The European Union is just the start, we must think bigger and act bolder to survive

Mike East

News Editor


 

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The debate over Britain’s future in Europe has already begun with arguments from both sides about who should be eligible to take part in the referendum. This vote means so much more than the narrow result which will be known by the end of 2017. Politically Europe is often seen as a slow and burdensome maze of red tape. It is beaurocratic because peace through diplomacy is by its very nature bureaucratic. Membership of the Union also costs us £11 billion pounds a year. But the price tag should not be measured purely on these terms. The truth is that the vast majority of us living in Britain today, and I include myself, do not understand the meaning of the word sacrifice. The generation which created the European Community, which laid the foundations of our Union, understood its meaning. They appreciated the true price of peace and that price was not measured in financial funds flowing out of the national treasury; it was measured in the amount of blood spilt on the battlefields of Europe. It is vital that we acknowledge the price paid by them and use the foundations they laid to build a more prosperous, tolerant and peaceful Europe – not just in the interest of all living today but for all generations yet to come. The arguments from those campaigning to leave the Union about democracy in Europe are riddled with double standards and hypocrisy. How can we criticise an unelected 28 member commission in Europe when we ourselves have over 700 unelected legislators in our Parliament? How can we criticise the method by the Union of appointing a president when we ourselves do not even have one, and instead have to suffer the anachronistic baggage of a monarchical dynasty?

But this debate should not just be about Europe as it will exist in 5 years’ time. We must be honest about where the European project is leading long term. Traditionally the pro-Europeans have been scared by the concept of a super-state through ever closer union. That is where we are heading and if this issue is to be settled the reality must be acknowledged. The future cannot be hijacked and controlled by nationalism with its insular attitude, flag waving and pomp; therein lies ruin and destruction. A European super-state is necessary, not just for increased economic and social cohesion, but to counteract this destructive force which has dogged our continent for centuries. Of course there are those who reject this future vision; on the whole they reject it because they themselves will lose power and influence as a result. There will also be times when fiscal policy becomes difficult as is the case with Greece at the moment. But these burdens are relatively trivial when compared to the alternative; insular regressive policies, militarisation and conflict. Looking further ahead, it is our place as a species in the world itself which is at issue, and will require a government of the planet to manage increasingly limited resources. Ultimately humans will have to migrate to other worlds to survive. This referendum is not just about our place in Europe; it is a test of our resolve to look outward and not inward, to accept what is different and not reject it, to look to the future and not live in the past, to make short term sacrifices in the interest of long term prosperity, to acknowledge that behind the nationalistic barriers of prejudice and pride we are so alike in our hopes, dreams and aspirations. There is so much more that binds us than separates us. That is why I will be voting to remain in the Union.

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