If social media is anything to go by, then many of those who wanted Britain to stay in the EU are distraught. Remainers are so mortified at Brexit that they actually want to change the rules of democracy. Over 2.5 million people have signed a petition demanding the government “…implement a rule that if the Remain or Leave vote is less than 60%, based on a turnout less than 75%, there should be another referendum.”
In other words there should be another referendum because the last one produced the ‘wrong’ result. And what if the next one produces the wrong result again? Should we keep having referendums until people get it ‘right’? Such absurdity.
What’s happening here? What has made over two and a half million Britons demand that their cherished system of government, democracy, effectively be abandoned? After observing the reaction on social media, I think I know what it is. It’s the trauma of believing that liberal, civilised society is coming to an end. It is Post-Brexit Disorder. Remainers believe these are desperate times – hence resorting to the grossly illiberal and desperate measure of actually demanding totalitarian government.
Without realising it themselves, perhaps, much of the rage from Remainers expressed on social media and in the press has not been against the effects of Brexit, but instead the inherent injustice of majority rule. Youngsters are naturally asking how it can be right for old people (Brexit votes came mostly from older generations) to have so much say over their lives? Why indeed. Mob rule stops being expedient or indeed any fun the moment you’re not longer part of the mob, whether it be a local or national one. All citizens of democracy come to understand this in time.
Remainers seem to believe that anyone who opposes the EU must necessarily be a xenophobic, racist, nationalist right-wing nut job – or else simply as dumb as a mule. What they don’t understand, however, is that it’s possible for someone to be against the EU and to be a decent, tolerant, intelligent human being who is all for social liberalism.
There’s no doubting that some of those who voted for Brexit have poor reasoning skills or did so because they thought it would satisfy their socially illiberal urges. (Although the same can also be said of Remain voters and their economically illiberal urges!). But it is possible to choose the right option for the wrong reasons. Which is what seems to have happened here to some degree or other.
The other reason that Remainers are reacting to Brexit as if it was a terrorist attack is because of what they believe the EU is. But the problem is they’ve only read the glossy brochure. The EU isn’t about free trade, it’s about planned trade. It’s not about free movement of people, but the planned movement of people. It’s not about proper rights, but the rights assigned to you within someone’s plan. Whose plan? A few men in power. Men far removed from those they rule over and practically only answerable to the national rulers they oversee.
If it were possible for any one man or group of men to plan an economy such that lasting prosperity resulted, then the ancient civilisations of Greece, Egypt and Rome would never have fallen. Because for two thousand years or so every kind of Authority over these civilisations, democratic to despotic, has planned their economies and attempted to plan prosperity. But every one failed and only collapsed the economies they ruled over. This is how civilisations ‘fall’. This is the essential story of human civilisation.
John Lennon once famously said that life is what happens when you are busy making other plans. Well prosperity is what happens when men in power are busy making their grand plans. Impoverishment is what happens when they implement them. The degree of impoverishment and how long it takes depends on how restrictive and comprehensive the plan is.
Human progress is never a straight line. Sometimes what seems to be a backwards step is actually a forwards one. Brexit and the potential future disintegration of the EU, fits into this category. Yes, it will be painful and messy. But so is putting a fire out or having a rotten tooth pulled.
Remainers see the EU as a solution to economically and socially illiberal government; a way for Europeans to keep their governments in check for the benefit of all. But the EU is rather like God in the sense that it suffers from the infinite regression problem – i.e. if God created everything, then who created God? If the EU governs governments, then who governs the EU? Who keeps it from being illiberal and oppressive? A higher Authority? Then who governs that?
Logically, there’s no way out. Which in reality means government cannot be the solution to the problem of government action preventing the free movement of people and free trade. Once again, the EU doesn’t create free trade or free movement of people in the proper sense of these terms. It plans the movement of people, goods and capital throughout its member states. The difference is profound.
The potential for human suffering and wealth destruction from the power of a European superstate is far greater than any nation-state. Because half a billion people live under the EU’s rule. And the only way to escape it is through referendums. But governments don’t hand out referendums like they do other people’s money. Britons got lucky. And even then they only escaped with the smallest possible majority. On another day, without flooding and train chaos, perhaps, the result could have been different.
What’s pleasing about Britain’s secession from the EU is that it has prompted a healthy moral outrage in those who wanted to remain. That sense of injustice which we as humans instinctively feel when we’re prevented by others from acting according to our own peaceful will.
Londoners strongly preferred remaining in the EU. That much is clear from the referendum results. Must they submit to the will of the majority of the rest of the population of Britain? According to the rules of democracy, yes. But London becoming an independent state is not generally incompatible with free and peaceful society. Vatican City in Italy is a fine example of how this can work. This might seem far-fetched but London is home to Britain’s wealthy elite. If anyone has the power to make this political outcome happen it is them.
Isn’t this all a bit, well, radical? Yes it is. But then, just maybe, these are radical times. The old statist world is cracking up. The EU losing one of its key member states is a symbol of this. Everything state controlled is losing its veneer. People are losing confidence in government money and banking, and government security and justice. State-controlled capitalism is stuttering and stagnating. It’s becoming increasingly obvious that states can’t do the things they say they can.
People are looking for radical answers. This can be bad, as we’re seeing in the reaction to Brexit, but it can also be good. People start broadening their intellectual search. Radical but liberal political ideals, such as libertarianism, which otherwise get ignored, are given serious consideration. And that’s really all libertarianism needs.
Whatever the reasons Britons voted for it, Brexit has happened. Now we await the reaction of the peoples and political parties of Europe. There are already signs that Brexit might just, in time, precipitate the dismantling of the EU. Some political parties in other nations are already calling for their own referendums. Public feeling and political pressure against the EU is slowly building across Europe.
This is certainly not what the men of hubris who occupy the EU’s thrones of power want. To have the efficacy and the virtue of their authority questioned and rejected by commoners must feel humiliating and unsettling. It must enrage them. How dare these ignorant masses make us doubt our own greatness, make us question our own righteousness!
And it’s not what 49% of Britons who voted in the referendum want. The Brexit vote has enraged them. How dare a majority of stupid people ruin our democratic society! Nor is the collapse of the EU what every industry and special interest group that unjustly benefits from EU Directives or from EU funding wants. But it’s what needs to happen for a new prosperity to rise in Europe.