The thing about arguments, especially long running arguments is that there is a real risk that pride hinders any possibility of having ones mind changed. When we argue are we attempting to change each other’s mind? Why do we bother if we deny that possibility for ourselves?
In an attempt to avoid becoming entrenched in one view I have remained on the fence regarding the EU debate for as long as possible. For weeks I have heard arguments regarding the financial repercussions, political motivations, the scare stories, the utopian fantasy’s and the moral causes. Not one of them has been remotely convincing either way. I have remained unmoved, confused and to tell you the truth more and more disinterested. It’s not hard to see why. How do politicians expect to rouse some passion when all their arguments revolve around contradictory speculation. The public have switched off and the media doggedly repeat the same tired lines that advance the arguments no further. Nobody can predict what will happen, whether we will be better off, whether Europe will be better off, if things will change or if we will be richer or poorer. Speculating on what will happen makes for a very poor argument.
Rather than a rich tapestry of ideas contributing towards an intellectual conversation we have a facile debate nakedly guided by self interest. It’s so easy to become entrenched in your argument when there is no evidence for anyone to refute or defend. If you are having to work hard to make your point when there is nothing definitive to prove you wrong, why would you give ground on your position? And if you aren’t willing to, given the right evidence, what are you doing even arguing?
You are no help.
Consequentially rather than argue about what will happen it should become an ideological debate. One of ideas, optimism and long term aspirations. For that we have to consider what we value.
For me, I want a fair and just society, not just in Britain but globally. Everyone on the planet deserves the same opportunities and we have a responsibility as one of the most privileged nations on the planet to help make that happen. Whatever you think of the politics of Europe from a social point of view it brings nations together. Governments have to work together, people integrate, resources are pooled and shared, help is available.
Additionally one other thing that is hard to refute is the EU is getting bigger, this continental experiment is drawing people in, the organisation is becoming more powerful, more diverse, more important.
Given that it’s growing in that way, why would we want to turn our back on it? Why would we want no part in the most serious global attempt to unite nations together, to shrink back in to our own skin whilst Europe grows. Yes ultimately Europe might fail, but as an idea it’s the best chance we have at fostering a proper international community capable of real global change. If we leave we seek to turn our backs on that idea and play no part and have no say in its realisation.
I am aware that the above argument is optimistic, it longs for Europe to succeed. So what if it doesn’t? I fail to see how we could be insulated from a failed Europe. There are three ways a Europe could fail. Economic crash, war or some sort of immigration epidemic. All three of these possibilities affect us whether we are in the EU or not and by actually leaving we probably make one of these nightmare scenarios more likely. Now it appears I’m resorting to scare tactics myself, I’m not suggesting that will happen, but the EU is under strain and is a major part of the global ecosystem. Would it be wise to breakaway now and create uncertainty rather than offer some leadership?
All it boils down to is this – we have a great many neighbours, all linked, doing their best to negotiate the modern world in an organisation that our grandchildren can make their own. Do we as a nation want to cash in our chips and turn our heels before the real stakes are played for? or do we want to have a say how this game plays out and extend a hand and a warm smile?