In-Out, Shake it All About

History seems to have taught us nothing. Those who experienced the world wars have almost all departed us, and with them we’ve lost the memories of what a divided Europe looks like. We forget why the EU was established in the first place.

Originally formed to increase European cohesion through geopolitical and social inclusivity, the EU is now seen predominantly as a platform for economic gain. Reductions in the scale and regularity of conflicts between European states are seen as merely incidental. But in a world torn by scores of armed conflicts (1, 2,), by the effects of corrupt and mismanaged plutocracies (12, 3), with Russia roughhousing it’s neighbours, with the emergence of overpopulation and climate change, cohesion is crucial. It’s plain to see that if we are to stand even the slightest chance of surmounting these obstacles, we desperately need to enhance our unifications, not divide them.

As our biggest global challenge, the inevitable effects of climate change in a world of broad geopolitical division are huge. With increasingly sporadic and extreme weather events, rising sea levels and ocean acidification, the collapsing of ecosystems, consequently diminished crop yields and fish stocks, economic ruin, together with a plethora of other issues all causing the displacement of communities and wide-scope civil unrest, tackling climate change requires a great deal of collaboration. If our efforts are not collaborated, we risk intensifying these already inexorable natural disasters, not to mention humanitarian crises. Yet, heedlessly, the majority of discourse surrounding the in-out debate mentions almost nothing of the importance of the union the EU is supposed to embody. Instead, it obsessively procrastinates over conjectural economics.

But the truth is economics are nigh-on redundant in this debate. This obsession with financial gains is de facto a primary cause of the climatic mess we find ourselves in. For many this is a hard pill to swallow. It’s almost tautologous that capitalism produces climate change, which eventually comes with the added cost of complete economic collapse. This is just the paradox of capitalism: As an economic system which necessarily commodifies nature, capitalism relies on the destruction of nature for its own development. While innovation speeds up market efficiency, the speed of nature’s regeneration remains constant. Without curbing innovation, without slowing down market efficiency, our natural resources dwindle and the complex tapestry of our biosphere begins to rapidly unravel. In other words, “the Earth is f**ked unless somehow the market can be prevented from working so well.” So, clearly, focusing on the economic aspects of the in-out debate is not only imprudent but entirely absurd.

On the rare occasion when economics is not at the forefront of the debate, patriotic calls for sovereignty tend take the spot light. Similarly, this argument can be severely damaging to the war on climate change. After all, it consists in the very antithesis of unification. But the flaws in this argument run a little deeper.

Putting aside the many psychosocial aspects of patriotism (how and why it develops etc.) – many of which I respect and find fascinating – as a phenomenon, I find it deeply disturbing. Just thinking about patriotism one can sense it has something strangely sinister about it. It’s designed to promote a sense of national individualism, a sense of national pride. A sense of self-worth. The perverse and competitive sense that we are better, superior, more valuable. In this way patriotism is comparable to ordinary pride; it’s one of arrogance’s inconspicuous siblings.

“[E]ach person’s pride is in competition with everyone else’s pride… Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better-looking than others.”C.S. Lewis

So these calls for sovereignty aren’t just damaging because they reject the value of geopolitical unification. They’re damaging because they foster a culture of narcissistic individualism. And this is so clearly undesirable, because any system of people joined by common aims is automatically disadvantaged by it. The soldier that puts his pride before the ambitions of his army tends to die and/or frustrate his army’s efforts. The footballer that puts his pride before the ambitions of his team gets dropped to the bench and/or sold. Only once they becomes a little more modest and trust in the abilities of their colleagues do their partners better utilise them and discover their full potential. After all, there is no in ‘team’ (or ‘army’ for that matter).

In short, the value of unification is much greater than economics and sovereignty. Unification breaks barriers. It re-enforces bonds. Union will help us navigate the minefield of issues facing the world today. Most importantly, it’ll allow us to hone our efforts in the fight against climate change. Let’s learn from history. Instead of building walls, let’s knock them down

We are all Stronger In.

A.C. Stark

 

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23 thoughts on “In-Out, Shake it All About

  1. Thank you for following my blog. I hope you will get some pleasure from the mix of photography and history, ancient and modern. Was particularly interested in your agriculture post. Des.

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  2. I thank you for stopping past my blog today as it meant I linked up with yours. Passionate, insightful and more particularly on my wave length with so many of the posts of yours that I have read. Looking forward to reading more. Jacqui 😀

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  3. Pingback: Brexit or Bremain? Three electoral issues you probably haven’t heard much about from either campaign. | stuffnickwrites

  4. I have worn the uniform of my country in service to that country (The United States) and as I recall both Patriotism and Pride played a big part in my service experience so perhaps I have a little different take on Patriotism and Pride than some folks. The EU is a wreck and if it doesn’t get its immigration craze under control it is going to get a lot worse than it is now.

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  5. Living in the US I wonder how much of the argument for exit is due to US arm –
    twisting behind the scenes. My reasoning is that the US probably feels that a Britain free of EU “constraints” can react unilaterally to requests from the US for various military partnerships and assistance.

    I’d be interested in comments and opinions.

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  6. Thank you for this; I concur entirely. Everything about this EU referendum is so wrong it’s hard to know where to begin, but you’ve found a clear, coherent angle on it that I think is very powerful. One of the many, many things that concern me about the debate is that, whatever the outcome, it risks permanently embedding nationalism, xenophobia and racism in our political discourse. I’m with Dr Johnson in believing that ‘patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel’ and all the jingoistic, flag-waving, Rule-Britannia nonsense coming out the ‘leave’ camp makes me wonder what century they’re living in. We can only pray that common sense prevails in June. Meanwhile, thank you for being a voice of reason and fellow-feeling: I have the misfortune to live in what’s officially the third-safest Tory seat in the country, and our local MP has pledged to vote Brexit. It can feel pretty lonely here sometimes! Nick.

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  7. My interpretation of your message was something that stikes me on a deep level, more than politics, and economics. Mind you, I don’t claim to be any type of intellectual, I’m just a humble human here. Some thoughts that were brought to surface are that the change that you spoke of can take place beginning with ourselves. Out environment is a reflection of the people who live in it and not only what we do, but our perspectives on life. Becoming unified as a people, and with nature, we can give and gain what we all truely want in life through compassionate wisdom…happiness, peace, love , and tranquility. This awakening inspires me to live even more consciously in my life to help others find their inspiration as well. Thank you!

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  8. This is very well written and i believe so true. Unfortunately people can’t handle anything that takes this much thought so their tendency is to just ignore things thinking someone else will fix things. People DO NOT like to explore the other side of any argument. It is easier for choirs to sing to each other. It’s maddening sometimes when you read the reasoning of some people when they don’t have a clue what is going on and don’t take the time to look at the whole picture.

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  9. This thought provoking, What is “the value of geopolitical unification?” I think you need to focus more on population control in order to save the environment. Historically plutocrats have used war to do this. That is not my first choice. Neither is opening borders to sacrifice sovereignty or citizenship. This is, however, a great start to an important conversation.

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  10. I think you paint a dark picture of pride.
    You can be proud of so
    someing without it having negative connotations.
    I am proud of being English but do not think that by being english I am inherently better than anyone else. I just ‘like my club’
    I am proud of the history Behind my genealogy and proud to have been born to such a historic nation feelings I am sure that most other people of most other nations have. Patriotism just gives a sense of belonging and of having a place in this world.
    I am sure it is hard wired from caveman days where a human alone was a vulnerable creature yet as a tribe they had a sense of belonging and strength.
    Had the European Inion remained true to its initial values and not become the federal government of Europe then it would be immensely more popular.
    Like history tells us ‘power corrupts’.
    Personally I would rather be a proud and possibly poor little nation than a more prosperous but downtrodden part of a large conglomerate. I guess it’s corner shop Vs Supermarket

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    • Well put. I’d like agree. Although, in wondering whether that feeling is something closely related but distinct from pride (maybe we just refer to them the same). I’m still thinking on.

      I didn’t go into it, but I do agree with you re. your comments on the EU. It needs to be more democratic. It needs huge reform, a way for all EU member societies to participate in its decision.

      Thanks for the constructive criticism. Food for thought and all that.

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      • Although from a different perspective to my normal point of view I really liked your article.
        We only grow and learn if we listen to and explore the other side of the argument.
        If the EU could go back to its roots and it’s initial objective I would vote to join tomorrow however I think it is a long way past that now.
        As such I personally feel it is time to leave.
        We will never be great again but we can and should still strive to be very good.
        Keep up the good work your articles are on point. if we don’t put our opinions out there for others to critique then all anyone ever gets is the party line

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