In my youth, I was not into politics and I was never an activist of any sort. As I grow older, I started to care more about the world I live in, perhaps it’s partly due to the fact that we live in a more turbulent world.
The term ‘Utopia’ was created by an English lawyer and author Sir Thomas More in 1516, who wrote a controversial fiction novel under the same title in Latin. Then in 1949, another English author George Orwell published an influential fiction novel ‘1984’ on a dystopian world set in the future.
Today, our world resembles more like the dystopia depicted in ‘1984’, and the book has become more relevant than ever. Utopia has become an impossible ideal, and we are left with a world that is out of balance, increasingly more divided and dangerous.
The rise of populist right-wing party like UKIP reflects the sentiments of many British working class people whose voices are not being heard by the current government, and are losing out in a more globalised and polarised world. Their anger towards the government is understandable, but they were also lied to by some power-hungry politicians with hidden agendas. They voted ‘out’ believing that the outcome will bring a better future, but is this really going to be the case? Whether we like it or not, we can’t stop globalisation because we depend on each other more than we realise. And for those who are nostalgic about the past, Brexit will not be the answer that they hope for, and life will certainly get tougher ahead.
The shocking results of the referendum brought the country to a meltdown. No one was prepared for this – not even the Brexit politicians. There was no exit plan, and so panic and despair set in. Within a day, our world was turned upside down because of an unnecessary referendum. It felt like the beginning of a long nightmare. What next? Nobody had (has) any idea.
I can’t remember the last time I felt so emotional about a political issue, this Brexit issue has stirred up anger, dismay and anxiety across the nation. My friends and I went to the anti-Brexit protest days after the referendum because we felt that leaving the EU would a big mistake, and ultimately no sides would benefit from it.
We have had unsettling weather throughout the month of June, and according to the Met Office, it was the wettest ever on record. On the eve of the referendum polling day, torrential rain and floods caused chaos across the country; was nature warning us of our future ahead?
On the day of the protest, there was more rain, but this didn’t deter the protesters, nor us. Many protesters were young people under the age of 30, and they believe that their future is going to be bleaker if we leave the EU. They were angry at dishonest politicians like Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson, and their signs revealed their thoughts explicitly. Slogans like “Fromage not Farage” and “Eton mess” were cheered with laughter and support from the crowd.
The protest was a good-natured and peaceful one, there was no violence, disorder or misconduct. It started in Trafalgar Square, and then we marched towards the Parliament and stood under the platform staged for news reporters. We were ‘greeted’ by Jon Snow and Alistair Campbell, who were quite delighted by our presence.
Bottom right: An extract from Francis Towne’s exhibition at the British Musuem
A few days after the referendum, I visited the British Museum and saw a free exhibition: Light, time, legacy: Francis Towne’s watercolours of Rome (until 14 August 2016). The British artist Francis Towne (1739–1816) made a remarkable group of watercolours during a visit to Rome in 1780–1781. These watercolours were Towne’s way of conveying a moral warning to 18th-century Britain not to make the same mistakes – and suffer the same fate – as ancient Rome.
As I was reading the extract from the exhibition (see above), I couldn’t help but think that history has repeated itself again. Do humans ever learn from their lessons? Apparently not. George Orwell and Francis Towne were not prophets, but they understood the nature of human beings. No matter how advanced our technology has developed, human nature seems to have evolved very little. We are still driven by our ego, power and desire. Not much has changed over time.
Of course Brexit is not the end of the world, but it may be the downfall of the United Kingdom. The whole referendum exposes the cracks in the democratic system, the inequality of the capitalist society, the growing numbers of nationalists, the incompetence of the governing politicians and the problems within the E.U.
Now that Genie out of the bottle, who is going to fix the mess?