Greater Surbiton

The perfect is the enemy of the good

Britain’s uncertain Brexit march

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The popular vote of the UK on 23 June 2016 to leave the EU has been politically an earthquake for the first and a shock to the second. Retrospectively, the outcome was likely, given the structural factors both within Britain and between Britain and the EU. Yet these same factors have obstructed a clear British postreferendum strategy for secession: Britain does not know what kind of Brexit it wants, or whether it wants one at all. This briefing will examine the causes of the Brexit revolution and the reasons for its uncertain execution, before considering the likely outcome.

Britain’s relationship to Europe is traditionally ambiguous. Britain’s identity – of a Protestant island-state formed in 1707 from the AngloScottish union – was cemented during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in wars against the Catholic powers of continental Europe. It was successively reinforced by Napoleon’s anti-British Continental System; by nineteenth-century imperial ‘splendid isolation’; and by Britain’s ‘Finest Hour’ in 1940, standing alone against Nazi-dominated Europe. But to maintain the European balance of power, Britain had to be closely involved in Europe’s politics. When Britain became too detached from Europe, as during the American Revolution and the Boer War, it found itself in peril.

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Sunday, 15 September 2019 Posted by | Brexit, Britain, European Union, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Being Serb the Bosnian way: Rodoljub Colakovic

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I reached my homeland, in Bosnia, whom I love as it is possible to love only a mother. I love her for her gentleness, her sombreness, wild beauty, for her soft and warm songs, for her pain and suffering yesterday and still today. I love her for her rebelliousness and her struggles, for her proud sons who languish and die in the dungeons and fortresses of two great empires and two small kingdoms: from Asia Minor through Požarevac, Arad and Teresienstadt to Zenica, Sremska Mitrovica and Lepoglava. Among them were various people: archimandrites and metal-workers; long-moustached Franciscans and clean-shaven gymnasium students; the descendants of old Bosnian landowning houses and the sons of serfs; coarse and illiterate people and educated heads who managed to “write little books”. But in all of them burned the same flame: all of them loved our Bosnia, and all of them not only passionately desired, but fought and died so that her children should have more freedom, more bread and more justice.

Rodoljub Čolaković, Bosnian Serb from Bijeljina, Bosnian Partisan leader, Spanish Civil War vet, political secretary of the Bosnian Communist organisation in 1943, first prime minister of the People’s Republic of Bosnia-Hercegovina in 1945, writing in 1941, on the eve of Yugoslavia’s entry into World War II (Rodoljub Čolaković, Kuća oplakana, Svjetlost, Sarajevo, 1966, p. 307).

 

Sunday, 15 September 2019 Posted by | Balkans, Bosnia | | Leave a comment

From Milosevic to Brexit

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In the 1990s, it seemed Serbia had gone off on a sonderweg while most of the rest of Europe was progressing toward liberalism and integration. Now it seems Milosevic and his regime were pioneers for a general trend across Europe and beyond, involving different combinations of chauvinism, particularly Islamophobia; anti-elitist rabble-rousing; resistance to international collaboration and integration; treating allies as enemies; contempt for procedures and institutions; putting the immediate interests of cliques before the national interest. European and American right-wing populists who whip up Islamophobic fears of high Muslim birthrates and of Muslims as the enemy within are treading the same path as the Serbian nationalists of the 1980s and 90s, for whom Islamophobia and fears of the Albanian birthrate were central.

We in Britain may particularly now appreciate what the people of Serbia went through, as we watch a clique of cynical, self-serving chancers wreck our economy, relations with allies and internal harmony, all in pursuit of their own personal careers and profits. The sort of nationalists in Britain today who think our enemies are the liberal-democratic EU, France, Ireland, etc. are not unlike the nationalists in Serbia in the 1980s who thought their enemies were the Yugoslav federation, Croatia, Slovenia, Kosovo Albanians, etc.

It may not end in war and genocide. But we have a destructive period ahead of us that will make our country poorer, more divided and less respected.

Thursday, 5 September 2019 Posted by | Brexit, Islamophobia | , , | Leave a comment