I didn’t make this blog to rant about politics, yet that seems to be a thing I’ve done all to often, and with this post I will have done it again.
When the results came in, I thought it would be minor — why else would anyone be willing to put it to a referendum? — and so, despite losing, didn’t feel dismay or despair or anger.
Then Cameron resigned, then the pound dropped more than the stated worst case scenario for economic damage and stayed low, then May promised an outcome so extreme that Leave campaigners had previously dismissed the possibility as “project fear”, then… you know what, it doesn’t matter much how or why I got scared.
What matters is that for the last few years, I’ve been alternating between a few different models for how this will work out. Which one I expect depends on part on which of cancel/hard/WTO I think most likely:
- D20 × 100,000 (100k-2M) fatalities.
Graph showing all sixty possible numbers from the set of dice rolls D6^D10, sorted by how big the number is (y-axis is logarithmic)
- D6^D10 fatalities (see graph, 1-60,466,176 fatalities)
- Population-adjusted Troubles:
~165k fatalities, 2.2 million injured
- Population-adjusted Irish Potato Famine: 20-25% depopulation, half by death the rest by emigration, 6.6M-8.3M of each.
If these numbers seem unreasonably high to you, ask yourself: why?
But that’s just a summary of where we’re at, it’s not news, not really.
What is news is a recent survey by the university of Cardiff which shows that about 2/3rds of both Leavers and Remainers think that political violence in support of their side is justified if it means “winning”. I’m sad to say that matches my gut instinct that one side is sincere when it claims it’s living in a humiliating dictatorship and leaving will do no real harm, while the other is equally sincere when it claims that leaving will leave many dead.
- Most Leave voters across all three countries think violence towards MPs is a ‘price worth paying’ for Brexit – 71% in England, 60% in Scotland and 70% in Wales. The majority of Remain voters across all three countries think violence towards MPs is a ‘price worth paying’ to Remain – 58% in England, 53% in Scotland and 56% in Wales.
- A majority of Remain voters across all three countries think protests in which members of the public are badly injured are a ‘price worth paying’ to stop Brexit and remain in the EU – 57% in England, 56% in Scotland and 57% in Wales. Even larger majorities of Leave voters in all three countries think protests in which members of the public are badly injured are a ‘price worth paying’ to achieve Brexit – 69% in England, 62% in Scotland and 70% in Wales.
This survey does not say that 2/3rds will commit political violence. It also does not say that 2/3rds will accept the corollary, of violence done against them as a cost for winning.
However, even if nobody is violent (please, for Christmas, I wish nobody was violent), given that only 3.5% have to quietly and persistently be disobedient for even a belligerently totalitarian dictatorship to fall (https://bigthink.com/politics-current-affairs/the-3-5-percent-solution), the UK is unsustainable in any possible outcome. Leave, remain, the UK is over, it’s finished… ugh, and it’s not going to be as simple as splitting up into Scotland, Wales, England, and re-unifying Ireland, as each region is itself divided:
Map of the United Kingdom showing the voting areas for the European Union membership referendum, 2016. Areas marked in blue show a majority of votes in favour of leaving the European Union, while areas marked in yellow show a majority in favour of remaining a member. Credit: various Wikipedia contributors listed in link.
…which basically means people everywhere in the UK other than central London, Oxbridge, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Gibraltar, Derry, and Brighton in the Remain side — and Birmingham, Middlesbrough, Southend-on-Sea, and the three general areas of The Wash National Nature Reserve/Clacton-on-Sea/Lowestoft on the Leave side — could well be facing deep-seated interpersonal violence (hopefully no violence, but Brexit has the habit of finding new ways to disappoint) from their neighbours. The Remain parts aren’t pure Remain and the Leave parts aren’t pure Leave.
I’m expecting the political map of the UK to look something like this by 2030:
Political map of the British Isles circa 2030. Don’t take this too seriously, I briefly considered illustrating the point with a map of chip-shop sauce preferences, which isn’t much less sensible than having the city of York independent from an independent Yorkshire.
That said, there is a way I can be wrong. This is all predicated on treating people’s words as sincere, and my repeated mistake over all this has been to do just that. I didn’t have the right concepts in my mind to properly understand my mistake, but I do now: Mistake theory vs. Conflict theory.
Mistake theory is roughly how science works: if two people disagree, at least one of them made a mistake, and if they discuss things openly and with humility they will become less wrong.
Conflict theory is roughly how politics works: there is no real “right side”, only “my side” and “their side”, and any argument is a conflict. There are no real rules in this conflict — lies, propaganda, crimes, whatever — only empowering victory or humiliating defeat.
I believe Leave voters and campaigners are generally in Conflict theory mode. I don’t know whether Remain voters and campaigners are generally Mistake theorists or Conflict theorists, but I suspect Cameron was a Conflict theorist.
The leader of any Conflict theory… tribe?… might be able to prevent that tribe from engaging in violence by merely claiming — without regard to truth one way or the other — victory.