“Keep calm and grieve for Europe.” ~ Paul Krugman
Contra Krugman, I don’t see any good reason to “grieve for Europe”: as a historical and geophysical entity, Europe hasn’t changed, and from the perspective of cultural survival, it may have taken a turn for the better, especially if “exit” fervor spreads. What has taken a hit is the European Union project, attempting to, as Krugman points out, mandate political unity among historically and culturally diverse countries without giving much if any though to how — or whether — that would work out.
But that aside, this is a surprisingly (because “liberal” these days often equals “globalist,” and Brexit is an axe-stroke at the root of globalism as presently conceived: oligarchical, non-representative, bureaucratic, and top-down) cogent analysis of the UK’s “Brexit” from the European Union. Now it is true that, as Krugman (inter alia) points out, this vote has pointed to fault-lines within the UK itself, which could be problematic for the future of that Union. But that does not at all mean that Brexit itself was a bad idea! Krugman writes:
“It seems clear that the European project — the whole effort to promote peace and growing political union through economic integration — is in deep, deep trouble. Brexit is probably just the beginning, as populist/separatist/xenophobic movements gain influence across the continent. Add to this the underlying weakness of the European economy, which is a prime candidate for ‘secular stagnation’ — persistent low-grade depression driven by things like demographic decline that deters investment. Lots of people are now very pessimistic about Europe’s future, and I share their worries.
“But those worries wouldn’t have gone away even if Remain had won. The big mistakes were the adoption of the euro without careful thought about how a single currency would work without a unified government; the disastrous framing of the euro crisis as a morality play brought on by irresponsible southerners; the establishment of free labor mobility among culturally diverse countries with very different income levels, without careful thought about how that would work. Brexit is mainly a symptom of those problems, and the loss of official credibility that came with them.”
The EU has, simply put, gotten too big for its britches. It has expanded far beyond its original vision and mandate, to become oppressive: economically, politically, and socially. A majority — granted only 52 to 48%, but more than 17 million people — have said, “No. Enough. We will not follow where you want to go. We insist on our own sovereignty; we will not give it up into the hands of un-elected, un-accountable bureaucrats in Brussels.” And I, for one, applaud them for it!
One final point, before I close: I said Krugman’s analysis was cogent, and by and large that is true. But he does fall into certain traps common to folks on his side of the political aisle, and one of them is equating concern for the preservation of one’s culture and heritage with “xenophobia.” “Phobia,” like “racism” and “hate,” is a code-word and a political tactic used by the left to shut down dissent. Accuse someone of one of these, and you’ve (at least in your own mind) assumed the moral high ground, consigned your opponent to the “dust-bin of history,” and won the argument.
That, however, is a load of malarky.
While there may indeed be genuine racists, haters, and xenophobes (the word means “fear of the different”) among those who wish to protect, preserve, and pass down to their posterity the ethnic and cultural heritage they have received from their forebears, accusing every such person of one (or more) of these is both inaccurate and deeply offensive. You do not have to hate others to love your own.
As a popular meme puts it, “I lock the door not because I hate those outside, but because I love those inside.” If you feel under threat — and irrespective of whether that threat is actual or exaggerated — locking the door is neither racism, nor hatred, nor xenophobia, but common sense.
And of course it is ironic, to say no more, that Europeans (and those of European heritage, wherever they may live) — a group which is drastically on the decline, from 30% of the world’s population in 1900 to an estimated 8-10% by 2050, according to some projections — are the only group for whom pride in their heritage is considered, by the political and intellectual elite, to be blameworthy. By daring to point this out, I may also be opening myself to accusations of hatred, racism, or xenophobia! So be it. See “malarky,” above…
At any rate, it seems likely that although Britain was the first to leave the EU, it will not be the last — unless, of course, the existing power structure is able to quash the aspirations of the people, in which case they will only be postponing the inevitable and ensuring that the eventual explosion is that much larger and more damaging for having been contained. France, Holland, Italy, Austria, Finland, Hungary, Portugal, and Slovakia are all calling for referenda; it will be interesting indeed to see how things work out!