All decisions based on dogma are suspect and most are wrong.
[Dogma: “a belief or set of beliefs that is accepted by the members of a group without being questioned or doubted” (Merriam-Webster). Most people call these beliefs ‘ideological’. But, ideology is the study of beliefs, and I am not talking about academic research, I am talking about beliefs, pure and simple.]
So, all decisions based on dogma are suspect and most are wrong.
This is not surprising. A decision based on prior beliefs which ignores the particular characteristics of the particular situation in which the decision has to be taken can only be approximately useful.
Often, when dogmatic decisions are political decisions (and all political decisions seem to be based on dogma), the process is suspect because the purposes of the decision makers is suspect (at best they are motivated by the decision makers’ own self-aggrandisement; usually they, the decision makers, are driven by the requirements of corporations, often offshore, and often dark).
So, in deciding how to vote in the referendum on whether the UK should stay in the EU or not, I am in a difficult position.
Firstly, I argue elsewhere that referendums are not democratic in the first place and so are the wrong instruments with which to make decisions like these.
Secondly, it is difficult to know accurately what will happen if we stay in the EU: we are not the only players and, if the EU is democratic, we are only one voice among many.
Thirdly, it is impossible to say what will happen were the UK to leave the EU because, understandably, none of the many players is going to say anything before they have to.
Fourthly, both sides are guilty of misleading the public; and, while there are organisations like the excellent Full Fact, they only respond to what has been said, they do not proactively offer a complete analysis as far as I know.
So, with no real trustworthy information with which to make a decision, I am left to decide on principle (it’s principle when I do it, dogma when others do it).
My principle is that partnership, cooperation and leadership are always better than isolationism.
In terms of the ‘stages of a work relationship’ model I use, the UK and the EU, as two partners in a relationship, are in the ‘power struggle’ and ‘dead zone’ stages (except that the power struggle stage is strangely muted, David Cameron being a stunningly inept advocate of the interests of the UK).
The UK is collectively showing the same reservations, anxieties and juvenile behaviour that an individual shows when there is the possibility of moving forward in his (possibly her) personal relationship. A classic symptom of this is the throwing of toys out of the pram and the stomping off to be friends with someone else (with whom precisely the same difficulties will arise in due course). Anything—rather than reach the partnership and leadership stages which both the individual and the states of the EU (because I do not absolve the other members of the community from responsibility) need to be in.
Independence from the EU for the UK will likely result in the independence of Scotland from the UK (because Scotland wants to be part of the EU and a UK vote against membership of the EU will be a perfect opportunity for Scotland to vote against continuing membership of the union). I’m not saying this is the right thing to do, but it is desperately difficult to see how a pro-EU Scotland could be a member of an anti-EU UK.
Once that is achieved, there will be strong cries for regional independence from the north and west of England, putting these regions on a par with Wales and N Ireland: the whole thing eventually becomes a complete shambles, with tiny regions, like woolly baa-lambs, hopelessly outclassed on the world stage, and a rump of England, defined as ‘London and bits of the Thames Valley’, having some residual power and influence with the EU and US.
Meanwhile the UK government will be crucified by the US for not doing its bidding and staying a member of the EU; and by the EU which will adopt the classic role of the spurned lover.
Even if the UK stays intact, it is hard to see how trade deals with the Commonwealth nations, such as Nigeria, will not impose the same requirements for free entry of their citizens to the UK as the EU currently does, thereby destroying one of the Brexit supporters’ main arguments.
What this teaches us is that:
♦ Referendums are not democratic and their reliance on an electorate which is informed is irrelevant when there are no mechanisms for ensuring that electorate is informed; placing the future of the nation in the hands of an electorate which is ill-informed, uninterested and, in too many cases, not up to the task of assessing the situation, is a disaster waiting to happen
♦ Putting the decision in the hands of our politicians and those of members of the EU is only slightly better, given that these people are invariably self-serving, weak and not very bright—or only bright in ‘lawyerly’ ways that are completely useless here)
♦ The EU will be only be a success if there are at least a few leaders around the table. In their continued absence I do not see much hope.
In other words, we are damned if we do (vote to stay) and damned if we don’t. Great.
It would be nice to have a bit of leadership around here. Let me know if you see any.
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© Jeremy Marchant 2016 . image: Free inages