I rarely change my mind on important issues, but I surprised myself when I shifted out of the British camp which wants to stay in the European Union and found myself recognizing that change is necessary and can only come if the UK votes OUT. Having been born in Holland and partially educated in France, the US, and the UK, I have always thought of myself as being pro-European. I strongly admired the leaders who created the Common Market after WWII as well as those who followed with the realization of the European Union in an effort to end centuries of hostility.
Until about a year ago, I took it for granted that I would support the UK remaining in the EU. My first serious doubts were aroused by the narrow and inept ways the European community dealt with the Greek financial crisis. The scandalous way the Europeans then dealt with the immigration crisis horrified me. I began to see the sprawling bureaucracy in Brussels as incompetent, reactionary and unaccountable. A serious desire for change altered my perspective.
I began to see the vitriolic exchanges coming from both the protracted electoral campaign in the United States and the four months of raging debates in the United Kingdom between the “ins” and the “outs” as a reflection of popular concerns which exist on multiple fronts: An obvious demand for change in “Big Government,” global inequality, environmental control, runaway technology, banking instability, migration and immigration, and despair over the ineffectuality of the United Nations and the European Union. Add the challenges of capitalist corruption, and the lack of genuine leadership in all of these areas and the message became clear that we cannot go on as we have in the 21st Century. The rise of populist figures like Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen and others of both the left and the right is an indication of the general disaffection.
That is why I am NOW advocating Britain’s exit from the European Union. If the “Remain” camp wins, nothing in Europe will be changed. Should the Brexit camp win, the floodgates for change could be opened, starting with the resignation of the Prime Minister and followed by unknown consequences in the European Community, the eventual break-away of Scotland, and the beginning of a major shake-up of the world banking system with unknown consequences for the global economy. My hope is that such major challenges would renew democratic initiatives and fire the spirit of people around the world with hope. A “Leave” vote could also mark a change for such huge bureaucratic organizations as the European Union in Brussels and the United Nations in New York. It could possibly lead us to smaller, cooperative groupings in which the voices of the electorate become heard. People are fed up with ever more remote bureaucratic centralization for the sake of cost-cutting and “efficiency.” The public is beginning to recognize that “efficiency” comes at the expense of both accountability and human contact.
The prospects for the European Union look increasingly bleak as the “social” part of the European social market is being sacrificed to focus on the need for greater economic stability. The politicians in Brussels still believe they can push through a fiscal union even as unity is crumbling. Acting in the interests of the big corporations which, through their army of lobbyists and inside dealers, have corrupted the administrations in London, Washington and Brussels. Moreover, the unaccountable elite in the EU, who originally embraced the lofty ideals of the “Democratic Process,” are also failing to act effectively on the increasingly undemocratic tendencies of the governments in Eastern Europe. These bureaucrats in Brussels have never been exposed to the will of the people and don’t want this to be recognized. Unless they are shocked out of their routines, the EU and the UN will continue to be more bureaucratic and more centralized. Is this not the time for change if we can affect this by voting for the Exit?
Such an exit by Britain could be the death rattle for the increasingly remote 21st Century leadership and herald in a new and hopefully sympathetic era as Steve Hilton, an ex-strategy advisor to David Cameron, has been promoting in his book More Human. The real choice for Britain is not between economic security and economic risk. It is about the birth of the kind of sustainable democratic governance which will best guide us through an increasingly challenging and unpredictable technological era.