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My 350 on BREXIT: Ode to Joy

Custom has divided humanity, but it is the magic of humanity which can unite it again.

Melis Menent
15 July 2016

Everyone knew what Newton was after. But in the social and political world, we have as many truths as we have eyes. Beauty is not in the eye of the beholder in politics, but truth is. This is why different nations cannot immediately agree on the right thing to do. 

From the beginning, the European project symbolised peace. It started because the peoples of a given geographical area in particular had witnessed pain. Napoleon and Hitler had been tough to respective other nations at different times. This is far from a fair and inclusive list. The history of humanity is filled with fear, disagreement and wars.

Peace, as an ideal, cannot come into existence at a sudden moment like the gravitational force discovered by Newton. The European Union has adopted Beethoven’s 9th Symphony as its official anthem - without the lyrics of the poem by Schiller which Beethoven placed into his symphony. Schiller’s poem which the EU anthem did not acquire says that custom has divided humanity, but it is the magic of humanity which can unite it again. With the UK referendum, it is the will of this one part of humanity which has explicitly forgotten the power of optimism and trust in ‘the Other’. 

The national will in the UK has expressed a fear of loss of sovereignty. ‘Good’ governance, without losing track of ‘real’ society, needs to be able to meet each other half way. People forgetting what good is, is ignorance: the international elite forgetting the people is oligarchy.

Democracy at the supranational level can be shaped in a realistic fashion. This European democratic model ought to be supplemented with a theory of communication. This requires the parties to listen, and desire to understand. Without the will to understand, the national ‘will’ becomes static and regressive. Countries in international relations are not so different from individuals in societies. Solitude is the diet of the soul: a little bit of it is necessary but too much of it is deadly (La Rochefoucauld). This is the test for the UK now. 

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.

Stop the secrecy: Publish the NHS COVID data deals


To: Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

We’re calling on you to immediately release details of the secret NHS data deals struck with private companies, to deliver the NHS COVID-19 datastore.

We, the public, deserve to know exactly how our personal information has been traded in this ‘unprecedented’ deal with US tech giants like Google, and firms linked to Donald Trump (Palantir) and Vote Leave (Faculty AI).

The COVID-19 datastore will hold private, personal information about every single one of us who relies on the NHS. We don’t want our personal data falling into the wrong hands.

And we don’t want private companies – many with poor reputations for protecting privacy – using it for their own commercial purposes, or to undermine the NHS.

The datastore could be an important tool in tackling the pandemic. But for it to be a success, the public has to be able to trust it.

Today, we urgently call on you to publish all the data-sharing agreements, data-impact assessments, and details of how the private companies stand to profit from their involvement.

The NHS is a precious public institution. Any involvement from private companies should be open to public scrutiny and debate. We need more transparency during this pandemic – not less.


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