Wednesday, 22 June 2016


The Brexit debate has absorbed all my emotional energy this week. Apologies for not blogging more frequently, but I have been spending my social media time on Twitter promoting the arguments for #Remain.

Tomorrow either the fabric that hold the civilised world will hold together or a small tear will appear, a tear that will grow and grow until everything we know and hold precious will be lost for generations. If Britain leaves, I think the EU will fall apart, leading to a far worse life for Europe's citizens than the one we have enjoyed these past 25 years since communism fell.

This is what it must have felt like in the 1930s, emerging from a global economic crisis, watching the waves of international and intercommunal hatred rise ever higher up towards your front door, the front door that for decades you felt to be safe.

My parents and their generation endured the resultant hell, survived and went on to rebuild a world along better lines, a Europe that for 70 years has been at peace. But the forces of intolerance and fear are on the rise, globally.

I fear too for the planet.

People with a propensity to vote for Brexit (or indeed for Trump or PiS) tend to poo-poo the notion of climate change and the idea that we should do anything about it.

If you are reading this in the UK and if you can vote tomorrow, I would implore you to vote Remain, to keep the UK as a strong part of a united Europe, united against the darkness from the East, united against climate change, united against intolerance and brutality.

The EU is no means perfect. It falls short in many departments. But it is, taken as a whole, does represent a step in the right direction along the long road from barbarism towards civilisation. Withdrawal from the EU by the UK would be the removal of a keystone that could bring the edice toppling down. Civilisation, progress, security - these are fragile things.

Talking to Poles of my age with vivid memories of how it was when the country was ruled for Moscow will tell you that the USSR and the EU are two diametrically opposite structures. I get extremely angry when people with no idea of life under communism talk about an 'EUSSR'. Where are Brussels' Gulags? The deportation of entire peoples? The use of mass starvation as a policy tool? Where's the EU's Katyń?

The killing of Jo Cox MP by a deranged nationalist, the hatred being poured out online targeting those arguing for an inclusive and tolerant future, the death threat aimed at Yvette Cooper's children and grandchildren - a sick insanity has been let loose.

If the outcome is Remain, the EU and all its institutions will need to take what happened as the strongest warning yet that it is time to reform. Time to kick out the jams. Time to communicate with 500 million citizens of its member states. Time to complete the single market - in services and in digital services. Time to get the world's wealthiest trading bloc globally competitive. And there will not be much time. If there's no evidence of reform, the citizens of other member states will express their strong desire to leave.

But the prospect of no EU in a few years time frightens me immensely. In these economically challenging times, the natural tendencies of national governments to erect trade barriers to protect their farmers, their heavy industries, their power generators, their financial sectors - is immense.

And as barriers to trade go up, so growth falls back. The spectre of autarky leads to all sorts of chaos.

Mankind has been here before. The dangers are clear.

The point of studying history is to train the mind to think beyond there here-and-now. There's a 500 year, a 100 year, a 50 year perspective behind us to help us consider the next 50, 100, 500 years.

This time last year:
Baszta - local legend round these parts

This time five years ago:
Downhill all the way to December

This time six years ago:
What do I want for Poland

This time seven years ago:
Summer holiday starts drizzly

This time eight years ago:
Israeli Air Force Boeing 707 visits Okęcie


Adam said...

"Tomorrow either the fabric that hold the civilised world will hold together or a small tear will appear, a tear that will grow and grow until everything we know and hold precious will be lost for generations"

The sky is falling, the sky is falling, cluck cluck!!

Michael Dembinski said...

Given your record on 'climate change - what nonsense', you seem like someone unaware of the threats to us out there.

Would you have spotted the dangers to Poland and to Europe when the Nazis came to power? Or after they annexed the Sudetenland? Or waited to shout 'cluck cluck' in the early hours of 1 September 1939?

Or you don't see any threat - to Europe, to the United Kingdom, to Poland - and to our planet?

Adam said...

Anthropomorphic climate change - slight difference. There is absolutely good reason to care about the planet and treat it with due care and attention, however this should be done with proportion and without hollow propaganda. Most important here is what the consequences of global warming will be and what can be done to mitigate against them. There is no reason not to take steps to develop renewable energy sources etc however with regard to the impact on the planet and prosperity of the human race this has more to do with mobilisation due to peak oil rather than anything that would have a significant impact on warming in the short or medium term.

As for your second comment, well, what can I say? It's so completely outrageous that it's best left to speak for itself.

I do see threats, however I believe they exist more in knee jerk responses, corporate globalisation, a 'European yes man' mentality and to social media style propaganda masquerading as wisdom. Anyone who buys into the idea that peace is contingent on 'more democracy' based on the loss of sovereignty and right of self determination is living in cloud cuckoo land. A federalist utopia may well be the way to go but not through subterfuge and unaccountable b-eurocracy.


Anonymous said...

If the UK is such a keystone and without it the EU would collapse, explain to me why any reforms the UK proposes are blocked. Why has the UK been on the losing side in the last 70 votes? In fact, why are German ministers threatening to 'punish' the UK if it votes out? Can any progress be made when 28 nations, all with their own agendas, have to unanimously agree? No chance!

Much as it grieves me, I believe that the remain side will win by a narrow margin (which really will not settle the issue). 18-36 months down the road, with no reform in Brussels and a whole raft of directives/legislation the remainers will be wondering why they were not told this was coming and why the hell they voted to remain. Much like the original referendum, when Joe Public was told it was only about trade, when the politicians knew full well there was another non trade agenda.

DC said...

I wonder if Matt Johnson was thinking of Brexit back in '86?

Anonymous said...

I was proud to be British (and Polish), but with THAT result, I'm now kind of...embarrassed to wave my passport while abroad. Funnily, not the Polish passport for a change.
But hey, who needs abroad, when we have finally became INDEPENDENT! That'll teach them, yippee!!!! And I can still go to all those places like Bognor Regis, and Blackpool and, I don't know, Bognor Regis again? Who knows, if I feel real adventurous, maybe even WALES one day?! Jesus.

Adam said...

It is difficult to gauge from this end what exactly motivated the Brexit result. Was it Merkel's flouting of EU rules and opening the flood gates to thousands upon thousands of refugees and economic migrants with threatened financial sanctions for those who don't accept quotas? Was it disillusionment with EU procedures and the lack of democratic process? A 'Little Britain' attitude? What of the founding ideals of a union of equals which were designed to quell national sentiment being ignored by the stronger members, with Germany for example pushing for Nord Stream 2 despite EU objection? There is a strong neo-marxist influence overtaking Europe with many Polish people seeing the Union developing along the lines of 'stuff what the grass roots feelings are, we the EU elite will plod on with our current aims and processes'. They believe that it is precisely this attitude which is leading to volatile national reactions stoked by narrow political interests on both sides. It looks like a vicious circle to me. And the reaction of EU leaders egging the UK to get on with withdrawal asap only underlines the divide.

Thatcher's u-turn on the EU was underscored by what she wrote in her last book - “That such an unnecessary and irrational project as building a European superstate was ever embarked upon will seem in future years to be perhaps the greatest folly of the modern era. And that Britain, with her traditional strengths and global destiny, should ever have been part of it will appear a political error of historic magnitude.”

There is no doubt that Europe needs a cohesive union which can look after and PROTECT the interests of all its members and not just the stronger ones. One which would care about the economic and military capabilities on the whole union. Wouldn't it be nice if there was a clear democratic process that could bring this to fruition without imposing political and moral ideologies on its members?

Michael Dembinski said...

"Adam said...
"Tomorrow either the fabric that hold the civilised world will hold together or a small tear will appear, a tear that will grow and grow until everything we know and hold precious will be lost for generations"

The sky is falling, the sky is falling, cluck cluck!!"

"Difficult to gauge from this end what exactly motivated the Brexit result".

No - it was the white working class in English small towns and villages, who'd never seen mass migration before (unlike Britain's cities), taking fright because Sebek and Kuba had come for their kids' jobs.

And the poncy end of the political right syllogising over the minutiae of the EU's role and influence over the UK.

Between the two, they've brought the sky down.

Cluck cluck indeed.

Jacek Koba said...

Take heart, Michael! I lament the way the vote has gone, of course I do. But just as some of those who have lived in the EU for the last few decades have never been part of it in their minds so will those of us who have now been orphaned continue to feel part of the EU, or part of the UK, in our hearts no matter what arbitrary referenda outcomes say.

If an EU referendum was now put to the Poles, the outcome would be the same: out. Few people vote based on facts, fewer still based on accurate facts. Most vote based on values. And values can’t be wrong (but take note of what PIS supporters say in this country!). This was driven home to me when I discussed current affairs with one group of my students (a 3 to 2 split between non-PIS and PIS supporters). We agreed Europe’s values were under threat (what a fiasco!). The question was thrown back at me: “What values?” In my book: liberalism, separation of church and state, democracy, freedom of expression, tolerance. Coming like a tone of bricks was: what about Christianity, patriotism, tradition, loyalty, purity?

I admit I have not followed the quest for faith analysis on your blog, so I don’t know what conclusions you have reached, and I don’t want to offend any sensibilities (I am a fully paid-up supporter of political correctness, you see), but my gut tells me the British voter rejected the latter, as embodied by the philosophy Eastern Europeans (Poles?) bring with them into the UK. Poles would have rejected the former, as a threat to their nationhood, Christian tradition and moral order.

Sovereignty, refugee crisis and economy were a red herring in this campaign. Few UK citizens (or any other) understand how the EU actually works, UKiP’s campaign poster was a lie, and the stats that had been bandied about by both sides had been largely made up.

The BBC played a clip featuring a World War II veteran from Swindon who was in tears with joy at the UK (not for long, I fear) taking back control. He’d been waiting for this for 40 years. He was a fighter pilot during the war and said he didn’t fight in the war to have Brussels running his life now. I feel for him. And out of respect for his age, I would let him have his moment of joy. That PC again! Absent these constraints, I’d say: several generations since the Treaty of Rome have been spared the need to go to war and fight fellow Europeans who are just like them, human beings, thanks to all the talking, bureaucracy, shill-shallying and inefficiency of the EU.

It’s a step back but for civilisation (have a listen to Michio Kaku: ) but evolution didn’t stop just because the whales and the dolphins decided to leave the sea. They learnt of their mistake and returned to sea, unfortunately ill-equipped to breathe under water.

Michael Dembinski said...

@ Jacek Koba

Jacku - good to hear from you - I hope you're well. You have written some profound observations here; I shall respond in a full post in the near future.