British voters have made the dramatic decision to leave the European Union. There could be possible echo effects within Britain – for instance, Scotland might once again try to leave Britain. Other countries in the EU could also decide to go their separate ways.
What does this watershed event mean more broadly? Here are some thoughts to ponder:
1. There is a crisis of myth in many parts of the Western world (including the USA) and it has reached the tipping point in Britain. The old narratives of greatness have crashed. The British Empire died long back. The British have continued living their myth of being a world power, but this is becoming less sustainable:
. They felt pride that they gave democracy and the English language to the modern world. However, other civilizations are increasingly asserting their place in world history.
. Their grand narrative of aristocracy is premised on the royal family’s pageantry, and this royal myth has anchored British tourism.
. After the economy became deprived of the loot from colonies, North Sea oil filled the gap for a few decades. But this oil is largely depleted.
. London is a financial hub of the world, and this fits the traditional British role as world class merchants and middlemen. But the technology now makes it possible to decentralize this into remote locations; the Amazon generation is comfortable doing transactions via video conferencing without physical meetings in a central location. Will London’s financial district fall prey to what we may call the Uber-ization of the financial industry?
. One of the most significant disruptions has been the flood of immigrants who are people of color. They tend to be more pragmatic and selfish and do not share the British myth to the same extent.
2. The delicate and artificial equilibrium holding Britain’s myth of greatness has been eroding and now it has crumbled. Its values and principles are just not sustainable.
3. As a result, there is xenophobia against people of different races, religions, etc., especially when they take the jobs away from those who feel they are the “real” sons of the land. The latest crisis reflects a challenge to postmodernism. Localization is gaining ground at the expense of globalization.
4. During each such crisis of myth in the past (in USA and Britain) there has been a period of chaos and experimentation to try and reformulate the myth with the new realities.
It is too soon to predict how far this domino effect will go and what the new world order might look like. The news today is mainly defensive – how to protect one’s investments. But every game-changing event also opens new doors. I see amazing opportunities opening up for young individuals in all kinds of fields, not just financial or business related.
Will China use this opportunity just as it used Japan’s tsunami and nuclear accident