: KhosraviNik & Esposito 2018; Musolff 2018; Zummo 2018). During and after the Brexit debate, the identitarian values associated with the nation have prompted British populist politicians and a sizeable share of the public opinion to support an “exclusive” idea of the nation, based on ethnocentric values which marginalised the “Other” (Wodak et al. 2009). This was often done in verbally violent forms, which discriminated certain individuals (e.g. migrants, European citizens) and excluded them from the nation and is part of a wider process prompted by right-wing populist politics (Wodak 2015). The chapter will specifically focus on Nigel Farage's tweet on 24 December 2020 in which he declares that “The war is over” ( to celebrate PM Johnson's Brexit trade deal. As in other circumstances, the prominent populist and nationalist politician's words caught the attention of many (offline and online) individuals who struggled to understand whether the 'war' was referred to the EU and the UK trade negotiations, to the EU and the UK ideological positions, or to the big European establishment and the British people. For certain, in only a week since its publication the tweet received 2.522 retweets and 12.287 likes, was cited in 860 tweets, and attracted a growing thread of comments by people who embraced or rejected the ideological value of such claim. Since social media is considered as one of the most prominent way to construct political identities and negotiate political values (Demata 2018, 2019; Zummo 2019, 2020), this chapter analyses the ideological value of the claim and interrogates the corpus of the users' comments, addressing the performative quality of digital political discourse, which takes into account the personalization of politics and the contestation, gamification and derision of/in antagonistic (polarized) exchanges. Data is analyzed with a critical discourse approach informed by Wodak's framework that requires the understanding of the reciprocal relationship between the communicative structure of an event and the situation, institution, and social structure that frame it (Fairclough and Wodak 1997), and Van Dijk's consideration for which “critical-political discourse analysis deals especially with the reproduction of political power, power abuse or domination through political discourse, including the various forms of resistance or counter-power against such forms of discursive dominance” (1997: 11). Results highlight how certain (national) values are conveyed and, more generally, how specific linguistic aspects are used to sustain ideologies and support (or reject) particular messages, e.g. to frame ‘national’ meanings.