The numbers were telling the story for a long time. Stock markets were climbing, the rich were getting richer, wages were stagnant and the middle classes were scrambling. Globalization was not benefiting the common man anywhere. But nobody was listening, neither the global companies nor the global elites.
It’s an age-old story of a few who control everything and millions who barely get by in a crippling economy. EU institutions had become part of a rarefied world ruled by multinationals, financial capital, and a tangled array of jurisdictions with an authoritarian bureaucracy catering to the neocons, a Machiavellian enterprise to corner wealth and power without any accountability. The people knew something was wrong when industrialists (who create real wealth) and workers lost their shirts, while the economy worked “for the bankers, by the bankers and of the bankers.”
Finally, the simmering anger of the have-nots turned into a powerful protest against the political plunder and the titanic bureaucracy of Brussels (the de facto capital of the European Union). Exhausted by sending huge amounts of money to Brussels each year, the people revolted. On June 23, 2016, the British people voted in favor of Brexit, a referendum for Britain to leave the European Union (EU).
“If you got the money you vote in, if not you vote out,” quipped a voter from Manchester. That just about sums up the long drawn genesis of the stunning referendum for Brexit.
The economic trauma of globalization had shown its appearance in empty towns and shuttered stores since 2008 when “Big Businesses” were bailed out leaving the people without jobs. Media pundits and the globalized elites may blame the common man for ignorance, boorishness and xenophobia. However, the tyranny of the elites where 20 billionaires control over 50% of the nation’s wealth cannot be attributed to racism or to immigration. Although, immigration could be the last straw on the camel’s back, the fact remains that the cosmic myopia of the elites, and an unwillingness to see their own flaws caused the people to turn on them.
The banking and housing crisis of 2008 which former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan admits is a “once in a century credit tsunami” attests to the excessive greed that fueled the runaway capitalists. However, they paid no price for their recklessness. Instead, they were protected and bailed out. The superclass of gutless corporates thrived and the people bore the burden in lost wages, lost jobs, and vanishing pensions. The bone-deep disaffection of the victimized masses turned against the humongous behemoth of the EU which controlled their lives but was accountable to no one. The revolt began and Brexit was born.
The seismic revolt is nothing less than a geopolitical quake where the old order which began with the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989 will be turned upside down. The U.S at that time seemed indomitable and strode the world like a mighty colossus unopposed and unhindered. It opened the much-touted “golden gate of global finance”, the political union of the EU and its military arm NATO. Two decades later the results are there for all to see – staggering unemployment, punitive austerity and grotesque inequality. The runaway mob of neocon established elites were forced to an abrupt halt by the fuming wrath of the common man. It is an amazing revolution of the people and heralds the beginning of a new era of a multipolar world and de-globalization.
Needless to say, BREXIT will rock the foundations of the Anglo-American empire with their one-track agenda of world dominance and containment of Russia. Without Britain in the EU, the sanctions regime will unravel as Italy, Greece and even France drag their feet. Of all the nations, London was the most vehement proponent of Washington’s policies especially with regards to Russia. Not surprising as the multi century war against Russia was renewed by the British Empire, and continued through the cold war.
Events such as expulsion of Russian diplomats, public inquiry into the murder of Alexander Litvinenko, blaming Putin for the “foul” murder, engineering “color revolutions” within Russia by supporting its critics, prove that London is still adamant in its virulent hatred of Russia. The EU losing London, is a lethal blow to American hegemony and hopefully an end to NATO’s war mongering and meddling in Russia’s backyard. With public opinion in the EU ambivalent regarding Russia, and UK out of the way, Washington will be hard pressed to summon NATO to enforce its unofficial stance as spelled by British Lord Ismay - “keep the Americans in, the Germans down and the Russians out.”
Eventually Germany after Merkel, could veer towards Russia as the marriage of German technology and Russian resources is a win –win proposition for both countries. And the geopolitical axis that the Anglo Saxon world tried their best to stop for over a century will swing the pendulum to its inherent geo-political equilibrium – an alliance that benefits the masses of Europe, and Eurasia.
Brexit could trigger an unraveling of the EU as member countries refuse to carry the economic burdens of bailing out Greece and the Baltic nations. The Swedes were not allowed a referendum, but if it happens, they would choose “Swexit,” just like their irate British counterparts. It is probable that the Danes, the Dutch and the French are also trying to head up the exit ramp. Along with the migrant crisis, it is only a matter of time that nationalism takes root leading to exit from the unwieldy and bloated bureaucratic apparatus of the EU. As an Estonian national put it, “only politicians after cushy jobs benefit from the EU.”
Thierry Meyssan, Director of Voltaire Network, goes a step further. According to him, “While the veil is being ripped apart before our eyes, our elites do not understand the situation any better than the Communist Party of Soviet Russia could see the consequences of the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 – the dissolution of the USSR in December 1991, then the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon) and the Warsaw Pact six months later, followed by the attempts to dismantle Russia itself, in which it almost lost Chechnya. In identical fashion, we will soon be witnessing the dissolution of the European Union, then NATO, and unless they pay close attention, the dismantling of the United States.”
For better or worse, everything is connected. Great Britain’s astonishing ascent to global power with their trademark divide-and-rule policy, will find the chickens coming home to roost, very painful. Already, the unraveling has started. The voting pattern shows a split. The Scots and Wales want to be in the EU and therefore separate from the fissiparous UK. The Irish want reunification between the North and South and intend to eventually join the “separate from UK” bandwagon.
It is highly likely that the financial center of the world may shift from London to Frankfurt. The EU will have every incentive to lure businesses and talent away from the UK. It would result in an unenviable situation where little England will be competing against an overwhelmingly bigger market and resources of the EU. Hopefully, this will ensure that England behaves like a normal country and cease punching above its weight.
However, the International reaction is mixed.
The Chinese are not too happy with Brexit. When Xi Jinping visited last fall he inked a deal whereby London became the first international hub to issue renminbi-denominated debt. With London’s status in limbo, the internationalization of renminbi will be as uncertain. London also advocated China-EU free trade. To China’s dismay, none of the other major EU states are keen on pursuing such a deal.
Politically the Chinese could benefit in the South China Sea with the world being distracted or looking the other way. UK may not be interested in power projection, and NATO without the UK has dented the military heft, as France is the only capable military power. The implications for India vis-à-vis China are ominous. She should overcome the scars of 1962 and keep her powder dry.
In America, the elites are apprehensive. A looming recession in Europe could have repercussions across the Atlantic, adding to the well of resentment. Already the stagnant economy is creating an antagonism to privilege and anti-establishment rhetoric is gaining ground in the heartland. Rebel Donald Trump is its much celebrated icon. With a no nonsense, politically incorrect approach, he nevertheless, acts as a lightning rod for the people’s furor. On the other hand, the darling of the Wall Street tycoons, rootless yuppies, powerful intellectuals and media barons, Hillary Clinton, is being propped up to counter 74 year old Trump who in his own way carries the voice of the people. Enthusiastic crowds hail his ascent in the heartlands of America and do not like the slant in Clinton’s eyes.
The British journalist Tom Ewing, opined in a sweeping statement, that “the same dynamic driving the UK vote prevails in Europe and North America as well.” Michael Sanden, a political philosopher in an interview to the New Statesman concurred when he said that “the dynamics driving the pro-Brexit sentiment was now dominant throughout the West generally.” Brexit could possibly provide fresh oxygen to Trump’s campaign.
The Russians are gloating – silently. The official stance is that it gains little from Brexit and seems worried about effects on its economy. Putin issued a politically correct statement: “Brexit was the decision of the people, little to add on that, we will follow the course of events.” But there is little doubt among world analysts that weakened sanctions and rise of pro-Russian Nationalist parties in Europe is a political boon for Putin’s Russia. Fortune magazine goes a step further. In its June, 28 edition, the title said it all, “Brexit could open the door to Russia joining the EU.”
Some companies in India welcome Brexit. An EU-India FTA (UK Free Trade Agreement) negotiations is almost a decade old. But FTA with one country versus 25 countries of the EU would be less complicated. Tariffs would come down between UK and India. Also data security policies of the EU are “extremely difficult and impractical to implement,” according to Mr. Chandrashekhar, representing the Indian IT Industry. The UK on the other hand is not in sync with the EU and could circumvent the contentious problem.
Moreover, the ongoing uncertainty in world markets in a recession-racked world would ensure lower interest rates which could maintain the high growth trajectory of India under Modi. However, the TATA group of companies in UK could see a drop in revenues, with a cascading effect on the Indian economy.
India may benefit indirectly as the Anglo American dominance in the media is curbed. The bully pulpit of the BBC, the Guardian, the Economist and its faithful acolytes across the Atlantic, The New York Times, the Washington Post, and many others will have to coopt other countries and their traditions and would of necessity provide positive public and psychological space to emerging nations like India. The Western world racked by uncertain times following Brexit, will be too busy keeping it all together, and will have little resources available to the paid sepoys in the Indian media. The Trojan Horse of Indian media journalists and quislings, will have to keep their options open as to where their next meal ticket is coming from. Hopefully, the Modi Government can capitalize on this situation, and get India a media make over by hiring a few media honchos, to tell the real story of India.
It should start with the British obsession with the philosophical underpinning of the “White Man’s Burden” driving their media and policies which have continued in myriad formats after India’s independence. The BBC, their ardent followers, and its Indian sepoys owe their historical antithesis to Lord Macaulay’s grandstanding which in essence summarized the British attitude and which is echoed by media gurus in the rest of the Western world.
Serving in the Supreme Council of India between 1834 and 1838, Lord Macaulay proclaimed, “A good European library was worth the whole literature of India and Arabia.” Describing Sanskrit works on medicine, he wrote that they contain “medical doctrines which would disgrace an English farmer, Astronomy which would move laughter in girls at an English boarding school.” The descendants of the “White Man’s burden” carry this basic blueprint in their genes.
Hence the relentless assault goes on from the remnants of the Raj, denting India’s image and impacting the self-esteem and confidence of the nation. The UK busy in its own backyard, could bring down the God complex of the Western world to follow a more human trajectory, thus enabling India to become comfortable in its own skin.
Finally, coming back to the historic referendum, the British people sought the reality of jobs and economic security versus playing into the diabolical games of the financial mafia dreaming of absolute, authoritarian dominance. They are to be feted and congratulated for blazing a path for the forgotten and the neglected. With Brexit, the imperial hubris of the West has met its Waterloo.
As Emerson so succinctly put it, “March without the people and you march into the night.”