Decline, Fall and Brexit

It’s becoming more apparent by the week – almost by the hour – that Brexit is a disaster, led by idiots, clowns and vagabonds, voted for by a misled population (misled, not stupid), enabled by a deeply flawed political system, stirring up the worst passions of our people, and being implemented now – on our side – by incompetents.

Looking at it as a historian – one historian: others will disagree – it seems to me to mark an extraordinary stage, possibly the ultimate one, in the story of Britain’s decline from a position of perceived ‘greatness’, which in my view was never based on either ‘splendid isolation’ or ‘imperialism’, which is what the Brexiteers appear to be harking back to; but always on high ideals (not always lived up to), generosity (ditto), pragmatism, adaptability to a changing world, and good relations with our immediate neighbours. The end result will almost certainly impoverish us as a nation: materially of course – that’s becoming obvious; but also in terms of reputation, and, for those of us whose patriotism, such as it is, is not founded on illusions of past power and domination – national pride.

I’ve been energised by this to return to an old abandoned project of mine: a collection of essays analysing Britain’s ‘identity’ as a nation, and her historical relations with the rest of Europe: see https://bernardjporter.com/2017/10/10/cosmopolitan-britain/. (I know, I keep announcing new projects. It’s the conception that excites me. Let’s hope this one isn’t aborted, like ‘Essex’ and the rest.)

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3 Responses to Decline, Fall and Brexit

  1. The historian can use the word ‘irrational’ as a worthy substitute for ‘stupid’. It is hard to satisfactorily explain historical phenomena, such as the election of Trump, the support for Hitler and countless other disasters, without recourse to a concept of the irrational. There was a report in the NYT a couple of days ago about how residents of Texas, who had been the recipient of government aid after the hurricane, thought that citizens of Puerto Rico should not receive US government aid as a result of their hurricane. In this case racism and geo-political ignorance combine to prevent the residents from making a rational judgement.

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  2. “… Brexit is a disaster … voted for by a misled population (misled, not stupid).” I think that ignorantly choosing a very bad option, when there is a better one available, is a case of stupidity (or irrationality). US voters who chose Trump were also acting stupidly, given that his vices and unsuitability were never hidden. In both Brexit and the election of Trump, racism appears to have played a leading role. Allowing one’s prejudices to determine one’s vote, when it will damage or even imperial one’s nation, clearly falls under any reasonable definition of stupidity.

    All of us at least occasionally make poor decisions that cause us or others harm; our lives are, in part at least, a struggle against the tendency to be foolish.

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    • OK! But if an academic writes ‘stupid’ he or she is immediately dismissed as ‘elitist’. And I’d like Brexiteers to consider my points without this block. Besides, I really do think it’s unreasonable to expect even reasonable people to understand reasonable arguments on a complex question that are so hugely obfuscated by lies.

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