Now mid April 2017, last year’s catastrophic events, namely the Brexit and USA elected Trump have finally sunk in. November 11 last year left a generally depressed world population. Whichever nationality I spoke to, whilst the Brexit, left most Europeans in temporary indifference. ‘Britain is just not into EU’ they said. Well, we feel the same. Upon scrutiny, both major events are similar in character. They both feature of a rise in right wing extremism and are not good for the political world stage.
Britain was never part of the European single currency. It also has a similar, polarised and unequal society as in the USA when compared to many countries on the continent. The (by nature) louder Americans, are more verbal and present on social media with anti-Trump campaigns. While they don’t rock the boat, the more stiff upper lipped British seem to have accepted their fate. Cameron disappeared almost overnight, and while I think the referendum was the right thing to do, it was not having a qualified majority for the result that was a mistake. The outcome was a close 52/48. This seems to defy democracy because it leaves almost half of UK citizens not getting served. In true keeping up appearances style, Ms. May has now commenced the use of Article 50. She claims the whole UK is behind her and the negotiations in the European Commission are underway.
I think the last Federal UK budget announcement stated that the Brexit will cost citizens in the UK £5000 each over a few years. Money aside, the tragedy is the ever increasing division in society. The rural population with no foreigner contact see those from abroad as an unfair competitor but forget that many of their own kind are abroad taking advantage of globalisation. Rural populations tend to blame the economy on foreigners, instead of the political decisions. In reality, free trade and movement would only help them. Sadly, it is often a lack of education and insight into the modern economy and society, which breeds right wing extremism. They are given a scapegoat to blame for their own choices in not having wanted to keep up with neo-liberal aggressive capitalism. Can we blame these citizens for not keeping up? Yes and no. Can we blame UKIP for false pretenses and Farage who disappeared the moment the outcome was had? Definitely yes.
To call for a Brexit, but without a support plan and then walk away from victory is the most cowardly political act one can make as a politician. In that sense, the ones who fell for the tripe and empty promises of the ‘leave’ campaign without digging into the facts, have been rightly played. “There will be a drop in immigrants, 100 million extra per week for the NHS, we won’t have to pay for the free-trade zone, Britain will be greater, it will save on energy bills (whilst energy is imported),” the rhetoric read, but believe you me, Europe is not going to let Britain have its cake and eat it. There will be new costs in trading with the European zone. After the years it takes to disengage responsibly from the EU, after each citizen has coughed up their £5000 for the Brexit, things will not be better. In fact, they very much might be worse. The right wing have never been the first in history who were willing to distribute wealth, give sovereignty to their colonies, abolish slavery or give women and the working class the vote.
There will be new future global challenges ahead in these racing times which are best taken on together. Especially where the BRICS emerging economies are adding to global competition. The Brexit will affect millions of English living abroad in Europe. But, those whose voted were fuelled by intolerance of Islam or jealousy against foreigners taking advantage of a free trade in the Europe zone did not think of that. The problem with the English, in the UK and USA is that they are only speaking one language. This has them very much in a comfort zone. It makes them feel that the world bends to their lingua-franca and they have to put it no extra effort to succeed. Foreigners do and often speak two or three languages fluently, which certainly broadens perspective and opportunities.
The far right wing argument that supports an up-rise in nationalism is personally not my cup of tea. I am politically centre left, and while I agree, own citizens should first be taken care of, I am in favour of an open border world with a universal income for everyone. This Utopian ideal is well set out in R. Bregman’s Utopia for Realists (Amazon). Some say the left have to start supporting nationalism to regain the political stage, but I do not believe segregation of nationality against nationality is of this modern time.
There is strength in numbers and solidarity and as technology has made our world smaller, continents should be sticking together like families. Some call this a ‘cosmos vague abstract idealism’ but I see it as the future. Not only is it economically more viable to have Europe as a block as big as the USA, Russia, Latin America, Asia or the Middle East and Africa, as far as world peace goes, it makes practical sense too. Any island mentality or “America first, Britain will be great again”, just resounds features of illusory grandeur, when the world stage, especially in terms of environmental sustainability, needs joint responsibility with shared principles. There is richness in diversity and no country should lose it heritage, identity, language or culture, just because it has a diverse population of ethnicity. But diversity within a common pool of secondary culture, such as the European Union, is taking strides in tomorrow’s world which is necessary. No man is an island and neither is any one individual country. We cannot put gates in the sky against pollution if one country decides to ignore climate change. It is no longer ‘each for his own’ it is ‘we are together in this’ and no it is not a new world order.
The fact that so few young pro-European voters did not vote in the Brexit election is also attributable to the negative result. However, in the recent London municipal elections, they had the highest youth turn out ever. Maybe youngsters have woken up to the necessity of political participation. Voting is not only a right, it is a duty, and when one realises in history how many have shed blood, sweat and tears to give every citizen the vote, it’s a remarkable modern laziness to not participate in your country’s major decisions. Most people do not understand democracy, and yes, it is complicated but if you at least vote a yeah or nay, you have contributed to providing to overall true sentiment and made use of your voice. Not voting just does not pay your dues and no matter what your opinion, it then remains a virtual feather floating in air meaninglessly. Funnily enough, non-voters are often the biggest complainers and believers in conspiracy theories, which is another current societal problem. People believe that Virtual Reality is reality when it is absolutely not. With opportunities for monetised videos, anyone can now create imaginary stories, artistically done and quite persuasive, but with little control on factual evidence, which is a downside of globalisation.
In the aftermath of cleaning up the executive and monetary mess, at least the Conservatives have taken the bull by the horns. Their aim is to give Britain some stability and have called for another election. Politicians claim the Brexit is a country-wide supported decision whereas, the truth is that many, disenchanted with politics, and the handling of the financial crises, voted for something they knew little about. Catching a ride on the “Britain will be great again” train was the social media microphone, and it is a powerful instrument of misinterpretation and misleading facts, just as main media sometimes.
Sadly, these right wing dissenters are often ex-Labour left wing supporters, who believed that UKIP would offer something different because they criticised the system. However, this decimation of the political Left over the years has only given more power to the ones who do not really believe in equality or the stability it brings. True, the rise of ISIS and Muslim fear has played its part in the rise of right wing extremism but thinking that Nationalism will brake the acceleration of neo-liberalism is a mistake. In fact it is actually serving it up in bigger portion opportunities, to the Conservatives. The latter, as the bigger drivers of inequality, are only too happy to then race ahead with their own agenda, lapping up the political non-participation and ex-left wing dissent as the Chesire cat who got the cream. Due to an ageing population too, many old timer Conservatives, entrenched in right wing ideals since birth still vote conservatively, despite neo-liberal capitalism flaws. I guess old habits die hard.
The outcome of the May called election has restored some balance. Voting turn out was high, the Conservatives have lost their majority and Corbyn did a good job, better than Ed Miliband, in increasing overall Labour representation. The Green’s didn’t do well in UK as they have done on the continent but at least the arena is less polarised and the biggest triumph I suppose, is a trend we have been seeing around the continent, in the Netherlands, France and Italy, is that UKIP received O seats. Progress is always slow in politics and good luck to Ms May who despite her big words of “Britain wants the Brexit” will not have to now only negotiate the Brexit with the EU but according to the Financial Times, also another 290 agreements. The correct interpretation of the The Brexit is that it was a narrow majority founded upon a very blunt instrument of a yes or no vote.
Britain is making its politicians work for their money but it’s unfortunate though that they are working on negotiating a whole lot of ‘unnecessary’ deals now than actually taking care of its national population which the Brexit Farage promised. Empty vessels make the most noise springs to mind but all is fair I suppose in love and war. Politicians are the peoples’ puppets and when democracy votes, no matter how intelligent or not its voters are, there is an outcome. Bye bye Britain.