There was a dream that was a united Europe. You could only whisper it. Anything more than a whisper and it would vanish, it was so fragile.
Quote title Brian Austin, borrowed and adapted from a quotation by Marcus Aurelius (apologies to the memory of Marcus Aurelius).
Moreover, under the lens of #Brexit, there's a thought-provoking excerpt from an essay by George Orwell, written remarkably in 1941.
England [viz. implying Britain] is the most class-ridden country under the sun. It is a land of snobbery and privilege, ruled largely by the old and silly. But in any calculation about it one has got to take into account its emotional unity, the tendency of nearly all its inhabitants to feel alike and act together in moments of supreme crisis.
Quote title George Orwell
How times have changed.
The Price Of Boredom, The Desire For Contrast, To Feel Something Different
With Brexit, a huge jagged crack appears to have opened up across the great British granite of nationhood.
Now, we are weaker, split, different.
Some feel European. Others, not.
Will history show Brexit to be a harsh lesson in how to lose billions in income? Or how to save billions of UK pounds, and set the pre-conditions to earn more? Who really knows?
Up becomes the new down. Down, the new up.
Is this Hormegeddon - our boredom-based desire to sabotage normalcy: when we simply have too much of a good thing - flexing its muscles for ordeals to come?
Or maybe Hormegeddon is inevitable anyway in democracies, perhaps every 50 - 100 years? Maybe humans crave cycles; a clearing out of "the old and boring", to allow feeling the pain or sensing of something new and different. Why: pain is all-focusing: it stops us thinking too much about anything other than the focus of attention.
Yet who knows what's around the corner of time?
Was it those who feel like they have little, who voted out? While those who have been able to progress in life, or are making their own way up, voted to remain in the European Union?
We don't really know.
We don't know that for sure either.
Except, there is always at least two sides to a discussion.
Though most likely, political analysts will be kept busy for decades.
If so, those who are richer, will probably be okay: they always seem to fare better.
But people with less choice ... fewer options ... no reserves ... no "Plan B" ... We can but wonder and hope for a great outcome.
Yet who really knows the future? No-one.
The Price Of Hasty Decisions
So many possibilities and imaginations.
What a tangled web we weave.
Nevertheless below, somewhat lightheartedly, we present some amateur scenarios through the lens of playful imagination, conjecture, crystal ball gazing (rarely reliable).
In the end, the final cost has two components: (1) Shock, surprise; or (2) pain; or both (1) and (2).
Let's explore some possibilities.
Surprising Future Britain Scenario One
The Scottish government, seeks and gets Scottish independence.
Moreover, in addition to losing about 32 percent of its land mass in a single swipe of a fountain pen, the then new UK comprising of only England, Wales, and Northern Ireland would instantly become one of the most densely overpopulated countries in the world.
If, as a largely self-governing nation, through cross-nation negotiation, and by fluke, dextrous political manoeuvring, or simply extraordinarily good fortune, Scotland is able to automatically inherit the UK's EU membership on full Brexit, leading financial institutions, banks, the London Stock Exchange, could choose to relocate to Edinburgh, Scotland - in a heartbeat. Curiously, perhaps moving back to where many of them were birthed originally.
What follows could be a Scottish house-building surge, a population boom, and within a few years, a matching wealth transfer - just when the oil cycle changes again and oil prices rise. A new boom time could occur north of the border.
Throughout such imaginary times, those extraordinarily persistent people seeking to want to come to live and work in England, now do so by first arriving in Scotland, only to simply travel south. An uncomfortable irony for some.
Unlikely Future UK Scenario Two
Another possible outcome: the Scottish government may strike a deal with both the London Parliament and the EU, with the end result of:
- Scotland inherits the UK's EU membership after Brexit (I have no idea how). Providing some direct connection to the EU, sanctioned by most people of Scotland.
- As part of the deal, Scotland agrees to adopt the Euro as its currency (ouch!).
- Scotland nevertheless, remains part of the UK (no new separation Referendum is agreed).
Most Likely Future UK Scenario Three
While scenarios One and Two above are curious explorations, back in the real world, without further knowledge of developments, this author feels that the most likely outcome is what has already been decided several days ago, including:
- The entire UK leaves the EU fully within a few years, as agreed.
- The UK remains a single country, made up of several devolved governments. Why: after the Brexit debacle, the London Parliament is unlikely to set the scene to repeat one big mistake with another (as viewed by some) by sanctioning risk of a Scotland exit, with an instant loss of 32% of British territory, and a breaking up of the UK.
- Most of the Scottish population is not happy with the arrangement.
- While both the UK and the EU loses through Brexit, England loses out most of all. Why: with Brexit in place, to deter Northern Ireland, Scotland, and possibly Wales from seeking further separation, more financial support is sent from England to the regional governments. As too many people draw on too few resources, the quality of life in England degrades further.
Whether we agree with the #Brexit outcome, or not, we can all choose to accept the result and move on as best we can.
And of course, still seek to foster good relations and work with our European neighbours.
Should Britain remain a United Kingdom, even without the European Union, economically, Britain should, or could, recover and progress economically again - perhaps in time.
Moreover, while historically, Europe has been a hotbed of war-like tendencies, maybe Europe will keep its peace without us - maybe even better for our lack of too much political participation too.
Taking Stock, Strengthening Reserves, Preparing For The Onslaughts To Come
Nevertheless, whatever direction life takes us, I suspect, that in the coming months and years, we will learn about the true price of Brexit to be paid in much more than just economic terms. The full effects of #Brexit, I believe, will not be pretty.
While recessions and depressions occur, today, the world is very different to 1929, when the last great more noted depression occurred.
We ponder the slightly scary realisation that most money now is not in the form of physical notes and coins, but is digital in nature: dots of light; symbols on a screen.
With so much digital money around, we marvel that only the rule of law, perhaps some personal morality, insider knowledge, and tools prevent anyone from being made paupers in the blink of an eye.
Will the central banks of the USA, the EU, Japan, and China, backed into a corner, with no other way out, buy up debts with new fake digital money, and then simply forgive them - en masse?
A great solution, perhaps. Yet how then do the governments of these nations convince their populations to keep paying down their business loans and home mortgages for 30+ years? The problem perhaps isn't the debts, but that our money system is simply close to breaking point, through 30+ years of "burning" fake money through massive credit plans.
The alternative to massive debt forgiveness might be: stock market crashes, economic recessions, followed by severe depressions that make the 1929 example seem moderate in comparison, spanning many years before even signs of economic recovery.
Or maybe much worse.
However, application of common sense is often fickle. We humans are not always noted for taking difficult decisions sooner rather than later. We tend to wait until all other easier avenues have been tested first.
That's why, from today onwards, we can focus on what we can control, and leave the rest to land as it may. So we can foster a positive outlook, develop a healthy share of human compassion helps, always, especially in troubled times.
- Taking more personal responsibility for what happens to us, while not feeling unworthy if, and when, we need help from our governments.
- Not relying on government too much for our personal survival and wellbeing.
- Doing what we can to reduce personal debt.
- Learning new skills, those that are needed today and tomorrow, not yesterday. Why: today, we are now in the information age; the industrial age is true history.
- Keeping a close eye on our personal health. Watching those calories. Striving to eat better quality food when we can.
- Being of service first and foremost, and working out how to convert that into sustainable income.
- Not relying on any single employer. Are most employers becoming compelled to work out how to do your job without you?
- Becoming self-employed. Today, this route can be harder when getting started than in previous years. However remember, when you don't put all your eggs in one basket: you can serve hundreds of customers or clients, while an employee has only one: their employer.
Is Democracy Today Overrated? Enter A.I.
As for what got us into this mess in the first place, something that I have felt for a long time is that our current version of democracy itself may be overrated, outdated even, especially whenever clear thinking is required.
Even after all the struggles and spilt blood across the generations throughout the centuries to give us the freedoms we can enjoy today, how can we say such things?
With difficulty, and much unease, but say it must.
Maybe we need a democracy upgrade? Something along the lines of: none of us get to vote unless we can prove we understand the issues. How will that work? Perhaps three easy questions we must answer correctly first before we earn the right to vote.
In time, the best alternative political management might involve artificial intelligence and no democracy. Democratic government may become simply irrelevant and not required. Don't laugh: in the future, perhaps benevolent A.I.s could / might make near perfect political guides and advisors set up to serve and help all people equally, and maybe sometimes, even save us from ourselves.
Sir Winston Churchill And Political Intrigues
Some years ago, Sir Winston Churchill is cited to have said:
The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.
Quote title Sir Winston Churchill
Though, in fairness, perhaps Sir Winston may have vented such frustrations after he lost a vote of some kind in the Parliament of the day, or come out on the worse end of an argument with Baroness Clementine, his wife. Also, Sir Winston Churchill's perspective was perhaps coloured by more fractious times.
Moreover, to many folks who just want to get on with their lives, politics, is such a boorish irritation - until it bites back to remind us about the cost of not paying attention.
In contrast, the world of business tends to just view politics as another hurdle to deal with, on the journey to the goals each business seeks to achieve or overcome.
How Manipulators Train Voters
Political apathy is a great aid to those who seek to control millions.
Thankfully, a few exceptional individuals do seem to exist in the world of politics. These remarkable people are always there - somewhere. Sometimes they are visible. Sometimes, they prefer back seat roles.
Nevertheless, when we steel ourselves to explore the nonsense that we can all freely read in so much politically-financed media, is there any wonder the average voter is perhaps so ill-informed, so easily swayed, tricked even?
Today, for those swimming on the dark side, manipulation of a people is easy. All they need are two or three things:
- An evocative picture (yes, the right image really does replace a thousand words). Keep showing the same image across different media to reinforce first impressions.
- A good headline or caption, the shorter, the better.
- Maybe a 5-second video clip.
They routinely also tell a few lies with a plan to apologise later.
Why: the mass of people are often running fast just to keep standing still. They are "eyes forward" constantly pedalling on the hamster wheel of life.
The lives of millions are already too busy, too stressed, too fearful, too tired. Seeking someone to tell them what to do, and help themselves to OPM (Other Peoples' Money). The curse of money seems to go deep and hit everyone eventually.
Many quite frankly, may choose not to think too much, so long as their basic needs are being met.
After all, thinking is hard work: who has time for that? (We like to delude ourselves in thinking that we make time here :-).
Back In The Shires And Glens
Meanwhile, here in the Highlands of Scotland, we think and live on a smaller scale. Some of us just like to help our families, neighbours, friends, communities, and seek out all that is positive, as we wade through the economic mud along with everyone else.
Perhaps what also helps is a few sips of a wonderful coffee, a cup of tea, an ice cool drink in summer while lazing outside on a sunny day, a good whiskey, or a glass of fine claret while sitting in front of a log fire in winter. Or just doing nothing in particular.
So there is hope - always hope.
With hopeful times in mind, echoed by the High Lama, from the book: Lost Horizon by author, James Hilton writes:
Look at the world today. Is there anything more pitiful? What madness there is! What blindness! What unintelligent leadership!
A scurrying mass of bewildered humanity, crashing headlong against each other, propelled by an orgy of greed and brutality.
A time must come my friend, when this orgy will spend itself. When brutality and the lust for power must perish by its own sword.
For when that day comes, the world must begin to look for a new life.
And it is our hope that they may find it here. For here, we shall be with our books and our music, and a way of life based on one simple rule: Be Kind!
When that day comes, it is our hope that the brotherly love of Shangri-La will spread throughout the world.
Yes, my son; When the strong have devoured each other, the Christian ethic may at last be fulfilled and the meek shall inherit the earth.
Quote title The High Lama, from Lost Horizon, author James Hilton
Any of that sound familiar?
Without doubt, some genuinely nice sentiments and a superb set of ideas for reasonably civilized living! However, an idealist tale is one thing, reality tends to force a somewhat different narrative.
Insightful Observations Of Maximus And Juba, From Gladiator
So moving closer to reality, we first go back in history 2000 years, to hear Maximus, from the movie, Gladiator, quite reasonably suggest:
Nothing happens to anyone that he is not fitted by nature to bear.
Quote title Maximus Decimus Meridius, from Gladiator
Really? I have my doubts about that too.
If you don't believe me, ask your average Accident and Emergency (A&E) nurse or doctor to tell you about the progress of their work days.
Yet, also from Gladiator, Juba, the ex-slave, while peering thoughtfully into the distance rather poignantly remarks:
And now we are free. I will see you again ... But not yet ... Not yet!
Quote title The Nimidian, Juba, from Gladiator
Tomorrow's World And The New Book Of Changes Being Written
Gladiator, starring Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, and so many more astonishing actors, is a movie with a remarkable portrayal. However thankfully, Britain is also not quite the Roman Arena either again - yet.
Nevertheless, with #Brexit, here in Britain, we too will be free. Perhaps we shall discover what that means - especially the true price of freedom.
Do we have Independence Day? Or Dependence Day? Or something else entirely?
We don't know.
Though two things seem sure:
- We think this chapter of separation is only just beginning. This book of changes will not be finished for many years yet.
- We can think and act positively - just like Rick Astley shows in his classic tune - Never Gonna Give You Up.
Author note: we deliberately chose the image above still showing two flags of Britain and the EU side by side, to share the idea that whatever happens, the EU and the UK are still neighbours.