The Imperial Myths Behind Brexit in Britain - The Atlantic

8 bookmarks. First posted by oldkiln 8 days ago.

‘...Yet it is hard to avoid the sense that embedded in Brexit is a form of “Make Britain great again.”’
from twitter
8 days ago by ncurado
A British leadership that wanted to deliver Brexit safely and was not in thrall to exceptionalism might have learned from past mistakes. Suez might have taught it to prefer reality over fantasy, compromise and conciliation over arrogance and vaingloriousness. Partition might have taught it to respect and understand complexity rather than oversimplify difficult problems, to make a plan before setting tight deadlines. Both might have taught it that you should never, ever imagine you’ve had enough of experts.

But to learn from mistakes you must confront them, and exceptionalism means you never do. Successes may be evidence of Britain’s greatness, but failures are inherently un-British. It is worth noting, too, that exceptionalism does not affect only those who support Brexit. As the historian Robert Saunders has pointed out, “The idea that Britain should lead the EU—widely deployed [by campaigners who supported staying in the EU] in 2016—has as strong an imperial heritage as the aspiration to leave it.” What would be exceptional about meekly accepting equal status with 27 others?

Brexit is exposing flaws in the British political system and culture, but they are not new. Exceptionalist thinking has long helped insulate that system from the criticism and reform it needs.

For advocates and critics of Brexit alike, it may be tempting to imagine a golden age in which Britain was competent, reliable, stable, and sensible. Looking at its history, though, if it turns out to be none of those things, we shouldn’t be surprised.
UK  EU  Brexit  politics  exceptionalism  delusion  imperialism  WorldWarII  Suez  Amritsar  India  Pakistan  Mountbatten 
8 days ago by petej
A blimp depicting Boris Johnson hovers near a statue of Winston Churchill. Simon Dawson / Reuters For more than three years, the world has watched Britain…
from instapaper
8 days ago by kerim