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I used to live in the heart of shire country and many of my horsey neighbours voted for Brexit. I heard "But shouldn't we believe in Britain?" from them long before it became a Leaver catchphrase. The vote split the village as it did the country.
Having moved here, I've realised something interesting - the UK has no future. I mean it literally has no vision for where it wants to be ten, never mind fifty, years from now.
Europe does have a vision. You can - and probably should - argue with the details, but there's a sense that there's some sort of goal, and it may even be modestly humane one, as opposed to the excuse for outright narcissism and banditry that the US tries to sell as capitalism.
The UK only has nostalgia. The present is awful, the future is incomprehensible, so let's relive our heroic WWII victory, and hurrah for Magna Carta.
To a large extent, British identity is defined by nostalgia. It's all castles and cosy cottages - Victorian this, Georgian that, and Tudor everything else.
If you take away the UK's history you're left with a damp and rather windswept island with no idea what it wants to be when it grows up.
This was a problem in the 70s when the UK was floundering around, but Thatcher's solution made it far worse, by using the nostalgia in a very calculated way to disguise the values at the heart of the British establishment - war, violence, slavery, and fraud.
So of course the peasants are angry - and of course it's easy to make them believe Europe is the problem.
The country may or may not pull out of this Brexit tail spin in time, but it's going to take a much bigger change to give it a future.
Now we're down to the nostalgic costume drama and bellicose nationalism; rapacious disaster capitalism, exploitative marketing and fraudulent "service" industries. Much of the infrastructure and larger more successful businesses are foreign owned - many with no absolute requirement to stay in Britain.
Something has changed, and it is more than the decline of empire. The moneyed can live out their lives in the style to which they have become accustomed. The royal family and the soaps on TV can provide the circuses for the masses. But who is going to provide the bread?
Index of Frank's Diaries
by gmoke - Oct 1
by Frank Schnittger - Sep 24 3 comments
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by Frank Schnittger - Sep 22 comments