Two Old Codgers

How the World strikes us

Arthur,
I couldn’t let an opportunity to pass to comment on your democracy article. I know it’s too opinionated and disrespectful of other peoples views but I thought I’d write it down anyway! Throw it in the bin Arthur if it’s inappropriate.
Steve


BREXIT
The last three years has shown living proof that, as human beings, we really are just animals, preferring to act and behave on our basic instincts rather than any intellect. I know that sounds like an elitist view point suggesting that the binary tribal warfare known as Brexit is a conflict divided by intelligence, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
EU flag

The fact is, whether we like it or not, our decision making is governed more by emotion than rational thinking. That’s because we are animals and there’s no escaping that. If our intelligence and ability to reason at a remarkably high level came into play, why do people continue to fight, try to demonstrate oneupmanship, start wars, ignore poverty or crave power over other people? I’ve come to realise that all those things are examples of animal behaviour playing out the role of 'survival of the fittest'. It’s mainly males rather than females and usually the domain of the extreme alpha male. It’s common in the animal kingdom for most species to generally favour group activity with a ‘pack leader’ ruling the roost; there are exceptions to this of course. The human being is no exception though; on the one hand we crave leadership but on the other hand we are quick to criticise leaders and want to elect another.

I think that the issue of Brexit has removed the mask of civility that we wear that separates us from our perceived crude behaviours of animals. For decades the newspapers have literally brainwashed the public into seeing the EU as a force of evil and some people genuinely believe that, while in others that very notion hangs around in the subconscious just waiting to be activated. At the same time during that brainwashing period, successive governments have ‘got away with murder’ when it comes to many domestic policies and got away with it because the public are willing to blame the EU rather than our own government.

So, when it came to crunch time at the referendum in 2016, over half the electorate voted to leave the EU. Ignoring the headline reasons such as racism, borders, EU regulations and sovereignty, it’s clear that many voters just took sides as they would in a pack situation electing the next alpha male and exiling the previous one. This is behaviour that’s easy to understand at an animal level so there really isn’t a mystery to understand why the country is so divided on an issue that was decided then not carried out.

How many of the British public took the trouble to read the Treaty of Lisbon? This is a beautiful document with aims, ideals and compromises that makes it difficult to comprehend what we wouldn’t want to be a part of a united Europe. The greatest disappointment to my mind is that the general public was asked in the first place to make a decision that, irrespective of the outcome, would likely cause a division that is more troubling than the issue of leaving or not leaving the EU itself. Where were the government advisors that would have known the social damage this would cause? When leaders ask the pack to decide something, the pack either a) gets very nervous because the leader is supposed to sort this kind of stuff out for us, or b) feels empowered to kick against the system like a class of children when the teacher is missing.

Survival of the richest
So what is the main objection to the EU in animal terms? It’s simply that animals don’t have a view beyond their pack which is fairly small. The next pack down the road is the enemy. As a small island we have a dreadful track record of remaining insular, perceiving any nation outside of our waters as enemies. The exceptions being the nations we fought and forced into becoming part of the British Empire. In view of our history, I think we have little chance of bonding with our neighbours and some kind of Brexit is inevitable, due to our distorted vision of the UK as a downtrodden little island that needs to return to the ‘good old days’ of sunny days with green fields, cricket on the village green, making poor quality cars, sending men down the pit, children into the weaving sheds, and of course, no foreigners….

I’m quite happy to come clean on my views. I don’t just wish for a united Europe, I hope for a united planet; a world where we all cooperate. After all, if we’re all on the same side it makes the horrors of warfare less likely and we may just see less of the differences in each other and more of what bonds us together as a species. Alas I think that’s all probably just wishful thinking.

United planet

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