Brexit

The HBO movie released in January, Brexit: The Uncivil War staring Benedict Cumberbatch as Dominic Cummings was exceptionally good. I thought it was stunning that most of the movie was shot from the perspective of the “leave” position. I kept waiting for the liberal spin on the whole thing which eventually did come during the last five minutes of apologetic musings about what a travesty the whole endeavor had been. But up to that point the movie did a great job of showing how the Brexit deal started and how it ended up shocking the world a few months ahead of the Donald Trump election in 2016. I understand very well the role Cummings played in the movement that did shock the world to its very foundations because at precisely that moment we were going through the same kind of thing in the United States and I had a front row seat. So the movie was very interesting to me as a reflection as to how we arrived where we are today across the world. However, the big difference between the United States and Brexit as they explored in the end of the movie, Cummings did create the platform for the rebellion against the establishment, but there was no leadership to take Brexit to the next level beyond the vote. Whereas in America, President Trump did provide that leadership and has been very successful. The filmmakers of this Brexit movie seemed happy to role in the rebellion so long as they said sorry in the end. But Hollywood won’t be making any such comparative movies about the Trump victory, because it was successful, and nobody involved is sorry.

Watching the movie put a lot of things in perspective in hindsight. As I’ve stated many times, the rebellions in Europe and America, within “western” culture were going to happen as a result of the autonomy we all have now with personal information. While the Brexit film focused on the data collection Cummings used to secure over 3 million new voters in 2016 to their cause, the reason for those voters activations is the real story. The feelings people had which led to Brexit were there whether or not anybody wanted to admit it, just as they are in the United States in what elected Trump in the same fashion. Once voters had an option, no matter how much data collection anybody was able to do, the sentiment was deep and long-standing, and once people thought they had a shot at something new, they took it.

The political left all around the world is still apparently shocked by all this. They obviously haven’t gotten over it in Europe and they certainly are lost in the United States. The roots of the political left are rooted in counter-culture rebellion, so they understood Brexit from that vantage point and were able to make a good movie as a result. But they now find themselves in the perspective of the “stay” people from the movie. There are some scenes at the end of the movie where the political left represented here by Hollywood writers, producers, and directors are having this discussion with themselves, and it was fascinating to watch. For them these elections in 2016 were real tragic events, they thought they understood the way the world worked, and they want to blame Russia, or billionaire funding of data collection as the silver bullet that wrecked their world. But honestly, the anti-left rejection by voters was always there, it just needed to have the issue framed for them in ways they felt compelled to act upon.

That is precisely the reason that the MAGA hats in the United States are causing so much consternation, because the messaging inspires action by those who have been typically left out of the process of governing. In the movie Brexit, they had a few scenes with focus groups of what the establishment thought were typical voters and it clearly showed how the new way of doing things outpaces the old. Hillary Clinton got caught in the same trap, using old analysis and campaign professionals to stay within an institutional framework while the world was moving toward much more thought autonomy. There are more options for individuals than ever in the history of the world and everyone should have seen this coming, that the political parties of old did not fulfill those changing needs. So the old way wasn’t going to work the moment an option was created. The MAGA hats are constant reminders as we now move into the 2020 elections that the political left still doesn’t understand what happened. They understand what happened to them, which is obvious in the Brexit movie, but they don’t understand why or what to do about it. That is the reason for their panic, and their need for the Mueller investigation, to buy them time to get their own messaging for 2020. But the time is up and they are entering that season without any answer and that has caused this anger toward the hats over the last few months. While Brexit struggles to actually move from the EU without any real leadership, President Trump has taken the ball and ran with it and is now scoring lots of touch downs. The movement of rebellion is here to stay.

Taking several steps back to look at the situation properly it is clear that no institutional figure in western culture understands what is going on and they have gone to great strides to revert everything back to the norms of yesterday which will never happen again. The reason isn’t because of Donald Trump, or Dominic Cummings, but because human beings desire autonomy. Western culture acknowledges personal autonomy which is why it’s even an option. In the East everything is sacrificed for the greater good, so in the battle between east and west, that fight will play out along economic lines which is happening presently. The meeting with Trump and North Korea is certainly part of that plan, to take a hostile communist regime that can barely feed their own people and turn them into a capitalist haven, in spite of all the help China tries to give them. Trump is playing that chess game brilliantly. But the real internal battle within western civilization is the fight over what role institutions played among people who desire much more autonomy. When there were only 3 or 4 networks on television and people still read newspapers, the establishment thought they had everything all bagged up. But now people have too many choices for rigid institutions to exist so statically, and that is the cause of the political change. That is why Brexit happened and why President Trump is in the White House.

The conflict that has resulted isn’t caused by exploiting hate for change, but the hate that has been generated by restricting human options. All political parties have insisted on not listening to their customers, the voters, and instead giving them limited options politically, which has caused the hate we see today. Those emotions were unavoidable, there will never be a going back to the good ol’ days of blind compliance. That’s not the world we are living in. The producers of the Brexit movie understood that for most of the film, even if they had to throw some red meat back to Hollywood at the end. The film is certainly worth watching.

Rich Hoffman

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