Updated: Jan 20
It’s no longer a ‘crisis’. It’s reality. Remain is dead. Brexit is the world we live in, normalizing fear and destroying ties that bound this little English island to a larger community of nations. Being an American affords me a very slight measure of distance. But as a Londoner, I’m anguished by England’s shrinkage, its delusion that going it alone will restore some former glory. In fact, I’m probably going to witness the breakup of the ‘United’ Kingdom as Scotland will almost surely opt for independence after centuries of connection.
"One commentator, pondering Scottish independence notes “That result would take us back to the 17th century, before the 1707 union, and some would even say back to the 16th century, when only England and Wales were united under one sovereign... Brexit... fuelled at the top by English post-imperial delusions of grandeur, is the very thing that will probably end up demolishing even the original, smallest English empire... Brexit is at heart an English nationalist project."
It’s going to be a long journey to the next period of stability, and it’s impossible to imagine what the next epoch will resemble. One of the things I hate about being old is that I won’t be around to see how the world is re-configured in thirty years. All I can say with certainty is the world will be drastically different even ten years from now. In time, I believe there will be smaller and smaller entities clumped together in some kind of communal groupings,but nation-states as we know them now will be severely altered or eliminated. Climate catastrophe will dictate much of what transpires, as survivors of nature’s fury form new ways of living together and out of the rubble construct means to do so. Artificial Intelligence will play a greater and greater role in non-machine (that’s us) interactions. And we’ll succeed in installing enough people on nearby planets that humans and our AI buddies will get to mess up all over again on places like Mars.
What this has to do with the election is in demonstrating that ‘the times, they are a changin’ as Bob Dylan sang. In fact, things are not in the process of ‘a changin’--they are changed, irrevocably. When Dylan squawked these words in the sixties, it was a time of optimism, the world moving towards what felt like better conditions. These days, the shifts feel ominous. What we took to be stable--such things as relatively safe food supplies, statespersonlike discourse on major global concerns, general agreement on what constituted unacceptable assaults on humans both individually and collectively--are breaking apart. Everything I assumed to be relatively true is now in freefall. And Brexit madness is the latest in the collapse of former stabilities.
I’ve read thousands of words, desperately seeking solace in insights from those I trust. In fact, reading has helped begin putting the election in perspective. See links below for some of the commentators whose judgements I trust. Their language helps make order out of the election chaos. But ultimately, we’re in a seriously bad place and need to
figure out where we’re going from here. The ‘we’ is you and me and whoever we can rope in to address the mess we’re in out of the values we cherish of a just and equitable world.
Postscript: I was in the West Midlands when the vote took place, away at a writing centre.This buffered me from the intensity of the election results. Back in London, four days on, the full weight of the vote has landed. I feel down and defeated. The effects of Brexit won’t show up immediately, but I dread their inexorable impact on life even in this huge, embracing city. Beyond Brexit, there’s the fact that the Johnsons and the Trumps and the Erdrogans and the Putins run the world, along with their corporate buddies. I feel oppressed at how the forces for whom capital trumps compassion, for whom climate catastrophe is just a myth, are in charge. It’s hard to see a way forward. Perhaps what I and others need is to let ourselves grieve for awhile, just be with the pain. Perhaps then we can begin to rally. But I’m not up to it just now.
Postscript number 2:
Five weeks since Johnson won his landslide election. Brexit is due to happen in about ten days.
London feels calm at the moment, emotional energy diverted to minor royalty leaving their imperial enclosure. The human capacity to distract itself is astonishing, Doubtless this quiet time will not last. The realities of life as a small island marooned in a sea dominated by larger, more powerful entities will sink in. We’re now all frogs in tepid water, awaiting our fate as the water begins to boil; the impact is slow but inevitable. We weary Remainers continue to contend with our ideas, not yet certain of what comes next.
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The Guardian Articles:
2. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/dec/13/corbynism-labour-left-party?CMP=share_btn_link 3. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/dec/15/unions-colluded-in-fiction-corbyns-plan-never-win-power?CMP=share_btn_link