Friday, June 24, 2016

Brexit and Superorganisms

The glory of human beings is that we create super-organisms of non-kin who work together for common purposes.  These super-organisms must create loyalty to their shared community.  The bigger the community, the harder the work of imagination this loyalty requires.

The European Union is one of the most ambitious acts of imagination ever attempted.  Unlike nation-states or multinational empires, the idea of the EU was not backed by force.  Rather, it used the softer powers of capitalism to create ties, and the even softer - but deeper - power of a common cosmopolitan culture to create a feeling of Europeanness.  The EU has been a great force for peace, especially in Europe, for which it was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2012.

The surprising British vote to leave the European Union is a step back from the great experiment of a super-organism held together by soft power.  I believe this is a loss for the world.