Brexiting as they’ve Brentered

Like the project it is splitting away from, Brexit is sui generis.

If you’re not into the lingo of EUspeak, what with its mutatis mutandis, acquis communitaire, and Copenhagen criteria, sui generis just means something is unique and in a class by itself. For the first time, an actual Member State of the EU has set up the means to break away from the supranational entity, and through the ballot box no less. Yet, since this is the FIRST time, a lot of thought has been put to paper on whether or not such a divorce will be good for the UK. As much as I am on the “Leave” side, I understand when people ask with curiosity how the UK benefits from leaving the EU. Well, you can probably speculate until you’re blue in the mouth about how leaving will be a definitive detriment. On the other hand, there’s this:

“But above all, I am motivated by an ardent belief in self-determination, self-definition and the inalienable freedom to go to hell on one’s own chosen path without intervention by self-appointed mentors.” – Nigel Farage, Flying Free.

That’s the kind of mentality that colours (and will colour) any and all beliefs that Britain will be better off out. It is not merely about the money, it is about the ability for a country to allow its citizens to vote for its own representatives, to enact their own laws, and to make their own decisions without having an anti-democratic entity breath down their neck. This does not just include the good decisions but also any and all mistakes. Mistakes at the local level can be owned and fixed, but when mistakes are made by a foreign power that’s run by a menagerie of bureaucrats from 28 other Member States, the ability is lost, especially when laws at the EU level are only proposed by an unelected European Commission and then passed by said Commission. Again, Brexit is also about the freedom to go to hell on one’s chosen path.

It does not do the UK any favours to be part of that union which has snubbed democratic votes a number of times, like in 2005 and 2009, removed national heads of state from power, and to top it off: only contributed 26% of world GDP in the year 2015 and looks to DECREASE in time. On that final part, life may not always be about money but then again: 1) If you’ve been there, Europe can be pretty expensive and 2) Tell that to Greeks and Spaniards who still have to deal with 25.6% and 22.7% unemployment respectively. Of course they can’t do anything about it, because they have to deal with Brussels diktats and an occasional visit (especially if you’re Greece) by what is known as the Troika (European Central Bank, European Commission, and the IMF). So what is the point of democracy or representative government when that fabric of consent is broken?

The result is a technocratic nightmare of busybodies making it their business to mind other business from the innocuous like olive oil containers to the insidious like the European Arrest Warrant. The march of progress in that regard never recedes, it only grows. As it does so, it not only makes everyone less free, but more hostile to each other’s neighbours. In fact it has already metastasized towards refugees and migrants. The Member States of the EU did not merely give the combination of their personal safe away, but the ability to open or close their gates toward any and all people who are escaping (or ‘escaping’ anyway) from conflict. One can argue this is necessary for we have a common humanity, but that mentality is only for minds who think a nation is merely a flophouse of aggregates, rather than a manor held by families for generations, places where its inhabitants share their own chosen traumas and chosen triumphs. You’ll never value the year 1956 as much as the Hungarians do, just as they’ll never value independence from the Ottomans in the same way the Greeks do. To neglect this for some historical and economical harmonization under any artificial demos is misanthropy writ large, and squanders the charity of people, a resource not easily rejuvenated.

Nations matter, people who ascribe to the nation matter, and their ability to self-determine matter:

“‘Whatever your vision of the future, you are not going to be able to attain it or even aspire to it unless and until you are free to go your own way. For as long as we are part of this intrusive and ever more powerful Soviet, we can’t make decisions for ourselves or determine our own future. What we do with our freedom once we have won it remains to be seen, but we are demanding that we be allowed to take that first step and reclaim responsibility for our own lives.’”

Words from Farage that Churchill himself would be proud of, for if the worst case scenario for the UK means going through a bit of Hell, this is the kind of spirit that would remain steadfast and keep going.

What if they’re alone?

Well…

verywellalone

Mark Twain’s full of shit regarding travel

Now that’s a shocking, click-baity, title for an article. How can anybody find something… problematic from the father of American Literature? Well, it all starts with this picture that a former grad school acquaintance of mine posted on Facebook:

twaintravel

When taken at face value, I guess that’s true. Travel DOES open you to new people, ideas, and venues of charity. However, based on my experience I’m hard pressed to be enthusiastic over this quote, even if I’ve traveled my fair share in life. This article does an interesting job trying to dismantle the quote by way of positing that if it is the case, then the rich would be the least bigoted people on Earth and the poor would be the most. Of course in an age of budget air travel (especially in Europe) and hostel culture, the point kinda drops like a lead balloon. Yet the author hits on something when he talks of how despite all the culture those rich acquire from going to places like Lisbon or Barcelona, won’t extend to kindness of whoever is in ‘flyover country’.

That’s exactly what I think happened to my cohorts in my graduate school programme.

Like me, these people took the risk of traveling to an unknown country to learn new things, meet new people, and acquire new experiences. However, as time winded down and people were preparing for their return stateside, I had a conversation with one of my classmates. We opined about the rather magical (for youth at times is very magical) year behind us, and lamented we would have to leave where we were. Then, I stated that it would be a pity really, because after all this time learning to be more open towards other people different from us, they would resume the prejudices they already had of America once they hit the tarmac.

They would resume what I would call their: “Petty Little Bigotries”.

That’s the tragedy of it all. You travel the world, you do all these things, you meet these new people, get these new ideas, and then you go back and resume business as usual holding contempt for a good portion of your home country.  It’s even worse since we all majored in CONFLICT RESOLUTION, and what better way to apply what was taught to how you interact with people back home. But nope, let’s go to DC and take jobs there, advocate and enact policies we know is good for the masses even if we dare not to go out into the world of commoners. The only time we would deign to interact with them is if we have to drive through them on our road trips.

If I didn’t know any better, that kind of travel doesn’t destroy bigotry, it inverts it. The other is no longer the foreigner on a distant shore, but the neighbor at home. What I would assume to be feelings of alienation and melancholy of domestic life (I know the feeling), is ameliorated by the excitement only travel can bring, leading people to wonder why home cannot be like somewhere else. It doesn’t only happen with well-to-do 20-something college students studying abroad, but also people like these guys:

Tashfeen-Malik-and-Syed-Farook-998x749

Remember them? That’s Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, who murdered fourteen people last December. That’s a picture of them moving through customs at Chicago O’Hare after traveling to Saudi Arabia in 2014. Clearly such travel to Saudi Arabia, a country which won’t even let Christians, Jews, or any non-Muslim enter into it, must’ve slaughtered their bigotry. Yet it didn’t, it just inverted and allowed them enough gumption to plan what they planned and killed who they killed. Then there are those who participated in slaughtering Parisians last November too.  A good number of them did some traveling too, and their bigotry? Clearly still there, and again inverted to inflict harm on their neighbours. Spare me the alienation bullcrap, because I don’t remember any Honky who studied abroad invert their bigotry enough to shoot at their fellow Americans.

I COULD say that’s an extreme version of what I saw in my cohorts, but I think their version brings forth much more sinister undertones. You know those European countries that no doubt contributed to the destruction of their bigotry? Well… they are currently being overrun by individuals who indulge in magical pastimes like Taharrush and murder.  In turn, it’s compelling local governments to tell their citizens to dress appropriately, fine those who defend themselves, set up safe zones at festivities, and national governments to censor news online. Those individuals I speak of? Well, they’re pretty goddamn silent about all of those things, and invert their bigotry once again. Now the migrants are the others they shouldn’t be prejudiced to, but the locals in those countries. Yes, those very locals that have paid into those systems and societies are now the ones they must be bigoted towards. Any grievances on social media will be looked at, any protests will be dispersed, and towns no matter how small must deal with the influx of migrants. Do they honestly think that these developments will allow them the same exhilarating experience their first time? What of future progeny? They may not have that luxury; in fact it may even be worse. It may not do anything to destroy their bigotry.

And in the meanwhile, the Frontier everybody from the political establishment and the media neglected and never took seriously? It’s pushing back. It’ll be an unfortunate battle between ne’er do wells who have vegetated in one corner of the Earth all their lifetime.

When it comes to travel, Mark Twain? You’re wrong and full of shit.