Nationalists might be the worst enemies that the nation state has. Brexit demonstrates that nationalist projects to save “national sovereignty;” are among the biggest threats to the survival of independent nations in today’s world.
The idea behind Brexit; the UK’s exit from the European Union or EU, is to enhance sovereignty and strengthen the British nation-state. The recent Brexit vote has produced the opposite effect; by weakening Britain and possibly launching the disintegration of the United Kingdom.
Will Brexit Dismember the United Kingdom?
The day after 51.9% of Britons voted for Brexit; Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that her government would seek another independence referendum. That means instead of a stronger Britain, Brexit might lead to an island divided into two separate countries.
“As things stand, Scotland faces the prospect of being taken out of the EU against our will,” Sturgeon told the press on June 24, 2016. “I regard that as democratically unacceptable.”
Sturgeon was upset because the Brexit vote came two years after Scotts voted to stay in the UK; in a national referendum. The vote emphasizes deep differences between Scotland and England.
Around 62% of Scotts voted against Brexit, but 53.2% of English voters and 51.7% of Welsh voters were for it, The Telegraph reported. To make matters worse 55.7% of Northern Irish voters opposed Brexit.
Instead of a new stronger, independent United Kingdom, Brexit has divided and weakened the nation. The vote also exposed nasty class and regional differences within England itself, for example 58% of people in the heavily working class Northeast voted for leave, but 59.9% of Londoners voted to stay.
Middle and Upper Class London was; the only region of England, that voted to stay in the European Union. Heavily working class areas to the north voted to leave with voters in the West Midlands favoring Leave by 59.3%.
Could London Leave the UK?
Nor was it just Scotland, a man named James O’Malley posted a petition to “Declare London independent from the UK and apply to join the EU” on Change.org. The petition had received 154,830 supporters as of June 25, two days after the Brexit vote.
“This petition is calling on Mayor Sadiq Khan to declare London independent, and apply to join the EU – including membership of the Schengen Zone,” O’Malley wrote.
In other words Brexit could be the catalyst that leads to the breakup of the United Kingdom. The nationalists have set a process that could destroy the nation in motion.
How Brexit Breeds Violence
Nor have the results of Brexit have been accepted. On June 25, The Telegraph noted that more than two million people had signed a petition for a second vote on Brexit in just 24 hours. That presages a second Brexit campaign that could be nastier and even more divisive.
That bodes ill because the last Brexit debate led to the murder of one opponent of the measure; Member of Parliament Jo Cox. Cox was savagely stabbed and shot to death by a political extremist named Thomas Mair. Mair also stabbed and seriously injured a 77-man who came to Cox’s aid, CNN reported. Cox was campaigning against Brexit at the time of her murder.
Mair reportedly yelled “put Britain first” during the attack. That slogan is associated with some of the right wing groups that support Brexit.
A second Brexit vote would be more divisive and possibly trigger greater violence. Cox might be just the first of many casualties of Brexit.
How Nationalists Threaten the Economy
Nor is it just national hegemony that Brexit threatens, it is the economy and Britain’s standing in the world. The nationalist program reduces the value of the nation’s assets and its buying power.
The day after the vote, Britain’s currency, the Pound Sterling lost 9% of its value falling to its lowest price since 1985 ($1.32 USD), the BBC reported. That means everybody in Briton from pensioners; to billionaires like Sir Richard Branson, lost 9% of the value of their assets. All UK residents are poorer because of Brexit.
The Bank of England was monitoring developments and preparing to take all necessary steps to support monetary stability. That means the Bank’s leaders fear that Brexit might lead to a collapse of the pound.
Britain’s stock market Index the FTSE 100 lost 3.15% of its value falling by 199.41 points the day after Brexit. Another British Index called the FTSE 250 lost 8% of its value in afternoon trading on June 24. Since the FTSE 250 is composed of stocks in British-based companies, this means the value of those companies fell by 8%.
Some individual companies fared worse two banks Barclays (NYSE: BCS) and Royal Bank of Scotland Group or RBS (NYSE: RBS) lost 30% of their value. RBS was trading at $5.43 a share at the close of business on June 24. A third major bank; Lloyds Banking Group (NYSE: LYG) lost 21% of its value. Even homebuilders were affected, a company called Bovis Homes lost 20% of its value, the BBC reported.
It is hard to see how reducing the value of companies or the currency strengthens the nation. Instead common sense tells us that policies that damage the economy weaken the nation. One wonders if Britain could survive at all if the pound were to collapse completely because of this debacle.
If that happened, Her Majesty’s Government might; have no choice, but adopt the Euro to avoid complete economic collapse. In other words Brexit might achieve exactly the opposite of what its supporters want, and make Britain a full-fledged EU member.
Nationalism Suppresses Economic Activity
The recent numbers from Britain expose what might be the greatest danger from nationalism; it suppresses economic activity. This suppression can be deliberate through measures like tariffs, or indirectly by scaring away investors.
Decreasing economic activity will mean less wealth for everybody; and less money for government to tax. The government will have fewer funds with which to maintain the traditional trappings of national power such as the armed forces.
An even more destructive effect is reductions in social services and government benefits. That reduces the ties that bind people to the state, and strangely enough harms those most likely to support such nationalist measures the poor, uneducated, the elderly and the working class. At some point such benefits have to be slashed because the state is broke.
Another side effect is that the people the nation needs most; the educated, the ambitious, the entrepreneurs and the young; will immigrate leaving only the poor and the old. A major side effect of Brexit will be a massive surge in emigration out of the United Kingdom, particularly the young and the educated.
The United States, Australia and Canada will benefit because we’ll get a wave of hard-working, well-educated and ambitious young British immigrants to boost our economies. The politicians in Westminster will be trying to explain to the elderly pensioners; who voted for Brexit, why National Health’s budget is being reduced again.
Financial and Political Chaos
Instead of strengthening the United Kingdom, Brexit appears to be unleashing political, financial and economic chaos. In their push to preserve “independence,” nationalists like United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage; might be laying the ground work for the country’s destruction.
Patriots that admire radical nationalists – such as Donald Trump and Farage – would be well advised to take a close look at Brexit and its effects. The nationalist program is threatening to destroy the nation, in the name of patriotism.
Perhaps the real patriots are men like David Cameron who work to strengthen the country through trade and economic growth. Sadly, their efforts can now be undone by a few fools with a little political power and some cheap publicity. One has to wonder if democracy itself will be one of the main victims of this destructive and nihilistic new strain of nationalism that is loose in the world.
Will the nation state be able to survive the machinations of 21st Century nationalists? If the effects of Brexit are anything to go on; national unity and the economy might not be able to survive the new nationalism.