The Connection Between Brexit and Bernie
It has never been more important to ‘think global, act local.’
The movement in Britain to leave the EU and the movement to elect Bernie Sanders in the US share an underlying cause. Across the world today there is massive dissatisfaction and anger with how global capitalist rule is converging into smaller and smaller units with more and more power via elite agreements — NAFTA, WTO, TPP perhaps, and yes, the EU. These elite agreements are driving down wages for nearly everyone, destroying the environment, and starting or abetting wars.
There are several responses to this dissatisfaction and anger.
One shortsighted and simplistic response is xenophobia and isolationism. This response is manifest in the appeal of the Brexit vote and in the appeal of Donald Trump. If you can tell yourself that it’s your neighbor — rather than unregulated global corporate rule — that is making people you know lose their healthcare, their jobs, or their homes, then you can close a symbolic door to the world.
The more challenging response is manifest in the rise of Bernie Sanders — and also in the push to radically democratize the EU. People across the world need to work together as a planet now more than ever to take on climate change, corruption, economic justice, for-profit wars, and the refugee crises that these other problems create. We must work together to ensure healthcare for all, clean water and food for all, and a peaceful and healthy environment that all can live in. A world in which all have clean water, healthy food, and peace is a world with little terrorism and few refugees. Human beings generally prefer to live out their lives peacefully in the culture in which they grew up.
Status quo politics — the Hillary Clintons and the David Camerons — is being rejected by both the right and the left because it pushes ever onward with corporate, oligarchic rule that further enriches the already wealthy under deceptive names like “free trade” and “neoliberalism.” These policies create inequality, war, refugees, and terrorism.
In my humble opinion, we should all support Bernie Sanders and a much more democratic EU. And we should oppose the xenophobic supporters of Brexit and Trump — not by yelling at them or calling them stupid, but by acknowledging that they’re partly right. Yes, the corporate-rule status quo is making 99% of the planet poorer and more dangerous. Yes, we do need to make changes as soon as possible. But breaking into smaller and smaller units based on xenophobia will only make the real problems that we must face as a planet less likely to be addressed.
It is through working together as a planet that can we address these issues.
There is a reason that the famous axiom is: “think global, act local.” Think global. It isn’t “think local, act local.” Thinking locally simply won’t bring the sustainable, peaceful, just, and healthy society we all can share.
Whether you’re trying to get by in Britain, the US, or anywhere else on earth today, it is time to think globally and to work together.