(…well kinda…maybe…maybe not…)

Everyone is on tenterhooks about the upcoming referendum in England to decide whether they should quit or stay as a member of the European Union. It’s hard to say which way the English people will decide that issue. To parody old Paul Revere’s famous ride…the British are leaving! The British are leaving? Well kinda…maybe…maybe not. The odds are about even for their going… either way.

There a number of factors involved in making that decision, the main one being those perennial pocket-book concerns which guide most folks’ decision-making at such moments. The rest mostly relate to their sense of identity about being British first…and European…second, combined with a very deep cultural bias against anything “continental”, a bias whose roots probably trace as far back as the Norman invasion and conquest of 1066 AD.

But the main driving motivation for –Brexit-, as it’s being called, is of the EU’s own making because, over time, its technocrat economic overlords in Brussels have progressively imposed a stranglehold of economic and societal policies impacting on the internal cultural norms of its members…or so it is perceived not just by the British but others as well, and becoming more and more restive and ready to quit because of that.

The genesis of the EU began at the end of the WWII era when the political leadership of both France and Germany (what was then West Germany), in a rare moment of grand statesmanship, agreed to bury the hatchet…in the ground not in each other’s heads… after realizing that after the two devastating conflicts of WWI and WWII it was time to set aside their long history of mutual antagonisms forever. It was a grand ideal, and despite their respective peoples’ resistance to it, they managed to organize and structure a somewhat loose collective which they named…the European Economic Community (EEC), focused mainly on liberalizing and streamlining the processes of financial and trading exchanges between its members. All went well at first, thanks to the boom years which followed because of the massive reconstruction needs caused by WWII which had left most of Europe in ruins. It was a period which required the productivity of having nearly everyone able to do so…employed.

But external influences from the demise of what was left of colonialism, and the growing pressures impacting from the Cold War with Soviet Russia, plus, their inherent statist economic traditions (which are still active in most of Europe today), slowly overcame the relatively flexible framework of the E.E.C. and led to a more centralized economic regulatory authority which, in turn, required a more centralized governing body. Ultimately this was formalized into becoming the new European Union, or EU, as we know it today.

As with all such collective efforts that EU structure has progressively become more bureaucratized, more rigid in its regulatory functions, and more intrusive in the way these are enforced. This became even more so when the EU collective agreed to replace its members national currencies with a monetary unit common to all which was called the – EURO -, further diminishing their remaining vestiges of national identities…apparently all of that intended to forever prevent the destructive virus of extreme nationalism from ever disturbing Europe’s peace again. While a worthy goal, they failed to understand that this was just too much of a centralized model which would conflict with the cultural diversities of their collective. Adding to those stresses were the oncoming surges of new and disruptive technologies, and the resulting interdependence of “globalization” with international trade, something that many of its members were just not equipped to adapt to…or able to deal with.

In short this swirling vortex of conflicting interests and values demonstrates that the “one size fits all” concept for any collective association doesn’t work, and this is what is bringing the European Union to the brink of dissolution…with England acting as the possible primer for such an explosive event…one which would benefit no one, least of all the British themselves. So rather than contemplating how to exit from that union, perhaps all its membership should go back to the drawing board, so to speak, and focus instead on the best ways and means to properly restructure their organization…to allow for greater flexibility of individual economic activity, while still retaining an effective collective for dealing with matters of common interest…such as defense and security, refugees and migration, etc. That is, a redesigned Union that is better able to conform to the respective cultural identities of its membership, and better able to meet the economic, political, and societal challenges of our times.

Perhaps the British might lead the way to achieve that, instead of abandoning what should be a grand and dynamic collective enterprise.