My 350 on BREXIT: No reactionary, conservative and deeply undemocratic/hierarchical institution can change from within

“You can’t make them change; the only thing we can change is ourselves.”

Nikolaos Gryspolakis
29 June 2016

In the aftermath of the historic British vote to leave the EU, openDemocracy is asking for our readers' thoughts on Brexit and what needs to happen next in 350 words. We've had an extraordinary response and you can read them all here.

The Brexit vote like the Greek referendum last year is portrayed as a racist, xenophobic “anti-European” (whatever that means) vote. The lines are clear; rich people voted in the EU, poor and unemployed voted out (yes, the poverty levels are much higher amongst retired people and yes, voters under 24 who have mainly benefited from the freedom of movement within the EU and don’t see much point in national identity but at the same time have not seen any benefits cuts, did not have to use the health care system or have not looked for permanent employment, voted overwhelmingly to stay in the EU).

The “Left” in Europe (and in N.America) has been co-opted by the neoliberal capitalist dogma for more than 25 years now. It never crossed their minds that authoritarianism, centralisation of power and quantification of the human condition and life, are at the centre of the failure of such “systems” to inspire a sense of social security, solidarity and contentment to people.

Yes, inequalities, poverty and hierarchical structures breed racism, xenophobia and fear; but ONLY IF there is nothing else there to inspire, unite and mainly question the failed status quo. The Right, Centre and Left of the representative democracy in Europe are bankrupt. They have nothing new to offer and their only differences are cosmetic. And all have the arrogance of power that believes that “we know better because we’re in higher positions in the hierarchy that we, ourselves have made”.

Is it possible that suddenly 52% of Britons became racist and xenophobic supporters of the UKIP? No, of course not! Is this not another “in your face” indication that representative democracy does not deliver what it promises to do, namely, to represent the will of people? As if democracy can be anything else but direct, inclusive and participative. Choosing who will decide for you, who will govern you and impose their opinion on everyone, is not democracy; it is an insult to human dignity and self-determination, it is an elected Oligarchy.

You can’t make them change; the only thing we can change is ourselves. Let’s not just talk or demand (by who??) about a different society built on social justice, solidarity and respect for the planet; let us make it a reality, here, now, in our everyday life, in our homes, schools, neighbourhoods, work places, while at the same time being at the forefront of organising together politically and socially.

Or we can just sign another online petition kindly asking a bunch of bureaucrats to “please respect the fact that we’re also humans and to not see us as numbers”…that might work too, right?

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