I did not intend to write about Brexit given the extensive analyses flooding the media and the fact that almost everything to be said, and more, had already been voiced on the issue. However, I was intrigued by a poignant statement made by an English friend of mine on Facebook which I deemed to be, literally, "dramatic political criticism" and, as such, posted it on my personal wall.
My friend, who wants to remain anonymous, wrote:
"Never have I expressed political opinion here on Facebook but what a truly terrible day.
Sadness, heartbreak and shame for turning our backs on our friends.
Whoever said a referendum is democracy? It was won on the backs of the poor and old, who would take us back in time 100 years! Of the young, 75% opted to remain. It is their future, yet they were not heard!
Who knows where we are headed, the breakup of the EU? the UK?
What a catastrophe. What an unmitigated disaster!"
Immediately, these comments sparked a heated rivalry among my Greek friends on my wall, with many savagely attacking my Brit friend who dared opine on the following realities of the vote:
1) that Brexit was championed by the elderly, unproductive citizens of Britain who were swept away by the dry nationalism of demagogue politicians;
2) that Brexit was rejected by 75% of Britain's youth, as young people envision their future in the arms of a united Europe;
3) that Brexit prevailed through a referendum that did not reflect the choice of many categories of the United Kingdom's citizens even though it garnered 52% of the votes cast.
The attacks from my Greek friends came in the form of a verbal tirade, accusing my friend of railing against the old and the poor and relegating them to second-class citizens.
The assault continued with inarticulate shouts of nationalist slogans and boasts that the British chose to protect their national integrity, their historic consciousness, their borders, etc.
As such, and in order to set the record straight and place the political phenomena in their true dimension, I would like to state the following:
1) the Britons that cast their ballot in favor of Brexit were, indeed, mostly elderly and economically challenged. They voted for a Britain without strangers, without economic migrants whom they perceive as stealing their jobs, unfortunately echoing the rhetoric of Europe's neo-fascist parties (such as "The National Front" in France and the "Golden Dawn" in Greece) as well as that of Donald Trump who has based his electoral campaign on the closing of America's borders;
2) that the austere economic policies that were imposed upon Greece by the Europeans played no role in the outcome. On the contrary, these measures that degraded, humiliated and devastated the livelihood of Greece continue to provide the English with the benefit of bargain holidays;
3) that the "Brexiters" were lost in the belief that they could withdraw behind the protective cover of an erstwhile British Empire by sheltering themselves from an overreaching European bureaucracy.
Undoubtedly, Brexit is the tantamount blow to the free movement of people and ideas within a united Europe, a historical achievement that was built on the blood of war and conflict. And it is precisely this idea of an "un-united" Europe that is the most tragic consequence of the referendum, an idea that brings us back to centuries of hatred and isolationism.
As such, the dire ramifications of Brexit, beyond the short-term consequences for the global economic environment which are easily reversible given that Britain never adopted the euro, are that it may lead to an explosion of popularity of the aforementioned fascist and nationalist parties in the heart of Europe and bring about a total unravelling of the bonds of the continent.
Brexit is a wound that will bleed for years. The comments of my English friend are the dramatic cries of anguish of a young man against a result brought about by a misguided referendum through the unbearable lightness of electioneering!