Ideals, Real Living, and Brexit

Episodes nine and ten in Bungo Stray Dogs recall how much Britain’s vote to leave the EU revolved around idealism, or, at least, they do within the tortuous turnings of my mind.  This article has little interest in probing the political and economic ramifications of their decision but two competing ideals.  I wrote previously on the necessity of ideals for life to be worth living.  People need a purpose beyond material benefits and survival.  To base one’s life on material comfort and pleasure is to exist as one of the living dead.

Bikuri-saseta

At the end of the eighth episode of Bungo Stray Dogs, Atsushi saves the unwilling assassin Kyouka from certain death.  Despite his heroism, Kyouka is caught between the rock of the Law and the hard place of the Port Mafia: the former requires her execution for thirty-five murders (more like manslaughter than murder, but that’s how the characters term it) and the latter for betrayal.  Between these implacable foes, it seems impossible for Kyouka to survive in Yokohama.  In the following episode, Kunikida brings this argument to bear against Atsushi’s good intention of helping Kyouka begin a new life.
Devil's Advocate

Shinde nai

Kunikida’s words in episode nine surprised me and made me wonder whether Dazai’s denunciation of idealism wounded him–wounded him so deeply that he resorts to playing devil’s advocate.  He tries to dissuade Atsushi from helping Kyouka, to dissuade the Agency from saving Atsushi, and again to dissuade Atsushi from saving Kyouka from certain death at Akutagawa’s hands.  One speculates that Kunikida was brought down by the tragedy of the seventh episode and used Atsushi to test the validity of idealism in the face of overwhelming odds.

What about her

Kare o Nigashite

The ideal most strongly strained in Atsushi’s fight was none other than chivalry or even manliness.  For, a real man would rather die himself than abandon a woman to certain death.  (I wish that I could also credit Bushido for this attitude, but, under Bushido, the woman gives her life for the man, cf. Nitobe Inazo’s Bushido: The Soul of Japan.  Indeed, Kyouka stood as a true bushi for sacrificing her safety for Atsushi to have the opportunity of escape!)   Kunikida’s own doubts about idealism seem to vanish after Atsushi’s rescue of Kyouka from Akutagawa’s hands, which transformation we see in Kunikida’s grin.  And, I must say, the faith Dazai manifested for Atsushi’s strength over Akutagawa’s skill causes me to wonder just what he was criticizing in idealism prior to this.

Confident Dazai

Midst of the Fight

Back to Brexit!  In this event, we ultimately saw a clash of ideals: a free and independent Britain able to decide its own destiny and goals vs. a united Europe prevented from internal strife by a common government and enjoyed shared prosperity through a common citizenship.  (At least, I imagine the opponents of Brexit had the latter view in mind.  As an American, independence from foreign influence overrides most benefits to be obtained through submission to a foreign yoke.)  Many of the arguments for remaining in the EU revolved around the economy: how great would the economic upheaval be if Britain left the EU!  And, the purchasing power of the pound has plummeted as major companies have threatened to depart from Britain.  Many people who voted to leave no doubt understood the temporary suffering the UK might endure.  Other voters, in the face of uncertainty, are even doubting their decision to leave.

Borrowed from Yahiko

Still, the Leave side had something the Remain side lacked: the idea of Britain.  Britain stands as an idea even as America or France or Greece or Ireland or Denmark or Spain stand for ideas.  All of these nations’ ideals are suppressed as long as they remain subordinate to universal economic prosperity.  The British voted to leave so that they could be British.  There exists no substitute for that in a British heart alive with the love of country; in the same way as for Atsushi, a true man, there exists no substitute for courage.  One of Britain’s greatest foes, Napoleon, famously said that “An army marches on its stomach”; however, less people know that the also said: “Imagination rules the world.”  I have no doubt that England, Eikoku or Brave Country in Japanese, will have to courage to weather all future storms as long as they remember who they are.

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11 comments on “Ideals, Real Living, and Brexit

  1. MIB says:

    If I may – and this might be a slightly biased opinion – the rationale for many voters in the Brexit issue wasn’t so clear as it may seem, purely because the two camps didn’t actually have any facts to back up their campaign claims.

    It was all supposition and scare mongering – The Leave camp claimed staying meant we’d be overrun by immigrants while Remain said the economy would be in dire stairs (which it pretty much already is, depending on which papers you believe or how wealthy you are) if we left. Numbers were thrown around but nobody could say for sure which confused everyone.

    As it transpired it was the fear generated by the immigration issue which appears to have won out as the rampant racist attacks across parts of the country towards immigrants and British born migrants have demonstrated, along with many Leave voters admitting they didn’t think they’d win and are now worried for their future.

    The narrow victory for the Leave camp – 52% to 48% – has also been undermined by the exposing of the lies told – all of their propaganda during the campaign declared £350 million to the NHS; the first interview after the victory and they said it wasn’t going to happen and denied ever making such a promise! Further more they now admit they don’t actually have a plan as they didn’t expect to win, and have passed the buck to the PM – who has since resigned – to sort THEIR mess out, because he was the one who instigated this in the first place!

    Not to mention that Scotland and Northern Ireland voted overwhelmingly to Remain meaning it was England who lead the charge in leaving, along with Wales, but as the largest of the four countries our vote swayed the result. So whatever “being British” means can be argued as a concept as we already are made up four different countries! As of now, calling ourselves the United Kingdom or even Great Britain doesn’t feel accurate.

    So, this ideal of “being British”, I don’t believe was a focused belief or intrinsic rally call from the heart, but spurious terminology from greedy and ignorant politicians hoping to get their way by manipulating the people as they always do, conning them into believing they are doing something great for them when in fact they are playing into the hands of pernicious puppet masters.

    Certainly it is early days yet but the initial effects of this decision have been devastating so far and with the country already in a bad shape (despite what our buffoon of a chancellor might claim) this was the wrong time to make such a ill-informed and hasty jump and we’re going to pay for it in the long run.

    Sorry for the rant! 🙂

    • Thanks for your comment. It helps me understand the other arguments much better. The Remain side did make good economic arguments for staying, but the European GDP still hasn’t recovered to its peak in 2007 and the recovery is sluggish. Even before the Brexit vote, people were predicting that the Euro would crash. Yet, right now, the British are suffering from much uncertainty. It is dumb that no detailed plans of how to restructure their government and trade were written up before the vote, but they shall figure out something soon. At least, this Italian financial journalist seems to think that Britain is much better off for leaving: http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/683556/Italian-journalist-destroys-anti-Brexit-arguments-blasts-European-Union.

      But, the Leave side’s most cogent arguments did have to do with mass immigration on the continent and the unrest this influx of people has triggered. One hears very horrible stories about Sweden and Germany, and their politicians don’t care. In Sweden, they even made it a hate crime to complain about immigration or immigrants. To an American’s ears, this sounds tyrannical, and I hear that governments on the continent have similarly been callous to their people’s complaints and suppressed free speech and reports unfavorable to the establishment’s positions. The EU appears to have so much more control to run people’s lives than it had at first, and I was shocked to hear that the EU was debating forming its own army. I can only see this plan as an attempt for the EU to have more power to coerce.

      You make a good point about the UK being divided up into four countries, and the Remain vote did win in two of them. But, a good chunk of Scotland and Northern Ireland did also want to leave the EU: 45% and 44% respectively. The rest might come around to their opinion if sound plans for the future are introduced.

      On the point of being British, I think that Europe is equally divided into people who see themselves as European and those who see themselves as a members of a nation. This division is not something politicians thought up; and I think that wealthier persons tend toward the former, while poorer persons–less able to enjoy the freedom of movement within the EU and other benefits of the union–identify more strongly with their country. (A friend of mine’s wife, for example, sees herself more as European than Greek.) The various powers given to the EU and the UK’s forfeiture of power in some areas would be obnoxious to the more patriotic or nationalist side. So, independence and autonomy hold a very strong appeal for the Leave side.

      That aside, the whole idea of opposing the greatest power in Europe is very British indeed. Britain opposed Spain during that country’s ascendancy, France during hers, Germany in the 20th century, and the EU now. It’s never been known for England to come out the loser in any of these struggles, and I doubt it will be the case now. So, I wish you and your country luck in weathering the current difficulties in the firm hope that you will!

  2. MIB says:

    I’m not surprised the Daily Express ran with that story as they were fiercely Pro-Brexit (and even claimed it as *their* own campaign victory afterwards). Unfortunately most of the UK press is right wing or owned by Rupert Murdoch, and the Express, like the Daily Fail, is complicit in peddling the sort of ill-informed self serving racist, xenophobic, homophobic, socially elite and politically misleading tosh to sway the ignorant masses of our country in such a scenario as this vote.

    Our economy has been a mess since 2008 because of maladroit handling of it. Labour actually started to turn a corner just before the 2010 election but as soon as the Tories got in, Gideon Osbourne went straight into austerity mode, despite warnings not to, and took us to the brink of a triple dip recession. He has since failed to cut the deficit, borrowed more in five years than Labour did in 13 and TRIPLED our debt, caused the slowest growth rate in history and cost us our AAA credit rating.

    But he did cut taxes for the rich and for big businesses, but raised VAT, cut benefits for disabled people while his family business paid NO tax, just as the multi-millionaire PM also enjoyed a windfall from his father’s offshore tax haven. And they have the nerve to use “We’re In This Together” as their campaign slogan!

    The immigration issue, for me, is double-edged sword as I believe in helping those less fortunate than us, but we have to get our own house in order first. We have millions of people living in debt, poverty, relying on foodbanks or even homeless and we need to sort them out before we can offer shelter or asylum to to others. That’s my own personal view and an unpopular one for some to accept it seems.

    The other problem is that immigrants are all tarred with the same brush by the aforementioned right wing press so the bigots of this country assume that they are ALL coming here to leech from our welfare system or “steal our jobs”. This isn’t quite true but the task of sorting out the genuine asylum seekers or those willing to work and study from the leeches is an undesirable and arguably difficult one to execute properly.

    Its actually a generational thing – the young were keen to remain because they can see the benefits of the EU in terms of business and foreign relationships and are more sympathetic towards the migrants; the oldies have already lived in a pre-Eu Britain and think their control is more harmful than good plus many are from the “old school” pre-PC days so again, their tolerance of migrants is noticeably less. The kicker is that by voting to leave, it is the current and future generation who will bear the brunt of the fall out as the oldies will have passed on!

    To be frank, the EU regulations are often stupid – like bananas being straight and not curved or cucumbers exactly 7 inches long or whatever, or having to clear certain things with Brussels before acting – but in terms of trade, inter country movement and other aspects of being in a community, there are some good sides to it as well.

    I’m not sure of your sources but I have to correct you on those stats – Scotland voted 62% Remain meaning only 38% wanted to leave, the highest majority in the whole vote. 🙂 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-36616028 (scroll down a bit)

    As for being British vs being European, I’ve always considered myself English/British and I suppose many others do. It might again be a generational thing but since we are an island on and not landlocked or connected to anyone else like most other countries in Europe are, I’d venture that is the reason for this. I can’t say I’ve given it serious thought or discussed it with anyone but I am willing to bet most Brits will call themselves that first and European second.

    Believe it or not, I’m not actually politically savvy or usually interested by such things – shows how bad it’s got here! 😉 😛

    • Gosh, it sounds like politics are heavily polarized over there–it’s just as bad here! Thanks for correcting me about Scotland: at that rate, it might be best for them to join the EU on their own terms. But, we’ll see what the future holds in store.

      • MIB says:

        I thinks that true of politics in any country really, it’s just that we only get the salient information from the international scene while the specifics are largely unknown. For instance, over here it isn’t quite the two horse race some might think it is between Labour and The Tories, as we have many smaller parties who can make a collective dent in their majorities.

        At the last election, the Tories won with 36.9% of the votes which, while was the largest share, it wasn’t an overwhelming majority and many have argued this is not a decisive win since 63.1% of voters didn’t vote for them!

        Also the Left vs Right divide isn’t as concrete as suggested with many people remaining apolitical but vote according to how a government performs and what they believe in their manifestos. Unfortunately, as I mentioned earlier, much of the press is right wing or owned by people with specific agendas (Rupert Murdoch) so the reach of that particular message is larger. Even the BBC have become Tory puppets after the recent threat to their existence, softballing their MPs during interviews while roasting MPs from other parties.

        The sad fact is that politics have become dirtier and more divisive over the past few years with many MPs abusing the system for their own good more than ever but fail to understand that the public just aren’t as gullible as they once were, especially now social media can spread the word quicker and more effectively!

        But we’re not as bad as some countries and as arrogant as the Tories are, it is not quite the same as the dictatorships seen in North Korea, Russia or Zimbabwe! 😛

      • Aggelos says:

        Good thing there’s an article here about Brexit.Thanks fella.Maybe there should be talk also about the persons founded the Eurosceptic movement:Nigel Faragge and Giorgos Karatzaferis.

      • You’re welcome! I’m glad that you enjoyed the article. Nigel Farage is one of my favorite politicians, and I will certainly look up Giorgos Karatzaferis. I’m very interested in the Eurosceptic movement and what it means for the future of the continent.

        Though, you won’t find many articles which touch on politics on this blog of mine. I focus on that subject in “Aquilon’s Eyrie,” which you’ll find in the “Other Blogs of Mine” section under the links to your right.

  3. Αγγελος says:

    While Karatzaferis has all the Decent traits proper for an exceptional and Benevolent Leader unfortunately he’s not popular. Ever since he was elected in the Europarliament(2004) he questioned many “taboo” topics.
    Such that openly he shouted that for a lot of reasons Turkey has no place in Europe.He also worked hard to straighten all things for an understanding between Europe and IRAN.There are apt examples about this one.
    Plus his Stanch is quite antileftist,such that 22 months ago he clearly said that SYRIZA is actually a Political Ebola!But who ever listened to his warning?
    All these are reasons he fell under an Immence Smear campaign,that Unfortunately really worked!!Too Bad for Greece and it’s people!
    A Good thing about him too is that he’s not an Anime Hater,he’s the only one through Art tv (Telecity in the past) once and a while broadcasts a greek made anime Ethnic,by the Christian perceptive means so much,a worth seeing it:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dlX_oYGTlQM
    See this one too: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=soDBYyQ9dXk God’s Soldier

    What a weird thing :Now in the greek parliamnet are seven parties,yet each one of the leaders are anime haters!Including Panos Kammenos.
    Such about Black Lagoon,seeing it there would certainly raise questions about all these many keep silent.I don’t think that the scene where Revy and Dutch kill neonazis would be welcomed by the Golden Dawn.

  4. Aggelos says:

    The results of the referendum could get pro-Bremain due to the Jo Cox assassination!What an extreme Conspiracy was this just to discredit the Brexit side,and in such short of time too.So this would effect the public opinion -while leaving a narrow time to police investigation about the real motives of the assassination!
    Gladly it didn’t effect the Brexit,thank God!I’ m also glad my post about Karatzaferis was approved.

    • Well, I’m happy to approve all politely worded opinions. It looks like there will be difficult times ahead for Europe, and I hope that each country does what is best for their citizens. I really need to look into Karatzaferis, he and the “Grexit” movement sound interesting.

      • Aggelos says:

        Might if I add about Karatzaferis:
        From the beginning of 2010 he explained it that Germany was fluffing about the so called Expulsion from the Eurozone,that actually the Eurozone is a powerfull weapon to benefit Germany.Plus he arranged the official visit in Athens of the Iranian Undersecretary of Foreign Relations(early of spring 2010).The Iranian official was about to propose to Greek Prime Minister a loan of 10 Billion Euros,with a compound 3%,and just it’s payment in full would be in any time Greece would be Ready.
        So the Iranian Official entered the Palace,wright on time,but he returned to IRAN with no results.Because Greece’s Prime Minister was too Incompetent even for a such case! A Fine chance of swift,easy recovery was lost!The incident is one where many have heard about (by many parties) but they keep a Silence Code/Omerta
        The rest is the tragic resource to the mixed Mechanism of IMF and the European Central Bank,even the kind of it made the compounds of loaning much more expensive! A SUM of chances were lost for ever.
        Even the government coalition with Prime Minister Loukas Papademos could get Benevolent,due to Karatzaferis suggested the man.Why? Because of his Capabilities and international Prestige.
        But with accurate informations I have it’s clear that the rest of governm.associates had a self-interest for private/secret talks with Berlin,so they boycoted all of the Papademos undertaking.That’s why Karatzaferis left the Coalition-besides if he could not help the Solution of Greek Crisis he just should not be an accomplice to the Hideous Memorandum of 2012.
        He was justified about spring 2013,just when the IMF disclosed in it’s Official Printed Statement “our entire project with Greece just had so many Fauls and Mistakes”.
        But all of the leaders in Parliament pretended like it didn’t happen anything!!Greece’s Prime Minister,Ant.Samaras,could really seize this rare chance,demand Strong Compensations and benefit the nation.But he was too Unscrupulous to do it.Too bad!
        I guess you can see all these Rare Knowledge,were is pointed the Man’s Morals and Value-but most Unfortunately he’s been Greatly Discredited and Misunderstood.Isn’t these the signs of Propaganda Mechanisms(A “he who’s our Chosen,and the other is in our Black List”)?
        These are the Sad Truths.
        Could you see youtube.com/watch?v=zd5LxBqCi-g ? It says so many!
        By the way,have you seen the anime Ethnic?What do think abou it?
        Thanks

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