The day has finally arived. The British government has formally triggered article 50. Britain is now in negotiations with the EU about the terms of its new relations with the EU now that it is going to leave the EU.
Listening to the debate in Britain by Euro sceptics I wonder did they really understand what the European project is really about? They keep mentioning that they thought the EU or EEC as it was then was a free trade zone. The EU is a peace project to unite Europe. It seeks to prevent another war in Europe. World War I and World War II started out as European wars.
People can’t live in the past. But some people seek an imagery past as a protection against the crisis of the present. After World War I Italian reactionaries organised around the fascists sought to recreate the Roman Empire against the political crisis they faced. British reactionary opinion sees the Victorian British Empire with its free trade as a solution to their present problems. But free trade was accepted in the 19th century because the British knew that they would win. But free trade seems to be more than a practical economic policy to British reactionaries. They imagine that free trade would make Britain great again. It is like the Italian reactionaries hoping that a new Roman Empire would make Italy great again.
But history can’t be recreated. We can learn from history. We can know how our present situation emerged from a study of the past. But we can’t live in the past.
The world has moved on from the 19th century. A victory for Brexit could see the break up of the UK. The majority would suffer while certain sectors of the economic elite with their political allies will gain in power.
John O Brien.