Napoleon said once that what most annoyed him was “to have been defeated by a shopkeepers country“, as he used to describe the English, who stood up challenging the Corsican master along two decades. Trenched in their island, protected by the Royal Navy, and funding whoever -Prussians, Austrians or Russians, to bleed out with British money the Napoleonic France.
At the same time the man who defeated Napoleon in Waterloo, the duke of Wellington, left a quote saying “next to a battle lost, the greatest misery is a battle gained“, reflection made while walking over the top of San Jean Hill, among dozens of thousands of soldiers dead bodies.
I don’t know exactly how many dead bodies left this referendum which end up in an astonishing brexiters victory. As far we know, we can count among the first casualties the man who call to the polls, Cameron, and in a most ethereal manner, but equally dramatic, the same European ideal, or even the immediate future of the United Kingdom as it is by know.
But, far beyond whoever are the stock markets are saying at this time, what the British have just done is shoot themselves in the foot. They have voted, legitimacy, and we just can respect their decision. But it is accurate to wonder how may emotions have been present in the way they have voted; how have influenced the instincts, the heart over the facts, in an election which blows away many of the uncontested certitudes who, until now, globalisation was settled.
Empire´s nostalgia, the Victorian “splendid isolation”, cannot be omitted. The deeply rooted feeling in the British culture of independence in front of what they call the continent, has had notorious influence. And that factor has been invoked right in the middle, in front of an electorate opposed to a Leviathan who has contributed on their own to get rid of their credibility along the past years. I will not say that the nowadays Germans conduct themselves under the same authoritarians hints than the seventy yers ago Germans, just replacing the panzer divisions with the Bundesbank instead. But I want to point out that they have led with enormous inability the natural leadership position that their powerful economy conferred them. They have just wasted political solutions, by subliming the excel spreadsheet. And, consequently, they throw away all the accumulated legitimacy by an ideal, the European ideal, that was easily assumable when it was based in the french-german balanced axis.
England never felt comfortable in the European Union.
In fact, never felt comfortable in Europe, who was always viewed as a potential battlefield where bloodshed, and what was viewed nowadays as a gigantic bureaucracy monster, inhibiting the entrepreneurial spirit venerated for the English, as a classical liberalism doctrine fathers founders. The English, those clever, cunning shopkeepers as depicted by Napoleon.
It was not the EEC a democratic accelerator for them, as it was for Spain, Portugal or Greece, because they already had a consolidated democratic system. It was not a huge, brand-new market of goods and service to exploit, because they have kept a privileged relationship with their former colonies, far more clever and pragmatic than other former colonial powers, like the French. The fact that this ones left fighting bloody wars in their former dominions -Algeria, Vietnam, Western Africa, etc- contrasts with the relatively peaceful way out showed by the British when they had to leave off the empire. Without a shoot in futile wars like the French, and leaving instead a Commonwealth of Nations topped with powerful corporations linked towards an emergent financial City, backed for a generous endless list of tax heaven spread out in remote islands once part of the same Empire, and just nominally independents as a sovereign states.
The British leave Europe because they never understood it, neither they love it from the super state Delors point of view and his “even closer union”, as a way traced towards de end destination as a United States of Europe.
Ultimately, what today dies is the idea of a globalisation as an irreversible path. And it helps this narrative the notorious lack of response of the Left, bewildered and lost along the continent, surprised by the defection of their traditional voters towards right wing parties, as it has happened in the north of England.
It is the elites lack of capacity, conceived and presented as deeply pro european campaigners by the multicultural vision and their economic interests, what fail to come close to the people, left at mercy of fascist like Farage, erected as a man who dare to tell off this elites the truths and the facts that nobody else was able to say.
At te end, in this uncertain end tale, the mass of mice subjugated by the melody, has just accepted this narrative and other played by similar trickster flutists, like Boris Johnson. A character who, as a major, tolerated in the name of that freedom so often invoked by populists of all tendency, that there are newly erected buildings in London with two entrances. One for rich men, equipped with every comfort -lobby, doorman, caretaker and marble- and another one for poor people, next to the building rubbish bins.
The populists movements of all around Europe, have been gifted by an agenda that concludes in the delirious collective suicide of an economy on the verge of the stagnation and likely to export their consequences in their path to the unconsciousness. An economy that, even in the middle of this unsustainable migratory pressure, enjoyed a 7% unemployment level, and more than 40 million occupied work force. An economy likely to drag in the path of the incertitude countries massively exposed, like Spain.
The route has been marked. Simply invoke the referendum and other artificial and epic tools, to undertake, in the name of the democracy, the track of the destruction, and not exactly the Schumpeter creative destruction, but the one who end up in the unemployment queue for the real people, the one who suffers the mass appetites when someone appeals to their lower instincts, like the fear or hate towards the migrant and the different one.
That is way I am scared of deliberative democracy and referendum wise advocates. Because they are the same advocates who decide with a mere Yes or No complex decisions. Between white and black, with no space for tones, or the convenience of the question, how it is formulated or what exactly is questioned. Like a Manichean choice between two options, reducing the infinite chromatic wealth of a society who as a result is condemned to a block policy.
As it was always desired by the fascism, the political system who more often recurred to referendums and plebiscites.
To everyone else that today congratulates themselves thinking that this is a punishment against the austerity policy makers of German inspiration, better to remember that what it dies today is not such a narrative.
Is the same idea of Europe what it melts, riding that reductionist and, once again, deeply Manichean view.