Our recent vote to leave the European Union has caused a hotbed of debate and political tension. But regardless of your stance on the matter, Brexit indubitably proves that our notion of a British democracy is nothing more than a farce.
We now live in a world governed by markets, economics, and that abstract concept we call “money”. Who amongst us voted on the basis of philosophy, of moral sensibility, or of lofty ideals? Indeed, who amongst us could? Those who voted for Brexit on the principle of sovereignty, on what a country ought to be, are now paying the price set by the bankers and international conglomerates. It is they who hold our nation to ransom, threatening departure, a crash in the economy, and losses of jobs and livelihoods. Our democratic state, which should be equal for every member, is instead swayed and controlled by a few hundred people in the City, who utter against the population of Britain powerful threats of complete collapse if we fail to vote in their favour. Who can resist them? We needs must vote with our wallets, because the City ensures that our wallets are our fetters. There was a time when such great men as Plato, John Stuart Mill, Gandhi, and Napoleon begged us to act in the political sphere according to our principles, doing what is right rather than what is simply economically pragmatic or safe in the short term. Of course, whilst some of you will be quick to point out that a majority of people did actually vote for the sovereignty argument for Brexit, still none was able to escape the bombardment of economic reasoning from both sides.
What is perhaps even more staggering is the reaction of the EU itself to our referendum. For let us get one thing straight: this referendum was a British referendum, a decision by our nation in relation to a foreign body. Yet we, in addition to the coercion of the banks and businesses, must also fear a backlash from the EU itself, along with other nations. The idea of punishing our nation for exercising its democracy is evident, with Britain being warned of its imminent collapse, lack of or restricted trade, having to continue to pay into the system we left, and being excluded from future European discussions. How can anyone, when they hear such reactions, not reconsider their political and philosophical stance? Such are the threats that many people have now gone back on their decision to vote for leaving the EU, and even our politicians seem uncertain of what they should do and whether what Britain voted for will actually be carried out. When a sovereign nation is coerced and held hostage by foreign powers, market forces, and international companies, our once prized democracy is instead handed over to the oligarchs who keep our lives in their hands, and we must abandon any principles we ever held on national identity. And frankly, although personal opinion on Brexit does not affect its being a symptom of our failing democracy, why should a nation wish to remain associated with a body that has treated our country so contemptuously ever since we voted to leave? Surely the EU’s true colours are now revealed.
Indeed, so broken is our political system that even at the very top it is rotten, and with it are we disillusioned. All sections of the debate, whether Remain or Leave, resorted to the use of deceit and confusion during the referendum campaign. Neither side focussed primarily on whether it was philosophically or morally right to leave or remain in the EU, but instead adopted the strategy of economic blitzkrieg, each side rubbishing the other, and persuading us not to trust the opposing side or the experts in their camp. When we cannot trust our political class or representatives, we have truly lost the ability to engage fully in our collective democracy. Economics is our government, and our ministers merely servants to banks and corporations, rather than to Her Majesty.
It is the failing of globalisation and capitalism that our government and democracy is so affected by economics. Brexit has already caused our economy to (f)alter – whether for good or bad is a debate for elsewhere – but the fact that this has now thrown into doubt whether or not Brexit can be carried out is a clear infringement of the financial sector into our political system. Therefore, I urge you, reader, the next time you are called upon to engage in politics, think not with the notes in your pocket but rather with the principles you hold in your mind. And for those worried about economic risk, job losses, and the reaction of the markets, remember that Britain’s finest hours have been action in spite of such risks. Let us listen again to the philosophers of Ancient Greece by moving away from a government which works primarily on monetary demands, and return politics to its moralistic and principled role as the nation’s collective consciousness.