Monday, May 23, 2016

EU - Remain or Leave: the definitive view

Alright, alright. 23 June is looming and A) You haven't yet made up your mind how to vote. Don't worry. It doesn't mean you're weak and indecisive. B) You've made up your mind, but you're wrong. Don't feel bad about it. We're only fallible human beings.  C) You've made up your mind, and you're right. That'd be nice, but it's unlikely. Whichever way you vote, things won't turn out as you thought. Which is another way of saying you were wrong. Sorry. Can't be helped.

May I make some assumptions? Let's say you're not one of those slackers who just can't be bothered to tune in as another lengthy segment of BBC Question Time is given over to discussing the EU referendum. That's sheer who indolence, right? You've read the Leave stuff. You've read the Remain stuff. You've read the Electoral Commission's stuff with Leave and Remain stuff in it. Even watched the Nick Robinson and Jeremy Paxman documentaries. Not to mention countless pro and anti pieces in various papers all about the important FACTS, like who's going to come out of this the best, Dave or Boris?

Yes, FACTS. Give us the FACTS about the economy, security, democracy, immigration, our international standing etc. FACTS. No, not the inny facts, or the outy facts. FACT facts. Huh? 

Sorry to come over all epistemological on you, but given that humans are finite, situated beings, all facts are experienced empirically through our senses and/or processed rationally by the thought processes of our minds. On that basis there are no uninterpreted facts. Only God's knowledge is archetypal, boundless and infallible. Contrastingly, our knowledge, is ectypal, bounded and fallible. That's why we're often mistaken about things. Blind wrong, even, on occasion. 

Does that mean we're lost in a fog of unknowing subjectivity? Not necessarily. We can know stuff truly, but not all that there is to know about it. Certainly the future is a closed book. The outcome of our decisions is often other than as we expected. In this instance, we simply can't know what effect Remaining in the EU or Leaving it will have on the future prospects of the UK. The one scenario may have less disadvantageous effects than the other, but, it's difficult to assess which one it is.

As for me, I've tended to be in favour of remaining in a reformed EU. But Cameron failed to achieve the radical reforms that are needed for the EU to function less as a wannable superstate and more like an alliance of nation states. And that was with the implicit threat of the UK leaving the EU resting on the reform package. But are things really that bad as they are, with the UK as a member of the EU? Can we be sure that pulling out will make stuff better? 

The grand hopes of the Brexit dreamers seem as doubtful to me as those of the EU romantics. Deeper integration won't lead to a new utopia. Neither will separatist isolation. In or Out we'll still be living in a fallen world, where morally and intellectually fallible people will operate fallible systems of governance, and in which unexpected events will happen to blow the best laid plans off course. The question is whether Europe and the UK would be better placed to weather the storms of history together, or apart?

Am I being so pessimistic as to say that in a fallen world things can only ever get worse? Not quite. It's better to live in a democracy, subject to the rule of law than under a dictatorship, subject to arbitrary rule. If Zimbabwe enjoyed the UK's political system its people would be immeasurably better off. But the EU choice is nowhere near as stark. No one can be sure that the positive consequences of Leave or Remain would outweigh the negative. Yet opting out is probably a bigger step into the unknown than opting to stay in. 

There's no 'Christian view' to guide us here either. How nations relate to one another is a 'common kingdom' issue, on which the Bible gives no clear guidance. Even on Christiany stuff like morals and values, freedom of religion, the cause of mission in Europe, etc it's difficult to say whether Leave or Remain is the best thing to do. In weighing things up Christians will just have to consider the balance of probabilities, watch more QT, read more In/Out propaganda, pray for wisdom, sniff the air, and vote. That's the definitive view. We'll, kind of. 

1 comment:

Ben said...

I see that you are nailing your colours rather loosely to the fence. Surely you must have an opinion of your own.

Whatever the outcome of the UK referendum, it seems likely that the EU will sooner or later collapse anyway. I don't assert this as a "fact" in the sense that HM Treasury uses the word (that is, a wild projection supported by bogus assumptions and delivered with spurious precision) but on the certainty that like all earth's proud empires, this one must pass away. And it is likely to pass sooner rather than later, given its antidemocratic nature (three presidents, none of them elected) and lack of fiscal probity. After all, the auditors have refused to pass the accounts for aa long now as some voters in the coming referendum have been alive.

Think also of the considerable numbers of people from the east and south of the EU now pouring in across Europe's open borders. Among them are some (many?) who despise Western liberal values, and enfeebled Western morality, and will likely express their disdain with bullets and bombs, as they are already doing.

So I suppose that in your taxonomy of voters, I fit into category C. Not kind of.