The looming prospect of Brexit seemingly leaves no one asking for a second portion. The last 21 months have certainly left a bitter taste in the mouth of all participants of the referendum. A half-washed, half-empty withdrawal is understood by many hard Brexiteers to be akin to a retreat, whilst those triggered by article 18 are equally convinced that a full withdrawal would provoke anomie. Both sides seem equally divided by the notion, and a conclusion to this philosophical civil war seems to be far away.
As a European non-voter, the whole issue has left me kinda cold, to be honest. It is my understanding that if there is any nation in Europe that could make a case for leaving it would be the UK, given her location and history. However, some of the rhetoric used has worried me slightly. For instance, the insistence that the EU does not do anything for the individual Briton. Please forgive the impending vulgarity, but the fact that a born German like me isn’t bludgeoning some poor ‘lad from the Dales’ in a trench with a blood-soaked repurposed artillery shell, is the direct consequence of the process that gave birth to the EU. So perhaps instead of wasting time, carving wooden figures resembling every guy that died on team Britain, we ought to gain an understanding of what led to the wars in the first place as opposed to just ‘we’ won. Just a thought.
In many senses, the entire Brexit affair is emblematic of a far wider problem that has gripped the western world. The birth of this century witnessed a dramatic change in the balance of power. Political processes were dispensed with in favour of swifter and smoother business transactions. Rights have given way to lofty promises of immortality and virtual realities. A new group of influential magnates assumed the role of parent for this baby. This condition left many dead in their tracks. However, unable to see their grievances addressed by their political peers and in the face of ever-changing narratives and perspectives, many started to feel hopeless and alienated. But now Britain has fallen out with the love-child of Adenauer, De Gaulle and indeed Churchill.
None have embraced the drama more than the established media outlets of the country. Granted, I never noticed how fun it can be to engulf yourself in the flood of dead numbers and numb statistics and try to work a puzzle that has captivated an entire nation — well, four actually — until Brexit came. In many ways, it feels more and more like everyone is in some way participating in what may arguably be the greatest and grandest TV drama the world has ever seen. Whilst last season’s finale has left many wanting for more, everyone is ecstatic with delight now that Season 2 will commence in March of this year. Now that the first withdrawal agreement has been proposed, the public reaction was somewhat predictable. Outrage, of course.
It might seem ironic given that I have just subjected you to my whiny liturgy but if anything, it shows how much scorn and schadenfreude have informed the opinions I have projected in the short time I’ve been able to articulate them. Any active participants in social media will have noticed, and no doubt contributed, to the ongoing inferno of hatred that has characterised much of the cross-cultural dialogue online. Again, I want to reiterate that this is the core issue; whenever I read the online commentary, the overwhelming majority is both sedentary and immature.
As Willy Brand so generously outlined to a defeated Germany, we may not all be guilty, but we are all responsible. From media moguls to independent bloggers, we are all responsible for what has happened. Just as we are now responsible for changing it, which goes far beyond Brexit. It is about the very nature in which we interact with an interconnected world. We must escape this pre-pubescent phase of interaction which seeks to categorise every statement and assign guilt, bias or partisanship. We must all learn to differentiate and separate fact from fiction. Otherwise, we are opening our doors even wider to those who can create a compelling narrative based on fear, ignorance and aggression, regardless of what political ideology it stems from.