On the eve of the official UK departure from the European Union, I am filled with profound sadness. I don’t share the opinion of those who think the debate will magically go away. It will never disappear. There are fundamental tenets involved in the adhesion to Europe that we must continue to defend. These have to do with solidarity, openness, the acceptance of diversity, the defence of a shared cultural heritage, the need to oppose rampant capitalism that favours short-term profit over the wellbeing of individuals, however poor, and the survival of the planet,… Not all of these values are as well served by European institutions as they might be. But that is no reason to slam the door in the face of friends and partners. We need to work together to improve Europe. The challenges facing the world can only be resolved by exchange and collaboration.
I left the UK when I was just twenty. Fifty years later, I am still profoundly attached to the country of my birth, even if I don’t recognise it in many of the current actions of the government and citizens alike. Over a good many years, successive UK governments have run down institutions and infrastructure leading to growing discontent that politicians and certain media have diligently stoked and redirected against the EU.
At the same time I feel deeply European. I distance myself from those who side with going-it-alone in the misguided belief that they are somehow better than others. Even if I can understand the need for national pride, the myth of British superiority is long dead. I distance myself from those who bank on deregulation to get rich quick, who would side with the likes of Trump in raping the world to reap ever more riches for the super-rich. They completely disregard the impact of such a policy on the poor and the disenfranchised, not to mention the environment. The super-rich can build all the walls they like, they won’t be spared the disasters yet to come. I distance myself from those adepts of bullshit who are masters at creating an alternative reality, one that they drive home via traditional and social media as the new, inescapable way of things. They are often taxed as liars, but to be liars, you need to realise what you are saying is not true. Whereas they come to believe the ‘reality’ they’ve fabricated. In so doing, they undermine reality and make a mockery of truth. They render justice and democracy impossible. Only in a united Europe that favours both solidarity and diversity over racism and exclusion, that favours wellbeing both of humans and the environment over profit, that champions truth and justice against the onslaught of lies and bullshit, can we standup to these existential threats.
See also Sleepwalking on the Road to Chaos for more about bullshit and Trumpism.