People are so accustomed to accepting the authority of those who have power over them that the mere exercise of power, especially their own, comes to seem strange, distasteful, even unseemly, to them. This “learned helplessness”—a less acute form of the condition known as Stockholm Syndrome—afflicts very large numbers of people in our society. However, once it is pointed out to them that the sense of powerlessness that they accept as a matter of course is, in fact, learned, the possibility of them asserting their own sovereign will becomes a real possibility.
Referendums are a wonderful teaching opportunity. The politicians and the political parties have failed to resolve the issue of Britain’s relationship with the EU, so the decision now falls to us, the voters, to instruct the politicians. We are accustomed to being told what to think by politicians and the legacy media. We are less accustomed to making our voices heard.
Much as the British do not take well to being bossed about, there is also a deeply conformist streak in our national character that inclines people to “grin and bear” unwelcome or uncomfortable circumstances far longer than many other peoples would tolerate. There are positive and negative aspects to this, but now that we are all going to be given the same say as the representatives we elect to Parliament—one vote—now is not the time to look to our superiors for direction. This issue needs to resolved between us.
The politicians and the legacy media have their reasons for favouring what will be presented as the “status quo”—continued EU membership. They will not, for the most part, comment on the fact that the status quo is a phantasm. The EU is and always was about “ever closer union”. The members of the eurozone are planning to integrate still further in order to solidify common fiscal and banking policies that will effectively create a new political state. The British people have no desire to join the euro, so this means remaining in the “outer core”, excluded from Kerneuropa, without a seat at the “top table” of EU policy-making and with less influence than is currently the case even today.
The powers-that-be will attempt to frame Britain’s options in the EU referendum as a choice between a “renegotiated settlement” that addresses most of the problems so frequently rehersed in the legacy media versus a great leap backwards towards isolation and introversion. I trust that most people will have the wit to see that they are having smoke blown in their eyes. The referendum is not about whether we will continue to trade and co-operate with our European allies and countries beyond the EU. Of course we will. The referendum is about the form that we think those relationships should take—supranational or intergovernmental.
The vision that I have is of an independent country that trades and co-operates with partners all around the world, participating in intergovernmental forums at a global level, making arguments and proposing solutions that advance the British national interest and the values that we the British people hold to be true. Decoupling national governance and our policy-making framework from the supranational EU will not be an easy or even a particularly quick process—40 years of political and economic integration will not and should not be undone overnight—but it is essential if the British electorate truly wish to have the final say over the future direction of their country and the people to whom we lend the authority to govern.
Remaining inside the EU means accepting that the “final say” should be determined not by the voters of this country but by the majority will of foreign governments.