We began as hunter-gatherers. Tribal and divided we fought amongst ourselves. As we progressed we galvanized into tribes, and as we discovered agriculture we grew into rudimentary civilization. We warred with nearby towns until we formed early city-states and eventually grew and morphed into the first empires.
Throughout human history we have been on an inexorable forward march towards a global world. To the breakdown of borders and the integration of our people. We Began as tribes, moved to towns and empires and with the most recent developmental stage of the human race we prepared to become continental. With a free movement of labour, trade and culture, the European Union spelled the first step in the new world of the human race.
Now in the first of these tumultuous post-Brexit days, I ask, does the regression of these borders spell the end for this new level of global progression?
In the days immediately after Britain voted to leave this wonderful union many other individuals, party leaders and public voices have spoken up, seeing our renewed isolation as a rallying cry. From Scottish Independence, Australia leaving the Commonwealth, Texas seceding the US or calls for referendums on EU membership across the right wing parties of Europe, it seems that Britain has struck the first blow in the regression of our newly progressive and globalized world.
As simultaneously a Briton, a European and a Globalist, I felt the blow of leaving the Union harder than most. In global terms, I felt like I had grown up in a US state that has decided to become independent. I felt like while I had grown up taking advantage of a wonderful, diverse and vast land, I was now to be confined to one tiny corner of it.
Of course, this is not true, while we have decided to re-erect our borders and face the world as an isolated island, this has not confined me to our small shores. What it has done is both made me face a new and as yet untold amount of legislative difficulty should I wish to move and work across these borders as freely as I once did. What is more, it has flown a flag of fear and hatred in the face of these values that I once held dear.
I have often felt that the right wing resurgence that Europe has felt in its most recent years has been more the death throes of these latent feelings of our former nature. The path of progression seldom flows freely. With any major change there has been death, fear and those who fight staunchly to hold on to the old ways and to reject this progression as they feel that it threatens its way of life.
But does this spell a decade or more of regression from these values? Lets begin from this position:
If we cannot agree on politics, philosophy or humanity, I do believe we can all agree on this. The end game.
Surely we must all accept the endeavor of all our collective human efforts must be to make life on this planet as good as it can possibly be for as many people as possible. We must eradicate hunger, fear, persecution, slavery. We must make sure that as many people as possible have access to sanitation, healthcare and shelter. We must make sure that people are safe when they walk down the street, that they have the best possible access to education, that they not be discriminated against due to the circumstances of their birth, or less advantaged because of religious views or skin colour.
I am quite confident that almost all people will agree on these points. Right and Left wing politics are little more than a vehicle to this end game. Disagreement with this is not a matter of politics, it is a matter of being a decent person.
If you agree with me to this point, carry on reading and use the comments to posit your opinion on the best way to get there. If you disagree with me, don’t worry, I’ll let you get back to strangling your kitten soon.
So is the Brexit a movement towards, or away from this endgame?
Often touted during the pre-referendum debate and arguably the central issue in the entire of the leave campaign was the issues of immigration and sovereignty. The parallel between the leave campaign in the UK and the Trump campaign in the US were startlingly similar in this way. “Make America Great Again”, “Make Britain Great Again”. Both campaigns have ran with views to the erections of borders, with central ideals of individual countries being their best, and with hawkish views on foreign policy. Neither have made a central part of their campaigns about how the selection of their party or ethos would do more to further the human cause. To help Syrian refugees, to make sure that children in sub-saharan Africa went without starving, or to promote social mobility in global inner cities. If anything ever harked to the fears of a pre-globalized world it is statements, policies and campaigns like these. Why should the greatness of a county be measured entirely within its own borders?
Perhaps most embarrassingly of all, World War II was often brought up in Britain’s campaign to leave the EU. Perhaps in an attempt to refocus the older generations towards inherent feelings of patriotism, to suggest that the referendum was a chance to reclaim “Britain’s finest hour”, or worse, that the EU was somehow the death of the Britain that stood up to Nazi Germany.
So no, realistically, the movement away from a continental trade and free movement union was not one towards making the word the best that it can be. In the same way that Trumps plan to build a big wall and to f**k anyone born on the wrong side of it also does not help us towards this end game.
We live in a globalized world. We cannot now decide that we wish to ream the benefits of cheap and free global trade without the responsibility for what happens to those working to allow us these benefits. I once heard something that makes a lot of sense in these times;
Being British is about driving in a German car
to an Irish pub
for a Belgian beer,
then on the way home, grab an Indian curry
or a Turkish kebab
to sit on a Swedish sofa
to watch American shows
on a Japanese TV set.
We have embraced globalisation, as much as some hate to admit it. And so we should have. It has helped those on British shores enjoy a much higher quality of life. Moreover it has helped those most of the world over towards industry, fairer politics and prosperity. The EU was the first step in cementing this new way of human life. It took this global connectivity to a new level and as well as allowing for the free movement of the goods that every one of us rely upon daily, it allowed for the free movement of people. It was a huge step towards a globally free world and it pushed others into similar pacts. It was never perfect, something with its scope and vision rarely is in its infancy and of course takes years to perfect.
The question becomes an issue of whether or not the union jack, now flying alone, without a ring of European stars becomes a beacon for those who wish to fortify their castles and let the rest of the world burn. If nothing else I can say with certainty that it will not become a beacon for those who wish to drop their drawbridges and help their fellow man.
We have decided to move backwards, away from our end goal. It may or may not result in a higher quality of life for those within British borders, but it shows both ourselves and the rest of the world that we have chosen to make sure that we are wealthy and content long before we give a thought to those born in places less fortunate than us. And god forbid we allow one refugee through our newly fortified borders, as helping others is surely what will stop Britain from being Great.