To The Daily Sun,
Great Britain almost made it into the 21st Century. Joining the European Union seemed to be the final step. Things seemed to be moving along smoothly until the heat-up in the Middle East and North Africa. Following the U.S. into various military operations cost them a bit more than they were comfortable paying, but trade with the EU partners was going along nicely. Then the westward migration of the Syrians and others fleeing the caliphate filled the English with cold fear. They visualized Britain as they liked to remember it slipping away. It was being replaced by a completely foreign element guided by the Koran.
Growing numbers of Brits blamed those decision makers in Brussels. The EU planners became the whipping boys simply because of the efforts to respond with a plan. The plan was conceived to help Greece, Turkey and some other members deal with their debt and the processing of the horde of refugees landing on their shores. The English reaction was predictable but very short-sighted. The younger Brits and the Scots tried to hold the line, but were ever-so-slightly outnumbered by the remaining members of the "old guard."
Those who study history can find a place in time when those same attitudes caused the fall of the British Empire. It all started in the 18th Century, when colonial America decided they had had enough and rebelled successfully wit a little help from the French. There was a time in the early 19th Century when the British tried to take back their favorite colony but, alas, had other ideas. Fast-forward a few decades and the other colonies of the empire began to feel restless and resentful. Some were allowed to become commonwealth nations. The so-called "ruling class" who controlled the banks and therefore, commerce, continued to lord over all. They saw America expand, have a Civil War. That war, a real threat to national unity, was about trade versus the states of the south clinging to slavery to make the cotton and tobacco culture work for the plantation owners.
The British failed to see any lesson in the outcome of our Civil War. Democracy was almost destroyed by the rich wanting to hang on to wealth and the privileged way of life. Even today, American attitudes about what was solved by the Civil War depend on where you live in our great country.
As the Industrial Revolution began, the continent of Europe started fighting for supremacy based on industrial strength. It was a very restless period. So-called world wars were fought. The British and their former colony, the United States were pitted against those in European mainland. Central European nations were bent on acquiring resources and the wealth of their neighbors. Asians were drawn into the second conflict and, during the aftermath of that war, Britain lost control of their empire.
The "old guard," like the southern aristocracy in the U.S., have not quite gotten over the trauma of having to settle for less. They still have their rank, but not such a great store of riches. Most live comfortably and want to continue that way of life. So, what they saw put them in panic mode. With their thin majority, they have managed to place a stick in the wheel of progress as conceived by the European Union. We can almost predict how their separation will play out. The story to follow is not a mystery. It is more like a Shakespearean tragedy where no one is allowed to live happily ever after.
- Category: Letters
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