I had quite a long day at work yesterday, so as I write this up last night, I’m not planning to structure any effusively brilliant or tightly reasoned arguments. If you want one of those, check out my first few thoughts on Brexit that I published late Friday (and dated Saturday).
This weekend, I’ve mostly been thinking. A little Althusser reading, but a lot of thinking about Brexit and how it will affect my friends who live in Britain. The ones who are there for a little while, the ones who moved there permanently, and the ones who were born, raised, and live there.
European Union leaders have talked about the pain Britain will cause itself when it leaves. And they’ve demanded that Britain invoke Article 50 and negotiate its exit from the EU immediately. I don’t think there’s much of a veil behind their threats.
|David Cameron will probably be remembered as the|
biggest fuckup of a prime minister in the history of
Here's what Martin Schulz, leader of the European Parliament, said in The Guardian just the other day after the referendum result. “Britain has just cut its ties with that market. That’ll have consequences, and I don’t believe other countries will be encouraged to follow that dangerous path.”
Look at Greece for an indication of what European Union leadership does to governments and member countries who refuse to follow orders. After the OXI vote, Greece received only an offer of even more punishing debt relief terms and austerity programs than the package people voted on in that referendum.
People spoke in a democratic voting process, with a group of national leaders carrying the flag forward. They disagreed with the way the EU bureaucracy and leadership was doing things. For voicing that disagreement, they were punished severely.
Many of my friends in the UK who I’ve had a chance to speak with think that nothing too serious will ultimately occur. But I’m not hopeful for any mercy from an EU leadership that sees itself as having received an even bigger middle finger than the Greeks sent.
The EU and its related institutions sent Greece into a hideous poverty from which its economy may not fully recover for generations. That was over a debt relief deal. There was talk of leaving the common currency, but not the common market or the union itself. Brexit was an open separation referendum which the independistes won.
What do you seriously think people so vindictive as to do that to Greece will do to Britain? I wouldn’t be surprised if they hit it with sanctions the intensity of what Saddam Hussein’s Iraq received through the 1990s.
Did you know that Britain imports just over a quarter of its food from continental Europe? Imagine if that were to stop all of a sudden. Wouldn’t want something to happen to those imports, now, would we?
The European Union is not an enlightened institution. It is run by petty, vindictive, almost power-mad politicians and technocrats.
But it could have been an enlightened institution. The EU was supposed to be a trade federation that facilitates cultural exchanges around Europe as well as economic. It was supposed to get all Europeans working together on a common project. That common project was literally continental brotherhood.
Like a lot of institutions around the world today, it builds communication links between people from communities otherwise separate. It lets people work together, encounter each other, get to know each other. People who would never have interacted without those institutions. Who’d know each other only through stereotypes and news reports.
People who seem like aliens. The European Union was supposed to forge a single community out of the poly-linguistic massively multicultural collection of millions of people. It was supposed to keep those people from going to war with each other ever again – to stop literally nearly a thousand years of history and change Europe for the better forever.
Those communication links that facilitate everyday interactivity all over the globe are the foundations of global democracy. Not the global acceptance of elections for government. That’s a foundation of a democratic state. Not democracy.
Democracy is the brotherhood of people themselves. That doesn’t need any boundaries. The fewer boundaries there are between people, and the more people actually interact with each other, the more democratic the world becomes.
Any institution that builds regular, complex, frequently-travelled connections among disparate communities encourages democracy. Because that relationship of friendship – on a mass scale – constitutes the cultural spirit of democracy.
Those relationships make us more flexible, adaptable, powerful, and peaceful. We can solve our problems best when we all do so together. We’ll combine the maximum amount of intelligence around the globe to solve our problems, and build solutions where no one will be left behind because we won’t have any cause to leave anyone behind.
As Antonio Negri said, institutions that build a global community are best suited to achieve and maintain freedom. The most profound freedom, the freedom of being part of a community where everyone cares for everyone and does their best to help them.
Global democracy is global brotherhood. If we all understand that, we’ll live in a world at peace.