Let me make it clearer. Britain had it all. The world’s best healthcare system, not my opinion, objectively, it’s finest broadcaster, relative stability, a stable currency, the trust and good faith of the world, membership in the EU, the right to live and work across it. What are all those? Public goods — in fact, EU membership was a meta-public good, it gave Brits the rights to enjoy Europe’s grand systems of them.
And it threw all that away. Why? For more or less the same reason that Americans never chose to build public goods at all. The rich, smelling the scent of money, persuaded the average Joe and Jane that they’d be more powerful. If, instead of having all those things in common, they took them away. If they began to turn on Europeans — no longer cousins, friends, neighbors, but inferiors, hated enemies, lesser beings. If they began to despise the very immigrants who made up the NHS’s brave nurses, doctors, porters. If they began to regard themselves as superior to everyone else — Britain was only to belong to the “real” and “true” Brits — then they would be powerful again, and that sense of power, that thrill, that rush, would solve all their problems. That was more or less explicit in Brexit’s slogans — “take back control,” “Britain First,” “the will of the people,” the whole nine yards.
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