‘Brexit’ and the progressive mental meltdown

my Trade Tripper column in this 2-3 July 2016 issue of BusinessWorld:

Progressives make it sound like “sovereignty” is a bad thing. But if they’re right, then efforts by the Philippines to protect our territory against China, reject hazardous wastes from Japan, or protest alleged political interference by the US are therefore -- all logically -- wrong.

As it is, the very Filipinos in social media and academe that previously screamed “freedom,” “democracy,” “vox populi, vox dei,” and “sovereignty” now urge -- in robotic conformity with the rest of the international progressive community -- that the British people’s vote to leave the European Union be disregarded.

Instead, it’s suggested -- and again this coming not only from supposedly cosmopolitan liberals but also their clones from the local academe and media -- that the sovereign British people follow unquestioningly the dictates of politicians, the elites, academics, and foreign bureaucrats.

To see how ridiculously odious that is, try imagining the Philippines being dictated upon -- on matters including taxation, immigration, and agricultural policy -- by Indonesian, Thai, Malaysian or Singaporean bureaucrats in ASEAN.

Stop claiming national sovereignty if you find that acceptable.

What progressives try to ignore (and any one who loves reason has to really relish this part) is that the British essentially spoke truth to power. Since the Left loves nothing more than “sticking it to the man,” the fact that they’re so bitter and angry at “Brexit’s” electoral success is bizarrely ironic. Probably because “the man” (i.e., the EU officials) are progressives themselves.

Indeed. “Brexit” revealed the authoritarian mindset of those in the academic or political class: thinking they’re better than others, quickly labeling anyone disagreeing with them as xenophobic, stupid, uninformed, shortsighted, selfish, or intolerant.

Hence why writers like Olivia Goldhill pontificate that “Brexiters” didn’t really understand the philosophy of freedom, forgetting all the while that the right definition of freedom is what conservatives have been encouraging liberals to understand during the debates on same-sex marriage, euthanasia, and abortion.

So, as Ian Tuttle (“Liberal Cosmopolitans Lash Out at the Shattering of Their Worldview,” June 25 2016) points out, “both sides of the Atlantic are dominated by liberal cosmopolitans who are no longer able to acknowledge the validity of any other worldview than their own. The anti-‘Brexit’ crowd cannot acknowledge that those who voted to leave may have done so out of legitimate concerns about sovereignty or economic opportunity or security -- that is, that they may have drawn rational conclusions and voted accordingly.”

But, “if ‘Brexit’ critics are right, the European Union should be glad to be rid of the United Kingdom.” Instead, the anger of EU anti-“Brexit” people is so thick you can spread it on bread like Marmite.

And it’s really hypocritical at how easy progressives feel about rejecting the democratic process, concluding it hijacked by “populists” or “demagogues,” and instead advocate for the rule of a small, thinking elite (i.e., themselves). Simply because they didn’t get their way.

Hence you have academics and commentators desperately suggesting that the British people’s vote be ignored, hold another plebiscite, another general election, or wait for something terrible to happen. Anything. Except admit that the British people have the right to chart their own destiny.

Michael Sandel is correct: Much of the energy animating the “Brexit” sentiment is born of the failure of elites to speak directly to people’s aspiration to feel they have some meaningful say in shaping the forces that govern their lives.

The fact is, despite their intellectual pretensions or “credentials,” the anti-“Brexits” just cheapened public discourse, making the opposing sides dig deeper into their positions.

Ivory tower academics make much of the idea that there should be no “others.” Which is naive. There will always be “another” to “others”. That is reality.

Rather than imposing the idea of peoples or countries having no separate identity or differences, acknowledgement instead should be made of that “otherness,” allowing us the space to embrace it and respect it.

Not forcing people (as self-proclaimed “real experts” want) to make our individual existences uniform and, thus, inconsequential and meaningless.

The favorite game now, of course, for progressives is predicting Britain’s doom. But no political scientist or commentator can foretell how “Brexit” will play out. Anyone doing that is a fraud.

The thing is, if history taught us anything: no small select group can ever handle people’s lives better than the people themselves. “We can’t predict what will happen. But one thing I do know -- history never truly had a ‘side.’ Instead, it is the story of action and reaction, and no outcome is inevitable.” (David French, “Brexit and the End of International Progressive Inevitability,” June 25 2016)

Finally, any parallel between “Brexit” and the secessionist movement in Mindanao is completely without basis. The former is about an independent sovereign State being demanded that it allow itself to be dictated upon by unelected foreigners.

Of the so-called “Bangsamoro” issue, simply stated, international law does not allow secession or self-determination rights for religious, linguistic, cultural, or ethnic groups within a sovereign State.