Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Tipping Points – Brexit – Where ignorance is bliss, it’s foolish to be wise

25 June 2016


A geopolitical shift in Europe is on its way following the outcome of the 23 June 2016 Brexit referendum. Other exit referendums are likely to follow (eg, Dexit, Frexit, Nexit). Nicola Sturgeon has already stated that a 2nd Scottish UK-exit referendum is “highly likely“, as the Scots voted largely in favour of Remain (NYT). On 16 June 2016, the NYT already wrote a telling article: “From Great Britain to Little England”.

On 13 June, the Dutch PM even said at an EU conference: “I’m totally against referendums and I’m totally, totally, totally against referendums on multilateral agreements because it makes no sense, as we’ve seen with the Dutch [Ukraine] referendum” (eg, Politico). It might be too late for that. The day after the Brexit, Geert Wilders insisted on a Netherlands exit, or Nexit (eg, Politico).

The remark of the Dutch PM also reminded me of my blog of 23 January 2015: “Common sense is not for the common man”. Clearly common sense did not prevail in the Brexit debate. It was all about emotion (Leave) and to some extent about arguments (Remain). John Oliver addressed that well in his HBO Last Week Tonight show (YouTube). The mere fact that Nigel Farage, Marine Le Pen, Donald Trump and Geert Wilders are in favour of EU exits, already proves beyond reasonable doubt that such exits are not about common sense (eg, Politico).

On 17 June 2016, even the Russian President interfered in the Brexit debate with a valid question: “There is a great problem with Brexit, why did he initiate this vote in the first place? Why did he do that? So he wanted to blackmail Europe or to scare someone, what was the goal if he was against?” (Telegraph). I suppose this question will indeed end up in history books.

Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, made an interesting observation: “But I always remember what my father used to tell me: What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger” (Politico). Without the notorious UK thwarting, the EU might indeed be better off. Brexit could be the alarm bell for Europe, rather than a wake-up call. The nationalist movements all around Europe make Europe a much more dangerous place – from any perspective.

The Dutch Ukraine and Great Britain’s Brexit referendum show that referenda are not appropriate for vital decisions on complicated multilateral agreements by people who are not really interested in the details, and whose emotions are easily provoked by skilled scaremongers. Clearly, direct democracy is a threat “where ignorance is bliss, and it’s foolish to be wise”. A modern version of an ancient (1742) quote from Thomas Gray‘s poem “Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College”.

A European political union is impossible right now, and probably that is even for the best. However, a federation of European states is not impossible and would even “legitimise” several current European structures (eg, border police, CommissionCouncil, Parliament) and would also benefit the German idea of a European army.

Like every cloud has a silver lining, Brexit may be the final push to a flexible EU (eg, Reuters) or a 2-speed / 2-tier EU. Possibly further integration by the original 6 members of the ECSC (BeNeLux, France, Germany and Italy), and an associate membership for others (FT). This idea may even save some UK politicians from total disgrace. The British delay in invoking article 50 of the EU Treaty, despite declaring 23 June 2016 as Independence Day, already speaks volumes

The Beatles – Yesterday (1965) – artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Yesterday all my troubles seemed so far away.

Now it looks as though they’re here to stay.

Oh, I believe in yesterday.

Suddenly I’m not half the man I used to be.

There’s a shadow hanging over me.

Oh, yesterday came suddenly.

Why she had to go, I don’t know, she wouldn’t say.

I said something wrong, now I long for yesterday.

Yesterday love was such an easy game to play.

Now I need a place to hide away.

Oh, I believe in yesterday.

Why she had to go, I don’t know, she wouldn’t say.

I said something wrong, now I long for yesterday.

Yesterday love was such an easy game to play.

Now I need a place to hide away.

Oh, I believe in yesterday.


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