Whatever you may think of it, everyone – politicians most of all – must respect the Brexit vote.
The British people are not a bunch of children who need to be stood in the corner by know-it-all politicians because they voted “wrong”. They have voted, albeit by a slim margin, to no longer be part of the European Union.
As far as I am concerned, this is what the people want. It is an issue that had affected me very little as I don’t believe in identity politics. I had no position on it, until the population had finally made the true extent of their skepticism towards the EU clear.
Let’s try to understand their minds. This is not an economic question but a matter of identity and history. British people do not identify as Europeans. If there is to be a European political association, the Brits do not belong in it. Even those who voted “Remain” don’t belong in it. Merely swayed by economic fears, they voted “Remain” because the television told them so, or because people “like me” are supposedly voting this way.
People don’t regret this. For those who voted “Leave”, voting was quite literally their “finest hour” – their own moment to stand up to the Continent just like their ancestors in the Napoleonic Wars and the World Wars. The British, once again, discovered a stubbornness that has been unique to them in history. They won’t back down. Even if they have to tighten their belts and face economic costs for standing up to the great and powerful Continent, they won’t regret what they did.
Possibly egged on by billboards of the new Independence Day movie, many sincerely felt the wave of patriotic feeling invoked by Boris Johnson in his speech calling for a British “Independence Day”. Many who had never voted on any political issue were moved to vote.
Respect the Brexit vote and honor it even if you disagree with it
If we think anything good about the will of the people, about democracy, we should respect the Brexit vote.
I have noted with dismay the aggressive and irrational attitudes have already on display towards the larger half of the voting public for their stubborn and emotional vote out of the European Union. Among these is the view that the will of the people should just be trampled. Some believe we should vote again and again, as if the ballot box is a kind of broken vending machine you can hit until it works, until the population finally votes to remain in the EU.
Others say the Parliament should vote to rip up the referendum result, keep Britain in the EU, and never allow the people to vote on this issue again. Of all the nasty rhetoric in the campaigns over Britain’s membership of the EU, this idea is the most disgraceful. It is the most offensive suggestion of all.
The idea that the wishes of the British people should be overruled by an authoritarian Parliament, as advanced by David Lammy, is unfortunate. Such a move would include all the arrogance, privilege and disregard for people’s lives shown by those anti-Muslim racists often seen among UKIP supporters and other right-wingers, and adds even more on top. This advocates overruling democracy, people-power, and men and women of all faiths and races, whenever the (overwhelmingly white) state is convinced it knows best. If we don’t respect the Brexit vote, we have already gone that far.
At least I’m sure Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will personally respect the Brexit vote and stand by the wishes of the British people. If the majority of MPs have any sense, they’ll honor the wishes of the people and block any attempt to dismiss the results of the referendum.
Second Scottish independence referendum?
There has been talk of a second Scottish independence referendum. While I support this idea, and polls indicate it would succeed in getting Scotland its much-deserved independence, I am doubtful a second “Yes” campaign in Scotland will produce anything other than a second “No” vote. The same people who believed the rhetoric coming out of London and voted “No” the first time have not gone anywhere, nor will they have access to any different sources of information than they did the first time. Irrational though the defenders of the United Kingdom’s integrity as a state may be, have they not already won the hearts of the people?
In addition, while I believe referendums are good and a second one for Scotland should be held, I think there must be a delay. It should take place after exit referendums have taken place in at least some other EU countries. It will be unfortunate for Scotland to get ready to rejoin the EU, only to then learn all the other countries wish to leave.
No, it’s not Corbyn’s fault
Finally, opponents of Jeremy Corbyn within Labour need to cut him some slack. If his opponents were so much more capable of convincing the British people not to vote Brexit, why didn’t they do so? Aren’t they just as useless as him? Why didn’t these wise guys tell Corbyn the magic tweet he needed to convince people not to vote Brexit?
My belief is that the vote to leave the EU will later appear wise, once the true weakness of the European Union is exposed by the loss of such a significant country. Historians may ask, “might the EU have survived, had the UK chosen not to respect the Brexit vote?” Maybe, but clearly most British people don’t care for the EU’s survival or the well-being of Europe whatsoever. As explained earlier, Brits continue to regard Europe as alien and potentially hostile.
Many from the former “Remain” campaign issue sneering proclamations that Britain will suffer for leaving, like the people have upset an angry god. But the EU will receive all the “Brexit government”‘s blame for any ensuing economic woes, and we’ll see everyone devour that rhetoric eagerly. Considering the EU’s apparent determination to impose costs on the UK for leaving, future rhetoric blaming the EU for an ailing British economy could even have significant merit.
In my experience (oh the irony…), there is a battle of experience vs knowledge.
As someone who studied International Relations at university, but has little to no political experience or travel history abroad, I may seem like someone right out of an ivory tower. This would be a good ad hominem against me in a debate, right?
My apparent academic focus might be enough to make you dismiss what I have to say to the layman. But, through my own readings and study, the following has become obvious to me. The use of political theory is more abundant on the left of politics. The use of anecdotes, “common sense” and “experience” is more typical of right-wing arguments.
As someone who leans strongly to the left in my own personal philosophy, I almost cringe whenever someone brings up their personal “experience” to assert political judgments. Especially judgments about whole peoples and other countries. “Experience” is the stuff racist arguments and cultural prejudices are made of. It is the foundation on which generalizations are made. It is the source of all narrow-minded attitudes in the world.
But this post isn’t a politics one, but a matter of personal philosophy.
Experience vs knowledge: where do you stand?
People who visit a country typically return thinking they know everything about it. But they in fact know even less. Not only have they failed to adequately research that country and its history. They now have the “experience” of a tiny fraction of a percentage of it. This is even more twisted by their own unfading prejudices they carried with them and confirmed over and over again as they toured that country. Not only has their “experience” convinced them to actively close themselves off from sources of knowledge, it is a source of blindness for them.
The pride gained by “experience” often doesn’t lead to enlightenment at all. Constantly witnessing world events from the ground level often only makes it harder to understand what it really going on in the world, what is really behind it all. In contrast, sociologists, historians and political analysts seated in a university campus often have a far broader and more comprehensive understanding. Deluded and impassioned people with ground level “experience” will fail to supply any kind of useful analysis of the world. They don’t know why they saw what they saw, why they experienced what they experienced.
Your senses and your biased recollections lie to you. They will never be able to give you the truth about the world’s sorrows, in the way books and adequate study can. The world is one social system as Immanuel Wallerstein instructs. If you want a full, bird’s-eye-view of the whole global society, a person’s experience has little value.
Immanuel Wallerstein asserted in a recent post that the gap between American power and political rhetoric is growing. This can be related to the the Syrian problem at the heart of current US foreign policy.
The US is no longer the dominant power in the world. However, it refuses to accept this, International Relations expert Wallerstein wrote at the start of June.
All US presidential candidates accept that the US is in decline, as Wallerstein points out. By looking back to bygone eras in their campaign rhetoric, they acknowledge US power has become a shadow of what it once was. However, they ascribe this failure to a lack of willpower by President Obama. Rather than superpower decline, typical of history.
The Syrian problem as a test of American limits
Disaster is closer than you think. It will happen if the US resorts to even greater force to solve its Syrian problem. Many current State Department officials have now recently pleaded in a memo for Obama to attack the Syrian government. Hillary Clinton holds the same belief the Syrian government should be attacked. Not ISIS, but the Syrian government, which has been pushing back ISIS fiercely in recent battles. The US government sees the Syrian government (“regime”) as the Syrian problem, more so than ISIS, due to its defiance and its close ties with Russia.
But on almost the same day the memo hit the headlines, the Russian Defense Minister toured the latest Russian anti-aircraft missiles based in Syria. Maybe it’s a message to those war hawks that they’ll get shot down in flames.
Aggressive US diplomats are blind to the web of traps set by Russia in Syria, because these hawks are so convinced of the importance of wills rather than the facts in the way of their ambitions. These are not the usual traps US soldiers have been harmed by, either. These traps are fully flanked by the resources of a vast nation with long-range radar covering the entire Mediterranean. There are Russian satellites in orbit, missile cruisers on the sea, and nuclear submarines under the sea near Syria. And don’t forget the cruise missiles capable of crossing vast distances to devastate US bases and airfields if Russia decides to return fire. Forget all that. To US diplomats and politicians, America is invincible. It’s only problem is Obama’s lack of will.
To crazed warmongers like Clinton, the US can do anything, so your suggestion the US might lose a battle or fail to conquer the world under her leadership would be high treason.
Let us think about anarchism, anger and anti-statism. Most people’s view of anarchism is that it is an angry, impassioned plea for governments to be disbanded or overthrown. It has no plan and has not thought the consequences through.
If brought up among the average group of intelligent people at the top of any profession, anarchism is dismissed as nothing more than an overly idealistic political philosophy among youths. Indeed, many people are only interested in anarchism during their youth, and later “realize” the state is necessary once they are paying their taxes etc.
However, most people don’t realize how many influential and dominant intellectuals in fact favor anarchism. The tendency to dismiss anarchists as an angry, passionate lot who have not thought through the consequences of their zero state goal is an example of the political habit of assuming the speaker either has all the solutions or has none. Not for a moment do people realize that in fact no-one has all the solutions to society’s problems, although some theories and philosophies can be of great aid. I tend to use the term anti-statism rather than anarchism, because many interpretations of anarchism are about all authority being disbanded. That would be an impossibility, since even the people who first thought through such a goal and proposed it were themselves natural authorities in their field of interest. The most credible type of anarchism, the type preached by their best today, is merely criticism of the modern state and corporate hierarchies. There’s no proposition there that all forms of organization and authority are evil, just a yearning for more organic and less paradoxical forms of organization and authority.