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A messy march of folly to Brexit - and beyond

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Barbara Tuchman published her masterpiece, “The March of Folly,” in 1984. It explored what the American writer and historian called “one of the most compelling paradoxes of history: the pursuit by governments of policies contrary to their own interests.” Today she might have explored the march of folly by “the people” as well as governments in pursuing those harmful policies.

In the United States, the checks and balances included by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution to protect against despotism did not prevent the voters and the Electoral College from choosing as their president and commander-in-chief a shameless demagogue boasting of his contempt for the constitutional principles of rule of law and the separation of powers, praising Russian President Vladimir Putin to beat Hillary Clinton - the same Putin that U.S. intelligence agencies blame for cyber attacks on her private email to damage her candidacy.

In the United Kingdom, a foolishly devised referendum on whether to remain in the European Union has split the nation and its political parties. It has split south from north, haves and have-nots, and has encouraged Celtic separatism in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Under Prime Minister Theresa May, a weak and divided government is pursuing policies contrary to the interests of its citizens. British influence in Europe has drained away. The UK is disunited, its economy is shrinking, and investment is moving abroad.

In mainland Europe populist revolts, fueled by mass migration, public........

© Japan Today