“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth…
“The undiscovered country, from whose bourn no traveller returns, puzzles the will…
It will not be with absolute confidence in outcome that I shall be putting down a cross beside the words “Leave the European Union” this Thursday, the 23rd of June. But it equally will not be with significant doubt or regret. I envy those who have absolute confidence in their position on this referendum, and I have no clue as to how they so certainly settled it.
If you are voting Remain and have found no strong arguments for Leave then I do not believe you have looked. If you are voting Leave and have found no persuasive arguments to Remain then I do not believe you have tried. This is complex, complicated, and it is important.
It is close. But I now hope that Britain leaves the EU.
… then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same…
… and makes us rather bear those ills we have than fly to others we know not of…
Strip away the sensationalism, the smearing, the memes, and what is left is, for me, the evidence and reason based arguments in a split, an equal case for both votes. It is from that standpoint that I then had to ask: which do I believe will result in the most medium- and long- term change, progress, and good?
A vote to Leave will trigger change gradual and instant, lasting, and ultimately massive; it will not induce sudden or lasting strife and chaos. A vote to Remain will trigger minor to middling reform at best, that may last, that may not; it will not induce peace and prosperity and jobs and benign multiculturalism. How many decades have we spent failing to tackle a plethora of urgent issues only to end up, upon being presented the opportunity for a new and riskier path, deciding that more of the same but perhaps maybe one day just a little bit of different is the most progressive way to go?
My gut was always telling me from the start to vote Remain – we, humanity, are supposed to be heading toward a united world, a Republic, not separating, not breaking apart and heading back to independence. Sci-fi always showed us that world and we’ve assumed we’re supposed to bring it about – a Republic, a Democratic Empire, a Hegemony. It may seem silly talking of science fiction but there’s a real point to follow it: the vast majority of science fiction imagines an Empire, Hegemony, or international central government but we do not have to head down that route. What Empire or attempted Hegemony in human history has lasted, no matter where they fell on the evil-to-benevolent, the authoritarian-to-democratic scale? What of those wasn’t torn apart by rebellion and terrorism fighting for decolonisation, for independence, and left ultimately devastated by mistrust, awful legacy, and a self-hindering guilt complex? Why do we not trust our selves to be able to cooperate, trade, join forces, compromise, and progress as humanity as independent nations with smaller, local governments and without these superstates and Empires? We don’t know how that world would work, but haven’t we seen, over and over again, the end result of the other? A collection of smaller, more local governments and independent nations working and competing together seems a worthwhile experiment lacking a history of terrible failure.
Perhaps to hold this Brexit referendum and to ultimately remain is an act, on our part, both of blackmail and of weakness. Do we wish to be part of an organisation that will do any significant listening or implement any necessary change, not after debate and reasoning, but only after we have edged increasingly towards the door, repeating adamantly that we really are going to pass through it, while, with increasing panic, they, in equal contradictory turn, promise us change and parentally warn us against change, until we close the door to keep us there in the room, having seen in them their potential for threat-induced reform, but having shown to them in ourselves a non-commitment to action? Some say our ultimate bargaining chip has always been the prospect of our walking away from the EU. How much power will that hold if we show that we will not actually do it? Even if it still held power, should we work within an EU that will only listen when we convincingly threaten to leave?
Scaremongering, emotion, and misinformation: these have been used within the Leave campaign. We all know this, we’ve known it since before the very start, and not once, rightly so, has calling this out fallen out of trend in the conversation. What has not gotten equal, needed, attention, however, is the scaremongering, emotion-based argument, misinformation, threat, blackmail, patronisation, and insult used within the Remain campaign, particularly in the most recent few months. The tactics and rhetoric recently by smug or panicky Remainers, representing the UK, the EU, and the US, have been fairly atrocious, if not unexpected. One of the strange anti-Brexit arguments goes: if we leave the EU then Britain will hemorrhage international influence, we will be but a tiny island, just another country. I don’t believe there is any basis for that.
If we leave the EU it will largely be the fault of/thanks to the Remain campaign.
Despite the points made immediately above, if I had found there to be stronger arguments to Remain, if in my mind there had been a clearer split in favour of Remain, then these tactics would not have been enough to bring me to abandon that and vote Leave merely in aversion. Yet I understand and empathise with those who are doing or may do just that.
… and both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back…
… thus conscience doth make cowards of us all. And thus the native hue of resolution is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought…
From definitely to moderately Remain, from slightly Remain to uncertainty, from slightly to moderately to confidently Leave – I have read and listened to and listened to and read many whom I respect and trust saying, between them, definitely in, definitely out, maybe in, maybe out. Once the recent shameful, suspect tactics from the Remain campaign had been considered, once the evidence and reasoning accumulated had been weighed to the point of a near fifty/fifty split, it came finally down, in the last week, to a judgement call. I want change, progress, motion, action. I want a peaceful, stable world. The Remain campaign believes itself to have a monopoly on ideals of multiculturalism, union, love, and working together as a species that can be international and forward-moving – I think that leaving the EU is not the antithesis of these things, but the better path to actually achieving them. Leaving the EU will result in decades of actual change, not merely talk of it, for Britain, for other EU countries, for the rest of the world. If you believe that that change can only be or will mostly be negative, can only cause chaos, then you have unreasonably little faith.
So it is with reasonable and slow-gained confidence that I shall be putting down a cross beside the words “Leave the European Union” this Thursday, the 23rd of June. And it will be with hope and with doubt and with caution too. I believe it is the braver choice, and not the foolish one. I believe it is ultimately less dangerous than continuing on in apparent and established safety. I believe it has much more potential for meaningful progress, and is, rather than an irreversible and regressive step back, a step sideways and then onward, a step backward for three forward. I believe I have come to those thoughts, these positions, through head rather than heart. I don’t believe that it is without risk, and I believe that it is the way we and others act and vote and trade and legislate after a leave vote that will be the cause of any chaos or negative outcome, not the act of leaving the EU itself. Peace and a positive outcome will also, of course, be the result of the way we and others act and vote and trade and legislate after a vote and not the vote itself, but I cannot convince myself that a vote to merely continue on, to Remain, is a courageous, progressive, or sensible way for Britain or any country to go forward.
… I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
– Robert Frost
… and enterprises of great pith and moment, with this regard, their currents turn awry
and lose the name of action.”
– William Shakespeare