Saturday, 25 June 2016

Brexit: Demise of liberalism?

United Kingdom voted to leave the EU in a referendum today

With an imminent release of United Kingdom from the EU, the eastern world ‘woke up’ today with the emergence of a threat signal looming in the political circles, averted successively by all to accommodate democratic liberalism. Simultaneously, the western world ‘slept' with the same thought after celebrating the success of departure from status quo. What is this ‘threat signal’? Some people call it the rise of extremism but euphemistically speaking, it is the rise of ‘populism’, partly blamed on globalization. Right wing populism is a rejection of political liberalism and left wing populism is a rejection of economic liberalism. Either way, it is the liberalism whose dying groans we have witnessed today.
When the harbingers of liberalism outvoted the liberalism itself to pave the way for self-constructed irrationalism or ‘illiberalism’, we could sense how the future political trends would look like, say in the next decade. Sarcastically speaking, a ‘nation state’ which colonized more than 2/3rd of the world in 18th-19th century moaned due to xenophobia and called 23rd June as their ‘Independence Day’. Certainly the torch of liberalism that Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and John Stuart Mill ignited, failed to brighten up the dusk of 21st century hence the civilization of civility sparked off ‘utilitarianism’ (of Jeremy Bentham) to quench their thirsts.
Often people say that the history repeats itself yet they fail to substantiate their claims. But recall the immediate post war time period (both in 1919 and 1945) when the unsuccessful parties were negotiating with the victorious ones for ‘Treaty of Versailles’ and ‘Paris Accords’ respectively. The next British Prime Minister would have to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty for a similar set of negotiations for the process of a respectable departure albeit not due to an apparent war. It would be interesting to see if the sole party would negotiate free trade agreements on the lines of WTO or special concessions could be offered to them. Unilateral concessions would be difficult to anticipate as the EU also needs to circumscribe further secessionism from the bloc. A Norwegian model can be ruled out too because the premise of the ‘leave’ vote was anti-immigration rhetoric and a delusive supremacy of the 19th century world order.
European Union fears that the ‘Pig’s Philosophy’ of Jeremy Bentham might soon travel all the way from the English Channel to spread its stink in France, Germany, Netherlands, Austria, Italy, Hungary and other members (domino effect) where the neo-right wing has gained ground. They collectively tried to demonize the Kremlin to acquire public support even to the extent of blaming President Putin for fuelling neo-Nazis in Germany, Poland and Austria and right wing political dispensations like FNF in France, UKIP in UK, PEGIDA in Germany among others. It is difficult to cut through their claims but certainly the likes of Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen, Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdogan must be rejoicing upon the prospects of a disunited Europe. But considering the trust deficit among the members of European Union, it was destined to doom. The ‘Supranational Union’ was built on a marshy land without strong pillars of trust and was fractured by mutual suspicion and extra-territorial ambitions. EU is an oversized transnational unit suffering from a perennial 'democratic deficit'.
The grandiosities that followed the final results today called it ‘revolutionary’. The revolutions are never civilized; they merely trigger off using rationalism as a shield but ultimately desire de jure conquest of power. But contemporary outbursts are not revolutions; rather they are fuelled by the rebels without a cause. We shall not turn a blind eye to it because these are the resistances created against the system of democracy. Apparently democracy is on a downslide, after reaching its saturation point post-disintegration of USSR. A careful examination of this noble system requires collective effort through multilateral institutions like the United Nations, which itself lacks democratic character and 21st century representation. A reformative step in this direction would go a long way in securing the cherished ideals of our forefathers who amalgamated the liberal and social character in the system of democracy to fulfill the aspirations of our citizenry.

Democracy is the pipe in which the liberal values flow like water. If the neo-liberals are to be believed, over the time the pipes have run dry and are clogged up. There is an apparent departure from the traditional centrist politics which is paving the way for the rise of nation state, populism, irrationalism and rather ‘illiberalism’. Interestingly, the whole world is stuck in a limbo between past/present which is broken beyond repair and the future which is uncertain. The populists, whether right/left wing would not have any solutions for it because they are merely movements, good only in opposition but unfit to rule. Democracy without liberal values is only a couple of years away from the trend of tyranny of majority or ‘ballotocracy’ i.e. Utilitarianism. We shall decide it today whether we want to uphold the ideals of rationalism, liberalism, globalization and humanism or we shall let the emerging trends of irrationalism, populism, state welfare through border controls and R2P to supersede modern politics. It was our decision yesterday, it will be our decision today, but remember, a decision not taken in due course of time is itself a decision.

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