12 July 2016

Immanuel Wallerstein reacts to Brexit

The Blog


Immanuel Wallerstein offered the following selected comments on the outcome of Britain's referendum to leave the European Union.


The full commentary is available at Wallerstein's website and these quotes are used only for informative purposes to break the key details down.

"What are the matters underlying this debate? There are essentially four: popular anger at the so-called Establishment and its parties; the geopolitical decline of the United States; the politics of austerity; and identity politics. All of them have contributed to the turmoil...

"There is little doubt that popular anti-Establishment anger is a strong force. It has often erupted when economic conditions are uncertain, as they surely are today. If this seems a stronger motivation now than previously, it is probably because economic uncertainty is far greater than in the past...

"anti-Establishment movements have not won out everywhere or consistently"


"The geopolitical consequences of Brexit are probably more important. Great Britain’s withdrawal from Europe deals a further blow to the ability of the United States to maintain its dominance in the world-system. Great Britain has been in many ways the indispensable geopolitical ally (or is it agent?) of the United States in Europe, in NATO, in the Middle East, and vis-à-vis Russia. There is no substitute...

"Austerity is obviously nobody’s desired policy, except for the ultra-rich who alone profit from it. The fear of increased austerity, as promised by the British government, surely contributed significantly to the move for Brexit, which was promoted as a way to reduce austerity...

"Brexit is important as a symptom but not as a cause of turmoil."


"Since the turmoil is part of a chaotic structural crisis in the modern world-system... We are not paying enough attention to the middle run, where the long-run successor world-system (or systems) will be decided, and where the decision remains dependent on what we do in the middle-run struggle."


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