I participate in a Facebook Debating Forum. It is a mostly geographical forum, based around my town, but has for the past months, like so much on Facebook, it seems, been chewing over Brexit and its consequences. I have been a prominent and argumentative contributor to many of the discussions and it is all very enlightening. Sometimes, however, I look up and wonder what the heck is going on. All this nose down, keyboard warrior stuff gets nowhere really, other than giving everyone a chance to express themselves in their won ways. My big issue has emerged from the fairly frequent savagery that shows up when I or someone with similar views to me suggests that someone else is wrong. I am probably as bad as anyone, but try awfully hard not to offend, merely to engage with wit and ironic amusement. I fail, and I am called out for being rude and condescending. Try, I expect, sometimes. But often it is simply because the ideas I promote do not fit neatly into pint sized posts. The Brexit issue is vast. It requires deep thought but that is the very quality lacking form much online aggression.
This post, therefore, is my current attempt at setting out my stall on Brexit. It is loosely in response to someone saying that I can’t accept the referendum result, that I am unpatriotic and that Brexit is best for the UK. There’s a lot more backstory that I shan’t explain here. To preserve confidentiality (it is a closed group), lets say my debater is Arnold.
Sorry that this is long, but I am becoming heartily sick and tired of having to put my point of view each time, so here is a bit of my ‘manifesto’ as to what I think about the circular debates on here about Brexit, winning and losing, and the need to engage in friendly rather than aggressive debate. I may just keep this as a link and repost it every so often. I may decide to avoid anything to do with Brexit because it has become a ridiculous merry-go-round of point scoring and I find that disappointing. Debate can be about point scoring, but it’s not what I enjoy, especially when in doing so we jettison any sense of fun and wit. (And that is not aimed at you, Arnold, whom I enjoy sparking off against.)
Just a one thing to begin with: I haven’t mentioned either misplaced national pride or patriotism.
In response to your earlier post,
- I “can’t accept that the majority of us dont like being in the EU…” I fully accept that 17.4 million people voted three years ago that they didn’t like the EU etc. And I of course accept that in the end the UK may well cease to be a member of the EU in some way or another, white possibly entirely separate from it. That is not at all my beef. I Certainly think it was the wrong choice made by many of those 17.4 million, and I will forever say so. That is my right as a member of a democratic system of representation and governance. I don’t agree with the Conservatories on many other things and nobody wants to silence me on that, as I see it, so I can’t see why my concerns should be silenced on Brexit either.
- And related to that, I also don’t agree fully with the way the EU is run. I think it can come across as too autocratic, and, also, I think that that autocratic appearance is what causes many people (perhaps you?) to want out. But I think you are wrong to want to throw out the baby with the bathwater. Much better, I think, is to find ways to adapt because, in the long run (see below), the EU is a thing for goodness and peace. That’s very long run. It has given itself a bad press, and the attitude of so many populists in this and other EU nations is that it is a good target to perpetuate a negative image of transnational as well as national institutions. (Remember, “people don’t want experts.”? What a weird stance, but I get that that was a thoroughly populist point of view and fed the fear many have of established organisations: conspiracy theorists love such things).I have changed my thinking quite substantially on the EU since the referendum, by the way. And I have developed my thinking about populism, as well. The debates I have with you on this forum are very helpful for shaping my thoughts. You seem to want to keep telling me that I cannot get over it, or that I won’t accept opinions. But the reality is that I entirely accept opinions, yours and others. And I hope you accept mine too. But why can’t we accept them without having to acquiesce to them? I get the distinct impression that you want to beat me into submission and that what matters to you is ‘winning’. I couldn’t care less about winning a debate because there is no such notion in my mind.
- Winning and losing/Long term benefit: how this country is governed is so much more than winning and losing. Last night I cheered and shouted when the Spurs goals went in. I wanted Spurs to win, and I am so pleased they did. But it is ONLY a game (yea right…), and in the end the joy will short lived until the next time Spurs lose (or whoever ‘your team’ is). Winning and Losing is a fairly weak point of view when it comes to geopolitics. I accept the democratic outcome of the referendum, but I don’t think of anyone as winning or losing, but of all of us evolving. The problem, as I see it (i.e. my opinion…) is that the winning/losing thinking is creating all kinds of problems. We are so far down the rabbit hole that it’s difficult to find a way out, but if we pause to think about just what is being ‘won’ or ‘lost’, then we soon see, surely, that nothing makes sense.
For sure, in some ways there might be a benefit from Brexit, and that might even be such a basic thing as feeling “we’ve got our country back” for some. But do you honestly think that once we’ve left the EU everything will be hunky dory? Are all the problems of this country linked to the EU? if you think they are, then frankly I can’t find much more to debate with you. Leaving or Remaining are treated as a win or lose by many, but all that does is reveal the problem of binary thinking.
So, I think that leaving is unnecessary and distracting. Remaining in union is always a good thing, but not if we just sit back and don’t engage. The UK has been at the forefront of EU development since we joined. But the divisions within some parties have blown the whole thing apart and now we have to cope with a dreadfully sad situation: not just leaving the EU, but possibly witnessing the start of the break of the union of this nation as well.