Out and About

Because all that matters is playing the markets, right? (Photo: Hamish Reid).

It feels like the Revenge Of The Stupids, but it’s much more complex than that. As with Trump, it’s the backlash against the elites, and / or maybe an incoherent protest against neoliberalism (I just don’t know). And in some cases, just sheer bloody-mindedness.

And it’s not the prospect of economic turmoil that gets me (that always seemed overblown, and was never going to be an effective argument against the sort of Little Englander who cherished the idea of (supposed) freedom over stability), it’s the triumph of the atomizing tribal instinct, of the Little England I always disliked when I lived in London, the Little England of nostalgic know-nothings (the sort of person who insists on believing it was The British who basically won WWII). I’ve always felt European (in a broad sense), never English, but now I lose that right to be a European citizen, a right I used a lot when I lived in London. And my being that quaint thing, British (rather than English), now seems a dead letter (well, that bit’s been dead for years now, really).

I’d support a Scottish exit from the UK now, in ways I wouldn’t have even a week ago. What strikes me most, of course, is how skewed the vote to leave was to older, suburban, rural, and English voters; Scots, Londoners, and people younger than about 40 seem to have voted overwhelmingly to stay in (as would I have, of course, if expats like me were allowed to vote, with the usual reservations about the way Europe currently works). Sometimes I think no one over the age of forty should have been allowed to vote on something like this with so many longer-term effects.

So many media outlets splashed about how shocked everyone is about the vote, but how could anyone be shocked? It’s predictable, it’s the New Stupid, the relentless rise of the new simplicities, the overpowering momentum of bad ideas. I guess it’s the same people who seem to be surprised by Trump’s inexorable rise.

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