I’m not an expert on economics or on British history, but lack of expertise on a topic almost never stops us Americans from voicing our opinions on it anyway.
On the economics of the Brexit — the United Kingdom’s 52-percent-to-48-percent vote on Thursday to leave the European Union — I tend to trust the opinion of left-leaning economist Robert Reich, who recently wrote on Facebook:
Britain’s exit from Europe hit the stock market hard yesterday, with the largest decline in stock values since late August last year – wiping away all the year’s stock market gains.
Don’t panic. Brexit won’t take effect for a while, and its economic consequences won’t be fully known for years. In reality, the U.S. stock market has been overvalued, and traders have been looking for an excuse for a selloff.
What worries me most is the global economy is in deep doo-doo – not just Europe but also China and much of Asia, and the U.S. economy has basically stopped growing.
Big American corporations aren’t investing in research or plant and equipment. And the 401(k) plans and IRAs that boomers are counting on for the retirements aren’t going anywhere, just as their wages haven’t gone anywhere.
We’re in a big stall – which exacerbates the anxiety fueling nationalism, Trump, Brexit, and much else.
I have a major problem with the nationalist/far-right-wing/fascist/white supremacist/xenophobic elements of the United Kingdom who supported the Brexit for their own odious personal political reasons, but it seems to me that this isn’t the only element of the Brexit — and that it isn’t the largest element.
The Brexit, it seems to me, also involves questions of national sovereignty and the age-old debate of whether centralized control or local control is preferable; that is a debate that in my eyes is not essentially a left-wing or a right-wing debate and that has been raging in the United States since its founding, with “states’ rights” still being an “argument” today (it’s an “argument” that usually is made so that backasswards states may continue their wrongdoing, such as the violation of individuals’ civil rights and the despoliation of the environment for profiteers without interference from the federal government).
The United States never significantly would cede its sovereignty to a group of (neighboring) nations (there are even those, mostly on the right, who say that the United States’ involvement in the United Nations is too much), so Americans who criticize the Brits who voted for and won the Brexit might want to check themselves.
The U.S. and the UK also take a lot of criticism for not throwing their borders wide fucking open, when, in fact, they’re already in the top five nations with the most immigrants (the U.S. is No. 1 and the UK is No. 5) and when there are many developed nations that are much more restrictive on immigration than are the U.S. and the UK (such as China, Japan and Switzerland).
Why should the burden of world immigration fall on only a handful of developed nations? (Of course I understand and agree with the argument that those who have more can and should do more, but is there no limit, no breaking point?)
And the fact is that national sovereignty — national self-determination — gives a nation the right to have as draconian an immigration policy as it pleases. It’s up to that nation to determine its own immigration policy, no matter what other nations think of it.
Also, of course, there is the issue of globalization, of which the European Union is a part.
Globalization is just the argument of centralized vs. localized control writ large, and there are advantages and disadvantages to both localized control and centralized control.
Globalization helps many but at the same time the fact that it’s pushed for so hard by the plutocrats certainly indicates that it’s meant to benefit them much more than it’s meant to benefit us commoners.
Indeed, globalization as it is practiced makes it easier for transnational corporate weasels to rape, pillage and plunder the entire fucking planet with impunity, leaving their victims relatively powerless to fight back, as their own nations’ governments are weaker than are the transnational corporations, especially if their own nations’ governments are part of something like the European Union, which the transnational corporate weasels can hijack with relative ease.
While many if not most Westerners tend to see the Brexit as the result of xenophobic nationalism — and again, that’s an element of the Brexit, for sure — it strikes me that it’s probably more likely that the larger issue for most of those who voted for the Brexit is that they’ve had enough of globalization and its effects, especially its economic effects.
Hopefully the Brexit is not a harbinger of a President Donald Trump — I rather doubt that it is, as I see anti-globalization and national sovereignty (and not xenophobia and fascism) to be the largest elements within the successful Brexit — and it’s quite possible that we Americans will come to thank our British cousins for having put the brakes on globalization, which harms us commoners more than it helps us.
There’s a lot to be said for local control and national sovereignty.
P.S. Calls for a second vote on the Brexit are blatantly anti-democratic. You don’t keep forcing a vote until you finally get the result that you want. That’s not democratic. That’s tyrannical. (And yes, there is plenty of tyranny on the so-called “left.”)