Well, the UK voted to leave the European Union the other day about 52% to 48%. To be honest, I was a little surprised that the results went this way. I figured it would be about…52 to 48 to remain, with the usual (and probably accurate) accusations of shenanigans and hijinks at the polls to seal the deal for the “remain” crowd.
First, I’m happy for the UK. The EU has turned into a bureaucratic nightmare that seems intent on turning Europe into nothing but a large economic unit based on vague universalist ideals – the spread of neoliberalism.
It seems like the EU has been a case of trying to make everyone happy (or at least “function”) and making no one happy. Everyone has some complaints about the arrangement, big or small. Instead of “preventing another world war” as they always say, the EU seems to have created a lot of divisions between the members – the “core” vs. the “periphery”, the pro-Turkey vs anti-Turkey factions, North vs. South and various smaller interests vs. smaller interests of other countries (i.e. British working class vs. Polish economic migrants). I don’t think there would be anywhere near the animosity between say, Greece and Germany as there has been over the past couple years if there were no EU – where would they have the flashpoints?
Although I think Britain walking out of the EU is a good thing, great thing even, for the UK I still don’t think it’s as alarming in practice as many people have made it out to be. Despite Great Britain’s current dysfunction (and I say that lovingly as an American anglophile that considers Britannia as my/our “mother country”), it’s still a large and important economy and political player in the world and will continue to be so. There’s no. fucking. way. that the suckers still hanging around the EU will cut off business with the UK or magically find a replacement for such a large market. Believe me, both parties will find a way to continue business as usual.
I would really like to think that this means there will be a shift towards nationalism and traditionalism in the UK, but realistically they’ll probably continue more or less down the same path politically. I consider this a defeat for neoliberal labour/conservative party mainstream politics, but it would take more than this to simply move the UK out of that paradigm. When liberals around the world were pussyaching over “xenophobia and racism winning”, realistically the UK will continue the same kinds of immigration/multicultural policies that they have been although I think this really could signal to put the brakes on it somewhat.
Will this act as a catalyst to spur other anti-EU sentiments in other countries? Yes, I’m sure it will spark something and create some major headaches for the EU. The real question though is were those sentiments already there in other places before the UK jumped first? Certainly. If say, Hungary, decides to say it’s not you it’s me to Brussels, no one can say with a straight face that they weren’t already thinking that before the UK left.
I also think it’s funny that this is portrayed as some drastic move that will throw the UK into uncharted territory….like 1997. Remember those dark days? Ha!
I do wonder if it will cause the UK to look more abroad rather than to Europe. There’s always been the strong Anglosphere connection between us, them, Canada, Australia, NZ and to a lesser extent South Africa. Maybe it will cause a little more of a realignment with Britain’s traditional allies but I doubt it means a complete shunning of the continent.
Now let’s talk about the reaction to the vote from the left. It just shows how out of touch some of these people are with the “commoners”. While some people benefit from cheap labor and interesting restaurants that immigrants bring, others see their neighborhoods transformed and labor undercut. Everyone knows my thoughts on these kinds of things, but even if the left/elites do not agree with their “uncouth” countrymen, it’s bullshit that the idea that people can say that they don’t want certain people to come and live amongst them is just written off from the start without any consideration. All I hear is “that’s racist/nativist/xenophobic” and no real discussion beyond that. This factor deserves more discussion and the “common people” deserve to be heard on this one because more often than not it affects them/us the most.
I like the fact that the liberals have made the connection between the Brexit and Donald Trump’s campaign in the US. This was in the works way before DJT came into play across the pond, but I believe there is some synergy in the world against neoliberalism/globalism and I like the fact that the kinds of people who want to see the world as nothing more than producers, consumers and two-party voters are starting to shake a little bit. Nigel Farage says it’s time to GTFO of the EU, Trump says we’re not going to “sing the false song of globalism”. Vladimir Putin is still going strong, Viktor Orban in Hungary is railing against the EU and there are nationalist parties gaining momentum across Europe. Hell, even some of the populist leftist movement, including Bernie Sanders here, Podemos in Spain and…some party in Italy that the name escapes me are even examples that people are sick of the current status quo.
Here’s the other question that this brings up… So they always said the EU was there to prevent conflicts in Europe and they keep claiming that the rise of people like Trump, the Brexit, nationalist parties, etc. meant a return to WWI & II era militarism. Is this true? I don’t see it happening like that. I see the kind of internationalism and the steadfast commitment to vague ideals (well, when it suits our interests…) as something that creates the conditions for conflict. I see absolutely nothing but love and support between genuine nationalist factions of the various countries. Do you think that someone from Alternative For Germany and Golden Dawn in Greece would point fingers at each other as far as who’s to blame for whose problems? I doubt it.
At any rate, congratulations to our cousins across the pond on their new found quasi-freedom. Make the most of it and be a shining example to the rest of the world.