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Diplomacy between Globalism and Nationalism: the BREXIT case

In an era of significant global changes and particularly divisive political issues, Giada Santana describes her point of view on the BREXIT, a still open diplomatic match played among two opposing ideological poles.

The happenings of the last few days are a symptom of the greatest political divide in our era: the one between globalism and nationalism. Political parties are not distinguished by their left or right policies anymore, but rather about their positions on the international order, the opening or not of borders, the relationship with other countries.

Globalism is concerned with the framework of rules needed to tackle global issues and the diverse set of institutions worldwide, including international organizations and nationalist governments needed to guarantee it. It advocates for global governance as a way of pooling international risks. As a positive example of this, the European Union has often been seen as a potential model for successful international politics and global governance.

Nowadays, many nationalist parties reject the need of such institutions and claim that EU membership undermines national sovereignty and freedom. This led to the 2016 referendum in the UK. In many cases including the BREXIT consultation one, the nationalist political plan promulgated a sugar-coated vision of the past, stating that it should be restored in order to fix what is wrong.

Isn’t it a contradiction, though?

Proposing to tackle contemporary issues through an anachronistic attempt to go back in time might seem to many as an odd approach. In fact, it is reasonable to notice a strong link between nationalism and the lack of a future-oriented vision, which means consequently the incapacity to deal with nowadays issues. Climate change, migration, technological disruption, bioengineering matters cannot be resolved by the State only, as it lacks the resources and capacities. It is precisely because of state-limits that many nationalists claim not to believe in climate change: they do not have solutions to offer. Nations can enact regulations on win-win situations, as trade, in which both parties gain from it and are interested in communicating with each other. Instead, many contemporary problems could be defined as lose-lose situations: for instance, regulations on climate change (or bioengineering experimentation) pose solid limits to the thriving of economics, at least temporarily. No state gains from them and hence a global framework that makes and then supersedes those kinds of laws is needed.

However, as the historian Y.N. Harari highlighted, humans have different layers of loyalty: just as they can be loyal to their family, their community and their nation, they could be loyal to a global framework, as well. Biologically speaking, we were born in small communities and we need them to develop our social beings; politically speaking we need a large and unified community.

The British people are torn apart about whether they need it: three days ago, the BREXIT deal was rejected by the British parliament. Even if we should take into account that BREXIT has been a peaceful process, while one hundred years ago it would have probably resulted in open conflict, this vote signs a major failure of the government diplomatic entente.

“It is clear that the House does not support this deal, but tonight’s vote tells us nothing about what this house does support, nothing about how or even if it intends to honour the decision the British people took in a referendum the Parliament decided to hold ”- those where the initial world of Prime Minister Theresa May after the major turn off of the deal she had been negotiating for the past two and a half years. Nevertheless, she survived a vote of confidence and she is now calling on the opposition to work constructively on a new plan.

Now, more than one option is still on the table: many among the conservatives call for Hard BREXIT, meaning no deal between the United Kingdom and the European Union regarding economic trade, the mobility of people and services and every other issue on the agenda. This is potentially extremely dangerous as the political and economic consequences of this are hardly predictable. On the other hand, the Soft BREXIT solution has become less credible after the Parliament vote. Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the opposition, pointed out his scepticism about re-drafting a deal, since the last one was the product of two years of negotiation, while now not much time is left, as the deadline is the 29th of March. Such an option would require demanding the European Union for a new deadline. Lastly, others, including many ex-BREXIT supporters, claim that a new referendum should be called, as the last one entailed highly manipulated political campaigns and much disinformation.

Nevertheless, this option is problematic for two main reasons: first of all, who decides when the population is informed enough to vote? And second of all, doing another referendum would mean undermining the democratic process and setting a dangerous example: what if governments re-called referendum every time they were not pleased with the poll results?

Today, Theresa May is set to hold talks with the European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker. As the situation is extremely uncertain, we can do nothing but wait and see how this political divide will develop.

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