Friday, June 24, 2016
So it's Brexit - but what next?
I note that Britain has voted - very narrowly - to leave the European Union and reclaim its independence as a sovereign state. I think this is a good thing, but it raises many issues that are going to come to the fore in the months and years to come.
This represents at least a temporary (and hopefully a longer-lasting) disruption of the overwhelming move by the powers that be - the top economic, political and cultural leaders of the First World - towards greater union, centralizing power under their (supposedly enlightened and benign) leadership. They routinely pay lip service to democratic values, but just as routinely ignore them in favor of pronouncements and edicts from the self-proclaimed cognoscenti. (A good example of this is the rejection of the proposed European Constitution by citizens of France and the Netherlands in referenda. This should have meant that it was abandoned: but the EU's leaders and bureaucrats ignored that democratic requirement. They simply incorporated all its major proposals in the Treaty of Lisbon, which was subsequently ratified by most EU nations without democratic referenda.)
Examples of such attitudes are typified by George Soros, who has openly supported greater European union and helped to fund many organizations promoting refugee access to Europe. He said last year of Hungarian Prime Minister Orbán's views on the crisis, “His plan treats the protection of national borders as the objective and the refugees as an obstacle. Our plan treats the protection of refugees as the objective and national borders as the obstacle.” He's also championed liberal and progressive values in the USA, and is widely believed to be one of the éminences grises behind the Obama administration.
For such people and from their perspective, the revival of nationalism and regionalism are viewed with real concern, if not fear, because such attitudes are seen as antithetical to multiculturalism and closer political union. On the other hand, many (including myself) who've experienced and been exposed to multiple cultures and peoples around the world, tend to believe that there are so many conflicting values, norms and expectations that it's simply impossible - not to mention irrational - to try to homogenize them all in a single nation or over-arching überkultur.
People with the latter perspective regard the EU as increasingly less rational in its incessant drive towards greater corporate control over its member nation-states, and in the open ambitions of its bureaucrats to dictate to national courts and administrations what they may or may not do. (For example, EU regulations on the shape and size of fruit - which "dictate the shape, size and appearance of 36 fruits and vegetables. For example, it is illegal for supermarkets to sell a cauliflower less than 11cm in diameter, carrots that are forked (with more than one root) or onions with less than two-thirds covered in skin" - are merely one outlying aberration underlining this ambition. Of much greater concern is the EU's overriding of the laws - and the courts - of member nations to impose its edicts on matters of formerly national concern, such as human rights, immigration, refugees, etc.)
One commenter has already stated: "As long as there is a small core of countries willing to go the whole hog -- that is, move toward a version of the United States of Europe -- the European dream will be alive." On the other hand, for a significant proportion of European citizens and residents, that dream resembles nothing so much as a nightmare. For a narrow majority of Britons, the latter perspective led them to vote "No" yesterday to continued EU membership. I'm very glad they did, and I hope to see the trend continue in other EU nations as well. I suspect the people of France, Italy and Greece - at least - will support the exit of their own countries from the EU as well . . . if - if - they're given a chance to vote on the matter.
I don't believe that a 'one world' government will suit us at all, just as I don't believe for a moment that Washington can reliably make policy, laws and regulations concerning local or regional affairs across the USA. It's too remote, too disinterested in what affects the lives of ordinary, everyday residents. That's why our Founding Fathers restricted the size and scope of the central government in the US constitution. Tragically, that's observed more in the breach than the observance these days (witness the habitual, cynical use of the 'commerce clause' to override such restrictions).
Britain's withdrawal from the EU is a blow against such over-centralized union. May there be more of them - and soon! - and may the same caution influence the attitude of American voters in this year's (and subsequent) national elections. Liberals and progressives demand that we respect and celebrate diversity, do they? Then let's do so in politics as well, and vote against enforced homogeneity!