Nicholas Capaldi: Misguided Brexit

Nicholas Capaldi, Distinguished Professor at Loyola University

To date, the debate over Brexit within the UK (and by extension within the US) has been totally misdirected.

It has been a debate framed largely in the narrowest economic terms.


Will Britain be more or less prosperous within the EU or outside the EU?

This is the wrong question.

What distinguishes the Anglo-American world from others is a culture, which promotes individual liberty or freedom.   This is something that Continental Europeans (with some notable exceptions) only dimly understand while the rest of the world remains largely clueless.

What is at issue is whether Britain (and the US) and its citizens will be able to determine their own way of life or whether global crony capitalism will make that decision for them.

A decision made by so-called ‘experts’ who are bureaucrats is not democracy.

Let’s explain it this way.

I once asked the famous free market economist, Milton Friedman, in a private conversation, what he would say if we found a socialist economy or a democratic socialist society that was more prosperous.  At first, he denied on economic grounds that was possible. I agreed. But, when pressed, he admitted that he would prefer a free society above everything else.

This is the real decision that Britain faces this week in what has been near mayhem over its withdrawal from the European Union: do we preserve a way of life or do we focus only on the short term bottom line?

All of us should understand and sympathize with those who think that economic prosperity is more likely in a free society.  But what if?

The decision is a difficult one for ignorant and mis-educated members of younger generations and for those who only see their personal net worth in their own lifetime or the lifetime of their present offspring.

It is a meaningless question for recent immigrants who have never understood or experienced individual freedom or whose ultimate cultural commitment is to membership in some other even distant community.

It is not a difficult decision for those whose memory stretches at least to the Second World War. Churchill would have a definitive answer to the question at hand.

Did the leaders and citizens who fought and died in that previous conflict or even earlier ones do so exclusively for the bottom line?

Brexit needs to be decided and put to rest.

It should no longer imperil Great Britain or keep it from being the great country it was, is, and can be.

If the Prime Minister cannot get her deal through a third Meaningful Vote (MV3), she should step aside on the basis of credibility and the future of the sceptred isles.

Freedom must prevail.

* Professor Capaldi is a dual citizen of the US and the UK.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons

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