On September 19, 1946, Winston Churchill traveled to Zurich, Switzerland to give what would be a historic speech. It was a message of hope and a warning to all of us for our future. Churchill knew war and the tragedy of it.He did not want to see one more war and the horrific results to all of mankind that it would have meant. His talk came to be known as the United States of Europe speech.
His words surprised the world as he spoke of the horrors of war, of wars in the past and the absolute disaster any future wars would be for man and for society. He spoke about the idea of a new world order where by joining together to help put an end to war we would all the better for it. His idea was to have a United States of Europe.
For the last nearly 70 years the world has seen peace to the extent that Europe has no longer been the starting point for another world war. The EU has been a success in maintaining the peace throughout the member states of the EU.
Now, 70 years later, England has forgotten the wisdom of Churchill’s words. Perhaps they have taken for granted the peace that they have enjoyed. You are stronger together than you are apart.
The great danger is that with England’s exit from the EU, France could be next. If France were to decide to leave, the EU would be dead.
The end of the success of the postwar world is in sight. Fear is becoming triumphant over sanity. Once, again, the call for nationalism and sovereignty has risen above calmer voices. Independence is being championed at the expense of mutual cooperation. Independence from what is the question? Independence from greater financial security. Sure there have been problems with austerity. Having austerity in bad years is like as Churchill said, having locusts eating your own. You are only assured of a case of downward momentum. Do you really want to throw the baby out with the bath water? Because this what England has done by voting to leave the EU.
Churchill would be rolling over in his grave if he knew that his England has decided to put the first nail in the coffin of the EU. He would be extolling the virtues of an alliance of nations for the common good, and he would be excoriating those who would encourage the blaming of immigrants for their plight. He would see the virtue in reforming the EU and not see any advantage in going it alone.
The wisdom of those who were in power during and after the war is unquestioned. It took the hard work of many who had learned hard lessons from both the Depression and World War II to find a better and safer world for the future. They were successful in doing so, in creating a safer and more prosperous world for many years.
A great recession put a lot of pressure on the system by which the EU has worked, and these problems especially due to the dislocations that globalization have caused have been severe. There is a new and scary world out there with robots and other elements of modernity.
It would seem that the cure, which is leaving the EU is worse than the disease. Is the financial cost going to be so bad as to leave the verdict of the people in the referendum in doubt? The youth of Great Britain will be the real victims of this decision, because they will have to live with the ramifications of this decision for years.
What would Winston Churchill say now? I wish we could have his wisdom for just this one moment in history.