How often do we hear the expression ‘we’ve always done it that way?’ This is usually the response when a new idea, concept or methodology is introduced into our lives – our workplaces, our social lives, our marriages, our religions, our politics. It is presumed to be the ultimate put down that whatever the change is, it ain’t gonna happen on my watch! More often than not the withholding of support for the change will be based on a prejudice or a fear of the unknown or, simply, just not understanding the benefits that the change might bring.
The Catholic Church is an example of one such establishment which has often been resistant to change. In the past, it has even killed, persecuted, or tortured its enemies in the name of God to maintain the status quo. Like some other religions, the Church had even used sin and frightened the faithful with the prospect of hell fire and damnation to keep its followers “in line”. This was one of the early examples of Project Fear. Project Fear has been used throughout history to corral the innocent into a state of inertia whereby thinking cannot or should not be challenged. The simple term, Project Fear, belies the real purpose of such thinking. It is actually designed to induce terror into the masses.
Politics is another area in which maintaining the status quo has become the norm and where fear of the unknown has been used to keep voters subservient to the politics of their upbringing. Few children of a Labour household will be anything else in their lives but Labour voters. Likewise few children of a Conservative household will change to another form of Party allegiance. Forgive a bit of slight levity when I say that the children of a Liberal persuasion never really make their minds up about anything which might suggest a lifetime of indecision. Nationalists have a limited understanding, it seems to me, of the overall role of a nation society and consequently tend towards aims that are demonstrably injurious to the nation state.
There is no bigger example of our human resistance to change in British politics than the current quagmire of Brexit. We have been a part of some kind of European project, as it is quaintly called, as if we were part of some grand management or corporate idea, for nearly 50 years. So many of the participants in the EU Referendum of June 2016 had very little understanding of what life was like in Britain before this grand plan was put in place. It is not unreasonable then, that many in that under 50 age group will say ‘we have always been in the EEC/EU, so why change?’
Quite rightly, therefore, it is argued that leaving the EU Project is the biggest constitutional change the country has probably embarked upon in our nation’s history. Certainly, I would argue, it is the biggest constitutional change since the country went from a Catholic society to a Protestant society under Henry VIII.
Quite wrongly, though, the consequences of leaving have been portrayed by the devout believers in the European Project. The European acolytes have worked to instill a sense of terror in the masses of how catastrophic, economically illiterate, jobs emasculating, trade inhibiting, investment fleeing and socially chaotic, this departure is going to be.
The proposition before the British people was a far from simple choice but it did require us to consider the benefits of leaving an organisation that many had grown up with.
Did we want to continue in such an organisation:
- that had taken over much of the functions of our elected, sovereign parliament;
- that had imposed well over 60,000 rules, regulations and diktats upon us with little or no parliamentary scrutiny;
- that had imposed adherence to a total extension of the EEC common market that we had innocently joined in the 1970s into a restrictive practice single market whereby we could not strike our own trade deals with other nations;
- that had imposed a tariff structured customs union that again, prevented us from striking our own international trade deals;
- that imposed freedom of movement of EU peoples into Britain whose number we had no control over;
- that charged the U.K. more for the privilege of belonging to this group than any other nation in it;
- that, finally, had the hitherto secret but now fully exposed, aspiration to become not only a union of nation states, but a federal union of nation states with presidential, central control of all aspects of our lives that we currently elect British MPs to fulfill.
Given the intransigence of the EU position, as shown by their leaders behaviour towards the Prime Minister in Salzburg, and the collective storm clouds massing in the U.K. House of Commons, it does beg the question, where do we go from here? It also begs the question as to how an unelected group in Brussels has managed to garner so much power over the national sovereignty of a nation state? As such, of course, the EU is not a nation but a political and economic entity. In another context when such over weaning imposition of power on another nation was seen to occur, it would be described as an act of war over that nation and military steps would have to be taken to undo such a consequence – as with WWI and WWII in the 20th century. Preventing that eventuality was one of the main reasons for the creation of what was to become the EU in the first place.
How have we come to such an impasse? How have we come to a situation in which vested interest by some can override the stated interests of the majority? How have we come to a situation in which we have become so inured with one position that we are incapable of adopting a new position?
Remember my mention of the Catholic Church and the imposition of fear of the unknown and terror to enforce its dogma? The Catholic Church is now undergoing fierce criticism by its practitioners of many of the Church’s dogmas occasioned by severe scrutiny of a corrupt and scandal ridden monsters which have committed terrible sexual crimes. It is certainly possible that Rome’s stubborn inflexibility on its dogmas and scandals will give rise to wholesale schism throughout the Catholic world.
Likewise, the European Union will try to retain its positioning on its moves towards a Federal States of Europe with a stubborn tenacity to make the U.K.’s Brexit as nonsensically difficult as it can to keep the other EU nations to heel. The EU plans for its nations to be controlled by fear ridden imposition of potential consequences for disobedience. The U.K. cannot be allowed to demonstrate that leaving the EU will be a good thing for fear that, others will follow, the EU will be subject to wholesale schism and, probably, total collapse.
In the case of EU versus U.K. the stakes are that high. It has little or nothing to do with economics but it has everything to do with political thinking that gained traction in a fractured world post WWII. This post-WWII consensus has been supported by outright lies in a developing last quarter of the 20th century but one that now has been unable to show sufficient flexibility to function appropriately in the 21st century.
These two examples in this piece represent resistance to change at their most stark. I am sure there are many others as can be seen in Venezuela, Argentina, the Middle East, Russia and the rise of fundamentalist Islam that in itself makes no pretense at still belonging to the dark ages in terms of its positioning.
I wish I could finish with some ray of hope that human beings will evolve sufficiently that resistance to change becomes downgraded in our modern world. I only have to read some of the posts on so called social media to disabuse myself of such thinking. Maybe Brexit and a truly successful post EU Britain might go some way to demonstrating for future generations that the myth of resistance to change at all costs can be broken. Britain has been for centuries now a world leader in innovation. Maybe Brexit will be another in a long line of British made innovations from which the world will prosper.
We can but hope.