Sunday, June 19, 2016

To leave or to remain?

It is undoubtedly true that the Leave camp in the EU referendum to be held in the UK next Thursday have the better emotional momentum. The world is becoming ever more uncertain, complex and, frankly, scary. What better than to retreat into the security of the familiar, the nation state, and regain 'sovereignty' and 'control.'


The problem with this scenario is that all the challenges that press so insistently (and often unconsciously) on our nerve endings - whether stalled living standards or migration, financial instability or climate change - require collaborative solutions, working intelligently with one's neighbors, beginning with those closest to you, whose values you most deeply share.


And that inescapably - both historically and geographically - means Europe.


Europe is undoubtedly going through a rough patch at the moment - the Euro is an economic experiment gone awry and this coupled with the breakdown of the financial system (only patched up and on life support even now) - has disrupted the economy and soured the political space, compounded by imploding states at our boundaries - and frankly the political elite has failed to respond with either honesty or intelligence to these crises. This might begin with the admission that, at present, we are genuinely clueless about what to do next and that we need to embark on a much broader and deeper dialogue as to what we need to do and what kind of society can we fashion that is flexible and intelligent enough to respond to our multiple challenges. This, of course, assumes that 'we the people' can bear our leadership confessing to uncertainty (given that so often we prefer trumpery).


This said the Europe that has been built is a quite extraordinary achievement - a common home, the most prosperous economic block in the world that has been able to assimilate and aid many of the countries of the collapsed Communist (counter) experiment and share values across that space, enshrined in law, and continuing to take hold in practice. Would that Moldova, from where I write this, enjoyed such a space.


To walk away now, seeking after an illusion, is, however, comforting (briefly) in its emotional content, simply a mistake. The future lies through the transnational and collaborative. Yes, it needs to be married to greater devolution of power and far smarter and responsive channels through which that power flows.


But imagining that a nation state can 'go it alone' (or that somewhere over the rainbow there are a better set of friends - China anyone?) is simply a folly too far and a fleeing of the hard realities of a shared home, in need of transformation, but yet a home.

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