The decision made by voters for Britain to leave the European Union is being met with a wide array of opinions. Some are deriding the ‘leave’ vote as yet another indication of growing nationalist sentiments worldwide, a reaction against multiculturalism and immigration; others see it as a rejection of failing bureaucratic institutions and the anti-democratic extra-national governments that run our world in the shadows. Most approach the issue from a chiefly emotional standpoint, and this is because from a rationalist perspective there simply are no good options because the world pretty much sucks at the moment. So, if you feel compelled to vote when there are no good options, your choices are between the ‘lesser’ of two evils.
This should sound familiar to most Americans.
The truth is that the European Union is a bloated, bureaucratic mess and it is a fundamentally anti-Democratic institution whose policies often punish the underclasses for the benefit of the global neoliberal elite. The truth is also that being a member of the European Union affords British citizens opportunities that they will no longer have if the country leaves the EU, such as the ability to migrate and work in 27 countries should they not be able to find a job in Britain’s slumping economy. And it’s not like the ruling elite in Britain have a great track record of working to make British society better for its underclasses.
The British working class are forced to choose, quite literally, between a rock and a hard place while both face the prospect of being swallowed up in a deluge of neoliberal economics and uncertain social experimentation.
The whole thing is so confusing because I believe we are right now in the midst of a tectonic shift in the way the world can or will be shaped by our species moving forward. If we continue the path we are on, with power and wealth continuously being consolidated in the hands of the global elite, our species will face inevitable destruction, but it might feel like a comfortable ride on the way down for a while. If we resist these tides, we can possibly look toward a better outcome, but in the present it’s going to be a dangerous ride. Change is not easy, especially when the power structure that needs collapsing is so intrinsically tied to the framework of our global reality.
If the political and corporate elite continue to give us no good options, the time will have to come to get rid of them and make our own options. Perhaps the Brexit will be a step moving in that direction, or perhaps it will be catastrophe. Time will tell.