Britain has voted for independence from the EU. It has resented the control by Brussels over its decision making. Notwithstanding the irony that the country – and continent – got rich on the back of colonising and colonising other nations in the 19th and 20th century, there are several important points that emerge from the result of the EU referendum:
1. It is clear that the British people don’t trust what they see as a disconnected, sometime corrupt, establishment and a rigged system. They don’t trust the experts who couldn’t predict the financial crisis and they certainly don’t trust the politicians who they consider aloof, unrepresentative and utterly self serving.
2. The Leave vote is part of a wider concern across many democratic states where people feel left behind by the global system and the liberal elite. Left behind educationally (lack of good schools), politically (as elites take more control) and most of all left behind economically (as poverty increases, inequality rises and opportunities decrease).
3 The concerns about racism and Islamophobia felt by Muslims are real. However, the decision to vote to leave is a symptom of endemic nationalism across Europe. Leaders on the Leave and Remain sides have been as bad as each other, fueling resentment, victimhood and hysteria around this topic. Both would rather blame immigrants for lack of housing, jobs and public services rather than their own inept policies. Moreover, rabid nationalism is not restricted to the UK. A European Union that puts interests of a remote, bureaucratic EU elite in Germany, Britain or France above ordinary people in Greece, Ireland or any other country could never succeed because of the inherent nationalism.
4. The economic uncertainty now unleashed shows the fault-lines in the global capitalist system. Technological innovation, globalisation and the breakdown of traditional political structures has created forces that nation states and even unions of states can no longer cope with. The focus on profits rather than people, on security for the few rather than prosperity for the many has created mass schisms in western society. It is not for no reason that even the United States hoped the status quo would be maintained.
5. An Islamic alternative vision for the world is to build a system around solving the affairs of the ordinary people. To unify people rather than divide them. To build ladders of opportunity not walls of protection. To engage in the politics of citizenship not the politics of fear. It is no accident that only the Islamic system has truly acted historically as a melting pot for different races, classes and religions.
The exit of the U.K. from the EU is just a symptom of a wider ideological malaise in western society. It explains the rise of the far right in Europe, it explains the ghettos now emerging in every western state and it explains how a billionaire who can label Mexicans as rapists, call for the banning of Muslims and who can insult women, the disabled and prisoners of war can become his party’s nominee for President of the United States.