While I was away: BREXIT

I’ve been on holiday recently and while I was away Brexit happened. In case you have been living under a rock, Brexit is the decision by the UK to leave the EU. Not England getting knocked out by Iceland which is also hilarious.

I won’t pretend to be an expert on UK politics and I won’t claim to know the consequences of the vote. I find this article by Jeffrey Sachs and this by Tyler Cowen particularly interesting.

I do think there are lessons to be learned from Brexit particularly on the totalitarianism of popular opinion enhanced by social media. Politically correct positions frequently emerge with no space for discussions on alternatives. The penalties for openly going against the popular opinion are dire with dissenters associated with very negative connotations.

For example, even though there were very valid reasons for wanting to vote both leave and remain, publicly stating that you wanted to vote leave meant that you were branded a racist. To be clear there are racists, and many of them appear to prefer to leave. Although I am sure there are racists who wanted to remain too. The reality is that the decision to vote leave or remain was much more nuanced than just being a racist.

The same kind of phenomenon can be observed when discussing the Clinton v Trump choice, where declaring support for Trump means you are immediately branded as a racist and sexist moron. To be clear I’m not a Trump supporter and I am not racist or sexist although I probably wouldn’t vote for Clinton either. But again there are a lot of non-racist non-sexist reasons to want to vote for either candidate.

Or the decision to vote for GEJ or Buhari. To each side a decision to support the other candidate meant that you were quickly identified with whatever negative perceptions the choice was identified with. Again the reality is that there were lots of reasons to have supported or not supported either candidate.

The consequence of having no room for the expression of politically incorrect ideas is that people who hold such ideas don’t express them. And if they don’t express them then we don’t know that they have such ideas. And if we don’t know that they have such ideas then we can’t educate them about the consequences of those ideas. And if we can’t convince them then they vote based on those ideas anyway.
Or maybe I should just stick to economics.
For Nigeria Brexit means lots of uncertainty. Uncertainty about investment. Uncertainty about trade. Uncertainty about our attempts to finance our deficit with Eurobonds. Uncertainty about the effects on trade. A good post on all that here by Grieve Chelwa. It is important to note that the consequences of Brexit won’t happen overnight. And now that everyone has calmed down we can begin to really think about how to navigate the uncertainty. Because you know our policy makers haven’t thought about that yet.





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