As I write this I’m sat at a rickety table on a balcony overlooking one of the quieter business districts of London. I have never liked London, I’m not made for cities I guess. The concrete monoliths that line every street and alleyway loom high above and it never fails to feel like I’m trapped in a maze where every rat but me has a path memorized. At some point you just have to let go and allow the current of swarming humanity to drag you along for the ride. I sometimes wonder if these people ever look up and see what I see, or have they forgotten the maze over time as it begins to feel like home? Consumed with the daily journey, eventually you stop looking at the many distractions that line the streets, there is only the destination, anything else gets lost as white noise. Shaving 60 seconds off the daily commute takes precedence over discovery and with each passing day a little of their childlike wonder vanishes.
Britain has always been a nation of dreamers, of people who wanted to make the world a better place. Though there were large miss-steps ultimately the intention of the empire was to bring a sense order to the chaotic. To provide structure and development to people who could not dream of the luxuries that were commonplace in England. We crusaded against slavery, we were at the forefront of codifying human rights through British Common Law. But as time went on we became detached from the people we ruled over. Distance and disconnection led to a sense of contempt in a people whose values were no longer understood by those who ruled them. That struggle led to a refinement, an understanding that the rights of the citizenry must come before all things. The constitution of the United States of America was born.
Those who know me, know my reverence for that document. A document that empowers the citizenry not by giving them power, but by limiting the power of government to constrain them. This has its risks, we can see this as the first, second and fourth amendment are chipped away at a frightening pace. There are those who still see it’s value, who still fight to protect it every day. Ordinary people who give up their time and creativity not to make money or to build some kind of celebrity. They fight for what matters to them, to hold onto the values that they feel are worth preserving. This was once, and can again be, a very British way of thinking.
The biggest problem we face today as a country is that, just as occurred with the empire, the ruling classes in this swarming metropolis have lost touch with the people they represent. London is a bubble, within which you can get everything you “need” without ever stepping outside of its borders. Because of this self-contained dynamic the rest of the country often feels as if it is on the outside of a great glass dome hammering on the walls to draw attention, but it goes unheard. We can see this to a degree in America with the disconnect between the coasts and flyover country but for the time being at least the constitution acts as a backstop against it’s worst effects. The demographic shifts that have been exacerbated by the democratic party are naturally designed to put them into a position to undo these checks and balances, but that very fact alone is testament to the power of the document itself. Even hardened progressives, with their often twisted sense of morality, like Ruth Bader Ginsburg understand that the right to speak freely is the foundation of a free society. And that is what has caused the rapid decline of freedoms in Britain. Once the conversation stops all that is left is violence.
I saw this myself yesterday as I watched the protest outside Downing Street over the rights of Britain’s own answer to Voldemort. I watched as supposedly “progressive” people walked by spewing bile in the direction of men and women who spoke not of “hate” but of the basic right to speak freely. And while the legalities of the case we can’t talk about have been debated back and forth, many are completely missing the point. It is not the crime, or the punishment that will lead to revolution. It is the positioning of the judiciary as beyond scrutiny that will erode the rule of law in the eyes of the people. But the arrival of Brexit presents us with a simple opportunity to fix all that.
For all the talk around Brexit on immigration and trade the one aspect people seem to be ignoring is the freedom to rewrite our laws that it would present us with. A giant reset button that will allow us to define our national identity through a set of laws that are ours and ours alone. A new constitution that reflects the will of the people, not the whims of our rulers. It should take into account the views of all those who call themselves British (I am well aware that this will not be a simple process). But it will only work if we can get all parts of the country talking honestly and openly without fear of legal consequences. We all want to be heard, but so few of us are willing to listen these days. Solve that and Britain will have a bright future, ignore it and violence is inevitable.