In my youth I spent most of my life outside England. I lived in Barbados, in Eritrea, in Libya, in Gambia, and in several cities in Brazil. If not a man of the world, I was at least a boy of the world. By the age of 18 I’d crossed the Atlantic ocean several times by ship, and a dozen or more times by plane.
Thereafter I traveled much less, largely because by the age of 18 I felt I’d done more than enough travelling. But all the same I visited more or less every country in Europe west of the Rhine. I even worked in Paris for a little while. And I seriously thought about buying a house in Spain.
And now, aged over 70, I travel even less. I’ve hardly been outside Herefordshire in England for the past 10 years. I always want to be home by nightfall. In part that’s because I don’t like travelling, but now it’s also because as a smoker I’m no longer welcome anywhere in England, aside from a few pub gardens in summer, and one or two ‘safe houses’.
Soon I’ll probably cease to even venture outside the little town in Herefordshire where I live, and then outside my little flat.
And in this long process I’ve gradually shifted from being a globalist to a localist. I used once to identify with all the places I’d ever lived (or even visited), but now I identify with England. And, more particularly, with one small area of England. I become more and more English every day.
And I think that, in Britain today, the difference between Remainers and Leavers is that Remainers are globalists who identify not with Britain, but with Europe (and even the whole World). And the Leavers are those who identify with Britain. (Really the names should be swapped: I wish to remain in Britain, and not leave for Europe. Or, better still, we should call the Remainers Europeans, and the Leavers Britons.)
I think that whether you’re a European Remainer or a British Leaver comes down to how your personal identity has been shaped or forged. If you’re fairly rich and you’ve been all over the world, you’ll likely be a European Remainer. And if you’ve lived most of your life in Britain, you’ll very likely be a British Leaver.
The same applies everywhere else. You will identify strongly with somewhere if you have lived there all your life. And you won’t identify with that place if you have spent much of your life living somewhere else.
And the current political division in Britain is between the European Remainers in the cosmopolitan cities of Britain, and the British Leavers in the countryside around those cities. For the cities of Britain are very largely filled with people from all over the world, who are relatively unlikely to strongly identify with being British. And the country around the cities is filled with people who are well rooted in the land, and are likely to strongly identify with it. Hence the map shown at right, probably from the Daily Mail.
At present it’s still only a small elite jet-set who are rich enough to travel the world, and as globalists to identify with the whole world. Most people seldom leave their native countries, and will identify with their native country, or even some small part of it. And the result is that, in Britain, native localists will tend to outnumber elite globalists. The same will be true everywhere else.
But the globalist elites have much louder voices than the natives. They own all the newspapers, and populate the mainstream media. The elite globalists make up almost the entire political class. So we now have a globalist jet-setting EU political elite in command of countries filled with local natives.
However, largely thanks to the internet (and mobile phones), local natives are beginning to get their voices heard. Public discourse is increasingly no longer shaped and defined by a small elite in broadcast media. What’s called “national populism” is simply the rising voice of native populations, not just in Britain, but also in France and Italy and Hungary, and every other country in Europe. In the USA, Donald Trump, a native of Brooklyn/Queens in New York City, has become the spokesman for the American natives living in (and identifying with) the fly-over country between the big, cosmopolitan, globalist cities on the eastern and western seaboards.
The global elites who’ve been running the world for the past 50 or more years are now in retreat before a rising tide of native localists. And they’re unlikely to be able to stem the tide, because they’re completely outnumbered, and they can no longer control the public discourse in the way they used to.
I don’t know whether Britain will leave the EU on 31 October (I strongly suspect it won’t), but I think that it will leave sometime soon regardless. And most of the other countries in the EU will follow it. The EU superstate is set to either disintegrate, or to return to being the EEC that preceded it, which was made up of sovereign states.
This leaves one question unanswered: If native localists always outnumber globalists, how do superstates like the EU ever come into being? The answer to this is most probably that superstates come into being during wars, when small nation states need allies, and band together with others to form big battalions. The EEC took shape during the Cold War between West and East, and only became the modern imperial EU after the demise of the Soviet Union. The Cold War held Europe together. And with the end of that war there’s nothing left to hold it together.