How Obama Brought About Brexit
I want to jot down a quick few thoughts on Brexit.
- My twitter feed is scratching its collective hashtag trying to figure out how Brexit happened. Everyone lives in a social media cocoon today, without alternative viewpoints breaking through for them to contemplate. The reverse is also true: Social Media amplification is powerful and if you can move people to the ballot box, you can make a big dent. Obama taught this lesson to the world when he ran the first effective social media political campaign of the disaffected.
- The world is quickly breaking down into Progressives and Culturalists. The progressives see the world as flat, equal, all the same, connected, global, multi-cultural and peaceful. The Culturalists want to preserve the culture they grew up with and associate with. They think that there are differences between people; there are still threats in the world, tradition matters and religion (for the most part) as well. What we should worry about is the stark differences between these two camps. As nuance has disappeared, so has the understanding between people whose base identity is either global or cultural. It is rare to find people who can accommodate both identities. As progressives gained the upper hand on the cultural agenda and Obama rammed it down people’s throats, the Culturalists have revolted.
- People are hurting economically and empathy for them has disappeared. The Progressive agenda has all day for Gay Marriage and no empathy for those who are being left behind economically by the technology revolution and socially by multi-culturalism. When the ruling powers lose empathy, the masses move to extremism. This is Donald Trump and Brexit. It is not an accident that the age of Obama gave birth both to Donald Trump, Brexit and ugly political discourse.
- The innovation economy will continue progressing and will eat more of the industrial economy. Brexit will not stop that. If anything, the disintegration of the EU will speed it, as old businesses struggle to adapt. This will accelerate numerous economic and cultural phenomena including: the decline of fiat currency, the move to cities, the ascendancy of global cities over states, distrust of politicians, xenophobia and, I would guess Anti-semitism. If that sounds familiar, it means you have learned the history of the first half of the 20th century. If it does not, start reading.
- Take note that during the 8 years of Obama’s presidency, Russia and China have risen and become more militarily aggressive; Turkey has radicalized, Syria has collapsed, The Arab Spring turned into a nuclear winter and Radical Islam is ascendant. This is not an accident. It is due to a bad reading of the global map and a loss of empathy. After Bush’s follies in Iraq, the world needed real leadership, not shattering some cultural taboos. Instead we got Terrorists in Paris and Nukes in Iran. At least we have Airbnb in Cuba.
- What we need is leadership with empathy. We need leadership that seeks out a common language for this period of transition. Progressives need to find true liberalism and resist the urge for more legislation. They need to make room in their progressive hearts for those who are more religious, more comfortable in their home culture and on what is fast becoming the economic fringes. You do not win people over in the halls of power, you win them over when you connect personally and empathetically and provide economic opportunity. When you don’t they roll you over in the ballot box. At the same time, the culturalists think they are fighting the cause of the Union Jack or “Make America Great Again.” In fact, what they are doing is speeding the end of these states and unions. As innovation accelerates in cities, it will be harder to hold countries and unions together. That would be a bad bargain for the culturalists. Those leaders need to find the balance as well. You can whip up a frenzy at a rally or a referendum but ultimately you need to govern. I have not yet heard a plan from the Culturalists for how you build an economy and inclusive government in their world.
Buckle up. It is going to be a bumpy ride for a while as we search for leadership, any leadership, that can figure this out.