Brexit: I teeter between the two, landing for the most part on “leave”

By Ellipsister (Ed.)

The proliferation of reckons on Brexit espouse a range of views and angles. Some speak of the collapse of opportunity for future generations, others to a xenophobic tornado tearing through the neighbourhoods of the white working class. Others despair about the stupidity of a particular class of voters, or the youth who did not care enough to vote, while some focus their analyses on the economic damage Brexit could wreak on a global scale. Others romanticise about the liberation of the people from their oppressor, while others bemoan their lost freedom of movement.

Beneath the surface noise there is, however, real opportunity to deconstruct the issues and begin to formulate a deeper understanding about:

  • the conditions that trigger mass action in contemporary societies;
  • social division within mass actions; and
  • the risks, opportunities, implications and consequences that arise through referendum

This post does not cover those points specifically, but simply points out that there are always learning opportunities, no matter what the situation is in which they arise.

Part of the purpose for this special edition  was to see what some of our writers thought about Brexit and to get closer to seeing what we could learn – and perhaps even un-learn from Brexit and its associated campaigns, and to discern how we might ensure that humanity and empathy remain core components of our global social fabric.

Over the past week, I have seen a division here in NZ. A good proportion of Māori supporting the leave campaign, and a good proportion opposing it. Within that matrix, there were racists, there were separatists, and there were genuinely held beliefs about the importance of tino rangatiratanga – no matter who was exercising it.  There were ‘bounded freedom’ champions, freedom of movement advocates, those disgruntled that their newly acquired British passports would no longer be fit for purpose, there were those genuinely concerned about the harm the leave campaign would do to non-white immigrants currently resident in the UK, others concerned about trade and economics.

Where do I sit? I teeter between the two, landing for the most part on “leave”. I intensely abhor the sickening levels of hate and violence that gripped the “leave” campaign. I also convulse somewhat at the mischaracterisations of the EU that attempt to sell a story of a loving Nanny gently caressing her independent nation-states in her ever-loving arms. I refer to these as the neo-TINA’s –  deceptively wedded to the idea that we must concentrate wealth and power.

I support the right of any peoples to self-determination. To determine for themselves what laws or customs they want to govern their country and who will interpret those laws.  My views undoubtedly relate to my commitment to tino rangatiratanga for Māori here in Aotearoa New Zealand. But I need to make this very clear –my support for leave – on principle, is not informed by that hideous campaign of hate and violence. It is tied to my own nostalgia for the rightful return of Māori sovereignty.

I had to ask myself the question: How could I, in principle, support “remain”, when I would 100 percent support an opportunity for Māori to exit from a system that does not serve us well? And no I do not argue for total isolation, or the building of fences, or the expulsion of immigrants, or a return to pre-contact Aotearoa. I argue for the guaranteed right of tino rangatiratanga expressed in Te Tiriti o Waitangi to be formally recognised. To enable Māori the right to choose to exit from the laws that constrain our tikanga and those laws that continue to incarcerate, abuse, and dispossess our people. And as a friend recently said to me, ‘if there is a Union Jack on the flag that symbolises the country I live in, then yes, I do get to have an opinion about Brexit’. That’s not to say you have to like it.