BREXIT is like science fiction at its finest. You take something that could have gone either way, preferably something unexpected, choose an outcome, and then predict what will come of it. You build your story around your prediction.
In real life, if you do something like that before an event, most people will laugh at your prediction. If you do it after the event, most people will say, “Aw heck, I saw that coming.”
As example of fictional “prediction”, here is a quote from Cyan:
The EuroFeds, smelling a chance to regain the hegemony that they had lost three centuries earlier, sent peace keeping forces to India, only to find dissension breaking out in their own countries as the world spanning financial complex, strained past the breaking point, could no longer deliver food to her people.
Hungry people aren’t kind. Starving people aren’t rational. There were attacks and reprisals, and then France nuked Italy, and the house of cards came tumbling down in an ever expanding nuclear nightmare.
Don’t worry, in the novel that doesn’t happen until 2145. Real world predictions, on the other hand, are looking pretty dicey on the heels of BREXIT.
War in Europe has seemed less and less likely since the middle of the last century, as agreements between European nations have proliferated. There has been a slow movement toward what some commentators called a “United States of Europe”. Many Europeans, including about 48 percent of British voters, saw this as the road to peace and prosperity. Others, including about 52 percent of British voters, saw it as a slow erosion of political freedom and the right to control their own culture.
I can see both sides of the argument. If I were a Brit, I’m not sure which way I would have voted. I am sure that there is a rocky road ahead.
In the long run, we may have seen the beginning of a slippery slope that ultimately unleashes the tensions now held in check by the European Union, leading to wars between member states. It’s too soon to tell, but that outcome wouldn’t be surprising.
The short run is easier to predict. Scotland came within a breath of separating from the rest of Great Britain only two years ago. It was the fear of economic disaster that tipped the scales. Now Britain has set in train that same disaster, while the Scottish section of the country voted overwhelmingly to remain a part of the EU. BREXIT has made Scotland’s near future breakaway almost a certainty.
Northern Ireland has its own set of issues, but being tethered to a dissolving British economy while the Republic of Ireland has EU resources to call upon, will certainly be an addition to Pan-Irish nationalism. Irish reunification, held off for a century by British military force, may yet become a reality.
Even Wales has its separatists. The United Kingdom is a mass of centrifugal forces, with a millennium of resentment among repressed peoples (see tomorrow’s post).
Here is a riddle. What is Great Britain if Scotland, and/or Northern Ireland, and/or Wales leave? Answer: England. Not the same country at all as Great Britain.
Here is a more grim riddle. If Great Britain implodes, who will take its place on the UN Security Council, and wield its veto. England? Scotland, perhaps? And what will Russia and China have to say about the matter?
If it seems that such events can’t happen, I would remind you that the newly united American colonies almost fell apart in the decade between the Declaration of Independence and the coming of the Constitution. And then there was that pesky little bloodbath called the Civil War.
The exit contagion seems to be spreading. France is talking exit; so is Spain. Spain, in particular, should be careful what it asks for. There are massively disruptive forces in that country, with Basque separatists in the north west and a long standing call for a separate Catalan speaking country in the south east.
So now is the time for all would-be science fiction writers to set down the timelines for their own alternate futures. There must be at least a thousand possibilities.
Is anyone taking bets?