Every 50 or 100 years or so, the British go mad: By voting for Brexit and passionately supporting it, half of them have done so again.
Looking at the passions and wild ranting, raving hysteria that passes for serious political debate in the Sceptered Isle, the rest of the world are entitled to stare in bewilderment.
Over the past 70 years the inhabitants of the United Kingdom, dominated by the English surrendered their massive empire and relatively smoothly – at least for their own convenience thought certainly not for the couple of billion people around the world they left locked into unworkable borders, unending ethnic conflicts and endless abandoned pledges of security and protection remorselessly broken.
For 35 years after the end of World War II, Britain seemed doomed to decay and disintegrate at an exponentially accelerating rate until Margaret Thatcher became prime minister in 1979 and reversed the decline.
Thatcher succeeded in providing a solution, a new system that allowed Britain to stabilize after generations of unprecedented decline. She kept her country in the NATO alliance and renegotiated more favorable terms of membership in the European Union.
But while Thatcher shamelessly cultivated British nostalgia and imperial dreams, she never once ran the risk of holding referenda to allow Scotland, Wales or any other part of the UK to secede from the whole.
Above all, she never gave the British people the chance vote on whether they wanted to stay in the EU or not.
Recent Prime Minister David Cameron slipped on those fateful political banana skins that Thatcher so adroitly sidestepped.
As a result the United Kingdom is now disunited.
Selfish, cynical demagogues like former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnstone and dim bunglers like current inept Prime Minister Theresa May are providing (not quite harmless) entertainment for the rest of the world with their endless pratfalls and bungles.
In only two years Britain again has become what it has not been since the days of Harold Wilson and Edward Heath in the 1960s and 1970s: It has become a global joke.
If no deal is reached with Brussels by March 29, 2019, Britain will be forced to leave the still enormous EU – 27 nations comprising 450 million people.
Yet all the international investment – primarily from the United States, China, Japan and South Korea – which flooded into Britain over the past 35 years did so precisely because Thatcher had so carefully maneuvered her country to be more free market and competitive than its larger continental European neighbors, but still remaining within the EU’s giant Single Market.
Now that Britain is opting out, fulfilling the mad dreams of the raving Brexiteers, most of that investment will vanish as if drained by a suction pump to relocate in mainland European locations instead.
The City of London, the dominant financial hub and brain of Europe since Thatcher’s Big Bang deregulation of 1985 will suffer the greatest losses in its history. Sixty years after the Loss of Empire, Britain will finally be reduced once again to being an obscure Offshore Island – but with 50 million too many mouths to feed.
A country that grows enough food for 15 million people will have to figure out how to pay for feeding 65 million, after smashing its own industrial and financial capabilities in a childish fit of pique.
Such suicidal behavior in fact is not unprecedented for the British. They are now sleepwalking their way to penury and ruin in imaged dreams of reliving their famous “Finest Hour” when they defined Nazi Germany in 1940.
Ironically, they were only saved then from being crushed by the Nazis by Hitler’s even more mad and colossal gamble of invading the Soviet Union in June 1941.
At the time, polls consistently revealed that the British people enormously admired the Russian people and their allies and clearly recognized that it was the Red Army, and not their own military or the US legions flooding into their island that won the war for them.
What the British are really doing in opting for a senseless and kamikaze Brexit is repeating the mass suicidal behavior that cost them well over a million lives during World War I.
The continued stubborn, indefatigable passion for Brexit, along with a disdain for all the abundant evidence that they cannot survive alone in the global market place recalls above all memories of the first day of the Battle of the Somme in July 1916 –a day when 20,000 Britons died at the start of a months-long bungled battle that eventually took half a million British lives.
It was the greatest defeat and fiasco in the nation’s history.
The memories of half a million men marching slowly and steadily into German machine gun fire at the Somme has haunted the British imagination ever since. The crazed passion demanding a full Brexit break with Europe now will join it in the national cave of terror and fears – Provided Britain survives at all.
MARTIN SIEFF | SCF
First published by Strategic Culture Foundation
The 21st Century