Samuel Gregg appeared on the recent episode of the podcast The Catholic Cave, “Britain, the EU and You,” to discuss Britain’s recent referendum vote to leave the EU. The show considers factors that potentially led to the Brexit other than trade and immigration issues, including dissatisfaction with international bureaucracy, cultural and philosophical differences between Britain and other European countries, and problems of subsidiarity.
Gregg sees Brexit as a “reassertion of national sovereignty,” “reaffirmation of the importance of the nation state,” and a “revolt…against bureaucracy.” The event presents warning signs, he says, for all transnational and supranational institutions who seek to rule in a “top-down, centralized, administrative” manner, including the European Union, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank.
Part of the reason that people are becoming wary of transnational institutions, according to Gregg, is the “sheer lack of political accountability” and disconnect between the voters and those running the institutions, the “bureaucratic class.” Explains Gregg:
People are fed up with a political class … who presume to know better, who are constantly carping on about how things should be, and really I think are quite contemptuous of what ordinary people think about things.
Gregg views this growing resentment of the political class as part of the explanation for the reemergence of populism in the United States and calls it a “recipe for potential populism” in the future. He speculates about whether trans- and supranational organizations will recognize these frustrations and alter their administrative style accordingly.
In considering the religious implications of the event, Gregg calls the Brexit an opportunity for Catholics to reconsider the repercussions of transnational institutions, of which the Church has mostly been in strong support, and take a more critical look at their practices.
You can listen to the full podcast online and download it for free here.