Brent Cameron is a Senior Advisor with Concierge Strategies. The second edition of his book, “The Case for Commonwealth Free Trade: Options for a new globalization” is available now on Amazon worldwide.
The American television show “Halt and Catch Fire,” which aired for four seasons, chronicled the lives of a group of iconoclasts who came together in the heady days of the development of the personal computer and early internet. Notwithstanding the usual dramatization of characters and their private travails, the show portrayed a group of people who persevered, despite a myriad of challenges and setbacks (some being self-inflicted).
One of the pivotal characters, Joe MacMillan (played by Lee Pace) summarized their overarching pursuit by observing “Computers aren’t the thing. They’re the thing that gets us to the thing.”
This week, Britain will officially mark its exit from the European Union.
For the over 17 million who voted Leave in the referendum, it has been nearly three years in the making. For a determined group of activists and thinkers, it has been a journey that has taken even longer – extending into decades.
On the evening of the 31st, most will be breathing a sigh of relief, and will no doubt celebrate an effort that has redefined politics in Britain, in Europe and the world. Indeed, the history of those efforts will be the subject of even more books, research papers, graduate theses, television shows, movies and radio plays in the years to come.
And yet, in full acknowledgement of the achievement Brexit represents, all of what has transpired is prologue.
To paraphrase Joe MacMillan “Brexit isn’t the thing. It’s the thing that gets us to the thing.”
I say ‘us’ in full knowledge of the fact that I am not a British citizen. I’m a Canadian – born, raised, and firmly ensconced. And yet, in the context of this observation, the ‘us’ applies.
Brexit, as a ‘thing’, has nothing to do with me or anyone in my country, nor anything to do with Australia, or New Zealand. And yet, it is the thing that gets us to the ‘thing’ we all have a stake in.
Brexit allows Britain to fully partner with us to form a CANZUK partnership, and that is surely the thing to be gotten to.
Like Brexit before it, CANZUK is entering the second phase of what Arthur Schopenhauer identified as the journey of truth, that “First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” For those in the UK who have dealt with the well-resourced campaign to upend the 2016 referendum results, there is surely an understanding that the second phase is the toughest to bear. And yet, like Brexit, CANZUK will succeed in the end, partly on the logic of the idea, but something just as important.
There is no alternative on offer.
Those within the pundit class – the people for whom inspiration flowed – have relegated themselves to the role of the perpetual “devil’s advocate.” They expend all manner of blood and treasure to rail against what they hate but do nothing to promote a vision of what could be.
The elites have vacated the arena of ideas. Unwilling – or unable – to present an alternative to ideas like CANZUK, they fail their duty of leadership. It is not their flawed strategy of anger and snide derision that guarantees a future for CANZUK – it is their conscious choice not to develop and present a cogent alternative.
Nature abhors a vacuum, and the failure of our self-appointed betters to offer a plan that safeguards the liberal international order for another generation, threatens them with a further loss of esteem and confidence.
The introversion of the United States and the European Union, combined with the continued ascendancy of a dictatorial and authoritarian regime, makes the option of doing nothing not an option.
CANZUK represents a coherent core in the international community that is unabashedly committed to freedom, human rights, and fair trade. It would represent a signal fire to tell the broader world that there is an alternative, and that they can be a part of it. They need not accept being a subject of illiberal hegemony as an inevitability.
Brexit is the thing that gets us to the next thing – and CANZUK will be the next thing that helps get us to something more.
So, enjoy your celebrations on January 31st, because there is more work to be done.