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Thursday, June 16, 2016

The BREXIT Campaign and why they think we are Stupid

How to examine the issue of our European identity and Britain’s current campaign to decide on whether we stay in Europe or Leave it?

The EU has held up identity politics as a means of empowering minorities at the expense of the majority. The EU in its current form has marginalized the working classes, impoverishing successive generations of the poor. Given the extremely high unemployment position of European youth (the EU average is 19.4% as at February 2016) it is not surprising that traditional fascism is once more on the march.

Britain has betrayed the working classes, effectively reneging on its commitment to narrowing the gap between the classes.  In Britain, since 1976 there has been a continuous deterioration in the position of the lower classes vis-à-vis the middle to upper classes. Since 1976 every British parliament has recorded progressively fewer MPs who were not educated within the private school system.   We have been told that only the ‘lower classes’ vote to leave - so now it is a simple class issue and we can assume the implication that ‘they’ should stay ‘down’ in their ‘rightful place’.

So are immigration and economics the only vital issues in the debate? Must our vote on the 23rd of June be based on these two issues?  There are many issues causing unease within society.  Unless we are able to discuss them all without fear of being labeled something we are not then all we are going to receive are insults and platitudes, and that is the summation of the debating tactics of both sides.

The half-truths thrown about by both sides of the Brexit campaign have helped to discredit the campaign. We are told that leaving will destroy much of the nations’ wealth and bring to an end our comfortable way of life. We have even been told a Brexit could precipitate a World War.  The one constant of this campaign has been the contempt demonstrated by all parties to the debate.   Former Prime Minister, Sir John Major described Boris Johnson as a likeable man and a court jester. Lord Stuart Rose who is fronting efforts to keep Britain in the EU dropped a bombshell when he admitted to a group of MPs’, big business favors membership of the EU because it is depressing British wages. (Daily Express Mar 3, 2016).   The corollary is that a Brexit would boost British workers' wages. The truth is that a Brexit would cut off employer access to an unimpeded and excessive flow of cheap labor.

It sounds bizarre that no-one has criticized the low level of debate. Our politicians and business leaders, panels of experts and the unions, across the board they have all been guilty of engaging in a campaign of mendacity, half–truths sold as gospel and derision universally waged against opponents.

This has not just been a dirty campaign, it has been a campaign that has assumed we are all either too stupid or too greedy to listen to any intelligent debate.

Binary prejudice is the idea that we are blind to anything that does not fit into neat dualistic categories defined by the most vocal or forceful group within society. It sounds like something that could explain why our politicians and business leaders treat us so badly.

Something is or is not and there is no room for shades of colour.  It is the simplistic argument of an uncomplicated, more brutal era. It is not that old hatreds are returning; in many people they never went away but simmered with malevolent patience just below the surface; a veneer of civility and calm.  And then we are made to feel guilty that arguments over immigration are just about prejudice, when they are not. Society has lost its post World War 2 inhibitions which prevented the bigot from expressing their prejudices or acting out their fantasies.  Partly as a consequence of this renewed nihilism we are witnessing a return to the expression of many of our old fears. Our security is conditioned on practicing a McCarthyistic mantra (in the UK it is mostly left of centre but in much of Europe, fascism is also emphatically right-wing).  An unintended consequence of our appeasement of Islamism has been that it has encouraged both bloodshed and prejudice. Of greater threat to the stability of society, it has led to a lack of credibility in government’s willingness to protect the people. And that is a fundamental break in the social contract that is at the centre of modern government.  When government does not acknowledge or address people’s fears over the personal threat that extremism creates, a direct consequence is the counter-radicalism response.

Economic and physical insecurity has returned and we have also lost our moral compass. But are we that different to the Europeans many of us want separation from or are we all assumed to be equally stupid? 

We have lost our way and a simple example proves it:

On the 5th of June 2016 the Swiss government ran a referendum which proposed providing every person with a basic income as a constitutional right.  Put another way, it proposed paying all its unemployable citizens a wage for life. Switzerland argued that recognizing some jobs as having ‘disappeared’ meant that society was responsible for not financially penalizing the ‘unemployable.’ The resolution was defeated by a margin of over 3:1 (76.9% against to 23.1% for).

23% of people voted in favor and many who voted against it would have done so from personal greed only!

Maimonides was a Sephardi philosopher, astronomer, Rabbi and physician who lived from 1135-8 to 1204. He proposed ten levels of charity, of which the highest level (and therefore the greatest act of charity) was that a man (or woman) gave a fellow human being the means by which they could support themselves and their family.  If in the name of globalization we have lost that Maimonidean understanding of human dignity as the Swiss surely have, then truly, our society has lost its way. It is the obligation of society to care for its people. It is not a national right for a nation to right-off its vulnerable members of society, either by ignoring them or by paying them off.

If Europe is not just a club but part of our shared destiny then it is an integrationist enterprise which will one day come about through full fiscal union, creeping legal annexation and the final act of creation - a federal European super-state.  Policy will then be imposed: with federal diktat from the top and local negotiation on implementation passed down to national parliaments.  Am I exaggerating this scenario?

In the three year period 2011-2014 66% of laws and 67% of new offences enacted in the UK parliament came from the Council of Ministers (European Commission). This Incrementalism is fundamental to EU integration on a policy level.  The issue not being debated is that without political transparency and accountability the EU is travelling at speed down a path to becoming no better than one more corrupt dictatorship.

The EU is incapable of reforming itself without a serious scare (which a Brexit would provide).  That is something we should have been discussing.  The EU has a vision – that shared destiny I referred to earlier.  We are not discussing any of the issues that arise out of that vision.  We are not dealing with any of the issues that have always confronted human society because they are both philosophical and political construction (and politics is by its nature, prejudiced).  To discuss anything in practice would mean getting our metaphorical hands dirty. Far easier to speak in generalities and leave the detail to future generations.

This is the real reason everyone in the debate is being so coy about the question of our relationship to the European Union.

If no nation can stand alone then what are the real differences between remaining in Europe and leaving the Union (given that even then we will be enormously impacted by our relationship with the EU)?

The issues are of huge importance and yet all anyone has done so far is to insult us and to attempt to scare us without attempting to provide any serious discussion of the pertinent issues. The one thing we know with certainty is that all predictions are forecasts and therefore not factual but based on personal bias.

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