Monday, 6 November 2017

Commentary on Brexit and Thoughts on Patriotism

I don't seem to meet many ordinary people. Most people seem extraordinary.
As much as I am opposed to Brexit it seems curious to me the delight with which some people I follow on Facebook seem to take in news that the negotiations are apparently difficult and that it could be bad for Britain. They seem to relish the damage as they'd rather be right than see something good come out of it. It is a rather foolish state of mind to wish harm upon yourself and your fellows merely in order to be proven right. I detest much of the harm and lack of compassion I see in the Tory government, whilst accepting that those who vote conservative see the world in a very different way to me and that I am not wholly right and nor are they. I want the best for the UK and I want the best for Europe and I sincerely hope we can find our way forward together no matter who is in government in the UK. This is why party politics is so pernicious. It cons you into supporting a side instead of supporting people or supporting the truth. I'm a socialist who voted green, but if Brexit goes ahead I still want good to come out of it and not harm. The way it seems to me is that we're merely at the deadlock phase of negotiation and neither side wants to blink. Make no mistake a hard Brexit (reverting to WTO agreement for trade rules between the UK and Europe) will be bad for the UK and bad for Europe. The prize that Europe has its eye on is a share of the London financial market, the gem of the UK economy. The current rules require certain trades to take place in the EU, so if the EU is clever it can pull all of that market into Berlin or Brussells or elsewhere in the EU. At the same time the EU can't have a financial war with the UK as we are one of the most significant European economies and genuinely important trading (etc) partner. (As an aside the financial market is a malevolant gem at best. It evolved out of serving a genuine social good. For example "futures" were originally, and possibly still in part, a financial instrument that allowed workers to sell goods and harvests before they matured. This permits, for example, farmers to buy farm equipment and pay for harvesting a crop they haven't yet gathered. An unfortunate quirk of social rules and psychology allows the sociopathic and psychopathic mindset to extract value from financial markets without providing any benefit. This has allowed the deification of those mindsets, with painful results for society.) But if we allow fear of hard Brexit to force the UK to negotiate on the basis of "anything else would be better" that is a very weak negotiating position. As a hard Brexit is bad for the EU too, if we're not afraid of it then it is our card to play and not their. The same applies to guaranteeing EU residents permanent residence in the UK I'm afraid. It's an important card in our hand and it would be genuinely foolish to play it in advance for no return. The UK currently has exceptional (in the literal sense) terms for its EU membership. To reverse Brexit would, unless handled carefully, result in a very much weakened position for the UK and it would be hard to hold onto that position. An obvious path out of that would be, for example, negotiating a change in UK control of borders for staying within the EU. This would strengthen our position (as much as you might disagree with stronger border controls, as I do) instead of weakening it. So currently both sides are staring each other down to see who will blink first. The media rages and roars with fear and rumours as both sides seek to use public opinion to sway politicians. This is why it is particularly bad for the EU negotiation that we have a weakened and hated, in the popular opinion, prime minister. It is harder for her to negotiate from strength when the perception from the EU is that the UK population doesn't have the stomach for a fight. What will happen as we approach, or sweep past, the artificial deadlines for negotiations is that both sides will reluctantly knuckle down and negotiate an exit. But nobody wants to move first.

Patriotism

It's fine to love your nation and its history and culture and people and land. But it's only fine so long as you also grieve and mourn for the suffering and the pain and the wrong and the blood. And to acknowledge the blood debt and the responsibility that comes with stewarding this earth and the resources we have that by right belong to nobody and therefore belong to everybody. But we also have to organise and we also have to survive, individually and collectively. And we need to work that out, individually and collectively.

Part of working it out means to let your heart break. To try and let your heart break. And try and find healing for your hurts. When your heart breaks it means you let your mind reach out into the painful and really see it, even when it hurts. When you allow yourself to feel the pain of others, or the pain of a situation, without turning away then your natural response of compassion will help guide you into right behaviour in response. You can't fix everything but there are things we can all do. We can do what is in front of us, whenever we have the opportunity to help. We get the opportunity to imagine a better future into existence together through our actions.

There's a lot in history that is truly horrific. Awful, just awful. But don't let history, the past out of which we were formed, be buried and lost in seeing the awfulness. There is so much beauty and nobility in our history too. There always has been, and still is, a very impressive amount of love.

At school in history they taught World War 1 trench warfare and the holocaust. In English literature we learned the war poetry of poets like Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen. They certainly taught us the horror of war. I'm pretty sure I was traumatised by it, terrified, horrified!

I loved the recent film Dunkirk for how well it portrayed such an impressive element of the spirit of that age, the extraordinary heroism of ordinary people. Little of war is noble, but that aspect was truly noble.

"Other people mirror us in how they respond to us. This mirror is the only way we can really see ourselves, yet people are such faithless mirrors."

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