What if Brexit is the true end of the 20th century? What if instead of a resurgence of atavistic nationalism, this was the beginning of its final death throes?
Imagine Brexit tearing apart Britain as Scotland and Ireland separate into their own countries, London turns into a city-state like a (marginally less totalitarian) Singapore of Europe, hopefully also taking Oxford and Cambridge with it out of the rotten husk of an empire England has turned into.
It would suck horribly for innocent people in England, but it would have a certain spiteful sense of justice and vindication; the R tribe tried to impose its values on tribe U, but instead only managed to destroy its country in the name of making it great again. Nationalism dealing the killing blow to the empire which once ruled half the world. The R tribe relies on looting U regions with its “democracy” to fund the imposition of its reactionary worldview and there could be nothing better than for tribe U to turn R’s tricks against it by showing that exit is a two-way street.
Scotland becoming independent seems like almost a given; Irish unification is promising but London is the truly interesting one. If London were to secede, it would show that the nation-state is powerless in the face of global power. The old borders wouldn’t be safe anymore. If the City’s loyalty lies with the rest of the world instead of people sharing some superficial genetic and cultural characteristics, it might open the floodgates everywhere else as well and slay the 19-20th century leviathan for good.
A lot of people have expressed worry that this would be the resurgence of the nation-state and the end of the internationalist project.
I think this might just as well be the end of the nation-state instead.
The age of the nation-state began at the end of the medieval free cities, as cannons allowed kings of the countryside to enforce their rule on cities as well. The social-cultural construct of the nation-state happened in earnest when the nations began shedding their kings and unifying themselves, and it’s easy to see why people might then conclude that the nation-state is the natural endpoint of history to which things will always revert…
Pardon him, Theodotus: he is a barbarian, and thinks that the customs of his tribe and island are the laws of nature.
There is no inherent reason why nation-states would be the natural division of people.
Sure, when one looks at the maps, one can clearly see how Scotland is a naturally different polity than England and trying to forcibly keep them together is just asking for trouble.
But London is naturally different too. What does Sadiq Khan’s city have in common with the English UKIP-voting hordes who were willing to ruin their country because they hate brown people? A language, but San Francisco speaks the same language as London. Geographical location, but Ulster managed to stay separate from Ireland for a long time, and Singapore hasn’t been annexed by Malaysia. Political entity, but brexit has shown that polities can be reshaped by the will of the people constituting them.
Nation-states haven’t been a constant in history, but cities have. Every time it has been technologically and societally possible, humans have flocked together and increased each other’s prosperity with trade and cooperation. Democratic nation-states are economically artificial, kept together by barely disguised force; the Paris Commune was brought down by the king’s cannons, not by its own economic infeasibility. The history of the nation-state can be seen as the countryside gaining a capability to loot the cities, and constructing fictions to support this; now what happens if that capability is gone?
When one looks at the data, cities are clearly a different animal from the countryside. Wealthy, liberal, cosmopolitan, globalist. London has far more things in common with Amsterdam and New York than with the English countryside, and in a sense the relationship between the city and the countryside leeching off it via the nation-state is always inherently under a certain tension; now what happens if this is the last straw?
Why should London be loyal to England, when England has shown itself able and willing to only ever take and take? When Scotland tears apart from the union, London’s northern ally in internationalism will be gone and it will be ever more isolated, surrounded by people who are all too willing to enjoy the fruits of London’s prosperity yet completely unwilling to contribute to it, even the bare minimum amount of not actively sabotaging the things that make such prosperity possible in the first place. The story of Atlas Shrugged is naive in its individualistic hero-worship, but replace the few greater-than-life personalities with millions of people, and Galt’s Gulch with London and it starts making a strange amount of sense.
If London were to leave England to the mess of its own making, it would deal a humiliating blow to the countryside, itself grown fat off the loot from the cities and fearful of immigrants and foreigners, the exact people who created the riches the countryside has for so long been stealing through the ballot box. And it’s not like the cities are even unwilling to share their riches; and it certainly might be different if all the countryside asked for was some money so it doesn’t starve, but the countryside is not satisfied with material sharing; what it truly wants is submission.
Like a classical abusive partner, the countryside has always been telling the city it cannot survive alone, yet in reality only the threat of violence is the only thing maintaining the relationship. The countryside stays at home, growing ever more unemployed and useless, while the city is working hard to feed them both. The countryside continuously stalks the city whenever it leaves the house, suspicious of everything the city is doing with foreigners, prone to jealous fits of anger whenever the city doesn’t submit sufficiently to its will. “What are you doing with those foreigners and immigrants? Do you not love me? I am your only one, nobody else may have you!”
Why doesn’t the city just leave?
As usual, the immediate reason is that the dangers of leaving are greater than the dangers of staying. “Sure, the countryside is under a lot of stress but deep down it loves me and after all, it’s not that bad, at least compared to what it would do to me if I tried to dump it; remember what happened to poor Paris?” But if the countryside grows abusive enough, its threats empty enough, the city’s allies strong enough to protect it from its ex, would the city still stay?
I hope the answer is no, and I hope the last straw will be here and now.
If the countryside is so blatantly willing to impose its rottenness on the cities, let it rot away. If democracy creates reactionary atavistic nation-states, to hell with democratic states then. Tribe R doesn’t create the wealth, yet it will always demand its share. “Buy American!” “Britain first!” “Auslander raus!” “Rajat kiinni!” Tribe R will happily take tribe U’s money, but it will reject its values and seek to impose its own. Via the democratic majority rule of the nation-state this strategy has always seen a degree of success; the amount of liberty that’s legal in cities has always been constrained by the conservative countryside. This is clearly an abusive relationship, now what if the cannon marriage of city and country were finally broken?
If London said “no”, would 2016 idly watch by like 1871? What rhetorical pretzels would the nationalists tie themselves into as “fellow brits” rejected their nightmarish utopia? “But you were supposed to be one of us” they would say, and London would whisper “no”. What if the reactionary populism was shown to be the blatant robbery it is? What if England was left to its own devices, without London’s money and influence? The populists could not make Britain great again; they would trash their own country and come begging for foreign aid at London’s doorstep. Without tribe U, tribe R is nothing but a raving bunch of barbarians. A country made solely of Clinton’s voters would still be a global power; a country made solely of Trump’s voters would be a backwards hellhole.
And if tribe R is willing to tear apart political structures at its whims, I say let them have a taste of their own medicine. If they would split the “artificial fiction” of the EU, let us split the artificial fiction of Britain! Let us leave them to their own devices, wallowing in a misery of their own creation. They had a choice, all of them. They could have followed in the footsteps of the IWW or Adam Smith. Decent people who believed in the common good of international cooperation without borders. Instead they followed the droppings of demagogues and populists and didn’t realize that the trail led over a precipice until it was too late. Don’t tell me they didn’t have a choice. Now the whole Europe stands on the brink, staring down into bloody Hell, all those reactionaries and nationalists and rabble-rousers… and all of a sudden nobody can think of anything to say.
Call their bluff. Show them what they are made of. Show them that the world has new rules now, and new rules. That the mob of the nation-state cannot impose its terms upon the cities any longer. That we would’ve been willing to share our riches if that had been the only thing they asked for, but of course it never truly was about the riches in the first place; no, it was jealousy and fear over our way of life, something they wanted to extinguish just as much as to simply loot.
Let this be the end of the EU, but not the new dawn of the nation-state. Instead…
The end of the nation-state and the new dawn of the free city.
London, be our Lucifer, our morningstar, to bear the light to a brighter future free from the oppression of democratic nationalism, nationalistic democracy!
So you still believe you are superior?
What odds do you put on Scotland getting independence within the next five years?
What’s your distribution over the GDP of the UK in the next ten years?
Also I think you are massively mischaracterizing Tribe R, in a totally unfair and honestly kind of mean-spirited way. I’ve met Trump voters. I don’t think they would turn the country into a backwards hellhole. Trump might, but whether his voters would is less obvious. You seem to think that everyone who might vote for Trump (or BREXIT) must be as bad a Trump or Nigel Farage. Tribe R is not made of evil mutants! They’re not going around, scheming about how to mug cities! They’re scared, and frustrated, and maybe ignorant, but they aren’t evil.
Sure, you pay lip service to the “innocent” ones, but then you spend a dozen paragraphs talking about how awful the countryside is. It’s like when SJs go on a long rant about how all men are dangerous and uncontrolled, but they add a little note saying “Oh, but if you’re not like this then you’re fine and this doesn’t apply to you, teehee.”
This whole thing is just… really vindictive. I’m not sure I even disagree with your policy proposals (I have no idea what would happen if London seceded). But, like, the point of London leaving isn’t to punish those stupid poor people for daring to stand up for themselves.
I know I’m being totally mean and petty and vindictive in this; if I hadn’t been totally fed up with nation-state democracy already Brexit would’ve been a pretty clear last straw. National democracy doesn’t work. This is what happens when you put people of starkly different tribes together and tell them the majority gets to decide. You get populists, looting, reactionaries, cronyism, and all kinds of bullshit.
I’m not from the UK, but Finland has a similar situation with tribe R as well. Why the fuck are they voting on my life? Why the fuck are a bunch of poor people from the provinces voting on my cosmopolitan urbanist opportunities? I’m not against sharing some of the wealth (although even in that department there’s way too much misspending; Finland could literally completely eradicate poverty with UBI and still cut its public sector by 6% of GDP) but I will not. fucking. submit.
The “poor people standing up for themselves” are doing it in a really shitty way. Trump might ruin the country, and he’s exactly the guy those people voted for, so “trump voters would ruin the country” is imo relatively justified considering that they’re voting for the guy who might ruin the country. They want protectionism, they want to reduce immigration, they want subsidies, they want all kinds of evil things.
Why would I owe them anything I don’t owe to a fruit peddler in Accra, or an assembly-line worker in Shenzen? Why would I owe them submission to their parochial values in addition to a huge share of the money they wouldn’t even allow me to make? Why would I owe them my life?
They protest that they are my compatriots, yet I am not anyone’s patriot. They yell that I’m from the same town; yes, they are the people who made a living hell of my childhood. I’m not even seeking to collect reparations for that; all I want is my freedom. All I want is for one country on this polished turd of a planet to not fall for the reactionary horde. One place where I could live free, among people who are not hostile to my very existence. I’m immigrants, I’m foreigners, I’m degenerates and queers and decadence and international trade and unregulated everything and all the things tribe R stands against everywhere. They would be so much happier amongst themselves, and so would I. Why on earth must everyone be locked into these nonconsensual hellholes of nation-states. The language is interesting but in the same way Quenya is; nothing that would entitle anyone to a piece of me. I’m expunging the names and places from my life; and even the accent I want to lose. Any ties they wish to enforce I’m willing to cut as soon as I can. Why would I owe them my life?
Why do we have to get along on pain of violence instead of going our own ways peacefully?
I might say that I’m triggered, if it wasn’t such a massive trivialization of triggers. I’m content-ed, perhaps. This shit. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, and their demands will not stop. They will never be satisfied until everything that makes my life possible is destroyed. They will pile on with endless demands that I must buy domestic pork instead of bolivian beans; that I should stay in my own country; that I owe everything to them; that they should be given the final say in everything about my life; that I have to beg them for mercy and permission alike for the sin of being different; the shadow over finnsmouth is hanging on my life and I’m afraid I can’t escape it before I can get off this planet altogether. Even then the leeches and moochers and bucketcrabs and poppycutters and redwashed rentiers might try to hang on, imposing space regulations from their strongholds on the old planet. And although I’m complaining about leeches and moochers I’d be more than thrilled to give them half of all the money I’ll ever make if that was the only thing they asked for in exchange for my freedom but they are never satisfied with just money no it’s my life they want and freedom must be extinguished.
If the world is so willing to hurt me, why would I owe it anything? My slytherin primary is flaring up really strongly and I’m in full self-defense panic mode. Me and Mine; destroy everything that tries to hurt these. Nothing personal that’s just the way it is just like everyone else “oh you’re harmed so massively by our well-meaning rules well too bad sucks to be you then it’s for the Greater Good and we know what it is not you” and I don’t even seek to destroy them all I want is to escape or fight with the viciousness of a cornered beast until I can yet I can’t because they control the whole world and they have the guns and the ballot boxes and the airwaves and the wiretaps in the backbone and they will keep coming and coming always demanding for more never satisfied while anything is still escaping their grasp and people are lucky to only lose their money for their only sin is having some but no such luck for my kind we are abominations and we must be eradicated for god and country and make everything great again
so yes I’m petty and vindictive because I’m fucking afraid of the normies and there’s nowhere to run and nowhere to hide
FINALLY SOME BREXIT DISCOURSE THAT DOESN’T MAKE ME CRINGE.
Most honorable of enemies.
And I will go back to the land.
(Somewhat… angry scheming below cut)
I dunno, I’m not actually all for the post-apocalyptic traveling from township to township thing. I mean, if that happens, then good fucking luck with gun control at that point, for one thing. If anything, you’ll need guns in case Toecutter’s gang rolls into town looking to make a mess.
Plus, Oda Nobunaga and Jenghiz Khan were things. Eventually a new emperor may rise. America was born from 13 colonies. We may even yet see a true Earth Federation/New World Order established in our lifetimes even in spite of this. Point is, sometimes people cooperate and gain an advantage.
I do find it surprising that farmers and country people are apparently able to exert such influence on cities. I’d have assumed it was the other way ‘round: the city needs things like food and water to come from lands that aren’t paved over with concrete. Unless London plans to become a Hive City real soon with vertical farming.
City people can buy food and water, that’s not a problem (unless the country people spitefully besiege the city to loot it). The problem is politics; London has something like 7 million people while the rest of the country has over 45 iirc (I’m already counting out Scotland etc.). Thus the 45 million will vote to take not only London’s money but its freedom as well. Replacing the political relationship with an economic relationship would mean that the country (including all of the lesser cities as well) would only receive what it’s worth; London would choose where it buys its food from, and the maximum price of water would be limited to the cost of London achieving self-sufficiency.
Furthermore, this would mean that neither needs to impose its values upon the other. The Midlands don’t need to have free immigration or trade if they don’t want it, while London could open its borders for people and goods alike. London would grow richer, the Midlands would grow poorer, and that would be their own choice, not an external imposition. Or if I am wrong, the Midlands would prosper and London would fall. And as such I’d place my money where my mouth is, in a material statement of “I believe this will lead to good” and those who disagree could make their own claim and as long as neither imposes itself forcibly upon the other, the claim that is true will win and the claim that is false will lose, and thus both would perceive themselves as the winning side. The Midlands could protectionize their own industries and jobs as much as they want, but they could not use the threat of violence to force London to buy their inferior products over international ones.
And in the modern day cities are increasingly something that cannot truly be conquered; if someone were to invade London, all they could achieve would be the destruction of what made London an attractive target of invasion in the first place. The more the value of cities is volatile and immaterial, not tied to the land, the less sense it makes to conquer them. Bankers would flee, industries would be ruined, and the people under occupation who didn’t manage to escape don’t generate great entrepreneurial wealth to their occupiers. Both Nobunaga and Genghis were lords from the countryside, and all their kind would gain from invading London would be the ruins of one of the world’s greatest cities, ground to dust under their jackboots as the citizens of London would resist with drones, minifactured guns, and every kind of urban guerrilla warfare the deviousness of the modern day is able to come up with. They would invade London, and they would conquer Aleppo.
But what I don’t understand is why I would send inspectors to the hidden chapels? If you aren’t scheming to construct missiles to bring down our orbital cities, or dealing in the slavery of unwilling sapients, or tampering with things that could bring forth the destruction of the entire world, what reason would I have to intrude upon your peaceful ways? All I could ask for is that you let My People go, and like the God of Moses I would rain down wrath until they were freed, but anything more and I would be a tyrant myself. If those whose true happiness lies elsewhere are free to leave without you standing violently in their way, there would be need for nothing more, save for my sincere well-wishes for this new species which is obviously not mine yet deserving of sapient dignity and freedom to create its own fate without terror and tyrants just the same.
what I don’t understand is why I would send inspectors
I think a lot of the rural folk are asking that question too, but evidently, the fact that your inspection makes no sense hasn’t stopped you yet.
(Yes, yes, I know, you AnCap, but for the purposes of this post you are The Urban Populus)
While I cannot speak for neither Finland nor the country that @thathopeyetlives comes from, I will say that priests of the Danish People’s Church have, in fact, been sanctioned because their rural Christianity did not align with the dictates of the urban Ministry of the Church, and Muslim schools everywhere have been criticized for – shock – actually teaching the tenets of Islam.
You note – correctly – that rural people have been using the power of the state to impose on others – on foreigners and those who would trade freely with foreigners, on racial and sexual minorities, on everybody who would not fit adequately into their tiny worlds, but I think you know as well as I that the opposite happens too – it is the urban populace, not the rural, that restricts gun rights, that imposes a thousand pages of regulations on Johnson’s still before any alcohol can be sold to others, taxes gasoline and cars because nobody needs a car to get around in the town. It is the poor – found more often in the countryside than the city – who are hit the hardest when VAT is imposed, and the UK has a 20% VAT on standard goods like, say, jeans, hardly a luxury item.
Don’t get me wrong: Voting to leave the EU if you don’t like competing with foreigners when I’m hiring new staff? Dick move. Those foreigners have just as much a right to work for my money as you do. But there are real grievances, the power of the state, and the EU, is a heavy yoke on the countryside as well.