25 June 2016

Cameron's Miscalculation

There's a lesson here for everyone because few saw the Brexit coming. The vote was going to be close, but most people thought it would be a repeat of the Scottish Independence Referendum... a close, but not quite.

The Anti-Establishment is on the rise. In the United States we have the Tea Party and Trump. Britain has UKIP. The Five-Star movement in Italy has just scored major victories. And, Right-wing parties while not quite seizing power (in most cases) are starting to really shake things up.

Cameron threatened to leave the EU a couple of years ago. His threat was a tactic to recalibrate the UK's relationship with the EU. It has completely backfired. He opened Pandora's Box. Cameron has gone down in flames, and what a fall! His name will be a byword for a generation or two.

You could see the pain on his face (and especially his wife's). Total and utter defeat. He'll always be embarrassed but now he gets to cash in. He'll sit on boards, do lectures and think-tank work. He'll make a lot of money. Don't worry about David Cameron.

He totally miscalculated both the Left- and Right-wing opposition to the EU. The working class is rising and being channeled into different movements. Sadly, there's a lot of 'almost-fascism' in the air.

Angela Merkel has in some ways gained power from the Brexit, but now she's the captain of a suddenly unstable ship. Will this catch on? Will this be the end of the EU?

No one knows. No one saw this coming.

There's a real danger though. Europe could easily sink into Balkanisation. The EU project was the glue throughout the Cold War, and now the post-Cold War period that was holding Europe together. It was the vision of unity and the erasure of borders. It was the hope for Europe, a break with history.

Already there's a real possibility of the United Kingdom breaking up as a result of this. Northern Ireland could return to the Troubles. Let's hope not but that fragile arrangement has just been put into jeopardy.

If Northern Ireland becomes independent and the Basques, Catalonians and others start to agitate in earnest you could see not only a breakup of the EU, but many longstanding states begin to crumble. The nation-state is a fragile thing. Many don't realise this and our modern map, the one we grew up with during the Cold War and just after, is not set in stone.

Yugoslavia was a prime and particularly painful example of 'history on hold'. The state kept the various forces at bay but then the facade cracked and the guns came out.

While most other areas of Europe are not that volatile, it wouldn't take much. Nationalism combined with economic distress can generate a lot of anger and fanaticism. Scapegoats are needed and like it or not history always rears its head.

There are a lot of disgruntled historical claims. Hungary has many. Some borders were drawn pretty arbitrarily and it wouldn't take much to plunge Europe back into war. And that's the ultimate danger.

The US wanted stability and yet if a weak EU means more reliance on the United States and the NATO alliance it dominates... not everyone will be saddened by these developments.

The problem is the empire is getting terribly expensive and the US has been pushing for some time for European nations to bolster their military spending. The US is working hard to manipulate Europe into taking a stronger military stance against Russia. Some of the nations in Eastern Europe are eager. They're currently in a Right-wing frenzy. But other wiser voices are urging caution. A weak and unstable EU will be something of a distraction and a cauldron of endless troubles and the US is increasingly stretched. There's a lot of money flowing into the various imperial projects in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Both Cameron and Boris Johnson rolled the dice and Cameron lost badly. This has to make many in the Establishment tremble. It's not often that such gross miscalculations are made. The mood on the street is unpredictable, indicative of the times. We're still feeling the impact of the 2008 financial crisis. Despite the media propaganda the issues have never really been resolved.

I worry about Christians in Europe. As societies become more polarised there will be the temptation to get caught up in the political moods of the day. This leads to distraction and division. Wisdom is required to help the Church understand that there will be wars and rumours of wars, nations will rise and fall. The EU is just another Babel as is the United Kingdom. They will also fall. Do not put your confidence in princes. Do not invest in the system. We have other meat and drink, other work to do.

Generally speaking the Evangelical and Brethren-type congregations of Europe have been able to avoid the temptations of political power. I hope that continues. Britain is a bit different and of course the Church in the United States inhabits a different universe.

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