tisdag 14 juni 2016

Finally, I have decided which way to vote

Like a lot of people, I have found it very difficult to make up my mind which way to vote at the referendum. A Brexit vote aligns one with the forces of xenophobia, illiberalism and worse. These attitudes are summed up in the rantings of the Daily Mail.

A united Europe is a fine concept which has brought real benefits. A Brexit vote will trigger uncertainty. It will probably lead to the break-up of the EU and a possibly chaotic future.

On the other hand, the economics of EU membership work against the UK for geographical reasons which have not had much of an airing in the debate, but are a factor in the grotesque maldistribution of population and commerce in the UK, which are ever more sucked towards London and the South East.

However, that is not a deciding factor. I do not like the Daily Mail's rhetoric. But what came to mind this morning was a poem by G K Chesterton called "The Secret People". It has the refrain
"SMILE at us, pay us, pass us; but do not quite forget.
For we are the people of England, that never have spoken yet"
The values of the English are far from wholly reprehensible. They are being treated with contempt by the Bremainers. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the Guardian, which has run a Bremain campaign verging on the hysterical.

Now whatever one thinks of the Guardian, it is, or was consistent in its support for social justice. For at least the past couple of decades, however, its commentators have been consistently and well-intentionedly wrong in their analysis. This can be said of almost every issue they have become engaged in. They have been in denial about the effects of immigration, they have been in denial about the influence of Islam, and their views on issues as diverse as transport policy, environmental policy, housing and the economy have been wrong. Their judgement is not to be trusted. Why is this? Probably because their views are, ultimately, derived from Rousseau, who believed in the perfectibility of human nature, a notion that, against all experience, has its origins in the Enlightenment. This faith, and it is a faith with no foundation in evidence or observation, has been a major influence in the educational changes of the past half-century, as these ideas, seeping out via Rudolf Steiner, become mainstream, disastrously for those who have been the subject of this experiment, who now govern us and tell us what to think.

It is a notion that gets subtly demolished by the author A S Byatt in her 1966 novel "The Babel Tower". It has two parallel narratives; that which is presented as a minor one, from which the novel takes its title, refers to an ideal community established according to principles advocated by J J Rousseau, or possibly de Sade. The community ends up destroyed, though we are not told how. To suggest a parallel between the EU and a Tower of Babel is not so far-fetched..

We should not base our decisions on the personality or track record of the views politicians and journalists, but it helps to understand where their views are derived from. The Bremainers are the nicer people, but they are misguided. Brexit it is.

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