In the wake of the referendum last week it has become necessary to plan ahead and modify many of our habits. No longer will we partake in French Brie and Italian Wine after dinner, instead we shall withdraw to our hovels and cower around the candle-light, the electricity having been cut off since all of the power companies are European owned.
Many people are still coming to terms with what a vote to leave the European Union will actually mean for both Great Britain and the world. There has been an obvious economic impact that looks very much like the beginning of a depression and within Britain and other European countries there has been a huge growth in xenophobia, racism and violence. Almost as though running a whole campaign on the idea that foreign people are the source of all your woes might convince people that foreign people are the source of all their woes.
Regardless, in our candle-lit hovels we will need something to entertain ourselves before the inspectors come around to check our papers to ensure that we are all good British citizens and can prove it. Here are four books and a series that will help you to understand Brexit.
Mein Kampf- Adolf Hitler
This one seems a little bit on the nose, but if you want to see how a charismatic yet slightly goofy leader can whip a country into a xenophobic frenzy and destroy millions of lives you rarely have to look much further than good old Adolf. In Mein Kampf he sets out his own case for a “pure,” self-sufficient Germany with none of the “lesser races” in positions of power. You would have thought that we might have learned from history but of course the generation that lived through the Second World War and the immediate aftermath where the true cost of Nationalism was revealed are now dead or dying. The few that are still alive have been quite vocally opposed to Brexit but have be thoroughly ignored at every turn.
Decline and Fall- Evelyn Waugh
While less popular than Brideshead Revisited, Decline and Fall is to my mind one of Waugh’s finest works. There is a careful balance between the British stiff upper lip and the ridiculousness of the situations that our hero poor young Paul Pennyfeather finds himself in. It also heavily features the idiots of the hard drinking Bullingdon Club under a very thin veil of disguise. The club that produced Britain’s Prime Minister, the leader of the Brexit campaign and many of the journalists who were meant to be providing fair and balanced coverage of the whole event. There is thankfully no molestation of pigs in Decline and Fall but then again that particular event in David Cameron’s history was related to his attempts to join a completely different drinking club for the insufferably posh.
Tigana- Guy Gavriel Kay
A novel about a Fantasy version of medieval Italy trying to through off the yoke of foreign oppressors may sound like it is thoroughly in favour of leaving the European Union but it is the particular notes of the Nationalism contained within Tigana that makes it so particularly relevant. As in real medieval Italy, the separate city states of Tigana turned against one another one by one in the face of foreign invaders, instead of uniting and pressing back their attackers they tried to further their personal ambitions against their neighbours by allying with first one invading power and then the other. Add to this the actual fate of the nation of Tigana, the memory of the place permanently altered so that it no longer ever really existed and you come to the national sentiment of Great Britain from the opposite direction. In Tigana they long for a place that could have been great, terrible, or anything in between, because nobody remembers it.
Oliver Twist- Charles Dickens
Great Britain is heading in a very dangerous direction following an exit from the European Union, unlike the United States with their Bill of Rights and their Constitution, Britain has no formal document protecting their citizens from being preyed on by the elite. In fact one of the major points that the Conservative party played on in their attempts to get a “Leave” vote was the removal of the only protection that British Citizens had, the Human Rights Act which was enforced by the European Union. Combine that with their constant calls to return to “Victorian Values” and we should all be having a read through Dickens works just to get an idea of what awaits us in the factories and poorhouses that we are going to be sold into.
A Song of Ice and Fire- George R R Martin
Just as the only hope for the fictionalised version of England that is Westeros comes from the North so too does hope for the UK come from beyond The Wall. Hadrian’s Wall that is. Under the Scottish Government’s devolved charter they were given the right to Veto decisions like the one to leave Europe if it was not supported by the Scottish people and luckily enough, more than 60% of Scotland voted to stay in the EU. Nicola Sturgeon may not have the zombie slaying expertise of Jon Snow, but as Scotland’s first minister she may be well on her way to saving the Union.