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Forward to the Past, or Making Sense of Brexit

Coen van Wyk

Posted on November 24, 2018 13:10

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There seems to be a political fashion these days, of reclaiming past glories, of striving to renew nationalistic glory, of re-living the ‘good old days.’ I have seen it before, and it just does not make sense.

I grew up under a regime who repudiated foreign values, took back control from the United Nations, the Commonwealth, and whoever else. The South African National Party only wanted to be apart from other people with foreign value systems, to re-live the glory of the days of the Anglo-Boer wars and the ‘Old Republics.’
 
Unfortunately, South Africa’s enthusiastic participation in the First World War, producing vast amounts of artillery and munitions, required laborers from thousands of miles away. Capital flooded in from all over the world. “Being apart’ was just not possible any more. We tried waging war in Angola against ‘Communist aggressors’ and developing our own nuclear weapons. The end was inevitable: we are now part of a greater world economy, exporting, enjoying industrial products from all over the world.
 
The United Kingdom (my gran spoke of ‘home)’ is caught in a sort of ideological Chinese puzzle of its own making. For the past five years and more Brexit has consumed millions of man- and woman hours and lakes of ink. Billions of electrons in untold computer screens were needlessly annoyed.  
 
Britain had helped rebuild Europe after the Second World War, and urged the breakdown of divisive customs and other barriers. Britain timidly tried to join in the resultant bigger market, relished selling seafood that Brits would not eat but Continentals relished, but objected to Continental trawlers fishing UK waters on licenses issued by London. All very confusing.
 
It seems that Britain does not want to have foreigners running coffee shops, picking strawberries, and laying bricks, but they don’t want borders, trucks being blocked for customs inspections, or that sort of thing. Never mind that a common market and free movement of people are central to the European Union. Somehow there seems to be a sentiment that the EU would love to immolate itself just because the UK wants it to.

Which brings Leslie Charteris to mind. Son of a British woman and a Chinese father, not really accepted in UK society, he became an American celebrity on the back of The Saint, also known as Simon Templar, the classless, suave criminal-hero who loved tweaking the nose of authority.

Leslie Charteris



Simon versified, in one story, about Charles Charleston Charlemagne St Charles who  

Was wont to utter fearful snarls
When by professors he was pressed
To note how England had progressed
Since the galumptious, gory days
Immortalised in Shakespeare's plays.

Space does not permit a full rendition of the Saint’s art, but, alas, our hero was not appreciated, and after a valiant open-air espousal of Empire trade to which

He sallied forth with martial eye,
Prepared to do, prepared to die,

Unfortunately

Some hecklers threw him in a drain,
"And plodding home, all soaked inside,
He caught pneumonia-and died."

Reading news articles on ‘taking back control’ and making things great again’ I remember Charles Charleston Charlemagne St Charles.

South Africa could not revert to mythical past glories. Can Britain or the USA?

Coen van Wyk

Posted on November 24, 2018 13:10

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Source: ESPN

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