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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 7/1/16

Brexit: a wrong decision for the right reasons

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Message Jean-Luc Basle

The "little people" did not respond to the question they were asked but to the questions they ask themselves. Why we are unemployed? Why do we bear the full brunt of globalization? Why are social benefits cut? Why are there so many immigrants? In short, why do we do so poorly in the countryside when the elite does so well in London? Not surprisingly, it gave the wrong answer because a factual analysis demonstrates that the United Kingdom benefits from its association with the European Union. The irony of it all is that the "little people" will suffer the most from the secession.

Peoples express similar feelings in many countries: in the Netherlands, in Greece, in Austria, in Spain, in Italy, and in France. The United States is experiencing a similar trend with Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, albeit in a different form. So the question arises: what is it due to? The New York Times made a brave attempt to answer it in an article entitled "Why the surge of populism?" in its June 25, 2016, international edition. To no avail. It might as well have gone back to such classics as "Suicide of the West" by Richard Koch and Chris Smith, or "La liberte pourquoi faire?" by French novelist Georges Bernanos. The result would have been the same. There is no simple answer. The west is faced with a major crisis, which it does not understand.

Be this as it may, the order of the day is to restore the little people's faith in our institutions. This begins with a fairer distribution of the wealth produced by the economy. This, in turn, entails significant changes in the way our societies are run. Life is a power struggle. In the present instance, it is a struggle between peoples and corporations. In an unexpected turn of events, globalization, automation, and new information and communication technologies favored corporations at the expense of peoples, as demonstrated by rising inequality. The balance between the two must be restored.

Grabbing a tool inappropriate to the issue at hands, the "little people" made the wrong decision for the right reasons. Pro-Brexit advocates on the continent welcomed the referendum result as a victory for democracy. It will be if the rebalancing takes place. If not, democracy will fall into what Sheldon Wolin called "inverted totalitarianism" -- democracy in appearance only.

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Former Vice President Citigroup New York (retired) Columbia University -- Business School Princeton University -- Woodrow Wilson School

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