Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Brexit: Why I am voting remain, Part Two

I was intending to write a second post that looked at the arguments that the Brexiteers have been making (there have been some reasoned ones, on the left and right, but also read counter arguments here and here).

 After reading a piece by Polly Toynbee in the Guardian I realise that the situation has gone beyond that. In fact, I think that Britain will probably vote out next week. And I think that this is folly.

Leaving the EU will not solve the problems that so many people seem furious about. In fact, there seem to me good reasons to think that it will make things worse.

My own political agenda is roughly as follows:  I want the sustained increase of true, representative, participatory democracy in culture, an economics that is post-growth, more scientifically sound and democratically accessible, the reduction of social inequality, and the creation of a culture that fosters creativity, imagination and wellbeing. I support extensive rewilding and ecological restoration for the benefit of human beings and other forms of life. Finally, I support a rapid transit from an unsustainable fossil fuel based civilization to a sustainable one based upon renewables and extensive automation.

Despite the EU's shortcomings, I agree with George Monbiot that membership is the lesser of two evils, and offers more opportunity to pursue these goals.  Caroline Lucas and John Ashton (The Guardian, Monday 13th June 2016) also seem correct when they claim that climate change can be most successfully tackled from within the EU. Our current collective attitude to global warming is roughly as follows:

I understand that many do not see climate change as a priority, but unfortunately, they are mistaken. Lucas and Ashton point out that "our security and prosperity depend on a successful response to climate change, the most urgent challenge of our time." The issue is the survival of our culture, our society and our technological civilization.

As far as national sovereignty is concerned, they point out that "our democracy is indeed broken. But it is we who have broken it, not the EU."

So the issue is how to push for significant democratic and social reform, and offer a robust program to tackle the CO2 crisis. As Naomi Klein points out in This Changes Everything, both issues are linked. A wholehearted response to climate change offers the best chance for social justice.

Political context matters a great deal here. If we were having the Brexit vote when a truly progressive government was in power, as a package that went along with electoral reform in the direction of proportional representation, strong environmental protection, a commitment to greater social equality and the rapid transition from a fossil-fuel economy to a renewable one, then I’d be far more likely to take the Brexit case seriously.

But since the vote is being offered by a government that is dedicated to eroding worker’s rights, abolishing environmental protections, increasing social inequality in favour of the one percent, persecuting the poor, and actually accelerating the CO2 crisis via destructive practices like fracking, I think that there are good reasons to suppose that these trends would worsen after Brexit. And in fact, a very reactionary Tory government seems inevitable in the case of a strong exit vote.

Unfortunately for all of us, there is no time for this. The serious problems of the 21st century say to me that we live together or die alone. Because there does not seem to me too much time left for humanity to get its act together, and build a truly sustainable and mature civilization.

Yesterday, the clouds gathered and there was torrential rain. Our village was flooded, just another example of the rash of extreme weather events that now seem commonplace. It felt like a warning.

We need to stop being ruled fear and anger, vote sensibly, and come together to create a better tomorrow.

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