When I first asked for guest posts from my Canadian and UK friends, Gary generously said he would write one for me, but as we all know, sometimes life gets in the way of the best laid plans. This morning, I was thrilled when I woke up and saw this one in my inbox! This is the fourth guest post on the topic of Brexit from a citizen of the UK, and tackles the issue from a slightly different perspective than previously done by Roger, Colette, and Frank. Thank you so much, Gary, for your time and effort, and for sharing your views on this multi-faceted issue!
The World Carl Predicted
“Science is more than a body of knowledge; it is a way of thinking. I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time—when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness”
The great Carl Sagan wrote this in 1995. I think even he would have been shocked at how quickly his prophecy has come true. Many industries are broken. Technology is in the hands of the few with our privacy compromised. So many feel alienated from society. Our political systems are increasingly ineffective and compromised. Reason has been replaced by self-interest. That is America today. Unfortunately, you can substitute the United Kingdom for America here. I suspect a growing list of countries can slot in here. It’s a sobering thought.
“… we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness”
In the United Kingdom the country is imploding. It has the feel of a society spiralling out of control towards civil unrest. The middle ground is silent. Political debate has been ditched in favour of fake news, lies and threats. Media is becoming propaganda led. Where Extremists go unchallenged and the country is obsessed on one issue – nothing else matters. That subject, Brexit, is no longer justified in terms of benefits for the population. It’s Brexit couched in the narrative of the 1930s.
In the United States effective government has been replaced by a modern-day Nero. Just replace a fiddle with a twitter account. In both countries Climate Science is scorned in favour of late night claret-fuelled meetings with the leaders of the fossil fuel industries. Where our political elite talk of making our countries great again while they feather their nests. They spout increasingly vile racist and inflammatory language.
Recently the United Kingdom woke to the Leave Campaigns new slogan.
“We didn’t win two world wars to be pushed about by a Kraut.”
The person the leave campaign are abusing is someone who was a distinguished research scientist who became the first female German Chancellor and has successfully served 4 terms. Compare that to the people behind the slogan who are basically narrow-minded racists funded by profiteers (Hedge Fund Investors). But that’s the problem in the UK. Brexit has allowed the extremists to come out from the shadows and drive national policy. As Sagan would say – ‘almost without us noticing’. But sadly, it’s not by chance. It’s fostered at Government level. Our puppet PM Johnson views his best way to personal success is by crashing out of Europe. Riding the anti-Europe/Little England bandwagon. His Puppet Master Cummings (the PM’s Advisor) has a clear game plan. To pour petrol on the simmering schism. To marginalise and vilify anyone who gets in their way. Be that MPs, Doctors, Business Leaders, Judges and people who voted to stay in Europe. We are all branded traitors. Enemy of the people. The only people who count being the 17 million who voted to leave. Let’s not forget the UK population is 64 million.
So maybe our PM should leave the Brexit debate to the grownups and go back to doing what he does best – providing public funded favours to his girlfriends. We can then halt the attempt to drive a country purely fuelled on superstition and hate into the darkness. We desperately need a viable way out of this mess. I voted to remain but I have come to the conclusion that we now do need to leave in some form. I just can’t see how a new referendum will bring healing to this nation. I fear it will add more impetus to the extremists. A potentially violent campaign ending with one side further alienated. The alienated provide rich pickings for the extremist vultures. It’s a recipe for further prolonged conflict and social disaster.
We need to find compromise. Middle ground that can unite the moderates in both camps. So, for me it’s Brexit but with the important compromise. Agreeing to the key principle of freedom of movement. I have never understood how the Government has championed the ending of this freedom as some sort of huge win for our people. How can taking away the right of British citizens to travel freely to 26 countries be seen as a step forward. As soon as we accept the principle of freedom of movement then many of the current negotiating logjams are removed. It then opens up the prospect of more fruitful negotiations with our friends in Europe. Borders, trade and travel continue to operate effectively. We can then concentrate on finding the right balance between increased political freedoms and essential Europe wide partnerships.
This would provide a bridge between the moderates on both Leave and Remain sides. It would also provide a bridge between the older generations who voted more heavily in favour of leaving and the younger generations who largely voted to remain.
Unfortunately, this is not a time for building bridges rather it’s the age of WALL-building. Putting up barriers again. It’s the time when doing the right thing for your country is an increasingly alien concept. It’s the age of Self Gain. Where policy is driven by Hedge Fund profits and the location of Hotels. Where the Brexit financial backers are scheduled to make billions from a crash after betting against the pound. Where US foreign policy is determined by the location of Trump Hotels and his business interests. Where the removal of citizen rights is applauded. Where former war on terror allies are thrown to the wolves.
These are dark times driven by hate, greed and superstition. When one of the few lights is a growing climate movement driven forward by a brave teenager vilified as being both demonic and dangerous by the establishment. When you hear that language, you know the few are worried. Just maybe we can continue accelerate this movement and we can save our planet. And at the same time the seismic changes this would cause would help save our individual nations. Sweep away the Darkness and lead us all to a better place. I’m sure Carl Sagan would sign up to that.
Note to Readers: Thanks so much to all who participated in this project, either by writing a post or through comments. The project had value beyond what I initially envisioned, and those of us living outside the UK have learned so much from Roger, Colette, Frank and Gary. We are all hoping for the best possible outcome at the end of this month. Hugs to all!
This is a well thought out piece, Gary. I am watching the Brexit fiasco with a certain amount of sceptism mingled with a sort of idealogical hope that a ‘deal’ will be worked out. Does that make me a person grasping my ‘crystals’ and ‘tarot cards?’ Carl Sagan’s words are so apt. We have replaced common sense with blustering rhetoric and mistrust. I too, do think we must now leave to keep some sort of order in society, but we must remember that in any situation, when one door closes, another usually opens. What we must avoid at all costs, is closing all the doors and bolting them shut forever!
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Fantastic piece Gary. You have the pulse of exactly what’s going on over there, and over here. Up is down. Down is up. News is fake. The rich must pay little or no taxes. Climate change is a hoax. Keep drilling till the earth is dry, the oceans flood our coastlines, and wildfires engulf our forests in perpetuity. Only so-called “strong-men” buffoons are capable of governing. People of color be damned. And on and on…..
Mr. Sagan was spot on, as is your assessment of this whole ****show we’re witnessing on an every day basis. Perhaps you’re right that Brexit, with qualifications, is the right way to go. Lord knows over here across the pond that I know any better. All of you have written wonderful pieces. I can’t wait to see how the whole thing plays out. Perhaps you feel the same way about our DIRE situation over here. Either way, we’ll survive……somehow.
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There is always a price to pay for co-operation, David, and, as Mitchell has pointed out there are good reasons for the moving parliament. Back when I was a County Councillor I served a district on the South side of an estuary. I quickly discovered that residents on the North side were just as convinced that we on the South got preferential treatment when it came to council services/facilities as were we on the South side. That is what life is like, unfortunately, and politicians often find themselves balancing those perceptions in their decision making. A man from Hull says “if Grimsby is getting a new library, what is Hull getting?” Meanwhile someone in Cleethorpes sees improved sea defences gloing up in Bridlington and asks “what about us”. I’m sure it was the same in the early days of the EU – the EEC as it was then – France would have agreed to most of the insititutions, and the jobs that went with them, being located in Belgium so long as they got something. That something was the alternative parliament.
I hope I covered the situation with FOM and the UK government’s decision not to apply controls, which it could have done, in my post.
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I have a question for you, David. True, the two homes of the European Parliament represent a substantial expense and create a large environmental footprint. On the other hand, if you visit Strasbourg, you will feel very palpably (I have, and I certainly felt this) that this was long contested terrain soaked by the blood of nationalism. Numerous local monuments attest to this. Might there be value in maintaining a home for the European Parliament in Strasbourg as a symbol of lasting peace and reconciliation between France and Germany?
There has long been amplified focus in the British press about waste in the European Union. However, the truth is that much of this waste and “excess” would be quite modest on a national scale. Waste is never welcomed by taxpayers, nor should it be. But is it possible that the persistent focus on waste in the EU (e.g., the amount spent on the new Council “space egg” building in Brussels, which drew sharp rebuke in venues like The Telegraph) in itself reflects an effort to confirm a preconceived anti-EU bias?
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My bias against the waste is not something new generated by the press Mitchell, I’ve complained about it for years.I agree that on a National Scale it’s a relatively small amount but it’s knowing what good that could do if given to Charity or towards hospitals that annoys me.
The mention of the blood soaked ground is emotive and almost every European Country suffered at the hands of Germany during two world wars. Perhaps the Nederlands should have a share in the running of the EU too. Perhaps even the UK would qualify for the blood spilt from bombing raids, though Germany too would qualify for that. No, I wouldn’t mind if Strasbourg took over half the administration on a permanent basis and staff were there all the time. I’m sure that would appease the French who felt that should be the home of the EU. That would avoid the waste of packing up lock, stock and barrel for 4 days every month.
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Thank you Gary for not intimating that all Brexiteers are racists who want to build a wall at Dover.After all we know that Johnny Foreigner would just burrow through the chalk as easily as Trump’s wall can be climbed.I know there are many like me who would be happy to continue freedom of movement if we could have gone back to the days of just being a Trading Partner. We have never had a problem with taking refugees and had like most other countries a good policy of accepting immigrants where they had a specific skill we required.
I want to continue with NATO and have always appreciated the co-operation between other Police Forces and our own. I have not appreciated the times where UK produce has been refused entry into France by either farmers, lorry drivers or whoever or when farmers have been paid monies not to grow what they have never grown. I have hated the monthly transfer for the whole of the EU Parliament from Brussels to Strasbourg for a whole 4 days to include not jut personnel but trucks of paper files.Millions of pounds wasted annually.
If someone can (or in the case of Boris Johnson) wants to negotiate a return on those grounds I’ll happily sign up for it.
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