BY the time you read this, you may know which way the Supreme Court judgement has gone regarding the prorogation and, consequently, the recall of Parliament. It hardly needs saying that the implications for Brexit and for our lives will be profound.
Once again one can only marvel, mortified, at the sheer ruthlessness of Ultra-Remain, together with its callous constitutional vandalism, grotesque arrogance and contempt for the people. Personified by the gloating, curled-lip contempt of Gina Miller and the choleric hatred of John Bercow, the ruthless seizing of Parliamentary business and pursuit of the government of the law courts looks like bearing fruit. Plainly, if the claimants get their way and Parliament is recalled, it seems likely that MPs will try to circumvent the executive entirely and present a variation of May’s deal directly to the EU. Our surrender and humiliation will be complete, and all pretence of democracy destroyed.
Our horror is matched only by perplexity: what goal is so total that it means condemning the country to unending rancour, division, even civil war? By so insulting and frustrating the will of the people, they have surely personally risked far more than the downside that an orderly Brexit would have brought them. As I wrote recently in TCW, if they lose now, they lose very big, as the current domestic constitutional settlement that has plainly been so amenable to them will be swept away. It’s all or nothing.
This is now beyond even a counter-revolution. It is not just a naked attempt to overthrow the referendum and return to the status quo. This is an attempt to create something new entirely. This new state of being – let us call it Remainia – is really a new form of nation, but not a type we have seen before.
Plainly Remainia doesn’t precisely fit the Oxford Dictionary definition of a nation as ‘a large body of people united by common descent, history, culture, or language, inhabiting a particular state or territory’. It has aspects of a common culture and uses the international language of English, but lacks contiguous territory in a physical sense. However, in a time where we spend so much of our lives in cyberspace, does that really matter? In our hyper-networked world, people feel much closer to the colleagues they video conference daily than to the office cleaners they barely acknowledge and never swap a word with.
That leaves the matter of the state. A state needs a polity, and therefore control of the law, and that is the final piece of the jigsaw that is now coming into play. This tweet made my blood run cold:
I can't but help feel that what we're seeing in terms of, past & current, court cases, directed into areas of executive & national sovereignty, are more than they appear to be. I perceive them as probes & tests, which have an ultimate aim of overthrowing national sovereignty.
— Ken (@RoodGridance) September 19, 2019
What we are witnessing is the birth of the network nation. In our modern age, where information is worth far more than land, networks can control or defend a nation’s destiny every bit as effectively as an army. They offer variability of scale, decentralisation of agency and no single point of failure. This is precisely the modus operandi we have observed throughout the Brexit process: ad hoc, shifting groups of highly connected, powerful people taking individual bespoke initiatives on many fronts, via Parliament, international institutions and now, chillingly, through the use of ‘lawfare’. They seem to have Boris Johnson as much a prisoner now as if some Remain Army general had him under lock and key.
Once upon a time in the immediate years BR (Before Referendum), it was common to see below-the-line comments fulminating against the ‘New World Order’ and the like. It all seemed rather embarrassing and tin foil hat at the time – so much paranoid, conspiracy theory nonsense. Well, the frothers have proved to be more right than wrong: the referendum and the ongoing struggle has crystallised new perceptions and sense of belonging amongst the elites that had been organically building for years. What we are witnessing is nothing less than the rise of the network nation, or empire if you prefer. This, I fear, is the alternative future to Brexit should it fail: the establishment of a new Remainia polity which will exert a far tighter grip on our lives than the EU ever did. By the time you read this, its birth may have entered its final and aggressively triumphalistic phase.