BREXIT Points Of View

3 Sep


Few people ever think of the differences in culture between themselves and those in other wealth brackets. It is always assumed that others lead essentially the same life, just with finer or poorer trappings associated with it. The extremely wealthy cannot visualize the relative expense of basics such as food to someone on a subsistence-level income and the poor view the rich as having more disposable income without any additional operating expenses, social obligations or risks.

-Michael Z. Williamson, Freehold

A week or so ago, a guy I know on Facebook posted a photo of a household that, through putting up a Pro-BREXIT sign, had made its political afflictions strikingly clear.  This was followed by a considerable amount of vitriol directed at Leave voters, a tiny fragment of the vitriol directed at them over the years since the referendum was held.  I pointed out, rather waspishly, that the poster might know nothing about the people who lived in that house, let alone why they might feel the way they do, and – in any case – talking to people as if they’re idiots is not a good way to convince them to join you.  People resent that sort of treatment, you know?

In any case, it led to an interesting discussion.

It’s quite easy, these days, to get caught in an information bubble, where all your news comes from sources with the same or similar political views.  If you live inside such a bubble – and you may not even be aware of it – it’s easy to start thinking that you’re right and everyone who disagrees is either ignorant or wilfully wrong (i.e. they know the truth, but deny it because they’re evil or stupid that way.)  This tends to manifest on both sides of the political divide, but it seems to be worse for the Left because the Left has a near-complete stranglehold on mainstream media, social media and so on.  People caught in a bubble can say, with all sincerity, “I don’t know how Trump won, I don’t know anyone who voted for him” without ever realising that there was a whole country of people who didn’t agree with their view of the world.

But if you want to be a writer, you cannot live in a bubble.  You have to teach yourself to see the world through other sets of eyes, even if – perhaps especially – you don’t agree with them.  You have to understand their thoughts and feelings, you have to understand the options open to them, if you want to create three-dimensional characters.  Indeed, most of the ‘inexplicable’ decisions of human history become quite explicable if you look at matters through their point of view.

I’m not saying that you have to agree with them.  But you do have to understand them.

For example, a teenage boy without much cash in his pocket might have the bright idea of inviting the girl he fancies for a walk in the park, which will let them spend time together without putting too much of a strain on his wallet.  This is quite understandable from his point of view.  But it is also understandable that the girl will say no, because – from her point of view – he’s trying to get her alone.  He may have good motives.  He does have good motives.  But why should she take it on faith?

The Remain activists insist that there are no valid (in the sense that they can be argued reasonably) reasons for leaving the EU.  And, from their point of view, they’re right.  But, from a Leaver point of view, there are good reasons to Vote Leave.

If you happen to have any historical awareness, you might feel that the EU is a vast unaccountable, undemocratic bureaucratic state that will ride roughshod over the people in order to enact its version of European union.   Worse, it’s unwilling and/or unable to reform itself.  Given time, the inherent flaws in such a structure will destroy it (in the same manner the USSR collapsed.)  In short, it might be better – from their point of view – to get out and/or defuse the ticking time bomb before it explodes.

Historically speaking, attempts to unite Europe have always failed.  Europe is not the United States of America.  It is a continent composed of a number of different countries, each one having its own cultures, factions and historical scars.  Britain was never occupied by Hitler, but the French were occupied and the Germans were the Nazis.  And, to the East, Poland and the remainder of Eastern Europe traded Nazi Occupation for Soviet (i.e. Russian) Domination.  It has already proved difficult, to say the least, to get all those factions moving in the same direction.  Multiethnic empires have never fared well.

If you happen to have any economic awareness, you might feel that the EU made the dreadful mistake of allowing the PIGS countries (Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain) to join the Euro without doing anything resembling due diligence first.  Put crudely, they gave a set of spendthrifts an unlimited credit card and allowed them to spend recklessly until the bill finally came due.  If a teenager has a credit card and spends madly, who is to blame?  The teenager?  The indulgent parents?  Or both?  The EU’s response to this crisis has, in many ways, made matters worse.  A tightly-controlled economy is asking for trouble.

If you happen to be a low-wage worker, you might feel that free movement (and immigration in general) is a serious threat to your livelihood.

This probably requires some elaboration.  If you’re a doctor, you probably don’t have any reason to fear foreign competition.  You might welcome immigration.  But, if you’re on the other end of the scale – no real qualifications, no realistic hope of getting them, trapped in zero-hour contracts, you regard foreigners as competition, people competing for scarce jobs and houses and suchlike … when you’re permanently on the edge, painfully aware that losing your job could be the end of the world.  Why on Earth would you welcome people who might take your jobs?  ‘British jobs for British workers’ makes a lot of sense if you’re afraid of losing your job and/or being unable to get one because of foreign competition.

Someone who read my original post pointed out that zero-hour contracts are a British problem, not something mandated by the EU.  This is, as far as I know, true.  But they intersect with EU-related issues, such as free movement, to make life harder for the working poor.  Wages are governed, like so much else, by the law of supply and demand.  If the supply goes up, and demand remains roughly stable, wages go down.  From this point of view, the EU makes things worse for British workers.

And, if you happen to believe in democracy, you might feel that the results of the Referendum – as unfortunate as you may feel them to be – should be honoured.  Throwing a tantrum because you didn’t get your way is childish, hardly the sort of act that makes people want to respect you (let alone trust you with power.)  You might also note that the EU, far from grasping the nettle and working to come to a deal that won’t be too bad for either side, has been recklessly implacable.  ‘No Deal’ looks likely because the EU has been stubborn at the worst possible time.

Think about it.  Britain and Europe are connected in hundreds of ways, some obvious and some not.  Britain crashing out of the EU will do a lot of damage to both sides.  It is beyond belief that anyone with an eye to the future could just let things slide, on the faint hope of Parliament somehow cancelling BREXIT.  For example, when the French deployed troops to fight insurgents in Mali, Britain provided logistical support.  What happens when the French need our help next time and we are unable or unwilling to provide?

Now, you may not find any of the four arguments above to be convincing.  I’m not expecting to change any minds.  They are, however, valid arguments.  They are not ‘Angela Merkel is secretly Hitler’ or ‘The EU is run by vampires’ or anything that can easily be dismissed without much effort.  It does a grave disservice to the cause of democracy to dismiss people when they have valid arguments … and if you refuse to even consider them, why should they consider yours?

The difference in viewpoint – and lived experience – between Leave and Remain is staggering.  To put this in some context, I know a Remain voter who went abroad on school trips and spent her gap year in France.  I, on the other hand, had precisely zero prospect of going abroad while I was at school and never took a gap year.  Her world was much larger than mine, which was, in turn, far larger than someone who lived in the poorest regions of the country.  I watched a documentary about Britons working in Spain who complained, bitterly, that they’d been betrayed.  But, if you think about it, the popular perception of Britons living in Spain is of rich expats, criminals, or both.  The fact this isn’t true doesn’t matter.  All that matters is that people believe it.

If you want to understand (most) of the people who voted for BREXIT (or Trump), understand this.  The benefits of social progress, technological development, immigration and globalisation have NOT been spread evenly.  The people who benefited had no reason to rock the boat.  The people who lost out, or saw themselves as losing out, had every reason to want to reshuffle the deck.  And successive generations of politicians ignored this until it was too late.  In doing so, they created hordes of dissatisfied voters who threw their support to populists who promised to take their concerns seriously.

And, from their point of view, this is the right thing to do.

They might be wrong.  But treating them as if they’re idiots will not convince them to consider your point of view.

45 Responses to “BREXIT Points Of View”

  1. John Hunter September 3, 2019 at 6:03 pm #

    Now at the risk of not acknowledging my own bubble you have hit all the nails on the head this time. We don’t always match perfectly politically however this is one of the areas where I concur. Concise and rounded it was a good read and I felt well said.
    Democracy MUST mean that we can disagree but that even if we do I would fight and if need be die to protect your right to disagree with me. Thats the responsibility part that balances the right. It’s not without cost.
    Thank you

  2. Brian September 3, 2019 at 6:12 pm #

    Greed and Envy, two of the deadly sins.
    I live in the USA. I believe in Charity and Goodwill. It is my belief that neither of these should come at gunpoint.

    In your example you spoke of giving Your teenager a credit card. The real example is giving an adult from a foreign country your credit card so that he can send funds home to his country and family.

    And if I fail to pay the credit card bill the State will come to my home and arrest me for tax evasion. Or take my home at gunpoint and sell it for back property tax.

    In my opinion, the Government should keep me from harm from others. That includes others organizing to use the Government to harm me.

    All because others are greedy and envious of what I have worked for.

  3. Les Barrie September 3, 2019 at 6:40 pm #

    The other aspect is that what little faith the public had in politicians has gone,in the last general election over 90% of elected members campaign manifestos stated that they would accept the referendum result and work towards brexit,many of they have shown themselves to be liars only interested in their own agendas and should be disbarred from holding future political office.

  4. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard September 3, 2019 at 7:18 pm #

    But But… They Are Idiots! 😆

    Seriously, I can’t really comment on BREXIT but American Politics sometimes sounds like the Anti-Trumpers/Democrats are idiots.

    Perhaps, it’s just a matter that the sites I normally visit attract the less-than-intelligent sorts of those people. 😦

    Still, Chris makes some good points. 😀

    • Lumion September 23, 2019 at 10:41 pm #

      One might say that most democrats (and a significant majority of the world) think of trump as an Idiot at best.
      Trump. as the brexiteers, are elected solely on the base of promising a great change, which of course is understandable, but makes many of their points no less wrong. For instance, As a young person I am deeply troubled by the US denying climate change and slashing environmental protection. I want to live on this world when the old generation has died. Trump changed a frigging weather prediction map with sharpie, just so he could claim he was right. Does not fill me with confidence he has a clue what he is talking about.

  5. Gui September 3, 2019 at 7:31 pm #

    I think the saddest part of Brexit stems from the referendum itself and how the result was accepted. Essentially the questions asked was do you want to eat at Nandos, or do you NOT want to eat at Nandos.
    The government accepted the NOT want to eat at Nandos as the answer. There should have been a pause where the explore what other choices there are and what are the pos and cons of each.
    For me, this is why the whole conversation is polarised so much, at bit less than 50% wants Nandos and a bit more want something else that has not been defined… ever. So people NOT wanting Nando expected to go with they own unexpressed choice and now are not happy with the one imposed by the government. The government choice has not been approved by anyone.
    I am persuaded that if other choices would have been explored, we would have found one that is agreed by a greater majority and moving forward would have been possible, because we would have been moving toward something instead of away from something.

    On another note I still find hard to believe that both remainers and leavers medias and politicians got away with outright lies and go away scot free. That part breaches my faith in both media and politician (which if i am honest was not that high in the first place for the later).

    • Hanno Frerichs September 3, 2019 at 11:42 pm #

      Also the not eating at Nandos option was often applied in a way, that basically said, we always have eaten at Nandos previously we still want one free meal, while the Nandos Management, the EU was basically of the option you still own as the the money for the last meal.

      I think part of the Unhappiness with the referendum steams from the point that, it was implied that the one free meal option would be the one chosen by the Gouvernement if the leave campaign would be successful. But that is a bit like voting for somebody else doing something for you, If you have really good leverage it is often possible. The American can vote for Trump to let Mexico pay for the wall, and get it kinda done, (Mexico paroling it’s boarders and detaining Immigrants afraid of tariffs ) but few nations have the power projection to get that done. Put simple I think it wasn’t quite communicated how weak the overall bargaining position would be when the UK left the EU.

  6. David September 3, 2019 at 8:24 pm #

    Excellent post.

    • David Power September 3, 2019 at 10:15 pm #

      Your point about getting trapped in an information bubble of like minded people/media sources is a good one. I’ve always tried to read as widely as possible and check sources from both sides of an argument.

      However, I’m finding this is getting harder and harder to achieve, as more and more internet informations/news sources are putting up pay walls. I’m limited as to the number of resources I can actually afford to pay for.

      The fact that sources of thinly disguised propaganda or use to the modern buzz phrase providers of ‘fake news’ are far more likely to be free, than sites providing well researched and argued journalism is almost certainly helping to skew the argument and increase divisions in society.

      The free sites are frequently less than clear about who exactly is funding them.

  7. P September 3, 2019 at 10:12 pm #

    Good post, although this statement left me scratching my head:

    “The Remain activists insist that there are no valid (in the sense that they can be argued reasonably) reasons for leaving the EU. ”

    It doesn’t seem consistent to say that we have to consider the different viewpoints of a diverse population, and then lump the 48% of remain voters into the same category. I’m sure some “remain” voters feel the way you describe, but surely others acknowledge your points as valid, while maintaining they are right about staying. In the same way, some “leave” voters feel there is no valid reason to stay, whereas others acknowledge the stay reasons, but decide otherwise.

  8. Christopher Reed September 3, 2019 at 11:37 pm #

    Chris I think you you make some good points but you’re also wrong about some things. the U.K. isn’t a nation, it’s a group of nations united by a crown and held together by historical common interest at the best of times, and by the English at gunpoint in the worst. Brexit has a real chance of permanently sundering that union. I don’t know if Brexit is wanted by the English bad enough to risk that but I do know the Scots wanted nothing to do with it. I also know that a lot of Scots feel cheated out of their independence referendum vote. They were told a vote to remain in the union is a vote to stay in the E.U. by Cameron and then a couple years later the English pull a fast one on them and decide to leave the E.U..

    The leading brexiteers are hardly a spectrum of the lower classes. Nigel Farage has never had a real job in his life he was a banker (who got his job through daddy’s connections) and then a politician. He’s the “elite” by any definition of the word. Boris Johnson is an englishman of the old school who views the Scots as vassals, and guess what he comes from money. Jacob Ress-Mogg also comes from the upper classes. This is hardly a revolt led by the “little people” here.

    They lied throughout the campaign, the NHS bus, the talk about the British fishing industry. (the cod wars killed it, not the E.U., Iceland threaten to leave N.A.T.O. and that made the U.S. come in on their side and that ended the discussion.) Foreign policy and trade wise they want you to jump into a tank of tiger sharks with nothing but a dream and a diving knife and somehow expect to come out on top. Their arguments were based on emotion and on trying to reach for a past golden age, and if the British establishment is anything like the U.S. establishment then the lower classes were fed up and decided to give them a chance.

    The E.U.’s apparent demise is exaggerated, could it fall apart maybe, but not anytime soon. Brexit has done more to keep the E.U. together than anything it could do itself. Just look at the rhetoric coming from the pro separation parties throughout Europe right after Brexit and a year later. It changes from we need to leave like the British to let’s work within the system. And depending on Brexit’s final outcome the next time someone even seriously brings it up could be decades from now to never.

    Maybe it’s because I’m more of a lefty American but I view a united Europe as a good thing as we re-enter an era of great power competition. A divided europe is weak, case in point the U.K. is welterweight going into a heavyweight match. The U.K. will not be able to withstand U.S. and Chinese pressure on how it’s economy is run, it’s foreign policy. You’ve traded the E.U. for the U.S. nothing more. same shackles different master but with the U.S. you don’t get a voice or a vote, where else can you go? assuming of course there is a U.K. five years from now, Scotland may decide to leave and if they do Northern Ireland may not be far behind.

    • Thomas Tomiczek September 4, 2019 at 5:39 pm #

      There is even another point. After deciding on Brexit, the whole british political side seems to have been in agreement to make this an example of a totally clownish cartoonish incompetent government and having tons of unrealistic wishes and just totally ignore the fact that there are other countries with other expectations and BOUND BY CONTRACTS. No, you can not leave the EU, not adhere to EU regulations and then sell your non-EU regulations compliant products to the EU. That. Does. Not. Work. And no wishful thinking will change that. Britain pretty much WASTED a year on ridiculously incompetent executed negotiations – and now has to pay the price. And all they can agree on is that this – the default that automatically happens – is not what they want. Hard life. Sorry.

      • Mark September 4, 2019 at 6:59 pm #

        Sorry Thomas, many of us are quite happy with hard brexit. We just want it now.
        We don’t want it postponed untill our lord and masters cancel it as they know better than we the electorate.

    • Mark September 4, 2019 at 7:01 pm #

      Let’s see if you’d be quite so keen if you were subject to politicians from Mexico.

    • Druss September 23, 2019 at 5:10 pm #

      The problem is that we do not get a voice or vote in the E.U. anyway. The E.U. is run by three unelected Dictators (Presidents) and any countries opinion other then France and Germany does not matter.

  9. Billy September 5, 2019 at 1:24 am #

    The people voted for Brixit

    The Swamp Creatures running the government said no !

    So is it really a free country if the citizens vote for or against something and the Swamp Creatures in the government say we are not going to listen to the peoples vote ?

    I thought after the Brexit vote that within 2 or 3 months at the most it would be a done deal.
    (Not something that looks like may be going on for the next thousand years)

    You can bet if the people had voted against Brexit then laws would have been passed with in 2 or 3 hours destroying Brexit.

    It is sad that Government Swamp Creatures are taking over the world and ignoring when citizens don’t vote the way the swamp wants

    Here is the USA they are shining a spot light on those government employees during the Trump Presidency , even when the public see them and the bad they did, they are not charged with any crimes

    So there are two justice systems and rules of law

    One for the normal people and one for the swamp

    • John Vandenberg September 5, 2019 at 11:50 am #

      After the Brexit referendum you could have said forget about the 2 years grace we want to leave now and you could have left if: You were prepared to pay outstanding bills; if you could have come up with a legally acceptable way to allow the UK – EU border which came into existence between NI and RoI, to remain open as per the GFA AND monitored as per WTO rules; and if you had made acceptable plans on what to do about EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU.
      There was also the small matter of EU benefits which you thought you could keep. Unfortunately for you OUT=OUT and non members do not have EU benefits.

    • Warren The Ape September 17, 2019 at 9:29 pm #

      Not to mention the Government sent to every UK household a 16 page or so glossy pamphlet that said the words “This is your decision. The
      Government will implement what you decide.”


  10. Warren The Ape September 5, 2019 at 1:48 am #

    Doctors are not threatened by foreign competition?

    In the US they certainly do feel such…and have for decades. One of the functions of the AMA is to make sure Congress doesn’t allow for anything like an H-1B program to import more doctors in. They also make certification exams difficult for ESL people, either directly or by rent-seeking lobbying for the government to do so.

    I suppose this has to do with the fact that doctors in the US still face market competition for pay while those in the UK get paid the same by essentially the same employer[NHS]? And there is more demand for medical tourism in the US — especially by health insurance firms putting people up in 5 star hotels after flying them in (and back out again) for that triple bypass surgery that costs 20% in Bangkok or Panama City of what it does in the US. NHS doesn’t do that, right? They just deny such surgeries either via long queuing so the patient dies or by outright denial base on harsh cost-benefit analysis regarding such patients and the ‘contributing lifestyle’ they have, etc.

  11. Hanno Frerichs September 5, 2019 at 11:20 am # just a good scource for comparing wealth.. mostly globally the date per country is a bit to thin to gain much from it.

  12. John Vandenberg September 5, 2019 at 11:38 am #

    “If you happen to have any historical awareness, you might feel that the EU is a vast unaccountable, undemocratic bureaucratic state that will ride roughshod over the people in order to enact its version of European union.”

    Wrong on several counts. The EU is NOT a state. It is a club of independent democratic states espousing a road to closer union. All decisions of policy are either initiated or need agreement of the EU Council (the 27 heads of state) some on a QM (qualified majority, usually 20 of the 27) many on a unanimous agreement of all 27. That means any nay vote vetoes that particular proposal.
    They are aided in the day to day management of EU business by the EU Commission. This consists of (amazingly) 27 commissioners, each one selected by the government of his or her member state. They can be vetoed by the EU Parliament.
    The Head of the EU Council is elected by the 27 heads of country and is in fact the spokes person of those 27 and the chair of Council meetings. He/she can propose but not initiate or execute proposals.
    The EU Commission is the de facto Civil Service of the EU. It is headed by a chairperson who is elected by the EU Parliament who themselves are elected by the citizens of member countries.
    The whole process is totally democratic in that not only member countries have a veto on international treaties and trade but many regional governments also have that veto if their country’s structure of government is set up that way.
    The governing bodies of the EU are accountable to each and every member country. Most are democratically elected and if not they are severally appointed by the governments of member countries and subject to potential veto by the EU parliament.
    I would venture to suggest that the EU as a whole is more democratic than either the UK or the US.

    • Mark September 7, 2019 at 7:07 am #

      The EU regards it’s self as a state. Hence its national anthem and varied presidents.
      It’s hardly democratic, the number of seats in parliament is not proportional to population of the member state. It favours small countries.

      • John Vandenberg September 7, 2019 at 7:53 am #

        Maybe you regard it as a state but the EU does not purport to be a state. As for the number of ‘presidents’, in European convention a chair or a company or a chairperson of a department is often termed as president. You will find that none of the ‘presidents’ can either initiate or approve any new policy or change in one.
        The EU as it its name implies is a union of like minded sovereign states, signatories to EU conventions. Decisions are made solely by approbation or vote in the EU Council, but can be vetoed by the EU parliament.
        I know, I am a national of one of those states.

  13. Stuart the Viking September 5, 2019 at 2:19 pm #

    Frankly, the moment BREXIT passed I wondered if it would ever actually be allowed to happen. I still expect the gov over there to find some way to re-vote or overturn it. I’ve got no skin in the game, I’m a USAian, so I’ll be over here eating popcorn, watching the show.

    My only concern is, if the anti-Brexit gov over there figures out a way to kill it and stay in the EU, it might motivate our own gov here in the US to further efforts at thwarting the will of the people.

  14. Tim September 5, 2019 at 6:13 pm #

    Brexit is just an alien plot anyway

  15. dspring September 6, 2019 at 6:37 am #

    Totally agree with the concept of understanding why people hold beliefs different than your own. People always have a reason for what they believe. You can disagree with that reason or feel it is a weak reason, but it is their reason.

    I would add something you missed. Avoid labeling people you disagree with. So many people go out of their way to label people they disagree with. The person is not disagreeing with me — the liberal/conservative person is disagreeing with me. It is as if each epitaph pre-defines the person and automatically puts their ideas in the trash can before a word is spoken.

    Take any group of conservatives (or liberals or exiters or remainers) and there is a wide range of viewpoints within that group. But as soon as you attach your favorite “label” that range disappears. Your opponent (in the discussion) becomes a caricature that you “already understand”. So your discussion becomes a debate where your only purpose is to prove to them that they are wrong.

  16. Mike Oliver September 6, 2019 at 4:12 pm #

    The main problem with politics, at east in the UK, is political parties who force our representatives to vote in parliament the way the parties want and not the way the electorate wants. MPs tend to represent their parties’ intentions to the voters and not the voters’ wishes to their parties. Consequently many (most?) voters feel ignored, put upon and only valued by politicians for their vote during elections.

    The referendum was called by David Cameron to resolve issues that the Conservative party had suffered from for decades. In other words “party before country”. He signally failed and so he walked away. The wording of the referendum was lax and not sufficiently thought out. As night followed day, all the political bully boys said whatever they liked to get the public to vote their way. Since David Cameron believed (along with a majority of politicians) that the outcome of the referendum would be the opposite of the actual result, no plans were put in place for such a result and we’re now suffering the effects.

    I have no particular liking for the EU – the executive is unelected, has the objective of ruling over the nations of the continent and just like most other political bodies, no real interest in what the people they rule want. However, it would have been better for the UK to have waited until the EU inevitably collapsed, to save itself the incredible disruption it is and will continue to be suffering.

  17. Big Ben September 8, 2019 at 4:51 am #

    The simple point that the Brexiteers (and Trump) willfully ignore is that in a negotiation there’s always someone sitting at the other side of the table and they want something different than you.
    Britain had innumerable agreements with the EU, political and economic, and with one narrow vote they threw it all away and demanded the EU dance to their tune OR ELSE! But the EU has at least as much clout and they’re not going to let Britain get away with it’s me Me ME temper tantrum. Not without some serious pain all the way around, anyway.

    Set aside dealing with the EU and the rest of the world, the Brexiteers can’t even figure things out within their own empire. What are y’all gonna do about the Irish border issue? As I understand it Scotland would rather remain in the EU, too. What about the many thousands of your citizens who are living and working in Europe?
    It’s a big table with lots of different folks gathered around and in civilized world politics one does not throw a fit, take your meager marble collection and go home.

    Trump gleefully launched a (foolishly mismanaged) tariff/trade war against much of the world with no coherent plan, alienating allies and frenemies alike. Unilaterally withdrew from every international agreement he could and expected every other nation in the world to dance to his tone-deaf tune.
    Anyone remember what he said when he pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord? “We’ll negotiate on climate with each nation individually.” … Any of you world leaders reading this gotten a call in the last couple of years?
    Hasn’t gotten NAFTA 2.0 ratified.
    How’s that Iran thing working out?
    Israel (US ally) / Palestine?
    Saudi Arabia (US ally) / Yemen?
    Ukraine / Crimea / Russia (Trump ally)?
    North Korea?
    … Anything? Is there anywhere in the world better off than they were three years ago, pre-Trump and pre-Brexit?

    Big problems don’t get solved unless you’re willing to talk and work through them. Or go to war. We all saw how well that worked in Iraq.
    Big problems are complex and require wise, experienced people to, well … Negotiate.
    Isn’t what that Trump claims to be, the Great Negotiator? The “Chosen One?”

    It’s painfully fascinating to watch. It’d be funny if it wasn’t so damned serious.

    • Warren The Ape September 16, 2019 at 10:31 pm #

      “Trump gleefully launched a (foolishly mismanaged) tariff/trade war against much of the world with no coherent plan, alienating allies and frenemies alike.”

      Trump has a plan. It is quite obvious what it is, too. Just not to those who hate Trump. It’s all about decoupling China’s economy from the US, thus crippling China so much its rise as a hegemonic competitor is being snipped faster than you can say ‘vasectomy’. Already, China is experiencing an acute dollar shortage.

      “Unilaterally withdrew from every international agreement he could and expected every other nation in the world to dance to his tone-deaf tune.”

      Tone-deaf to foreigners? Yes. That is the American way, btw.

      And withdrawing from the Paris Non-agreement is not ‘withdrew from every international agreement he could’. Especially since the PA is not a legally enforceable/binding Treaty or legislation in the US nor was it ever.

      Personally, I can not wait for Trump’s second term. Since he won’t be running again, he can go totally Unleashed. Unilateral withdrawal from NATO and the UN, anyone? I mean…if you hate Trump now, just wait buddy!

      “… Any of you world leaders reading this gotten a call in the last couple of years?”

      What world leaders are you talking to right now? And are they listening to you? None? No? Thought so..unless you are hearing voices in your head.

      “As I understand it Scotland would rather remain in the EU, too.”

      So what? Scotland isn’t a sovereign member nation of the EU, last time I checked.

      “Hasn’t gotten NAFTA 2.0 ratified.”

      Because of those ‘care more for the rest of the world than Americans’ Democrats in Congress, not Trump or the GOP. Pay attention! The US does not have a parliamentary system where the Executive and Legislative branches are essentially one unit. Then again, the UK doesn’t seem to have that anymore either. And you want to lecture us?

      “How’s that Iran thing working out?
      Israel (US ally) / Palestine?
      Saudi Arabia (US ally) / Yemen?
      Ukraine / Crimea / Russia (Trump ally)?
      North Korea?

      All just peachy or at least not an ongoing disaster for the US! Extra bonus is awarded for everyone in the world that is pissed off about what he’s done with those, btw. Glorious!

      You seem to be under the erroneous impression that how the rest of the world is doing is what matters to Americans. When in fact, what is measured is how much less impact on America the rest of the world’s krap on America is that matters to US voters. During the Cold War and even long afterward this was repressed. No more. Not even on the Populist Democrat side.

      “Is there anywhere in the world better off than they were three years ago, pre-Trump and pre-Brexit?”

      US is. After 8 years of Obama Economic Stagnation, it is booming like crazy. Last time Unemployment was this low was like 1969. And again, who cares about the ‘rest of the world’? Trade with it as a % of US GDP is very, very low. And half of that low figure is with American NAFTA satrapies called ‘Canada’ and ‘Mexico’, whom Trump just proved will dance to whatever tune America toots when pressured.

      “Big problems are complex and require wise, experienced people to, well”

      Oh yes! The same elites that gave us the Climate Non-deal. The US is the only country to sign it that actually lowered CO2 emissions while China and India’s have gone up…so have Germany’s! It was all for PR. It is all BS. Nice job, ‘wise and experienced people!’.

      The same elites who put forward that Brexit referendum in the first place! The same elites in the EU that are making a hash of it, in turn. The same ones in Parliament who couldn’t fight their way out of a paper bag. The same elites who arrogantly thought that Shrillary ‘had it in the bag’ only to be shocked that she didn’t. The list goes on and on…

      “Isn’t what that Trump claims to be, the Great Negotiator? The “Chosen One?””

      No. He just is what the people voted for him to be: The Guy Who Said “TO HELL WITH THE REST OF THE WORLD! America First!”

      The Cold War is long over and this about face in US policy is thus looong overdue.

  18. Anarchymedes September 9, 2019 at 3:45 am #

    Yes, if one wishes to be a writer who writes something better than twisted morally-relativistic opuses with no protagonist to root for, set in the worlds that just beg for a Death Star to come and put them out of their endless dog-eats-dog misery, one must understand both sides — but one also must not hesitate to take one. One can play the Devil’s advocate — but one must not well and truly become one: as far as I remember, the Devil has been denied forgiveness, even if he came for it.
    There is such thing as the enemy: it’s the one with whom you can never, ever be on the same side without feeling that you’ve betrayed yourself so totally that you can’t look at the mirror anymore, without wanting to kill that disgusting creature looking back at you. IMHO, that’s one thing that’s been plaguing recent sci-fi and fantasy: too much understanding; complexity and twists over people and values. That’s why the ‘good old’ Commando is such a pleasure to watch now — even though I used to find it boring and stereotypical when it was new.
    How is this all related to Brexit? Here is how: the majority can be wrong. It can make a mistake that it later comes to rue — but cannot admit it, because it will reflect poorly on democracy, and all that. So, it continues to follow the Abilene Paradox scenario.
    It’s clear to me by now that very few, if anyone indeed, truly believe that the UK is not a part of Europe, but–what? A spillage from a parallel universe into ours? Frustrated Joes and Janes had wanted to get their message across in 2016 — and got more than they bargained for. Now the parochial pride is getting in the way: they simply cannot back down. Well, they should remember who the real enemy is. For that reason, if not for the simple truth that what unites the UK with the rest of Europe by far outweights the petty grievances against the Euro bureaucracy, this Brexit madness should be put aside and left behind as a bad dream.
    Just my opinion, of course–and I am not British.

    • Tinla September 11, 2019 at 10:05 pm #

      I just want an ETA on Mirror Image.

  19. Mark B September 12, 2019 at 1:36 pm #

    Chris you have a post here I wish more people would read and understand; sadly I think the understanding would be harder.

  20. Robert Kaliski September 14, 2019 at 7:14 pm #

    I think part of the problem is that you can walk away from the European Union. There goes the incentive to work for change if things do not go your way.

    • John Vandenberg September 14, 2019 at 7:20 pm #

      To achieve change you need to convince a substantial number of your fellow member countries (20 if the change needs a QM, and 27 if it needs to be unanimous) Unilateral change will never happen.

      • Robert Kaliski September 16, 2019 at 5:31 pm #

        Do you say change will never happen due to differences between countries or just a general feeling that nothing will ever happen? Changing things in the U.S. is difficult by design. America is a very very diverse country yet somehow the country comes together when necessary. The divisions you see now in the U.S. go back to the founding yet we still manage to get by.

        Change is possible unless you rig the system to prevent it like a slot machine programmed never to pay a jackpot. If that is the case with the EU then perhaps it needs to be torn down and built right.

      • John Vzndenberg September 16, 2019 at 5:44 pm #

        Please read my comment.
        I did not say change will never happen. I said unilateral change will never happen.
        If only one member wishes to change the rules it cannot happen until or unless he convinces enough other members that the proposed change is of value to them.

  21. Guy Marc GAGNE September 15, 2019 at 4:03 pm #

    Plebiscites are by virtue of their very nature an individualistic expression of opinion that is frozen to that point in time. However the electorate came to uphold one position versus another is as much a matter of conjecture as is the ultimate result on day one off to the hustings! There can be little doubt that the vast majority of people take a short/individualistic view on matters that in many cases have greater implications than they can intellectually fathom never mind grasp coherently. This may sound somewhat elitist but, as you very well know: ” … individuals can be caring & bright but, people are a nasty & stupid herd… ”
    We are endlessly confronted by the realities of an overly informed (even if partisan in nature) public that frankly, in many respects has abdicated their ability for critical thought and, is unable and/or unwilling to due diligence any serious matter up for their consideration.
    We are the benefactors of a technological revolution that has transformed us into a society of leisure, right?!? Whereas the hope and aspirations of the few were to propel the many into better conditions, reality has instead lead to a levelling of vulgarisation towards the bottom, rather than a concerted effort to raise the bar for all asunder. Therefore we are confronted with the eternal truism: A man/woman will opt inevitably for what he/she perceives to be in his/her own self interest, without regards to the greater good! Lacking the intellectual probity to objectify the issue and analyse/weigh its merits against is weaknesses.
    This tendency is somewhat mitigated in the female of the species but, overall remains something of a constant across socio-economic as well as geopolitical divides.

  22. Billy September 16, 2019 at 11:53 pm #

    A thought on BRIXIT

    The people voted for BREXIT

    What is all this voting being done by the government swamp ?

    There already WAS a vote

    again, the people voted for BREXIT

    That should be ALL that is needed

    The peoples vote

  23. John Vandenberg September 23, 2019 at 7:13 pm #

    You should check your facts before making wild sweeping statements.
    The three presidents you mention are the European equivalent of chairperson.
    None are able to initiate any change in policy.
    The president of the EU Council is elected by the 28, soon 27, heads of government of member states. Whilst the Council is able to initiate or approve laws or policy, it’s president (chair) does not have a vote but is there as a spokesperson for the Council and to arrange and chair Council meetings.
    The president of the EU commission is elected by the EU parliament. The EU Commission is in fact the Executive Civil Service of the EU. Whilst it can propose laws or changes in policy it cannot approve them, that lies with the Council and is more and more subject to ratification or veto by the EU parliament. The EU Commission and by extension its president can only act if directed to do so by the Council.
    Finally, the president of the EU parliament is the de facto speaker and is elected by that parliament. He/she speaks on behalf of the parliament and has no powers to act independently.

  24. Lumion September 23, 2019 at 10:48 pm #

    The EU has also brought a lot of wealth and a spirit of unity to Europe. Also is a great bargaining chip on the world stage. I say let the people have a vote on brexit, this time with about no deal brexit or remain. Deal seems unlikely as it is. This will clear up the doubts and anyone who disagrees with this is just afraid the British people will not share his view.
    Also I donˋt think we can blame the EU for not reaching a deal. They want to protect their market and the GFA, both points are understandable. I just don‘t see them giving either up (why would day). Also Ireland would never agree.

    • Warren The Ape September 23, 2019 at 11:57 pm #

      It destroyed wealth to spread the proceeds around for political reasons…which clearly has not worked well as far as the ‘spirit of unity’ of Europe is concerned.

      What ‘bargaining chip’ on the world stage? US doesn’t care about the EU…because it is a joke that pretends to be equivalent of the US federal government but does not even come close.

      I say it is time for Irish Re-unification! Sell NI to Éire for £10 or something.

      • Lumion September 24, 2019 at 6:30 pm #

        Bigger block=more bargaining power. The US will ask for things in a trade deal. Things Britain does not want to give (the chicken and NHS stuff for instance.
        Also a reunited ireland is precisely not want most of the UK wants right? Not even the northern irish apparently. At least those in power.
        The EU has hurt people for sure, but overall I find that for a continent that has killed itself for the last couple centurys I say it worked quite well. It needs reforming, but single countrys just don‘t measure up to power blocks like the US or China. We need to work together (which is not the same thing as being one country), to maintain our power on the world stage.

      • Lumion September 24, 2019 at 6:38 pm #

        On another note, if the US does not care about the EU WITH the UK (they do in my opinion), they most certainly will not suddenly care for a UK that stands alone. Brexit will make Britain economic prey. Everyone knows the British gov needs trade deals soon or the public will see them as fools. They will play hard with the UK.

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