6-29: Brexit Brouhaha

Definition of State

When I was in school I learned the difference between a state, e.g., New Jersey, California and a state, e.g., France, Poland. The former, in the United “States,” were almost randomly drawn, people generally spoke the same language, and they were organized around a strong central government. Thus, decisions made in Washington affect all Americans, e.g., the federal tax code, Brown vs. The Board of Education.

In the middle of the 19th century America fought a civil war over slavery, some southerners contending at the time–as do some rubes today–that the evil practice of slavery was a matter of states’ rights and that is what the war was all about, not slavery per se. The war ended, the union was preserved, and slavery was abolished, although the Ku Klux Klan and their ilk kept swinging.

Europe, Africa, and Asia consisted of different types of states. Europe is the easiest example. A state there was defined loosely as  the agglomeration of people living within accepted borders who spoke the same language, worshipped (loosely) within the same religious tradition, and traded with the same currency. So, for centuries, a Frenchman lived in France, spoke French, was likely a Roman Catholic, and bought her bread with francs.

War has dotted and blotted civilization since the beginning of history with states attempting to exert their influence over other states, with force if necessary. Greece fought Persia way back when, but city-states Athens and Sparta fought each other as well. Alliances come and go, treaties are made and broken. Empires rise and fall.

Europe has had its dalliances with monarchy, alliances, democracy, socialism, etc. Its current iteration at joining together for the greater good is the European Union, which, among other things, makes it easier for countries to conduct business among themselves.” Nay, nay,” say the feisty Brits, “we are going to call a vote to discover whether our people actually want to remain tethered to this union.” And so they did. And the “Leaves” prevailed.

People Who Live in States

Despite the rhetoric about the form a state takes, in the end, there are Poles, Slavs, Macedonians, Scots, Danes, et al. who live within a state. Largely, their “nationality” is simply an accident of birth. And at the end of the day it is a microscopic minority of “leaders” who emerge and in large degree determine living conditions within the state. oh, and by the way, the leaders never trust the people. In the United Kingdom today, for example, leaders regret that they gave their people the opportunity to express themselves about membership in the EU through a referendum. Today they are second guessing themselves and trying to figure a way to void the plebiscite.

Interruption

As I write this, news has just come in that there was a triple suicide bombing outside Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul, Turkey. Not long ago, the Scots voted to stay within the parameters of the United Kingdom. Above I have mentioned the UK itself voting on whether or not to stay within the European Community. These were contentious, but they were votes.

It is too soon to assign blame–and none has been claimed–for the actions of these terrorists in Turkey. But one thing for sure: this is the cowardly way to try to achieve political points.

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