Theresa May's announcement to appoint a minister to prepare a possible hard exit from the EU hit the German media today. It is news like this that bring out the worst side of German culture.
I used to be a staunch supporter of the EU. Moving between various countries in the EU, I appreciated the ease of travelling. Romantic feelings grew. Europe was my country. Europe is my country. We all are conflicted with what regions we identify how strongly. As much as my mood has changed, Europe will always be my country, just, please, not as it is.
In my social environment everybody was and is pro-EU. People in the US or the UK cannot imagine how synchronized the thinking is done in other cultures. All public views are everybody's views. Disagreements are minor and are all handed down by the leaders of the established parties. According to what 'team' (party) you are on, the latest plan is always the best idea. The only bottom-up intellectual input is never "bottom-up"; it comes from the big money lobby groups.
People don't notice it. There is only one thinking. Despite the fact that so many use the word religion as a derogative to attack G-d, religion is a fairly broad term. Some religions have a god, some have not, many have multiple deities. I look at religion as the ubiquitous belief of a culture. If no collision with other conflicting ideas occure, people don't see their belief as religion. What they think is just how things are - they belief.
The EU religion has some tenets. The most important one is a threat: Either the EU stays in place as is - or with amendments only initiated by our leaders - or a war breaks out, not another Balkan skirmish, but an Armageddon doomsday war.
The second tenant is that it is 'too complex' for people to understand. The Soviet Union was not 'too complex'. The United States of America are not 'too complex'. We all can describe and understand these entities. Only the EU is 'too complex' to think about it.
The third tenant is that the EU is democratic. The MPs of the only electable body are not really accountable to any constituency and all other offices are much less so. It is a zoo of unaccountable bureaucrats, but when pressed they utter some words which are derived from political theory as a smoke screen. After watching European politicians for a while, I have come to the conclusion that they don't cheat. They genuinely don't know the meaning of the words.
This is all fine as long as the leaders don't become aggressive. With the Brexit referendum things changed. At the beginning, I didn't notice what was going on. The news just got my attention when David Cameron came back from the EU with scarce negotiation results, results that were supposed to dissuade the Brexit referendum voters. Two things became obvious 1) Cameron was no talented negotiator and 2) the EU had no respect for the citizens of their member states.
So I changed gear. My left-wing newspaper helped me. Article after article explained to the Germans that the British are trash. Brits are arrogant, quaint, white and old, selfish cherry pickers, right-wing, backwards, and seek world domination through a revival of their British Empire. The popular former Mayor of London Boris Johnson was suddenly a radical xenophobe.
Once the referendum passed, I learnt more about the British from our compassionate, love-no-hate left-wing elites: "The Brits will rue it." "This will go badly for them" "They have it coming" "We must ensure that they don't get away from it too easily so others are not encouraged to do the same". Remember that the Brits are supposed to be imperialist.
Simulatenously heart-string teasing stories about Brits 'who don't know what comes next' hit the papers. A flurry of articles claimed that the Brexit voters realised that they are morons and want to turn back time, reverse the decision, be brought back into the loving arms of the faultless and caring EU. Every pro-Brexit politician was sneered and Boris Johnson was trashed for being unwilling to take any responsibility in a long, long series or reports that only ended in the very minute when Theresa May announced that he would be a member of the Cabinet.
Today, Brexit is back in the news. And the comment section on my favorite news blog ZEIT online speaks of this uni-thinking, which can turn so malicious. One commenter stuck out to say that after a u-turn of about 10 years the UK may recover. He did not even suggest that the Brits could have made a good decision and be better off then, but that was still to much. No less than 75 commenters reacted by asking, 'How do you even think they can turn around?'
This is the climate you get, when there is no shared platform for differing opinions, no market of ideas, no Fox News and MSNBC, no Breitbart and no New York Times. All voices are just one voice and nobody notices it when the one voice speaks hate.