Thursday, 30 June 2016


American Guns and Brexit: We, the Insane People

All things and everything are entwined in the web of history. And physics too because there will always be equal and opposite reactions, low entropy and chaos linked by quantum waves of fear. Everything’s connected.

There has always been war in Europe. Whatever the continent brought to the table to advance the human condition, it is also responsible for creating global warfare. The American Revolutionary War or Great Patriotic War or whatever began almost immediately after the end of the Seven Years’ War. Proxy conflict continued in North America. France and Spain backed the 13 colonies. Great Britain employed German mercenaries, Hessians. The Continental Army was something like an outdoor Canadian hockey rink on a mild winter’s night: pick-up; everybody dropped their guns eight years after the face off.

The Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America, (raise a Militia, bear arms, blah, blah) enacted in 1791, isn’t about the right to walk into a Dallas Wal-Mart with a loaded assault rifle so much as a reflection of a fledging nation’s middle finger to 18th century geopolitics. The United States Army was not formally created until 1796. In the meantime, the loose affiliation of independent states was prepared to defend itself against European colonial powers (Britain, France, Spain, Holland etc.) looking to solidify or advance their interests in the New World.

The Second Amendment was a Continental Congress stopgap: European interference in the affairs of the new country was rightfully feared and would not be tolerated. The self-proclaimed weapons right now seems as archaic as slave ownership. And it lives on now as a fulcrum for fear, leveraged as an alienable right in a demon haunted world by special interests and the paranoid right. There’s a fifth column of the enemy within and barbarians are at the gates.

There has always been war in Europe. The European Economic Community (EEC) was formed to ease trade and commerce restrictions between countries on the continent. However, a tacit hope of the agreement was that partner countries might be less inclined to invade each other. That worked. The EEC has since morphed into the European Union (EU). The EU is a grand, globalization Petri dish, a modern and enlightened attempt to distribute goods, democracy, wealth and equality despite often being hamstrung by red tape.

The Brexit result (I’m fed up with these neologistic proper nouns already and can we please fucking lose Scandalgate?) reflects Britain’s fear of the rest of Europe. The still mysterious doom of one of the world’s most respected countries hinged on two lame advertising campaigns. One called for the benefits of common sense and a common market; the other, from people who should surely know better after all this time, fearfully cried for isolation, tribalism and protectionism, a toast to brave Albion with chipped Victorian teacups: to bed-sits, gas meters, a full English, two World Wars and one World Cup, coal strikes, Spitfires and the Strand, luv. The downside of direct democracy is that a myriad of complicated issues is reduced to the level of the lowest common denominator: us and them; reason versus passion.

We’ve all just dipped our toes into the tide of the 21st century. I suppose a Creationist might rib us that these are the sunny days of Eden for populist demagogues. I would argue that the decline of the British Empire began with the violent secession of the Thirteen Colonies, which in turn led to the cocktail napkin Second Amendment. I realize that Americans need their guns. The daily mass shootings in that country aren’t as bothersome as Muslim mole President Obama’s conspiratorial plan, in league with the United Nations, to round up true patriots and imprison them in the dank dungeons underneath Wal-Mart stores. There were no facts underlying the Brexit ‘Leave’ rhetoric, just appeals to the past and nostalgia, and weirdly, the funding of Britain’s National Health Service.

History tells us that there were never any good old days. History informs us that a lot of our present problems had their genesis in bygone days. Moving backward into the future seems an insane proposition, delusional at best. Our overheated and rifled imaginations are running off in all the wrong directions.

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