AT the grand old age of 28, I entered King’s College London’s War Studies Department as a BA student. At this point in life, I was a social liberal, EU-loving ideologue with a strong disdain for religion.
I had originally come to the UK as an eight-year-old Iranian refugee. Growing up, I would hear stories of the atrocities committed by the Ayatollahs in Iran and consequently came to associate all the ills of the world with religion. I also liked the idea of people coming together to get rid of national identities in one great human lovefest. So the EU seemed like a great idea.
I am simplifying, of course, but this was the gist of my beliefs.
One thing that was emphasised time and again at the War Studies Department was objectivity. Over time, I became proficient at writing academic essays and applying that sought-after quality. Belatedly, I began applying objectivity to my beliefs and beloved EU-topia.
What I found was less than pleasing. The system of electing the European Assembly was not ideal; if you want a direct representative/proportional mix legislature, the German Bundestag model is far better than the mishmash cooked up in the EU. In any case, the assembly had no powers of note. All policy-making and legislation originated in the opaque (too kind a word) Commission. Any person designing a union of nations, and with an ounce of democratic sanity, would have placed power in the hands of elected representatives, and ultimately the citizenry, instead of an unelected bureaucracy.
Yet from the get-go, the EU framework was designed to prevent the people from having any say in matters. At any point when free peoples from Denmark, the Netherlands, France and Ireland had voted to halt the EU project, they were ignored and persuaded by a campaign of fear to change their minds in second referenda. In France, they were just ignored.
A set of individuals who cannot trust the people to make simple judgments such as whether their own lives are better or worse, whether they are happier or unhappier, whether they like the general direction society is going in or not, and who they trust to govern them, are not fit for power. They have a dictatorial mindset. As someone with a visceral aversion to authoritarianism, this turned my stomach. So I changed my mind, setting a course for Brexit and eventually Brexit Party membership.
You cannot change an institution from the inside if it has a top-down structure, and those with authority can filter out those who disagree with their utopian mindset.
Tyrants must fall, and the United Kingdom must leave the EU before their army is ready. The EU army is not necessary to defend Europe – NATO is adequate – but it is a necessity if you want to quash dissent against the EU. Not worried? You should be. No peoples anywhere in the globe are immune from dictatorship. As the old saying goes, the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. We have been asleep.
The path to social conservatism also began at university although I did not realise it at the time. In my earlier childish mindset, and due to my anger at the abuses of the Islamic Republic, I had come to associate faith with a weakness of mind, a fear of death by a cowardly people. This was my opinion.
Nevertheless, for all of that, I had a few friends who expressed their faith to me. Unlike most other students at university, they avoided premarital sex, were more polite, and navigated a narrow path through the alcohol-fuelled sexual minefields around them.
Society, by means of television, the music industry, the internet, computer games etc, is replete with adverts and promotions for drink, drugs, violence, sex, and money as a means of getting the aforementioned. We are bombarded by messages that liberal/lax values are not only to be tolerated but positive and worth pursuing. Giving in to these messages and pursuing bodily pleasure is an easy thing to do. Like many, I was only too happy to go along. Yet my friends of faith did not, and after four years I came to a realisation. Avoiding those pitfalls requires mental discipline, strength of mind.
If the faithful were not weak but strong, what did that make me? Pathetically weak. This question and its obvious answer forced me to reassess my entire value system. I acknowledged God. Later, after a couple of years, I gave up alcohol to be a more responsible human being. The latest culmination of pondering over faith and how best to practise it resulted in giving up the pursuit of bodily pleasure with premarital sex, and becoming a Christian. In February 2020, I am due to be baptised a Catholic.
Well, that was my route to Brexit and conservatism.