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Saturday, June 25, 2016



Received wisdom has it by now that the 52% of Brits who voted to leave the EU are working-class punters who are dissatisfied with EU-style migration and subsequent lack of jobs for themselves. The more sophisticated 48% lot on the other hand recognize the economic benefits that a corporate Europe bestows on the UK, hence voting for remain. The problem with this scenario is that the 52% were mobilized by a far-right conglomerate of lunatics that make the EU/UK political party machine look like saints who in fact are also wolves but in sheep’s clothing. As such it looks like a fight between two factions of a corporate elite who use the electorate for their nefarious purposes. Reduced to Gibbonesque personalities, Cameron and Johnson/Farage – and with a Corbyn not knowing whether to look left or right – the outcome was not a great surprise. The oratorical puns to seduce the electorate were always going to be with the great communicators, what with dire warnings about hordes of Muslim immigrants, German Huns and French Frogs taking away control from honest and hard-working Brits. If you’ve got Merkel as a friend, who needs enemies?

A critique of the EU from a benign left-wing point of view, as for example à la Yanis Varoufakis, entails the idea that the EU is worth saving from itself. We just have to get rid of this insane corporate overlay, and voilà, we have a Europe that is founded on the principles of the French Revolution. Brexit forestalls this solution, for Brexit entails a another French solution, namely the Ancien Régime, or as the Sex Pistols equivocate for the UK: the Queen and her fascist regime. If a Nigel Farage (with a little help from a renegade Tory) can get his way this way, we have a long list of continentals to follow in his footsteps: Le Pen, Wilders, Petry, Klaus, Grillo, Michaloliakos and so on.

Then those on the hard-left also feel that the EU is a lost cause, precisely because of its inherent capitalist ideology, hence we have to wait, not for the French Revolution but for the Russian Revolution (or is it the Cuban Revolution?). Or what about the Bernie Sanders US-style semi-socialist movement grinding to a halt while we wait for Brexit-fan Donald Trump to take over and really suck it to us?

Is Brexit history in the making? Are the clouds gathering again over Europe and the rest of the world? Is it just a storm in a tea cup as the Brits are fond of saying? Will we need another Gibbon to give us a fantastic run-down of the movers, shakers and shape-shifters that shaped the History of the Decline and Fall of the World, sub-titling the first volume, as he did  The Turn of the Tide?

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