It is fascinating watching the British political establishment try to rebottle the genie they have unleashed with the referendum on membership of the European Union. Prime Minister David Cameron has tried to be too clever by half, promising in 2013 that a referendum would be held in an attempt to placate disaffected Conservative Party supporters who were flocking to the anti-EU UK Independence Party. The referendum was to be held by the end of 2017 but Cameron has brought it forward to June this year, presumably in response to the increasing support for a British exit ("Brexit"). Cameron tried to stem the flow of support for Brexit by renegotiating Britain's role and commitments in the EU but this appears to have been little more than an empty gesture and reaction has been mixed at best.
We are now seeing an increasing desperation from pro-EU politicians and media such as this article in The Guardian that suggests airfares and mobile phone charges will increase if Britain leaves the EU. What they don't take into account, of course, is the lower compliance costs that will come from leaving behind a myriad of EU regulations covering everything from the bendiness of bananas to the use of the word 'jam'.
Cameron has tried to force his Conservative Party colleagues to fall into line in opposing Brexit but an increasing number of them like Boris Johnson and Michael Gove are defying him. The fight is essentially coming down to the political establishment and centre-left against the rebellious, libertarian, centre-right. That is hardly surprising as big, centralised government has always been a left-wing ideal, with global government the ultimate Marxist objective. The European Union, the United Nations, even global agreements such as the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, are seen as useful milestones on the journey to that goal.
In an age of instant, mass, global communication, it should be no longer necessary (if it ever was) to have big, centralised and homogeneous government. The age of empires is over. Our aspirations should be for small, local and heterogeneous societies. Everyone should have real choice about the type of community in which they choose to live. If you want to live in a collectivist society where everyone is responsible for everyone else, that should be your choice, but if I want to live in a society that values individual responsibility and independence, that should be my choice. I believe there are some non-negotiables in human affairs - the rights to 'life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness' pretty much covers the key ones - but the rest of it should be over to people in local communities to decide for themselves.
A majority vote for Brexit will be a small but welcome step against the tide of ever-bigger government.