Friday, June 24, 2016

Return of the White Bull

I don't feel qualified to weigh in on the "Brexit", the vote for the U.K. to leave the European Union. I have friends who feel very strongly on both sides of the issue, friends who actually live in the U.K. and Europe. I've heard arguments from both sides. A friend of mine in the Netherlands was telling me this morning why she feels her country ought to leave the E.U., talking about how countries like Greece and the Ukraine have become an economic burden. She was concerned about corrupt political systems in other countries syphoning funds people in the Netherlands have worked hard for. In trying to digest her feelings, I worded the impression I had as of an E.U. that was divided between people who appreciate the value of community and people who see life as about looking out for oneself and hoping everything will sort itself out. Which, after a moment, I realised would be exactly the sentiment of people arguing for staying in the E.U.

Trying to read about the issue is difficult because most articles are pretty vague about the consequences and seem to rely on hyperbole to push a message no-one seems to feel confident the opposition will appreciate in plain speaking terms. Donald Trump happens to be in Scotland and people are widely making fun of him for his Tweet showing he believed Scotland had also voted to leave the E.U. when in fact Scotland voted to stay in. Trump deserves ridicule for this and many reasons. The shooting of a Labour MP last week is a vivid reminder that such Nationalist ignorance isn't something to dismiss as ridiculous.

But the shooter was obviously an anomaly and the vast majority of people who supported the Brexit aren't murderers. Though it's interesting to note that the murder did not generate sympathy enough for Labour to affect the vote, or if it did, it means that support for the Brexit was even greater.

Again, I don't feel qualified to weigh in here way off in California, most of my impressions of the areas outside London come from reading and watching movies about the English Civil Wars and Charles Dickens' Hard Times. I think about the rural, working class characters in Ken Loach's Kes, a movie recommended to me by a professor from northern England, and I think about how they'd react to the concept of the Brexit. Given how the movie shows the state of education and the economic deterioration in the former industrial powerhouse areas of the country, it doesn't seem surprising that so many people outside London would now be against economic attachment to the rest of Europe. The Brexit may be the result of an increasingly stratified global class system divided between the highly educated rich and the neglected education of the poor former working class. Reading about the threat the Brexit poses to the flow of personnel, ideas, and funding in the sciences as well as the greater threat of destabilised economies is deeply worrying and saddening. But I don't find myself wanting to snark about the people responsible.

No comments:

Post a Comment