Marolt: Follow the Brexit sign to a darker world
It is Britiotic. In what the Britiots, who have wrested control of the United Kingdome from the sane, describe as a move toward liberating their country, their self-inflicted withdrawal from the European Union amounts to locking themselves in a prison of fear of their own making. It is the same wall of weakness that Donald Trump would force Mexicans to build around our country to isolate us from the rest of humanity.
Proud? United? Strong? These are some terms Britiots are using to describe their shocking move of retreat. It’s actually shameful, polarizing and weak. It looks like the lousy cowards are going to get what they have coming to them for this foolish decision and, unfortunately, the rest of us are going to be hit with a heavy dose of it, too. Fans tend to spray stuff that hits them.
The leaders of the movement say this ceding from common sense is complicated and about a lot of things, but I can boil it down: This is about racism, religious intolerance and irrational fear. It is about a lack of compassion and an abundance of hatred. It is about mistaking cultural, geographical and political differences for DNA and ignoring the universality of the human condition. It is about bricking over the writing on the wall. It is about pissing the rest of the world off by pissing on the notion of liberty and justice for all.
What makes me think so? It’s because it is the sickest, prominently growing sentiment around the globe. It’s because the ugly roots of its support have grown so deep and spread so far even here in the United States that they are sending suckers to the surface of our soil; millions, in fact.
Two things bring this evil shift in thinking. The first is globalization. Like it or not, it is here to stay. The shrinking of the world along with the blurring of borders has not come about by a concerted effort of will. It is the byproduct of technology. We fly faster, farther and more often. We transport goods more efficiently from anywhere. The competition for attracting business to all regions is intense, fast and easier to negotiate. The internet and smartphones allow us to conduct business almost anywhere. All of us know more about what is happening in other parts of the world and we get updated constantly, almost without trying.
Globalization is not a bad thing. It’s not a good thing. It is a thing we have to accept and adjust to because it is as unstoppable as it is unprecedented. How we go about capitulation to the inevitable will shape our reactions.
Unfortunately, this is not as easy as becoming technologically savvy. In a globalized world, the standards of living across the planet will seek to level, like water bursting from a collapsed damn. In our case it is economic benefit bursting from obsolete borders. In a very general sense, the standard of living in currently affluent countries must fall in order for the standard of living in poor countries to rise. We already are seeing this, and we commonly lament it as “America shipping our jobs overseas.”
This brings us to the second element in in what I call the evil shift inherent in Brexit: extreme nationalism, or pride in the country of origin. Like globalization, nationalism is neither inherently good nor bad, and I’ll get to that.
What should be obvious, though, is that nationalism will look different in globalization. Almost by definition, it means that national borders will play a more diminished role, probably markedly so.
Brexit was an emotional, irrational and dangerous reaction to the forces of globalization. England has decided that it is better to isolate than to assimilate. They want to control their borders more tightly than the rest of the European Union does. They have discarded cooperation in exchange.
The evil in this is that it is a sign that the majority of people there see themselves differently than they see people from everywhere else, evidently in a superior sense. They may believe this can protect them from terrorists and save their jobs from going to other countries. In truth, it reveals their own disdain for people who are not British and in turn will cause others to be more resentful of them. It is the stuff of war.
Thus, the difficulty in judging nationalism becomes apparent. A nation may use its wealth, competitive advantages and strength to make the planet a better place for everyone, or it can seal all of these benefits within its own borders to make itself feel momentarily, if not falsely, secure. I will have more pride in our country if we choose benevolence.
Roger Marolt is proud to be an American, except when he hears Donald Trump speak. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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