There’s Nothing New Here. Just Another Nation in Decline. (This time it is The UK in Brexit)

I am somewhat honoured that Keith of ( musingsofanoldfart.wordpress.com  ) has asked me to write this, following a response to a question he raised on Jill’s ( jilldennison.com ) blog

I would warn you, there will be no quotes, statistics or links, these by their very nature are selective and can be turned around by oppositions, often getting side-lined in arguments over the character of the provider of the quotes, statistics or links. This is an essay, or if you like a polemic. This is based on the readings of the Histories of Humanity and all their various accompanying  follies and tragedies. This is about something very old, on this occasion making its appearance in Brexit Britain.

Although shadowed by the world-wide pandemic, this lesser event will still have its ramifications even if many of the world’s population can be forgiven for barely noticing it; after all, what will it matter to someone living in a nation a few time zones away and more concerned with their own day to day struggles? Some in the UK so wrapped up in their myths and dreams would have you believe the entire planet will shake as the UK rises from some European induced torpor calling on spirits of Churchill, Thatcher, Drake and Arthur (King) to inspire our current political and economic leadership to gather the people together in a glorious endeavour bringing in the proverbial New Golden Age. And this will be our True Finest Hour. If you examine the headlines in the right-wing tabloid press and the comments of their readerships or have the misfortune to run into them on FaceBook you will see I am somewhat understating the rhetoric.

Each nation or community which would be a nation or movement has its own baggage of legends, myths and massaged history mixed into a heady brew which offers in a far more glorious vision than it deserves. Never look too deeply into your people’s past unless you are of thick skin, detached or objective for you will not be comfy. Many in the UK in 2015 to 2016 feasted too deeply of the Empire, Victors in WWI & WWII mythos rich stew without reading the warnings on the various contents’ packets, and to keep their sacred beliefs firm still partake.   

And whenever a collection of folk take the step towards independence or dominance you can be certain there will be the taint of outright or implied discrimination, for the collection of folk will have convinced themselves that all ills, and the end of the none-existent “Good Old Days” are down to interlopers and non-believers. So never mind the economic and legalistic arguments surrounding Brexit, Race and Prejudices played a major part in many a voter’s decisions. One of the two truths folk do not like to mention. The other being on the Left that without Corbyn’s lukewarm unenthusiastic campaign or the section which believed the EU was an adjunct of the multi-nationals the Right might never have won the referendum and subsequent 2019 General Election. Struggles are not just won by one side’s courage or tactical superiority; they require a degree of failure within the opponents’ ranks.

So here in the second decade of the 21st century  The UK is positioned. A collection of islands without their own independent mercantile fleets or major ship building trades. Other types of industries which for many years have been owned by overseas groups and now without the mutual protection of the EU. Whereas there are a large number of small ventures making herculean efforts, these are now all vulnerable to the unpredictable and savage storms of international climates of trade and politics along with another layer of avoidable paperwork.  Meanwhile the UK places some of its faith in a leisure industry which waits for Covid to be supressed and hopefully the tourists to return. And forgetting the financial hub currently residing in London can in these cyber days be moved with relatively little effort. The balm to soothe these worries is that the UK can make new vibrant and fresh deals with other nations outside of the EU; however the problem is these ‘Other Nations’ looking to make deals are by their natures on the rise or with a very strong base whereas the UK has been in a steady decline of nationally based infrastructure, services and industries since WWII, thus these Isles are negotiating from the lesser position with the give and take going in the other direction. It is hard not to view us as the wilful self-absorbed member of the family who has blustered out of the home to seek life on their own believing their ‘smarts’, determination and cherished fantasy masquerading as a plan will see them through. This is the character who ends up on the streets, a battered minor hustling supplicant desperate that the next day will bring ‘the break’ while looked down upon by the major players.

There is another facet, that is the strength of the nation as displayed in its military prowess. In some this is simply the self-defence capacity; in some it is the ability to operate outside of the borders. Questions are being asked of that capacity, and at a time where there is an undercurrent in the USA of questions as to the future of NATO and Russia’s the inevitable historical draw to surround herself with client states. Examples of the never ending tides of human action and reaction in the political world, a dance as old as communities.

And herein lies the evidence lain bear by Histories. Nations and Empires rise and fall the names, locations and components change but the tectonic that is Human activity continues. Thus worn out by a century’s effort and the shedding of a role too heavy to bear do these Isles suffer their turn in this cycle. The sensible, rational long term approach would have been to hunker down, regroup and reform within the security and stability of a Union. This is not the Human way, we must believe in our legends and our folk myths, we must live them, we must be seen to be independent with all the angry deluded stance of the someone Lear-like living their past glories, denuded now of past abilities  observed by predators looking on to take away the last vestiges of independence, dress that someone in their own cloth and have them dance to their own tune, for their profit. Look into Histories and read the runes, observe that Rise and Fall over and over again.

There is a large swath of the population who have seen the message and are not turned by the populist press, the self-important financially secure commentators and their political relatives. Sadly these have divided themselves into fractious groups busy blaming each other for the 2019 General Election debacle which allowed a previously nationally indulged self-serving jester to become Prime Minister, now having to grow up, fast. While they are reduced to self-aggrandisement, anger and bitterness on Social Media. Whether there will be a steady movement by the national groups of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland away from England and into some connection with The EU remains to be seen. It could be that the old Islands’ story of  infighting and opportunist accommodations with whoever holds Westminster will be played out again and all will once more bow before The Centre; nothing new there, despite what the Nationalists would have you believe. There again delusion and desperation have their own tectonic and a fragmentation with a nominal centre could arise. A mini-version of the Holy Roman Empire, nodding to someone, a nominal head yet with each region going its own way. And of course the fate others have suffered so often; Client state, something which happens in so many ways often without folk noticing. Or battered and ragged knocking on Brussel’s door the prodigal state returns, only this time there will not be one loving father with a fatted calf; there will be a clutch of judgemental siblings. 

The permutations and variables beckon with a skeletal finger as we stumble out into the storm, eyes closed and muttering invocations from a false religion.

One last salutary note. By all mean shake your head sadly at these Isles’ ill-considered venture. However do not walk away feeling secure. At some stage these tectonics will reach you. Be sure you are prepared for the shock and have a plan to prevail. For we have still not evolved beyond those first communities of villages and small towns looking to survive or dominate.    

26 thoughts on “There’s Nothing New Here. Just Another Nation in Decline. (This time it is The UK in Brexit)

  1. Roger, many thanks for the detailed summary. From the outset, the financial projections by experts indicated Brexit would be dilutive to the British economy. Yet, the vote plowed ahead using fear and nostalgia as selling points. What triggered my question is the report by pro-Brexit news sources that masked the huge fall off in trade, one number cited 41% since the first of the year. The report noted The Guardian and Financial Times were more truthful about what was happening.

    What concerned me form the outset is the number of EU headquarters that were in the UK that were moving such headquarters and distribution centers to EU cities – Dublin, Frankfurt, etc. – once the Brexit occurred. What also concerned me is the number of young people who were pro-Brexit who saw it as a way to easily move, travel, etc.

    For the sake of fear and nostalgia, and some financial reasons, the decision to leave has been oversold and my heritage country will now pay the price. The word dilutive is not one that will bode well over the future. That saddens me. The British Brexit folks deserve the truth, just as the Americans who bought the Trump fear and nostalgia message. Both were sold a bill of goods by populists.

    Keith

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thanks Keith.
    The inevitability of the populist solutions are these are simplistic, whereas The World Community is not. A populist solution assumes that everyone on the outside will somehow defer to the proponents where in actual fact they will resist.
    The most breath-taking aspect of Brexit was that the Leave Camp assumed that the rest of Europe would eventually agree to all of Britain’s demands as if we were still in the position we were in the mid 19th Century. Subsidiary to this would be that international combines such as the large credit card companies would leave things as they were, where it appears there may well be surcharges for UK users to pay when purchasing EU goods. This is but one example.
    Where the Brexit politicians have really blundered is the amount of ill-will this has engendered on the mainland as this move has dismantled a number of agreements and alliances which gave Europe a strength to match other powers in the world. Now a whole fresh raft of agreements and understandings will have to be created to replace the perfectly reasonable ones.
    You say they deserve The Truth Keith. Being in the midst of this civil and civic disruption I would say those who wanted Brexit don’t want the Harsh Facts of Brexit and will remain in denial for some time. This may take a generation to repair.
    In this we are both suffering through an unwillingness of a substantive part of our populations to take a mature view of The Big Picture and assume The White Non-Catholic ‘Christian’ communities can continue to do as they please with the world.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Roger, well said. Sadly, you are right. Some people don’t want the truth, they just want to win. The fact it is hard to solve problems if you don’t admit the truth seems less relevant. The seditious and deceitful former president touts a vaccine he enabled, but does not tout he told his followers COVID was a hoax and not to take a vaccine. Keith

      Liked by 2 people

      • The fact that this fellow has not been nationally derided and forced to flee into obscurity is a worrying commentary on the mindset of a substantial proportion of the USA adult population.
        They appear to have joined hands, closed eyes and in a collective intake of faith born of desperation blundered into an hysteria of denial.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Excellent summation, Roger. And yes, it is happening elsewhere … the ‘populist movement’ has dug in its heels and will not be expelled anytime soon, I fear. I don’t see anything on the horizon that leads me to believe “world peace” is coming in my lifetime, or even in this century. In fact, if humans don’t get their sh*t together and work collectively to reduce the effects of climate change, I expect the human race won’t have much time left to set aside their petty differences. On this side of the pond, we may have ousted the former guy, but the elements that put him in the Oval Office still remain and will regroup and raise their ugly collective head before long, no doubt.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sadly Jill, there is nothing new here.
      Flash back to the The Peloponnesian War (431–404 BC). Alcibiades from Athens, switched sides to foes Sparta, then worked for Persia (Biggest enemy), finally returned to Athens and the population welcomed him back….go figure…Many you he finally got assassinated by one group or another.
      Then we have the French Wars of Religion which some will tell you was all about Catholics (rulers) and Protestants (supressed peasants)…Nobles changed sides like they changed their socks and the main Protestant leader Henry of Navarre became of Catholic as a power move, reported to have said (in French) ..’Paris is worth a Mass’
      Currently the USA seems to be in mood that became populist in Germany in post WWI- ‘we were betrayed by socialists’ – whereas in actual fact the German High had a collective nervous breakdown and the German armed forces were suffering mutinies and collapses of moral…..Which has parallels in your last (Mal) administration.
      Hope for a shrewd, ruthless operator within the Republican Party focused on dragging their party back to the middle ground, never mind who gets stepped on along the way.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The story of Alcibiades is particularly disturbing, for it seems that nothing could dim his popularity … similar to what we’re seeing with the former guy. Yes, let’s hope for someone within the Republican Party to succeed in bringing it back to a workable middle ground, else for them to fade away into oblivion and be replaced by a far more moderate party. The current GOP is untenable … or is it?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Parties morph Jill. Bear in mind back at the time of the Civil War The Democratic Party was the home of the pro-slavery southerners while The Republican Party had…Abraham Lincoln!
        The Republican Party could slip into the solid home ground of the aggressive racist, evangelical, whites (with a few tame South-East Asians and Cubans trotted out to show how multi-racial they are) which would mark the first act in the next stage of the division of the USA.
        True the Democrats could then become the home of ‘everyone else’, but that would be a shaky coalition, whereas the other side would be rock solid in their warped beliefs.
        The Democrats need to learn Unity is vital at this stage…something which is lost on the UK Labour Party…..
        Now there is a warning, remind any one in the Democrats who start moaning about other Democrats.

        Liked by 1 person

      • So true … the two partys’ ideologies seem to have switched places over the years. It’s true that parties evolve, but the evolution I’m seeing today of the Republican Party is disturbing … they seem to want to take the nation right back to the days of Jim Crow, and to force a single religion on the entire nation.

        Indeed, if the Democrats don’t stop eating their own, we will all be the losers, for the ‘other side’ will see the chink in the armour and exploit it. Your Labour Party confuses me … but then, from what I’ve read, it confuses you guys, too!

        Liked by 1 person

      • The Republicans have certainly become the party of The White Evangelicals and also allowing too much space for those who would like to join the KKK and neo-nazi groups but think it might not be a ‘good press’.
        Like I said The Democrats would do well to study the antics of the UK Labour Party’s ‘militant’/ socialist (HA!)/radical hoo-hah wing and the response of the centrists as a warning. If there’s was a wrong way to do it, during the Corbyn era, they chose it!
        It’s not actually a party it’s a ramshackled hodge-podge who can only agree on the following:
        1. They are opposed to the conservatives.
        2. They hate other Labour Supporters who do not agree with them.
        3. They hate (though probably not quite as much) other parties and think an alliance against the Conservatives is as vile as suggesting a ‘National Let’s Hit Puppies with Kittens’ day.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Aww sweetlin’ In mah experience as a medician (tha’s medic to you) one affliction y’all can be certain of encountering many times is a descent of the brain into the bowels and the mouth takin’ over the functions of the aforementioned part.
        Mah own cure is to apply the boot unto the backside until the brain is knocked back up into its proper place.
        Of course there may be some modest damage, but it’s not like anyone else would notice.
        Y’all take care now.
        As you say in yore world…Hugs.
        Arketre 👱‍♀️

        Liked by 1 person

      • I actually read the ‘care’ in there and didn’t realize it was missing … but you come down off that roof right this minute! Don’cha know it’s dangerous up dere???

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ah been off there since yesterday sweetlin’ Roof repaired. Chores don’t do themselves y’know.
        (Whisper. No use ask Karlyn to do it, she’d only go an’ dance or do fool acrobatics up there an’ forget to do the repairs) 👱‍♀️

        Liked by 1 person

      • You are an inspiration! No, chores don’t do themselves, but roofs are off-limits to me, for I’m so afraid of heights that I start having chest pains if I step on the first step of a ladder! Anyway, I’m glad the roof is repaired … if y’all didn’t get so much rain, the roof might not fall into disrepair! 🌧️🌧️🌧️

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Roger, in your comments about people changing history, my wife and I enjoy watching Lucy Worsley’s Royal Myths and Secrets. Last night’s episode focused on the rumored history not being very kind to Queen Anne, yet she was a much better queen than those rumors reported. Apparently, her rivals like to smear her, so since it was more sensational, it got more press. Yet, this woman helped form Great Britain and once gave an unread, memorized speech to Parliament that impressed. Even Winston Churchill rewrote history to make his relative Sarah Churchill appear less Machiavellian and more stateswoman like, while diminshing the queen’s record. So, who knows. Keith

    Liked by 2 people

    • Lucy Worsley’s history programmes are always so watchable because her enthusiasm just bubbles over (In one book she thanks her husband for being a steadying influence).
      Strong independent women have usually had a bad press from historians, unless it suits the national consciousness.
      During the 15th Century Wars of the Roses Margaret of Anjou Henry VI’s wife was often the strongest person in the Lancastrian Faction. She must have been as she’s a major character in the Shakespearean Trilogy of the era.
      One period known as ‘The Anarchy’ between 1135 and 1153, involving another dispute over who should be king/queen, one of the opponents was Matilda daughter of Henry I- supported by her half-brother Robert of Gloucester. Her opponent was Stephen of Blois (his wife’s name was Matilda). At one stage both Stephen and Robert managed to get captured at the same time and the two leading political and titular military persons were…you guessed two Matildas! Stephen’s wife doing a pretty good job.
      And then we have the formidable Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry II’s wife who is worth a page on her own.
      And those a just a few examples. Crusty male historians always feel threatened by strong women.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Roger, many thanks for the history lesson. I wrote a post yesterday about a strong and helpful woman Anne Morgan, who does not get the credit she deserves. Your point about historians not being kind to such people has merit. Lucy Worsley has an excellent piece on Marie Antoinette, who is remembered for being superficial, but she was much more than that. Yes, she did like clothes, but what caused the French Revolution was debt to help America in their Revolution, not her expensive wardrobe. Keith

        Liked by 2 people

      • Apparently some historical commentaries record one person who made that accusation as being no less than Thomas Jefferson which proves I guess we are all vulnerable to tittle-tattle and generalisations.
        Now I must catch up on your posts (I’ve been out of it for a few days in gardens and Fantasy Book writing lands)

        Liked by 1 person

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