Our previous post on diversity and Britain’s E.U. referendum drew comments both pro- and anti-Brexit.
One charge was that the issue was “decided by the old but it will affect the young.” Yes, the old voted Leave. They did so as a matter of duty and honor, and out of reverence for the sovereignty and institutions of their great and ancient nation. (These being utterly unknown concepts to modern youth, who know their past only insofar as they have been taught to despise it, it isn’t surprising to hear them grumble; expressing grievance is more or less all they are trained to do anyway.)
Another was that the shakeup would have negative economic consequences. Indeed it will. It is understandable that for those who imagine all the world’s people to be perfectly alike and interchangeable, and to whom the very concept of a nation as anything more than a border with an economy is an embarrassing relic of benighted times, economics would be all that matters. But there are those who see nations as the sovereign homelands of particular peoples, and as sheltered havens for the expressions of their unique and precious cultures, traditions, and folkways — and for such people, the idea of selling their children’s right of self-determination to faraway busybodies for twenty pieces of silver was never worth the gain. They took this last chance to reclaim and secure their heritage.
One commenter said: “You can’t have a world-class economy based on tourism, Marmite, and Stilton cheese.” But if that is all England has to offer, then what, exactly, are they offering the E.U.? Is the point here that England is useless and spent, incapable of producing anything that anyone wants, and so its people should be glad to exchange their self-determination for alms in their dotage? What a miserable and insulting vision of a great nation and people. Any Englishman told that this is why he should prefer remaining in the E.U. should spit in his interlocutor’s eye.
In the same comment, we read that “[i]n a globalized world, you can either have prosperity or you can try to go it alone, outside of trade blocs and multilateral groups.”
I have two responses to that. First of all, there is no reason that an emancipated U.K. can’t make trading arrangements as its people see fit — as of course they will.
Second, this comment assumes that a “globalized world” is both desirable and inevitable. It is neither, and the U.K.’s departure from the suffocating regulatory apparatus of the E.U. is a sign that globalism is crumbling. Moreover, engineers who design and troubleshoot complex systems know all too well that to-tight “coupling” is at the root of most catastrophic failures; the tight coupling of globalization makes the world system far more brittle and subject to chain-reaction disasters of every kind, from disease to terrorism to economic collapse.
But it’s really pointless to bicker about this. Your view of Brexit, like so much else, will depend on your axioms, and neither side is likely to persuade the other. As seems true of every aspect of politics today, Brexit exposed the yawning fissure between two wholly incommensurable visions of Western civilization. It is a pity that we live in such fractured times, but here we are.