After last week's referendum, Brexit offers a unique and historic chance for the UK to become an open-minded, globally-oriented, diverse tolerant society - but only if we actually try.
The European Union is no magical silver bullet that prevents xenophobia and intolerance. Across Europe, racial hatred is well and alive. The French Front Nationale, with its neo-fascist heritage, Germany's neo-nazi NPD party, and the anti-Muslim PVV in the Netherlands - all these are hateful, radical far-right movements that feed on people's anger over EU's anti-democratic, authoritarian, out-of-touch governance structures.
But the boom of the far-right isn't just a side effect of the EU project. Racism is intrinsically and inseparably connected to its very founding principles - to the desire for European unification.
The EU exists on the basis of the historically unfounded idea of a pan-European identity. No doubt, there are strongly developed national identities in the UK and the many different nations on the continent (all of which are rooted in distinct national literatures, languages, histories and cultures). But what exactly would a "European" identity consist of? Is there a European language? A historical precedence for a European national polity? A European culture? No, of course not. Instead there is only vague, ahistorical and meaningless rhetoric from Brussels bureaucrats about "shared values" of democracy, human rights and freedom. Unstated, but clearly implicit in this narrative is the racist idea that people outside of Europe don't 'share' these values. Democracy and freedom are universal human aspirations recognized by international law, so in any case, making them specific to Europe is a pointless, nonsensical endeavor.
The idea of a pan-European identity is not just an ill-considered fiction, but is used every day to legitimise real world racist exclusion. While left-leaning upper middle class elites across the EU enjoy so-called "free movement", immigrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East die while trying sail to Europe in makeshift boats or while trying to cross fortified, militarized borders that feature Trump-style fences. Their only crime: That they happened not to be white and "European" enough to be allowed to have the "free movement" and "shared human rights" the EU talks about.
Think about it: Why should a white person with a German family background (like myself) have any more of a right to immigrate to Britain than an Asian person from India or Bangladesh, or a Black person from Kenya or Somaliland? All those countries share a longer, more intertwined history with Britain than Germany does, but EU law means the German person has the right to come to the UK no questions asked, while the Indian, Bengali, Somalilander or Kenyan is excluded for no reason other than his/her place of birth/ethnicity. At the end of the day, the EU's "free movement of people" is a racist, unfree scam with a big discriminatory whites-only label on it.
And even the EU's much-praised "single market" is nothing of the sort. It is the world's largest tariff union, using predatory and anti-free trade import controls and tariff fees to keep non-EU goods out or at least put them at an unfair disadvantage. It drives up prices for UK customers, and damages Britain's global economic competitiveness. The catalogue of unnecessary, inane regulations from Brussels makes production in the UK more expensive and less efficient, costing British jobs.
Through Brexit, Britain has a unique, challenging but rewarding opportunity to forge a more tolerant, open-minded, prosperous soceity. We can create a fair, welcoming, color-blind, points-based immigration system. A system solely based on meritocratic criteria, that works without any racial or geographic bias. We can engage in real free trade, and restructure the economy based on open-minded capitalism, transparent decentralised, democratic governance, strong human rights standards and global free enterprise. We can partner on basis of free trade with high growth emerging markets in India and East Asia. We can cultivate much closer ties with our most vital political, historical and cultural allies, such as the US and the Commonwealth states including Australia, Canada and New Zealand, as well as certain continental countries like Poland, France and Belgium who were our military allies in the two World Wars. We can decentralize political power in the UK, ensuring that Northern communities hold much more sway while the unhealthy over-representation of London's elites could be ended by full federalism. We can finally leave behind the over-regulated, economically stagnant racist morass that calls itself the EU. But all this takes courage and political will.
Instead Britain is being led towards recession and chaos by a narrow-minded, incompetent political class. Regardless of whether they backed Remain or Leave, our political elite is culturally trapped in the deluded mental illusion of Europe being the centre of the UK's role in the world.
It's a political class that is so spineless it can't even get itself to actually invoke Article 50, the treaty mechanism required for the UK to finally liberate itself from EU domination. They cannot contemplate trading primarily not just with Europe, but with the world. They completely lack the commitment to global free trade that would be needed to actively negotiate Britain's new brighter, more prosperous place in the world with the IMF, the World Bank, the WTO, ASEAN, The African Union and other international institutions as well as the US.
Instead of working hard to negotiate that future, Leave-supporters in the political class have responded with short-sighted "Independence Day"-style triumphalism and nationalist posturing. Remainers have developed a London-centric, sentimental, emotional, irrational affinity for the pre-Referendum state of politics. Disgustingly, some of the political class in London even dream of ignoring the referendum result; A move that would plunge Britain into decades of economic uncertainty, undermine the rule of law fatally, and cause an unprecedented, damaging resurgence in far-right extremism. It would allow dangerous demagogues and extremists to prey on the sense of disfranchisement the majority of electors will feel after their democratic preference has been invalidated by the political class.
Now is the time for Britain to seize the future and grab its new, globalised place in the world - not to trap itself in the narrow-minded EU delusions of yesterday's political class in London.