The usual suspects – intellectuals who would tell us all how to live our lives – are telling us that Brexit is the beginning of the end of the European ideal. That all coming together in social democracy and technocratic management from Brussels which is the Project. To which the correct answer is yes, we can hope so at least, that this is true.
For what is the objection to that European Project? That we don’t in fact want to become the one nation, a social democracy ruled by technocrats entirely insulated from what we the people might actually desire in our lives.
So, here’s their fear:
The idea of Europe is in peril.
From all sides there are criticisms, insults and desertions from the cause. “Enough of ‘building Europe’!” is the cry. Let’s reconnect instead with our “national soul”! Let’s rediscover our “lost identity”! This is the agenda shared by the populist forces washing over the continent. Never mind that abstractions such as “soul” and “identity” often exist only in the imagination of demagogues. Europe is being attacked by false prophets who are drunk on resentment, and delirious at their opportunity to seize the limelight. It has been abandoned by the two great allies who in the previous century twice saved it from suicide; one across the Channel and the other across the Atlantic. The continent is vulnerable to the increasingly brazen meddling by the occupant of the Kremlin. Europe as an idea is falling apart before our eyes.
Populism here is being defined as democracy we don’t like. The people desiring what we don’t think the people should desire. Nor, obviously enough, be allowed to have.
At which point the correct response to this whine is clear, isn’t it?
If this is what we the people want then this is what the people should get, good and hard. For this is what democracy means. And yes, I am one of those who prays for the collapse of the European Union, I’ve always said it was a bad idea to start with. As I tend to think the United Kingdom, the US Federal government, the unification of Italy, the repression of Brittany and so on are and were. About which I may well be wrong of course, yet at least consistent.