Let's Not Forget the Past

24/06/2016 10:56

We must understand that the Leave campaign agenda was not so much anti-EU as it was anti-immigrant. Yes, the European Union is an inefficient, overly bureaucratic mechanism and yes, in the long run, we will be absolutely fine when we go it alone. But let's not neglect the fact that a substantial cohort of the Leave campaign undoubtedly have views based on a deep-rooted tribalism of 'us and them'. It has not been a rational, logical campaign. It has been an emotive one.

It is easy to blame immigrants for our problems. They lack a strong, collective voice, are the minority, and are an easy 'problem' to comprehend. What we forget is that we voted for austerity. We voted for lower public spending. We voted for an under-serviced NHS. Governmental spending policy has had a massively bigger impact on public service pressure than those migrants who come in. Tax avoidance costs our economy almost 20x as much as benefit scrounging. Immigrants pay significantly more tax than they take out in benefits. Where have these headlines been? Instead we've had posters of migrants overtaking our country. It has reeked of fascist propaganda.

Let's not forget history. In the 30s, there was economic turmoil in Germany. Nazism arose predominantly out of a need for a scapegoat for said turmoil. That scapegoat was the Jew (read migrant). The entirety of the European Union was founded on the basis of stopping such a far-right movement from spreading its tentacles of fear and isolation. Leave supporters are by no means all akin to lunatic fascists, and there are sensible, decent arguments for leaving (from the Right and the Left). But let's not be so naïve to dismiss the underlying racial tones that have shifted the debate from one of rational economics to one of anti-immigrant sentiment.

Two groups of tribes are given the choice of hunting separately or together. They find that when they hunt together, they improve their hunt rate. One of the tribes has to forgo being leader, and thus sacrifice power for the greater overall good. And this trend expands and extends until many tribes are involved. They each have less individual power, but the benefits from integration outweigh the hubris of wanting to be leading the pack. They eat more. They fight less. This is how society has evolved. This is the very principle upon which civilisation has succeeded. More integration. Not less.

We never lost sovereignty being in the EU. The very fact we had a referendum shows how much sovereignty we had. We merely relinquished some individual power for the gains of a collective one.

And here we are, the millennial generation 75% in favour of Remain, with the leftovers of an angry, separatist older generation who have been indoctrinated by rightwing headlines and press. Cue Donald Trump, Front National et al to be completely galvanised by this.

Please, please - remember the past - we are all citizens of the world. Don't let this constitutional separation lead to further separation as a species. Nationalism is quite simply a culturally conditioned phenomenon that says my line is here, yours is there, now let's stay behind our lines. It is irrational, tribal, and unfortunately, a very powerful motivator for humans.